San Diego’s brewing scene is booming these days, and we in North County are lucky enough to experience the best of the boom right here in our own communities. Craft breweries, also known as microbreweries, are independently owned and produce small amounts of beer, allowing for higher quality and greater individualization than traditional breweries. Perhaps nowhere is this industry growing faster than in San Diego, which has become a beer-drinker’s dream destination – and not just for the beaches any more. Local breweries have been stepping into the international spotlight with their award-winning beers. The industry’s exhilarating growth shows no sign of slowing down. In celebration of the 6th Annual San Diego Beer Week last month, we’re excited to offer an insider’s look at the best breweries North County has to offer. The craft brewers we speak to have a huge variety of differences in technique and taste, but they all share a deep-rooted passion for their products. We invite you to read along and see what the buzz is all about.
INSIDE THIS FEATURE:
• Brewery Profiles
• San Diego Beer Industry Facts
• North County Brewery & Tap Room Directory
Abnormal WINE Company Expands with New Brewery, Restaurant, and Winery
Have you ever been intimidated while brew or wine tasting because you’re surrounded by snooty “experts” who make you feel inferior? North County’s Abnormal Company has built their business around dismantling that attitude. Co-Owners Matthew DeLoach, Elvin Lai, and James Malone, friends and fellow Poway High School graduates, have made their urban brew and wine industry business – which now includes a new beer brewery, restaurant, and expanded winery – approachable, friendly, and fun!
The owners are especially excited about their newly opened restaurant, The Cork & Craft. James shared, “We all love good food, and there’s nothing quite like a delicious meal paired with a glass of wine or craft beer. We are so excited that this adventure has now led us into the action-packed craft beer and restaurant worlds!” New partner Elvin Lai, who also owns and operates Pacific Beach’s Ocean Park Inn, added, “We’ve brought together a fantastic team of talented chefs, experienced staff and an excellent head brewer to complement the wine experience. We’re proud to deliver a dining experience that really speaks for itself.”
The restaurant’s mission is to elevate the concept of comfort food to a gourmet experience, and an important part of that process is pairing their elegant dishes with just the right brews. They offer forty-one beers on tap, including some local San Diego favorites.
One way Abnormal Company has made its business more accessible is by adding a glass-walled brewery, open kitchen and, of course, the winery on the premises. This remodel, which launched with a grand opening on Sept. 18, has expanded the previous 1,500 square foot location into one measuring in at over 5,000 square feet! James proclaimed, “By knocking down all of the walls we created an environment that enables our guests to see everything going on at all times. We wanted to give our guests a more dynamic experience, and let them appreciate both process and product.”
Abnormal Company is also proud to soon bring its customers house-produced beers. Their glass-enclosed brewery is expected to be up and running by the end of the year. Abnormal Company intends to brew during restaurant hours to provide customers with a sense of artistry and display of their craft. According to Co-Owner Matthew, the company’s beer will be “gluten-reduced, flavorful enough to sit gently on the palate, and will pair perfectly with fare offered by The Cork & Craft.” As The Cork & Craft’s mission is to elevate the concept of comfort food to a gourmet experience, this new brewery will encourage customers to think a little more about what they are drinking, try out new beer and food pairings, and dare to step out into the abnormal.
Committed to servicing the greater community, Abnormal frequently hosts and contributes towards charitable events such as Rady Children’s Hospital and the Civic Youth Orchestra. “We aim to establish a solid relationship with those working for worthwhile causes in our area,” James revealed. “There’s nothing abnormal about that!”
Name of Business: Abnormal Company (Abnormal Wine Company, Abnormal Beer Company, Cork & Craft)
Co-Owners: Matt DeLoach, James Malone, and Elvin Lai
Years in Position: 2.5
Year of Establishment: 2012
Address: 16990 Via Tazon #123, San Diego, CA 92127
Description of Business: With every process on display from beginning to end, Abnormal functions as a full-fledged urban winery, craft brewery, and open-kitchen restaurant.
For Ph.D-level Biochemist Jim Crute, science is second nature – and so is brewing beer. When he made the switch in his professional life to start up Lightning Brewery, it seemed like a natural transition. The brewery was founded as a small artisanal brewery and remains that way today, only now with its beers available in over 300 local restaurants, shops, and grocery stores.
His science background inspires him to discover innovative brewing methods. “Our flagship beer Thunderweizen Ale is crafted with a very time-consuming and very hard-to-emulate process of decoction mashing,” said Jim. “This method enhances the body of the finished beer, dramatically improving taste, impression, and enjoyment.” Methods like this are what make Lightning Brewery so unique. “We are the first and, to my knowledge, only brewery in San Diego County that uses this process,” he noted.
Lightning Brewery has earned dozens of regional and national awards. “In 2012 our seasonal beer Old Tempestuous Ale won the Best of Show award at the California State Fair,” shared Jim. “We take that award as having the best beer in California that year.”
Lightning Brewery is located at 13200 Kirkham Way in Poway. For more information visit www.lightningbrewery.com or call 858-513-8070.
O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co.
