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FEBRUARY 2020

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SAN DIEGO BEVERAGE NEWS

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San Diego's MEAD MAKERS

HELIA BREWING'S OASIS

VOL . 9 ISSUE 2

LOCAL BEVERAGE EVENTS

F R E E M A G A Z I N E BY @W E S T C O A S T E R S D


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A drone shot from last year's Brewbies Festival (this year's is on February 8th at Bagby Beer in Oceanside). Check out our events list starting on page 6. Photo by KL Group.

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PRO H IB ITCH IN ': TH E B O U NTIFU L BAG

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P L AT E S & P I N T S : T H E B U T C H E R Y

S E N I O R B E E R E D I TO R ADVERTISING SALES A R T D I R E C TO R M E D I A C O N S U LTA N T

C O N T R I B U TO R S

m i ke @ w e s t c o a s t e r s d . c o m

r yan@westcoastersd.com

BRANDON HERNÁNDEZ brandon@westcoastersd.com

JA S O N N O B L E

jason@westcoastersd.com

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SAN DIEGO'S ME AD M AKERS

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BEER IN THE HE ADLIGHTS: H E L I A' S O A S I S

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B ELCH IN G B E AVER ' S C O O L (S H I P) R U N N I N G S

K R I S T I N H A R DY

kristin@westcoastersd.com

TO M S H E S S

thomas.shess@gmail.com

@SANDIEGOFOODGIRL A N I TA C H E E S M A N BETH DEMMON BRANDON HERNÁNDEZ IAN CHEESMAN JOLIE HUBBARD JUAN MARTINEZ KL GROUP R YA N L A M B SHELDON M. K APL AN

TO U C H B A S E W ITH U S : I N FO @W E S TC OA S T E R S D.C O M

LO C A L B E VER AG E E VENT S

ON THE COVER: A bot tle of G olden Coast Mead, the f irst commercial meader y in S an D iego. Photo by Jolie Hubbard (@jolieanastasia), the tasting room/ social media manager for the Oceanside -based company.

beauty is in the eyes of the beer-holder citizenbrewers.com

(760) 587-7989

5837 Mission Gorge Rd Ste A San Diego, CA 92120

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2201 San Dieguito Drive Del Mar, CA 92014 858.356.9346 viewpointbrewing.com


FEBRUARY FEBRUARY 2020 2020

Ƚ

February 1 – Saturday

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Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

Changing of the Barrels (31st Anniversary) @ Karl Strauss Brewing Co. 7th Anniversary Celebrations @ Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle Off Flavors Class @ Pure Project at Balboa Park Intro to Homebrewing Class @ The Homebrewer Succulent Heart Wreath Workshop @ Newtopia Cyder Sushi & Beer Pairing w/ Good Seed Food Co. @ Societe Brewing Co. Can Release: Diamond Dust & Murkshake with Orange @ Pure Project Brewing Beer and Brushes w/ Leo Angelo @ Longship Brewery

February 2 – Sunday Ƚ Ƚ

7th Anniversary Celebrations @ Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle Succulent Heart Wreath Workshop @ Latchkey Brewing Co.

February 4 – Tuesday Ƚ Ƚ

Belching Beaver/Revision Collaboration Party @ Churchill's Pub and Grille Patchwork: Macrame Plant Holder Craft Workshop @ Belching Beaver OB

February 5 – Wednesday Ƚ

Art & Beer Night Market SD Day 1 @ Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Escondido

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February 8 – Saturday Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

Ƚ Ƚ

Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

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Girl Scout Cookies & Beer Pairing @ Thorn Brewing Barrio Logan Waterfront Social Run + Yoga @ Eppig Brewing Waterfront Biergarten Patchwork: Macrame Triangle Wall Hanging Craft Workshop @ Culture Brewing Solana Beach

February 10 – Monday

Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

11th Annual Brewbies Oceanside @ Bagby Beer Co. Second Saturday w/ Kern River & Burning Beard @ Hamiltons Tavern National 2x4 Day @ Melvin Brewing San Diego Carnival of Caffeination: Pastry Palooza @ Modern Times Beer Succulent Heart Wreath Workshop @ Societe Brewing Co. Concrete Planter + Beer Workshop @ Bear Roots Brewing Company Beer & Cheer: Ocean Hearts @ Arcana Brewing Co.

February 9 – Sunday Ƚ

February 6 – Thursday Art & Beer Night Market SD Day 2 @ AleSmith Brewing Co. Hoppy Beans Running Club w/ Parabola Coffee @ Second Chance North Park Bottle Sale: Chocosaurus Rex & Roes Red @ Pure Project Brewing "San Diego Made" Valentine's Pop-up Party @ North Park Beer Co.

Artist of the Month Gallery Debut (Kyle Busick) @ Culture Brewing Encinitas "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Abnormal Beer Co. Brewery Comedy Tour @ Iron Fist Barrio Logan

Pink Boots Society SD Chapter Meeting @ Eppig Brewing Vista Team Jigsaw Puzzle Competition w/ Pacific Puzzlers @ 619 Spirits Yeast Essentials 2.0 @ White Labs Inc.

February 11 – Tuesday Ƚ Ƚ

Society of Jacked Up Individuals Member Day @ Jacked Up Brewery The Brewery Comedy Tour @ Green Flash Brewing Co.

February 7 – Friday

February 12 – Wednesday

Ƚ

Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

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Artist of the Month Gallery Debut (Philip Boelter) @ Culture Brewing Ocean Beach Blueberry Pastry Sour Spectacular (Blueberry Pie Wild Ale & Blueberry Pancake Wild Ale) @ California Wild Ales Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing

6 February 2020

Riff City Stand-up Comedy @ Amplified Ales East Village Roes Red Chocolate & Beer Pairing @ Pure Project Miramar Succulent Heart Wreath Workshop @ 32 North Brewing Co. Candle Making Workshop @ Culture Brewing Solana Beach Valentine's Day Rose Wild Ale @ California Wild Ales


February 13 – Thursday Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

World Premiere Listening Party: The God-Shaped Void @ Burning Beard Brewing Basics of Beer: Exploring World Traditions @ White Labs Inc. Galentine's Day 2020 @ Home Brewing Co. Hoppy Beans Running Club w/ Parabola Coffee @ Second Chance North Park Succulent and Sip Workshop w/ Creative Master Peaces @ 13 Point Brewing

February 14 – Friday Ƚ

Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

3 Year Anniversary (Mai Tai and Apricot Ginger Moscow Mule Release) @ Kilowatt Brewing Ocean Beach Sidewalk Surfin' DIPA Can Release @ All Pizza Port Brewpubs Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing 5th Annual Anti-Romance Party @ Duck Foot Brewing Co. "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Abnormal Beer Co. Patchwork: Macrame Plant Wrap Craft Workshop @ Rip Current North Park The Vagina Monologues @ Thorn Brewing Barrio Logan Valentine's Day Beer & Truffle Pairing @ Eppig Brewing Vista Caught in a Rip Triple IPA Can Release @ Rip Current San Marcos & North Park

February 15 – Saturday Ƚ Ƚ

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Resident's Day 2020 (4 Year Anniversary) @ Resident Brewing 3 Year Anniversary (The Double Export Stout and Flander's Red/Kriek Lambic Hybrid Release) @ Kilowatt Brewing Ocean Beach Hike for Hops w/ Burning Beard & Pure Project: Benefits Anza Borrego Foundation @ Alcoholic Pass Trail 7th Anniversary (Return of Barrel Aged Vanilla Storm and Lupulin Hazed) @ Rip Current San Marcos Bags-n-Beer: 2nd Annual Tournament to Unravel Pediatric Cancer @ Second Chance Carmel Mountain Yoga and Wine Fundraiser for SD Humane Society @ Charlie & Echo Winery Concrete Planter + Beer Workshop @ Latchkey Brewing Lonely Nerd Night 80's Dance Party @ Wavelength Brewing Co. Girl Scout Cookies & Beer Pairing @ Thorn Brewing Mission Hills

CONTINUED ON PAGE 42

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PROHIBITCHIN’

FROM TRASH TO Treasure

Two sisters upcycle brewery waste into usable fashion BY B E TH D EM MO N

“I like playing with garbage,” laughs Fiorella Rossel Borkert, better known as Fio. “Gimme gimme gimme gimme!” I’d never kink-shame anyone’s trash fetish, but Rossel & Company, the company Fio started with her sister Romina Rossel (Romi) is both family-friendly and earth-friendly. The Peruvianborn sisters have lived in San Diego for nearly two decades and have worked in the beer industry for several years. Both have artistic backgrounds; Fio in fashion and Romi in photography, design, and visual arts. But it’s craft beer that’s transformed from a hobby to an obsession for the pair. In 2015, Fio quit her nine-to-five job to pursue a career in beer, Romi is currently the secretary of the Pink Boots Society San Diego chapter, and both work at Wild Barrel Brewing in San Marcos. Needless to say, when the Rossel sisters go for it, they stick together and go all in. Immersing themselves in the industry wasn’t enough. A few years ago, Fio’s former coworker at Iron Fist Brewing Company with an interest in sustainability showed her the supposedly recyclable bags they received shipments of malt in. It turns out the sturdy material, despite being marked as recyclable, wasn’t (and still isn’t). According to Fio, his nudge set the movement in motion. “He was like, ‘you need to feel this material—it can be upcycled. You have a fashion degree, so do something with this!’ So I touched it and was like, dude, I can definitely do something… so I made some totes and brought them back a week later. Everyone was super pumped and people were like, you should sell this.”

Rossel & Company founders Romi and Fio.

10 February 2020

The sisters show me samples of their latest creations, which has expanded from tote bags under the Bountiful Bag line to aprons and other lifestyle goods, all created from upcycled vinyl


WestCoasterSD.com 11


and malt bags from malt companies like Weyermann. Weyermann describes their bags as “customized, ‘aroma-sealed’ bags” that are “tear-resistant, one-way, double-layer bags made from woven fabric with a stur people don’t really know about,” explains Romi. “We’re the Capital of Craft, the biggest beer production state and city, and we’re creating so much trash. Can we do something about it?” Fio chimes in: “We’re creating jobs, we’re creating a lot of economic impact, but at the same time we’re creating a lot of trash. This is not the beer industry's fault, it’s just how it is.”

They’re excited about making a dent in the debris. “It’s super cool because one, you're using a material that otherwise would end up in the landfill,” says Fio. “[Two], you're helping the environment, because even though the material says that it's recyclable, California doesn't have a facility that will actually recycle them. So they're all going into the landfill and it was a huge red flag for us. If we can do something with at least a portion of them, then it's helping a little bit.” (According to Romi, the only location in the United States willing to recycle the bags is located in North Carolina.)

Fio Rossel in upcycled fashion at the I Love A Clean San Diego awards.

12 February 2020


Rossel & Company hasn’t stopped at malt bags. They’ve rescued vinyl banners from Vans Warped Tour, Surfrider Foundation, and Karl Strauss’ Collabapalooza, as well as products from breweries like Drake’s Brewing Company in San Leandro and El Segundo Brewing Company near Los Angeles. Thousands of pounds of what would have been waste have been transformed into usable—and frankly, pretty stylish—goods that look cool and actually hold up with daily use.

“People are like, ‘you need to patent this.' No! We want to set an example and have other people do the same [so] maybe this is the new thing, the standard procedure. You make a banner for an event and then you—standard procedure—upcycle it and we'll make a big seller,” says Fio. “People can rip us off. We want people to do this… ideally, we don’t want the Bountiful Bag. In a perfect world, it doesn’t exist. We’re okay with that.”

Within six months of launching Rossel & Company, local environmental group I Love A Clean San Diego recognized Fio and Romi with the 2018 Zero Waste Innovation Award, which helped create a relationship between the two organizations that’s been going strong ever since. Both sisters hope that as awareness of this trash problem grows, two things will happen: breweries will reevaluate how they use and discard packaging products and secondly, that other craftspeople will steal their concept.

But for now, it’s a family affair. “We’re hustlers,” grins Fio. “Nothing’s going to stop us.” c Know someone who deserves to be featured in an upcoming column? Nominate them by emailing beth@bethdemmon.com.

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PL ATES & PINTS

Quarterly Dividends “Have you checked out The Butchery yet? It’s awesome.” Being a food and beer writer, I receive glowing recommendations on bottle shops, gourmet groceries, cheese shops, butchers, and the like on a regular basis. But when a meat purveyor comes highly touted by a barbecue enthusiast as fervid as Doug Constantiner—a Texan with multiple smokers and a love for brisket that rivals most parents’ affection for their offspring—I take note. Such was the case when the co-founder of Kearny Mesa’s Societe Brewing uttered the aforementioned query-compliment combo shortly after The Butchery opened last summer. OK, maybe the fact Doug was my boss at the time factored in, but regardless, the next time I was at the Del Mar Highlands’ One Paseo shopping center, I sought the spot out and immediately understood why he had become so enamored with it. If you enjoy cooking and are in search of high-quality proteins—those of the splurge-worthy variety—there’s a very good chance you’ll find something to sate your carnivorous cravings at this high-end butcher shop. From a counter chock full of thoughtfully sourced, house-cut, seasoned, marinated, and otherwise prepared meats, to a selection of game and more exotic offerings, The Butchery’s offerings are varied and expansive. Best of all, they include a nice selection of craft beers, a significant percentage of which are local.

The Butchery Quality Meats serves up recipes (and beers) for every phase of your Super Bowl soiree WORD S BY B R AND ON HERNÁND EZ PHOTOS BY @SAND IEG OFOOD G IRL

For the past 15 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a standing invitation to one particular Super Bowl party (and as Patriots fans, the hosts often have a horse in the race), where the feast is massive enough to serve as a conciliatory award to non-New Englanders. In clever fashion, they serve food on a quarterly basis, keeping things interesting throughout the three-hour affair (whether the game is any good or not). So, in serving the dishes from The Butchery, I suggest you employ the same strategy. Pass out the goat cheese sausage hors d’oeuvres around kickoff. When the first quarter comes to a close, bring out the hot wings. And bring out your steak sliders just prior to JLo and Shakira taking the stage. But what about the second half, you ask? If the game’s any good, it will require your undivided attention. Don’t relegate yourself to the kitchen, trying to keep up on your smartphone screen. That’s not how the Super Bowl is to be experienced. Spend the second half with your friends and stay hospitable by having some pre-prepared snacks available (storebought is all good here). Cheers and happy sports-ball day!

So, when I decided to devote my February column to preparing beerfriendly dishes well-suited for a Super Bowl get-together, I reached out to The Butchery’s culinary team for some straightforward recipes utilizing some of their offerings. They responded with a kindly enthusiasm only career butchers (or Doug) could conjure for such a task. Armed with a trio of fermented beverages and football fare—grilled sausages, wings, and steak sandwiches—I turned my attention to how best to present them during the big game. Back in the day, I hosted friends at my house for the Super Bowl. I’d cook up about a dozen different dishes and aim to get them all on the table before the game, not wanting to miss any of the action. This, despite the fact my teams seldom made it to the championship contest.