Ed O’Sullivan credits his family’s Irish heritage and California creativity for the success of O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co. He and his brothers – Rob, Charlie, Jon, and Paul – formed the company in the spring of 2013. Ed, coming from a background in the biotech and finance industries, earned a professional brewer’s certificate at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) to prepare for running a brewery that combines science and artistry. “Our approach is to create thoughtful and cleverly constructed artisan craft ales and lagers that stimulate the palate and arouse the senses,” said Ed. “We will use science to control, monitor, and make intelligent decisions about our recipes and brewing process. We will respect tradition but pursue innovation and keep our thoughts and processes open to creativity.”
“We currently offer six beers, a wonderful refreshing West Coast pale ale, a nice delicate amber ale, a new-to-San Diego brown porter, a smoked porter, and a sweet stout,” he explained. “We are also planning to produce a red ale and an imperial stout, which will be available in January.” Further ahead, the brewery is also planning a number of special bottle releases for St. Patrick’s Day.
When asked the overall philosophy behind O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co., Ed had only one answer: “Quality, quality, quality. In everything we do.” That quality is the result of caring and commitment from everyone involved with the company. “All our employees are part time and are passionate about brewing,” shared Ed. “Almost all of them are in the UCSD professional brewing certificate program.”
O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co. is located at 9879 Hibert St. Suite F, San Diego, CA 92131. Visit www.osullivan-brothers.com to learn more.
Urge American Gastropub
Brothers Nate and Zak Higson and their longtime friend Grant Tondro founded Urge American Gastropub after the swift success of their first restaurant, The Barrel Room. With two popular RB eateries under their belt, the guys realized they had a knack for the restaurant business. So they quit their day jobs and threw themselves head-first into being restaurateurs – their most recent venture being Brothers Provisions. Together, this trio has helped to transform the RB restaurant scene into the diverse, vibrant foodie haven that it is today.
The guys all grew up in Rancho Bernardo and still have strong ties to the community. “While we each came and went during our college years,” they explained, “as we each settled down, got married and had kids, we began to appreciate this part of town more.”
“Frankly, neither of us had a ton of restaurant experience… it took a lot of time and hard work to get going,” Zak admitted. But after The Barrel Room started thriving, the guys knew it was time to expand. “We really wanted to do something different,” explained Nate. “The idea of burgers and beer just kind of seemed obvious,” added Grant. Urge opened in July 2010, and has since shone as an American reinterpretation of the classic English pub, with an emphasis on local products and great service.
They enjoy being able to give back locally. “We’ve donated over $100,000 to local charities,” shared Grant. “We all try to be as active as we can in the community.”
Urge Gastropub is located at 16761 Bernardo Center Dr. in Rancho Bernardo. For more information visit www.urgegastropub.com or call 858-673-8743.
Intergalactic Brewing Company
Established in 2013 by Rancho Peñasquitos resident Alex Van Horne, Intergalactic Brewing Company has quickly set itself apart as an artisanal small batch brewing company. According to Alex, the brewing company has crafted well over eighty varieties of beer in just their first eighteen months alone. It is this innovation, along with the company’s “never give up and never surrender” attitude and motto “to boldly brew,” that’s greatly benefited their craft. With signature brews such as their award-winning Coconut Porter, That’s No Moon Triple IPA, and their most popular beer, Andromeda IPA – their fruity and citrusy twist of a San Diego IPA – the brewing company is not afraid to experiment with new ingredients and recipes. “Our uniqueness comes from our dedication to exploring flavors and new styles,” explained Alex.
Intergalactic Brewing Company is constantly experimenting with new flavors; however one thing is certain not to waver: their involvement with their community. “We [maintain this by] brewing small batches of passionately crafted beer for our community and getting involved with local beer festivals that are put on by nonprofit organizations,” shared Alex. Discover more at www.intergalacticbrew.com.
Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
Ballast Point was born in the back room of Home Brew Mart, a supply store for home brewers owned by Jack White. In 1996, he teamed up with fellow home brewer Yuseff Cherney for a homegrown venture that would grow into the Ballast Point Brewery known and loved by San Diegans today. Ballast Point outgrew the back room and moved to its current Scripps Ranch location in 2004. Their efforts have produced internationally recognized results. At this year’s World Beer Cup, Ballast Point won a Gold Medal in the International Pale Ale Category for their Sculpin IPA, as well as a Bronze in the Aged Beer Category for their 2012 Aged Navigator Doppelbock.
The name Ballast Point and the names of most of their beers come from Jack and Yuseff’s other passion – fishing. The team takes this passion very seriously, and the business’ two award-winning sport fishing teams have proved that in competition.
In addition to mastering the arts of brewing and fishing, Jack and Yuseff have begun exploring the ancient craft of distilling. Seven Ballast Point spirits are now made and bottled at the same Scripps Ranch location. Check out www.ballastpoint.com for more.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2011, brewers and brewpubs generated a $299.5 million direct economic impact in San Diego County.
The economic contribution of craft brewers is more than 1 ½ times greater than the economic impact of Comic-Con International,
San Diego’s largest annual convention.
Since 2011, the total number of craft breweries in the region has more than doubled.
The largest craft brewing event in the region is San Diego Beer Week, which features more than 500 events and lasts from early to mid-November. Beer Week brings more than 20,000 participants to San Diego County.
Sources: National University System Institute for Policy Research and the Brewers Association