WestCoasterSD.com 15


SECOND QUARTER

Crispy Jidori Chicken Wings PAIRED WITH BOSS POUR WEST COAST IPA, ABNORMAL BEER CO. Yield: 1 dozen wings 12 Jidori chicken wings * 1 Tbsp baking powder 2 tsp Wheely Q Barbecue SPG Seasoning * ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted KICKOFF

Goat Cheese Sausages PAIRED WITH BARRIO LAGER, THORN BREWING Yield: 4 sausages 4 Pontrelli and Laricchia Sausage Co. Goat Cheese Italian Sausages * Tinga sauce * Prepare grill or heat cast-iron skillet to medium-high. Add sausages and cook until a caramelized crust forms and the sausages are warmed through (150 degrees Fahrenheit in the center), about 6 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes so the cheese doesn’t spill out. Cut the sausages on an angle into 1-inch thick slices and place on a platter. Serve with toothpicks and a tangy dipping sauce such as Tinga Sauce.

16 February 2020

½ cup vinegar-based hot sauce ranch or blue cheese dressing Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position an preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse chicken wings under cold water and pat completely dry with paper towels, squeezing out as much moisture as possible in the process. Transfer the wings to a large bowl, add baking powder and seasoning and toss to thoroughly and evenly coat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the wings on the sheet, separating them from each other by at least an inch. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then flip the wings over and continue to cook until crisp and golden browned, 20 to 30 minutes. While the wings are cooking, whisk together the butter and hot sauce in a large bowl. When the wings are done cooking, transfer them to the bowl and toss to coat in the sauce. Transfer the wings to a platter and serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing.


HALF TIME

The Butchery’s House Sandwich PAIRED WITH ICE PILSNER, MODERN TIMES BEER Yield: 15 slider-sized sandwiches 2 pounds house-marinated steak tips, thinly sliced against the grain * 1 Tbsp olive oil

Heat a flat-top grill or cast-iron skillet on medium-high. Add the steak tips and cook until nicely browned, about 8 minutes. In a separate pan, heat the oil on medium. Add the onions and peppers and cook until slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

1 white onion, thinly sliced 5 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced

Open the sandwich rolls and place 2 slices of cheese into each. Place the rolls on a sheet pan and place under broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.

5 grinder sandwich rolls 10 slices white American cheese

Stuff the sandwich rolls with even layers of steak tips, onions and peppers. Slice each sandwich into thirds, arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

Preheat broiler to high.

* Indicates that these items are available at The Butchery (at One Paseo): 3720 Caminito Courte, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92130. Recipe courtesy The Butchery Quality Meats.

WestCoasterSD.com 17


Meadiocrity Mead beehives in San Diego County.

WestCoasterSD.com 19


From Bee to Bottle San Diego’s Need for Mead Like all of us, mead’s roots began in Africa. It is estimated that approximately some 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, Africans started to make a basic version of mead (aka honeywine) which they learned from a natural occurrence in their environment. In the dry season, wild bees would build hives in hollowed-out tree trunks, and those cavities would fill with rain water when the annual rains came. Nature would add some wild yeast (which was floating in the air) as the final addition to this sweet solution, and a spontaneous fermentation would occur. The resulting sweet and alcoholic beverage spread far and wide to multiple geographic locations, into pharaoh’s cups, Viking drinking horns, Medieval courts and these days to a meadery, bar or bottle shop near you. No one knows precisely when the first meads were made in San Diego County, though home mead making in the region took off in earnest in the late nineties. Harold Gulbransen, a veteran member of the QUAFF homebrewing club and award-winning mead maker recalls that, “I know that this sounds sexist, but a lot of the female spouses found mead a little more interesting... I think the women in the club pushed it more than anything.” Fellow QUAFF veteran member, Mary Anne Bixby concurs. She is a mead maker and her late husband, Horace “Bix” Bixby, was the beer brewer in the family. On American Homebrewers Association’s Mead Day, which started in 2002, QUAFF members would gather at Mary Anne’s and Bix’s house to make and drink mead. To this day they still do so, though Mary Anne readily admits that “the first ones weren't so good, as we didn’t have the information we have nowadays.” The most famous of the early “home brewed” mead recipes are probably Charlie Papazian’s mead recipes in his seminal publication, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Yet another QUAFF member, Greg Lorton, recalls making Papazian’s “Ginger Mead” in the late 1980s and “using hops and not a lot of honey.” The resulting beverage, he says, “was like an alcoholic ginger ale.” Then, in the early oughts, the publication of Ken Schramm’s book, The Compleat Meadmaker: Home Production of Honey Wine From Your First Batch to Award-winning Fruit and Herb Variations, “upped the game,” says Gulbransen. Nowadays there is plenty of additional information online, with mead makers (both home and pro) adding to the canon on a daily basis.

20 February 2020

BY S H ELD O N M . K A PL A N


The good news is that today in San Diego we have a wide variety of meads of all types from a growing number of meaderies. As Vince Obarski of Twisted Horn Mead and Cider reminds us, “never go into a meadery and expect it to taste a certain way—keep an open mind and open palette—don’t fear it, just keep your mind open… no two are ever going to be the same.”

GOLDEN COAST MEAD: OCEANSIDE (EST. 2010) Frank Golbeck and Chris Herr

“It takes approximately 10,000 flowers per sip of mead,” Frank Golbeck tells me, based on the calculation that bees have to visit two million flowers in order to create a pound of honey. Golbeck is firmly ensconced in the not-so-secret lives of bees, their honey and the mead it allows him to produce. When he was a kid, his grandfather used to make and sell mead as a hobby after he retired from the family apple ranch near Yucaipa, California. Golbeck recalls seeing “grumpy old people coming into the tasting room… and my grandpa would pour this golden drink, and they would transform in front of me to laughing friendly people.” When he asked his grandfather what they were drinking, the response was “it’s the adult drink made from honey.” When Golbeck was around 18 years old, he was helping his grandfather clean out the attic, and was rewarded with the last bottle of mead (which had been there for 14 years). He took the bottle back to UC Berkeley, where he was an undergrad, and shared it with his girlfriend. Golbeck, whose natural tendency is to wax poetic, remembers “a

magical evening, like drinking sunshine in the golden hour.” That mead must have had some magic, as his then-girlfriend is now his wife. Golbeck decided to “cobble a recipe together from the internet,” the result of which was not very good, but Golbeck persisted to the point that eventually his Berkeley buddies were occasionally drinking a lot of his sweet potion. In 2007, after finishing his undergrad degree, Golbeck headed to San Diego and specifically to the Naval Station at 32nd Street, where he ultimately became a Surface Warfare Officer and would over time find himself “tired and not happy.” With his wife’s encouragement, he changed course and set sail on a journey of mead making. Initially, Golbeck focused on mead making at home in order to refine his recipes and then recruited some friends as business partners to test the viability of a local San Diego meadery. Praveen Ramineni, a friend from his Berkeley days, came on board to be “the numbers guy,” and Joe Colangelo, an ex-Navy buddy, joined to

WestCoasterSD.com 21


round out the original trio of investors. In the early days they rotated responsibilities, including helping make the mead. In October of 2010, Golden Coast Mead (GCM) was born as the first commercial San Diego meadery. The initial goal of the enterprise was to test a proof of concept for a meadery, done by utilizing various copacking facilities (local wineries) in order to try and prove the concept without having to make at that juncture a heavy capital investment. They were eventually also joined by another mead maker, Joe Connely who came on board to assist Golbeck. By 2014, Golbeck, Ramineni, and Colangelo had moved GCM to a place of their own on Oceanside Boulevard, where it remains today, sandwiched between a barber and a bagel shop. A distinctly added value is that the parking lot out front also serves the College Boulevard Sprinter Station. At around the same time that GCM opened in Oceanside, Chris Herr moved from Portland, Maine to California and fortuitously ended up living about a mile and a half from the meadery. Herr, who had previously worked in the tech industry, was also a homebrewer and had over time switched to mead making when he realized that “you can home brew a beer in eight hours or home make some mead in three hours, and have the remaining time to drink!”

Herr says that he “adopted GCM as his clubhouse” before eventually taking a job there in the tasting room to supplement the relatively meagre income he was earning from his primary job, which was working at a convenience store on Camp Pendleton Marine Base. At that time, he was still making mead at home in Oceanside and started sharing some with his new employers. It didn’t take Golbeck long to realize that Herr “was making better mead than we were!” By 2017, Herr had taken over as the GCM mead maker. Around the time he came on board, the guys had been experimenting with “hard” (as in alcoholic) honey kombucha. A S.C.O.B.Y. (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) from the kombucha accidentally contaminated a batch of traditional mead aging in American oak, causing the mead to sour. This “sweet and sour” mead would eventually become a staple of the meadery, a delicious elixir called “Something Something Sour.” I say “eventually” as Chris had to figure out a bunch of issues in order to reformulate the happy accident; one hundred batches later, he had it down! In addition to “Something Something Sour” and other “sour meads,” Chris now crafts traditional meads that tend to skew slightly dry, and he’s constantly experimenting with non-traditional meads such as a banana bread bochet mead (bochets are made with caramelized honey). GCM is also currently working on a series of “sweeter, carbonated” lower ABV (7%) session meads.

RAGING CIDER AND MEAD: SAN MARCOS (EST. 2015)

Dave Carr

22 February 2020


While in no way advocating underage drinking, once in a while there is an occurrence with a happy ending. Such is the case with Dave Carr, the co-owner (with his wife Kerry) at Raging Cider and Mead in San Marcos. When Carr was thirteen, he traveled with his parents to England, the country of their birth, to visit family. During that trip, Carr discovered that his height allowed him to be served in pubs despite his age. Back then, Carr had not yet developed a taste for English ales, and so he started drinking ciders and scrumpy (a type of English cider), ensuring the importance of an educated palate going forward. Carr, who has lived in North County since the age of nine, was a home brewer for about twenty-five years. Like many home brewers during that period, Carr wistfully recalls that he “always wanted to open a brewery,” but as a million breweries opened up, “I realized that the dream was slipping away.” Then, about twelve years ago, Kerry had to adopt a gluten-free diet, so Dave attempted to make some gluten-free beers. He sprouted his own grains, malted them, crushed them, and “made two big batches of porridge,” he says with a grin. After that, he had a flashback to those miscreant moments of his youth; why not make cider instead? And so he did, making his initial homemade ciders using commercially bought apple juice and then adding different fruits, herbs, and spices. By 2015, Dave had officially established his business, and then started making ciders with fruit from the 2016 harvest. “We had apple trees on our property, so I started crushing those apples,” he says. By 2017, he had hung out the “Raging” shingle in a business park in San Marcos that also houses his primary business, Crown Steel Manufacturing, which provides custom sheet metal predominantly for restaurants and breweries. Within a year of starting to make ciders, Carr got interested in making meads, admitting that at the time, “I didn't really know what I was doing... I was making mead like I made cider or beer or anything else.” At that point, Carr started doing some research, learning modern mead making techniques such as adding nutrients during fermentation. He also began a dialogue with Billy Beltz of Lost Cause Meadery. “I had a

lot of talks with Billy,” Carr says, adding that “he gave me some frame of reference and talked to me a lot about temperature control, which was another huge step up for me to be able to make meads.” Most of Carr’s meads tend to be melomels (fruited meads), which are in this case semi-sweet. They are a nice counterpoint to his ciders, which tend to be on the drier side of the spectrum; the clientele who visit Raging have a varied choice across the board, and Carr has recently noted a shift in the perception of meads. “Sales of mead have really taken off in the last six months. I have customers now asking, ‘why can't you put more meads on tap?’” Some of his clientele visit solely for the mead, the making of which Carr admits was more or less an afterthought: “It was something to do after harvest, because we are primarily a cider company and work mainly around the harvest.” Dave and Kerry have made a commitment to source their fruit and honey only from within San Diego County. They are doing this, as they state on their website, “in order to support the local farming community and to try and regrow the rich apple & pear orcharding traditions of the local San Diego mountains (in particular the Julian region).” Carr notes that “I don't go buy single varietal honeys. I use all multifloral honeys for the most part, usually dealing with just the local beekeepers; the honey is a story of the place it came from.” He adds that “it depends on the season... from the same hives, at one time of the year, there is a lot of orange blossom and eucalyptus in it, and at other times of the year there's just wildflower; it varies wildly.” Being a cider maker first, Carr tends to approach his mead making more from that point of view. “If it is a wildflower honey, I tend to target that more for using in my melomels. I tend to celebrate the fruit a little more with my melomels, more than celebrating the honey and what’s within it, but the honey does shine through!” As of now, their mead is only available on tap at the San Marcos location, but that might change in the not too distant future. As Carr notes, “we’re getting such a demand for mead I am having to ramp up my mead production.” Local mead lovers can only hope that occurs sooner rather than later.

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TWISTED HORN MEAD AND CIDER: VISTA (EST. 2016)

Vince Obarski

Vince Obarski first encountered the word “mead” in his youth playing Dungeons and Dragons. He had no idea what it was, only that it cost two gold pieces to buy. Cut to a little later in his life, circa late ‘80s/early ‘90s, Obarski, then in the Navy but working in the Fleet Marine Forces, found himself deployed in Norway and “discovered mead for real.” He notes that the mead was “unlike anything I have ever had... it left an indelible mark.” After Obarski returned to the U.S., while stationed at Camp Pendleton, he tried to make some mead himself. “I gave it a couple of tries, but it was a dismal failure… I didn’t understand real sanitation,” he says with a note of “if only” in his voice. Eventually, Obarski left the service and became a dental hygienist. One of his patients turned out to be a guy named Mike McCague, who was a member of Barley Literates, a North County home brew club. Obarski soon joined the club, and made mead making his primary focus, noting that “the intelligent and also positive feedback” from Barley Literate members helped Obarski refine his process and recipes. At a certain point, Obarski approached McCague to say that he and his wife Robin “had these epiphanies... like we're done with what we're doing [career wise]” and that they wanted to do something for themselves. Obarski explained to McCague that he was thinking of

24 February 2020

opening a meadery and cidery, and wondered if McCague knew anyone in the brewing business who would be willing to consult with him. Unbeknownst to Obarski at that time was that McCague had also toyed with the idea of opening a brewery for some time, but it had never panned out. After nearly two years of hard work, Twisted Horn Mead and Cider opened up in December 2016 in a business park in Vista. McCague was on board as the cider maker (though he also kept his day job), and his wife Lisa joined to help run the tap room and run events, and Obarski’s wife Robin moonlights as office manager and running the company’s admin. Obarski makes all the mead, and has a very specific approach. Although the meadery/cidery has a Viking theme, the meads are very different to those that Odin might have sipped. Obarski notes that his meads are “usually traditionally lower in alcohol than most others you'll find out there. Between 8 and 10% [ABV] is my comfort zone if you will. I prefer more of an off-dry style (it's a rarity that I'll ever go bone-dry, or do something that's heavier), I still want a little sweetness, still want to get the honey [taste] out of it, but without putting people on the floor.” Obarski primarily utilizes beer and ale yeasts (versus wine yeasts) to ferment out. “It may be a little slower during the fermentation;


I purposely try to drop my fermentation speed down to get rid of any off-characteristics and any off-flavors, but it becomes more presentable a lot faster… a nice lighter, fresher way of doing it,” he says. The meads at Twisted Horn are force-carbonated, so in addition to the off-dry flavors there is also a delicate effervescence that adds to the complexity. Obarski’s meads are being very well received. In the 2019 edition of San Diego International Beer Festival, Obarski entered six meads into

competition and medaled with four of them, which is an incredible entry-to-win ratio. The best place to taste Obarski’s mead in both draft and specialty barrel-aged bottle form is at Twisted Horn, though more draft accounts and specialty bottle shops should be stocked by the time you read this— no horns required!

LOST CAUSE MEADERY: MIRAMAR, BAY PARK (EST. 2017)

Suzanna and Billy Beltz. Photo by James Tran.

“Billy Beltz is a mead savant,” Harold Gulbransen tells me. Gulbransen knows a thing or two, because he’s made, tasted, and judged many a mead over the past 30 or so years. Billy is the co-founder of Lost Cause Meadery, along with his wife Suzanna. They opened the business in November 2017 in the Miralani Makers District, sharing a space with Serpentine Cider. Billy is the mead maker, and he and Suzanna collaborate on all other aspects of running the meadery. They have had great success in the relatively short time Lost Cause has been open, winning acclaim from both tasting room visitors and, perhaps more notably, other mead makers. They have also won a slew of awards to add to the many that Beltz won as a home mead maker. The overall success of Lost Cause has led to the Beltz’s expansion to a second location, next to Deft Brewing in Bay Park. The planned grand opening is on February 22, 2020 (02/22/20).

Billy was born and raised in the Santa Cruz mountains and got his undergrad degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He moved to San Diego to attend SDSU to earn his MBA. Billy discovered mead during his time as a home brewer, making extract brews “just for fun.” “I had [tried] some commercial mead and was intrigued, and then just started making them on my own,” Beltz says. “Once I started making my first meads, I just kind of fell in love with everything about it… it just became so much fun to experiment with things I've never seen or heard anyone else do. You know, there's so much to explore with mead,” he states with both excitement and the satisfaction of a man who has clearly found his calling. As Beltz soon found out, there was not a huge amount of detailed information on mead making. He notes that, “it's tough... there are no

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peer reviewed studies out there, there is no history of literature showing the best practices, and it [fermentation] can be different from yeast to yeast.” So, as a home mead maker, Beltz started experimenting on his own and took the deep dive. Ultimately, the results of his work were published in both Zymurgy Magazine and American Mead Maker, the official journal of the American Mead Maker Association. In a nutshell, what he learned was “that it all comes down to keeping the yeast happy and healthy during fermentation.” Beltz adds that “mead has a lot of things going against it: you are usually starting at a high sugar content, which is stressful for the yeast, and then honey has little to no nutrients for the yeast (so no nitrogen). People knew you had to add nutrients, but they would add it all in the beginning, which is not the way you want to feed the yeast.” The knowledge that Beltz acquired was not only in regard to the type of nutrients added, but also the amount and when they are added, and how temperature control plays into that. “All these things really matter, and how you supplement the nutrients plays a huge role,” he says. From my conversations with a number of other local mead makers, Beltz’s discoveries, which he is more than willing to share, have helped them to make better meads too. As a result of his numerous mead making experiments, Beltz is now creating some delicious meads in numerous styles to satisfy a curious, and growing, local public. “What we try and do, and what I think you're going to see increasingly in the next five to seven years, are meaderies that offer the complete range: bone-dry, carbonated, big fruit bombs, desert-style meads, fortified meads... but I do think right now as a whole, on the West Coast you are going to find drier, more carbonated meads.” He continues, “I think when we were opening we assumed that most of the San Diego craft beverage customers would want something dry, sparkling—you know, as close to their craft beer as possible—and what we've discovered is that the real hardcore craft beer drinkers actually gravitate to the bigger, sweeter, crazier meads more than the lighter, more carbonated ones.” At the time I chatted with Beltz, Lost Cause had just released a desertstyle mead named Shadier Neighbors, made with caramelized honey (a natural occurrence in some beehives), toasted pecans, and coconut.

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They also make a very popular Lemoncello-style mead, and other more traditional fruited meads. In those melomels, “there's like ten times the fruit you’d use in a fruited beer, so you have a huge fruit and honey profile, but it’s balanced with big acid, big tannins,” Beltz says. “Meaderies are now using five to 12 pounds of fruit per gallon. That has become the expectation. We use high quality whole fruits that haven't been cooked and we don't use purees, though we do use juice concentrates for aroma.” He also adds that “we are trying to build our barrel program; oak and mead, it's like a match made in heaven!” Beltz is also into sourcing numerous styles of honey to add to the complexities of the Lost Cause meads. In addition to locally sourced wildflower, wild buckwheat, wild sage and alfalfa honeys, he has also sourced meadowfoam honey from the Pacific Northwest which, he says, “tastes basically like a marshmallow.” Lost Cause are also one of the few meaderies to use Brazilian pink pepper blossom honey, and at the time of our interview, Beltz was planning to acquire macadamia nut honey from Hawaii, and a mustard blossom honey from India. Currently, one has to go to the meadery to try the fare from Lost Cause, as there is virtually no distribution of their meads. Says Beltz, “we have grown faster than I expected. The tasting room is a lot more popular, and we’ve seen a lot more customers, than we ever expected to. We thought we’d have to do some distribution by now and we really don’t... we are trying to keep up with the tasting room [volume].” Lost Cause? I don’t think so. P.S.: For those locals reading this who have a deeper interest in mead, Lost Cause run a “Mead Geek Society.” Here is the info from their website: “We are a mead appreciation club for people that enjoy drinking, talking about, sharing, making, and basically just geeking out over all things mead. Membership is free and open to anyone. Meetings are held roughly every other month on Monday evenings at Lost Cause Meadery. The Lost Cause Meadery tasting room is closed to the public during meetings so members can bring homemade mead or commercial mead they want to share.” Check out https://www.lostcausemead.com/mead-geek-society for more details.


MEADIOCRITY MEAD: SAN MARCOS (EST. 2019)

John Botica, Mark Oberle, and Andrew Segina of Meadiocrity Mead.

“Meadiocrity?” I ask Mark Oberle, my voice clearly tinged with a note of incredulity. Oberle, who is the public face of Meadiocrity Mead, chuckles when he hears this. Some years ago, while sitting around the table with his now meadery partners, tasting their mead and “just spitballing” and struggling with what to call their nascent mead company—“honey this or bee that”—Oberle eventually said, “this stuff is pretty good, why don’t we just call it Meadiocrity?” He continues, “everyone laughed and then decided that it was actually kind of catchy.” Initially, they tried to avoid the name Meadiocrity, given that it was selfdeprecating, but then decided that it was okay, because as Oberle says, “they are all self-deprecating guys.” He adds, “many customers try and convince us that we have bad branding, but they remember the name!” The original guys in the partnership with Oberle (who is front of business, negotiates the deals, and handles sales and marketing) are John Botica, the head mead maker [and also their graphic designer], and Andrew Segina. Nate Fredricks, “[their] boots on the ground beekeeper,” is also a partner. Meadiocrity opened their meadery in San Marcos in October of last year, a contemporary and welcoming

environment located at the opposite end of the business park that also houses Rip Current Brewing Co. Oberle, Segina, and Botica all grew up in and around North County, and have known each other socially over years of living in the area. All come to the meadery from a variety of different work backgrounds. Oberle, who is currently the only partner “working full time” at the meadery, was previously a computer software engineer and systems architect in defense industry, though he has dabbled in some winemaking and is also a sommelier. Botica works in the tech world as a user experience designer, and Segina is a high school science teacher who also does some beekeeping on the side. Botica, a long-time home brewer, started making beer with Segina, and later Oberle ended up hanging out with them. They started out making mead “casually, for fun,” says Oberle. Then at some point someone joked, “we should sell this!” This suggestion led to the group trying whatever commercial meads were available at the time, finding out that they were not that great, and that there was perhaps opportunity in the broader mead marketplace.

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As Oberle notes, “we really thought that the [commercially available] meads in the market weren’t representing what mead could be.” A number were either too sweet with a lot of fruit added, or bone dry with high alcohol. “We wanted something that was easier drinking style, something you could drink more of, not a fireside sipping mead. We wanted something that could showcase the honey.” They started out making numerous test batches, trying to get a recipe they liked with different varieties of honey and yeast, and varying levels of sweetness. This process took about a year, until they came up with a mead that they really liked. At that time, when only Golden Coast was open in the county, “we didn’t want to open up a tasting room right away,” says Oberle. “We didn’t want to go a couple of hundred K into debt without any real proven capability.” So, they decided to make mead on a contract basis with Golden Coast, bottling and kegging some product, which went to specialty bottle shops (such as Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido, and Bine & Vine in Normal Heights) and various bars and restaurants.

That mead, Foundation, is still being made at the Meadiocrity meadery, and their website describes it as such: “Crafted with 100% raw San Diego alfalfa honey and spring water to yield flavors of crisp apple, bright citrus, and earthy honey notes. Slightly sparkling and semi-sweet, Foundation is the perfect food-friendly traditional mead.” As Oberle says, “nothing short of a miracle, we ended up getting picked up by Trader Joe’s!” Initially, they were in one store, then three stores, then seven stores, and eventually all twenty-three stores in Southern California. For the first couple of batches, the mead was still being made under contract at Golden Coast, but as production required scaling up, they moved to a co-op in Escondido with the 298 Enterprise Group (and Vesper Vineyards specifically), which ended up with Meadiocrity getting licensed as an “02 winery” at the end of 2017. Once Trader Joe’s picked up their mead, it had passed “the risk point… as in, ‘will people actually drink this?’” And so began phase two; Meadiocrity started to seek out their own space for a meadery and tasting room, and also the associated financing, all while working their day jobs. Eventually, the guys signed a lease for their current space in November of 2018, but then failed to meet the bank’s somewhat onerous lending requirements, and so the guys “did a Hail Mary to friends and family to raise capital,” which fortunately was successful. Unlike most meaderies, Meadiocrity is somewhat vertically integrated, as the ownership group also owns more than one hundred beehives in Valley Center and Palomar Mountain (plus more in Ramona and Julian depending on the season) that they manage and collect honey from, a task overseen in the main by Nate Fredricks. Andrew Segina, who as mentioned earlier also does some of the beekeeping, is the liaison between the business side of things and the beekeeping operation. “Andrew came up with the concept and pulled the team together. We started out with a set of colonies and have continued to grow them,

28 February 2020


learning our lessons all along the way,” notes Oberle. “Honey is already the most expensive fermentable sugar out there, so why cover up all the hard work the bees have done and make just a raspberry wine or some fruited wine? Anything that we make, you can taste the honey, and any extra ingredient that we add we always want it to be a complement to the honey, where the honey is always the showcase.” There are a number of different meads on tap at Meadiocrity, in addition to the aforementioned Foundation. According to Oberle, “we wanted to be able to make different styles of mead -- something for everyone. We’ve got some meads that are high alcohol, dry and still, we have some that are semi-sweet and carbonated, we have some that have fruit, some that have spices, some that have flowers.”

In 2020, one particular focus will be smaller batch, “traditional” meads that are meant to highlight the unique honeys. “We’ve done that in the past for a few, but we really want to be able to put several side by side, made at the same time, made with the same yeast but made with different honeys, so that people can see not all honeys taste the same.” During my visit I tried the Mead A Colada which is served on nitro. Now, normally I am not a Piña Colada fan, nor for that matter a fan of any drink that usually arrives festooned with a paper umbrella or wedge of fruit on the rim. However, in the name of science and exploration on your behalf, dear reader, I accepted the glass of what looked like a Hazy IPA, with a fluffy white, nitro-infused head, and took my first admittedly skeptical sip... and low and behold… a melange of pineapple, lime, and coconut flavors all beautifully balanced and in delicious harmony. Many things for sure, but mediocre NOT!

MJØDHALL MEADERY:

Eric and Anya Olson at You & Yours Distilling.

Waiting in the wings to start a “brick and mortar” version of Mjødhall Meadery are husband and wife proprietors Eric and Anya Olson. They currently make mead at their house in Valley Center, and serve their mead at home brew festivals and other festivals, such as the annual Vista Viking festival. They also collaborate with other established enterprises such as North County’s Guadalupe Brewery, with whom they joined forces to make an award-winning braggot (a beer and mead hybrid) which was made to raise money for a local teen cancer patient. Eric grew up making mead, helping his father and grandfather with beekeeping and mead making on his grandfather’s former rabbit farm in Vista. This mead making is a family tradition brought over by his grandfather from Lithuania where, according to Eric, “they have a very rich tradition of beekeeping and mead making.”

“Traditionals are my favorite by far,” says Eric, though he adds, “I often think that some of the other styles are easier… [but] if you really want to become a good meadmaker, you need to focus on making a clean traditional.” Eric, who also works seasonally at a winery and does hive rescues on the side with Anya, is very humble about his mead making exploits. That said, he has a cheerleader in Anya who is quick to inform me that, “Eric has won over 60 medals on the homebrewing level.” Anya, who currently works in the corporate world, is also very much involved with Eric as the “guinea pig” in developing new recipes. Their next commercial mead steps that are in planning involve a potential “custom crush” at a Ramona winery, as they contemplate plans for a physical space of their own.

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GOOD OMEN MEAD: Brian LaMere, a security consultant for medical device manufacturers who sell their products to the military, and also a home mead maker, needed some help with technical writing and advertised for some assistance. The respondent who got the job was Marie Newman, who has a both a degree and background in marketing. Newman, who by her own admission is “not a big consumer of alcoholic drinks,” at one point tried one of Brian’s “sherry honey wines” and developed an affection for this mead. She found it “extremely dynamic, not too sweet, and different to any alcohol I’d had before.” Suitably intrigued, it was not long before Newman was doing local mead market research for LaMere who had long expressed a desire to open a local meadery. The result of their combined endeavors has been the co-founding of Good Omen Mead, a meadery and restaurant which will be located at 141 E. Grand Avenue in Escondido. The space in question, which happens to cover two levels and occupies approximately 13,600 square feet, is currently being refurbished in order to make their plans a reality. In addition to a full-service restaurant, the goal for the associated meadery is “to produce three styles of mead: session meads (to match the current industry standard), honey wines (aged for more than six months), and reserve honey wines (fermented twice and aged for one year or more).” Newman also adds that “the current goal is to open a members-only honey wine club while the property is still being renovated.” Those interested in the club can contact her at Marie@GoodOmenMead.com. To learn more, check out their website, Facebook, and Instagram (@goodomenmead). c

Marie Newman and Brian LaMere

30 February 2020


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BEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS

An Inland Oasis: Helia Brewing BY IA N CHEES M A N

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Fun Fact: There was once a sequel to the movie Beetlejuice in development. I know that sounds crazy, but remember that this was back in the ‘90s when major movie studios were so creatively bankrupt that they were seemingly only willing to fund sequels and remakes. Thank goodness we’ve finally escaped that hellish cinematic landscape, right? Oh, what was the name of the spec script, you ask? Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian. Yes, really. In the since leaked script it was revealed that the Deetz family moves to Hawaii to develop a tropical resort... only to discover it is sitting atop an ancient burial ground! What to do?! Obviously, they must summon the help of an impetuous spirit that, in a completely unrelated matter, recently attempted to coerce their underage daughter into unholy matrimony. It’s exactly the kind of 100% relatable scenario that movie magic is built upon. That plot may sound absurd, but consider that the “I dunno... maybe put them in Hawaii?” tactic is actually a longstanding

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screenwriting trope. The “stranger in a strange land” motif has a lot of angles to exploit, which is why everything from The Brady Bunch to Saved by the Bell (not to mention a critically acclaimed episode of Storage Wars) has gone Hawaiian at one point or another.

It works because Hawaii is essentially a placeholder for a type of experience. It’s a metaphor for lush tropical vistas, the leisure of beach life, and embarking on new adventures. So when I tell you that my initial impression of Helia Brewing Co. was a “Brewery gone Hawaiian,” it is actually a very nuanced observation, and not the uninspired ramblings of a hacky writer. The interior of Helia Brewing Co. feels like a North Shore beach house very tastefully exploded in the confines of an industrial warehouse. It has an airy, bohemian vibe, replete with pastel tones and a quarry’s worth of healing pink quartz. If you’re searching for a place to get a drink that could also somehow miraculously cure your bursitis, this may well be the joint.


My favorite accent of the tasting room is the wall-sized mural of an ocean wave captured from beneath. It has a serene quality to it, perhaps a thematic nod to the tasting room serving as an oasis from the churn and chaos surrounding it. Of course, that’s also the view you’d get just before the sharks or rip currents take hold of you, but I think it’s probably best to try and focus on the serenity bit. The layout of the tasting room is purpose built to allow parties of all sizes to comfortably settle in. Larger groups can easily take up residence in one of the many stubby, pillow-laden benches hugging the perimeter. Those same benches are conveniently appointed with dark, metallic drink trays that look equally capable of putting a nice sear on your ribeye, though I’d imagine the fire marshall would disagree. There’s also a spacious, succulent-rimmed outdoor patio to bask in Gaia’s glory and the requisite draught-side bar stools. And if you’re flying solo (and have zero regard for lumbar support), there is no shortage of scooping wicker seats about. In a move of almost unprecedented diligence on my part, I’ve been able to sample Helia Brewing Co. brews several times over the last year. In that window I have witnessed a gradual and continual improvement in both the quality of the beers as well as their complexity. As Helia Brewing Co. more commonly embraces classic styles that don’t employ much in the way of adjuncts, I believe it speaks volumes to the refinement of their processes and recipe development to date. A perfect example of this phenomenon was the Ponytail Red Ale, a coppery quaff that greets with soft bready malts mapped in equal intensity to its perfumy floral scent. The first sip reveals equally welcoming notes of red delicious apple, French bread, light grain husk,

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with just enough of a closing citrus rind bitterness and peppery notes to balance things out. While I enjoyed it on my previous visit, this beer has a bit more swagger than it used to. I expect Layers of Love Double IPA will similarly be a crowd-pleaser. Its nose is reminiscent of Froot Loops cereal, offering pungent orange juice and soft tropical fruits. Much of that experience carries into the flavor, punctuated by a punchy peach and mandarin orange that gracefully lean into the citrus rind and pine in the finish. It does finish a bit sweet for my personal taste, but doing so really accentuates the Tiki drink soul of this DIPA. Those craving roastier options will likely enjoy the Helia Porter, with its aromatics of drip coffee, sweet dark chocolate, and blueberries. It echoes those notes in the flavor, along with some plum and a low roasty, piney vibe to the finish. Yawn Patrol Stout significantly ups the roast ante by comparison, though not entirely to its benefit. An earthy dark coffee dominates the aroma and flavor, accented by hints of cocoa powder. You can sense the malts trying to lend their support, but they are ultimately unable to withstand the considerable wallop of coffee this stout delivers. Still, true to its name, this beer would undeniably snap you out of a dead sleep. My least favorite of the bunch was the Güerita Lager, but, in fairness, you’d be hard pressed to get me very effusive about a Mexican-style lager even on its best day. While it had a familiar grainy and corn meal-y malt character, the flavor tilted too strongly toward a soapy, floral finish. The balance diminished the style’s requisite drinkability, though it wasn’t so egregious that it would rock the mellow of the drum circle. Since I have no desire to push too many negative vibes into the universe, I’ll round out my assessment with Nelson Saves The Galaxy Golden Ale, a collaboration with Iron Fist Brewing Company. This selection may surprise avid fans of Patrick L. on Untappd, who only deigned to grant this brew a paltry 2.25 stars. And while the intense scrutiny of his tasting notes for this brew are beyond reproach— “Was at the anniversary party the other week. Fun music and interesting foods. Cute waitress!”—I fear I must dissent. Nelson Sauvin hops may not be capable of wresting us from the grasp of a tyrannical galactic overlord, but it does a yeoman’s job of making this brew a standout. Despite a vague fruit cocktail tone to the nose, the flavor is brimming with pear, grapes, apricot, and a bit of mango. It tidies up with a moderate bitterness that primes your palate for another go. I fear my early associations of this brewery with the trappings of Hollywood could give the impression that I find it similarly awash in contrivances and thoughtless production. In truth, my experiences at Helia Brewing Co. have always resonated as entirely authentic. The space is abundantly laid-back and cheery, a sentiment that spills into the beers they offer. It will relax you. You may well call someone “Brah” without even intending to. That is its power. I’d even suggest they open a second tasting room closer to me, but I can’t very well go requesting a sequel after this article. c

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Brewbies2020.pdf

1

1/2/20

4:19 PM

11th Annual Brewbies Craft Beer Festival

FEBRUARY 8TH, 2020

Hosted by Bagby Beer Co. in Oceanside, CA 40+ breweries

Food Trucks

Cornhole Tourney

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100% of the net proceeds benefit the Keep A Breast Foundation

Tix now available at brewbies.org


BELCHING BEAVER’S

Cool(ship) Runnings BY B R AND ON HERNÁND EZ

Peter Perrecone with the company's new piece of equipment.

38 February 2020


While Belching Beaver Brewery is largely known for everyday styles and its fan-favorite Peanut Butter Milk Stout, the North County business sports an extensive barrel-aging program. Headed by barrel master and R&D brewer Peter Perrecone, that niche component is in a state of growth after installation of a coolship at its original production facility in Vista. A wide, open-top vessel, the coolship’s purpose is two-fold. As its name suggests, the metal container holds hot wort (unfermented beer) transferred to it from Belching Beaver’s 15-barrel brewhouse while it cools (an overnight process). Its open-air nature also allows wild yeast and bacteria present in the atmosphere to get at the wort. Those organisms are what ferment and lend exotic, unique flavor to the resultant “wild” beers as they age away in oak barrels.

“I plan to use it to make méthode traditionelle beers, which is as close as you can get to making lambic and gueuze in America,” says Perrecone. “Each beer from our coolship will have its own unique branding, and we will use the beer description to specify where the parts of the blend came from, be it our coolship, oak foeders or oak barrels.” “This is what I’ve been working toward my whole sour-brewing career,” says Perrecone, who was the inaugural brewer for originally all-wild Vista operation Toolbox Brewing before departing the business in 2015. “I see this project as adding another layer to the Belching Beaver cake. This is fun and exciting and not something that a lot of breweries are currently doing in Southern California.” As it stands, of the 150-plus operating brewhouses throughout San Diego County, the only other operation equipped with a coolship

WestCoasterSD.com 39


is El Cajon’s Burning Beard Brewing, which began utilizing that vessel just over a year ago. There are many reasons for the scarcity of this piece of equipment. Producing spontaneously fermented beer requires militant quarantine procedures where clean beer, and the apparatuses used to produce it, must be kept completely separate from those infested with bacteria and bugs (which could irreparably infect them). This requires separate rooms, equipment and even clothing, which equates to added expense. Plus, these beers take years to produce with no firm time tables or guarantees that they will turn out as desired. Separate packaging mechanisms are required, as well, and such beers— due to labor and the aforementioned expenses—have significantly higher price tags, making them a tougher sell to consumers. It also makes for a tough sell to business decision makers, but not in Perrecone’s case. “Getting our CEO Tom Vogel and brewmaster Troy Smith onboard was easy. We never shy away from investing in the quality of our beer,” says Perrecone. Even with support from above,

40 February 2020

the sour beer specialist acknowledges the slowdown in nationwide sales of barrel-aged specialty offerings. “We produce just enough to hit our markets, but not overload them with these beers. We’re focusing on méthode traditionelle and spontaneously fermented beers to take our program to the next level. We’ve found barrel-aged beers of all styles are still in high demand. At the end of the day, I believe this was a good decision.” Belching Beaver’s coolship was officially “christened” on December 26 with a “nice, long brew day." Perrecone and assistant brewer Keith Porter made a traditional turbid mash that required three hours of boiling before transferring the wort to the coolship, where it cooled without incident and was transferred to barrels to ferment. The hope is that the beer will be ready to share with the public by 2021, but there is no way to know, and Perrecone, whose plan is to produce one-, two- and three-year blends in the classic gueuze tradition, says he won’t rush the beers that grace his coolship. c


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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7 Kairoa Brewing teams up with local nonprofit Friendly Feast on a "Pie vs. Cake" event Sunday, February 23. Try three pies and three cakes by SD chefs to pick the winner (tickets include a Kairoa brew); proceeds benefit Kitchens For Good. Photo by Juan Martinez (@juanny6pac)

42 February 2020


LOCAL events

February 16 – Sunday Ƚ

Sake 103: Home Brew Class @ Setting Sun Sake Brewing Co.

February 18 – Tuesday Ƚ

Natural Wine & Cheese Class @ Venissimo Cheese (Inside Bottlecraft North Park)

February 20 – Thursday Ƚ Ƚ

Macrame: Twisted Fringe Wall Hanging Craft Workshop @ Culture Brewing Ocean Beach Hoppy Beans Running Club w/ Parabola Coffee @ Second Chance North Park

February 21 – Friday Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

The Wort Wrangler's Comedy Show @ Setting Sun Sake Brewing Co. Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Abnormal Beer Co. Jenga Tournament @ Alpine Beer Company

February 22 – Saturday Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

13th Anniversary Celebrations (Day 1 of 2) @ TapRoom Pacific Beach 7th Anniversary Party @ Culture Brewing Solana Beach 1 Year Anniversary Party @ 13 Point Brewing Company Comedy & Jazz w/ Riff City Comedy @ Amplified Ales East Village Barrel-Aged Beer Night @ Tap That Oceanside Gulls Party Bus from Pizza Port Carlsbad to Pechanga Arena (Plus Return)

February 23 – Sunday Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

13th Anniversary Celebrations (Day 2 of 2) @ TapRoom Pacific Beach Brew w/ Chuck (Extra Special Bitter) @ Longship Brewery Trashy Hour Cleanup & Discount Pints @ The Homebrewer Pie vs. Cake @ Kairoa Brewing Company Advanced Brew Class @ Home Brew Mart

February 25 – Tuesday Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

Fat Tuesday Drinkabout w/ Burning Beard @ Adams Avenue Accounts Tuesday w/ Two Roads Brewing @ Hamiltons Tavern Mardi Gras Celebration $4 Beers @ The Homebrewer

February 26 – Wednesday Ƚ

Loosely Bound Book Club Meeting @ South Park Brewing

Hoppy Beans Running Club w/ Parabola Coffee @ Second Chance North Park

February 28 – Friday Ƚ Ƚ

Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Abnormal Beer Co.

February 29 – Saturday Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

Anniversary 4 Celebration w/ Live Music, Wild Ale Bar & More @ Burning Beard Brewing The Good Vibes Reggae Fest @ Helia Brewing Co. Leap Year Beer Release: Eleven 44 @ Home Brewing Co. Walkabout: Chocolate Theme @ Miralani Makers District

MARCH MARCH 2020 2020

March 5 – Thursday Ƚ

Hoppy Beans Running Club w/ Parabola Coffee @ Second Chance North Park

March 6, Friday – March 8, Sunday Ƚ

Renaissance Weekend 2020 @ Churchill's Pub and Grille

March 6 – Friday Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing Artist of the Month Gallery Debut (Derek Delacroix) @ Culture Brewing Ocean Beach Stroll the Boulevard w/ 20+ Businesses on El Cajon Blvd. "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Rouleur Brewing

March 7 – Saturday Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

Half-toberfest @ North Park Beer Co. Starkbierfest @ Eppig Brewing Vista Pet Photo Shoot Fundraiser for SD Humane Society @ Green Flash Brewing Co. Intro to Homebrewing Class @ The Homebrewer

March 8 – Sunday Ƚ Ƚ

Open House 2020 (Wedding Venue) @ Milagro Winery Pet Photo Shoot Fundraiser for SD Humane Society @ Green Flash Brewing Co.

March 9 – Monday Ƚ Ƚ

San DiFUEGO Club Meeting @ The Homebrewer

February 27 – Thursday Ƚ

Ƚ

Pink Boots Society SD Chapter Meeting @ Second Chance Carmel Mountain Suds & Science: How the Body Uses Force to Function @ Location TBD

March 12 – Thursday Ƚ

Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar @ 25 Locations

WestCoasterSD.com 43


March 13 – Friday Ƚ Ƚ

Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Rouleur Brewing

March 14 – Saturday Ƚ

Abnormal Beer Co. Fifth Anniversary Event @ Bottlecraft Sorrento Valley

March 19 – Thursday Ƚ

The Rites of Spring Art Show w/ Kyler Suchey @ Burning Beard Brewing

APRIL APRIL 2020 2020

April 3 – Friday

Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

April 4 – Saturday

March 20 – Friday

Ƚ

Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

Ƚ

Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing Jenga Tournament @ Alpine Beer Company "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Rouleur Brewing

March 21 – Saturday Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

Best Coast Beer Fest (Benefitting Cuck Fancer) @ Embarcadero Park North 3rd Annual Pucks & Pints w/ Thorn & Societe @ Phil's BBQ & Pechanga Arena Vinyl Junkies Pop-Up Shop w/ Amplified Ale Works @ Casbah San Diego

March 23 – Monday Ƚ

Team Jigsaw Puzzle Competition w/ Pacific Puzzlers @ AleSmith Brewing

March 25 – Wednesday Ƚ

San DiFUEGO Club Meeting @ The Homebrewer

Ƚ

Loosely Bound Book Club Meeting @ South Park Brewing

March 27 – Friday Ƚ Ƚ

Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Rouleur Brewing

March 28 – Saturday Ƚ

Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

Brew with Chuck (Coffee IPA) @ Longship Brewery Advanced Brew Class @ Home Brew Mart Trashy Hour Cleanup & Discount Pints @ The Homebrewer

Keeping It Local Pairing w/ Good Seed Food Co. (Details TBD) @ Pariah Brewing

April 6 – Monday

Ƚ

Team Jigsaw Puzzle Competition w/ Pacific Puzzlers @ Kairoa Brewing

April 8 – Wednesday

Ƚ

Pink Boots Society SD Chapter Meeting @ North Park Beer Co.

April 10 – Friday

Ƚ Ƚ

Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Pizza Port Brewing Co.

April 14 – Tuesday Ƚ

The Brewery Comedy Tour @ Green Flash Brewing Co.

April 17 – Friday

Ƚ Ƚ Ƚ

Walkabout: Citrus Theme @ Miralani Makers District

March 29 – Sunday

13th Annual North Park Festival of Beers @ (In Front of) Lafayette Hotel 6th Annual Meading in the Garden @ Alta Vista Botanical Gardens Intro to Homebrewing Class @ The Homebrewer

April 5 – Sunday

Ƚ

March 26 – Thursday Ƚ

Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing Artist of the Month Gallery Debut (Caitlin Carney) @ Culture Brewing Ocean Beach Artist of the Month Gallery Debut (Vincent Darmohusodo) @ Culture Brewing Solana Beach Artist of the Month Gallery Debut (Myles McGuinness) @ Culture Brewing Encinitas "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Pizza Port Brewing Co.

Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing Jenga Tournament @ Alpine Beer Company "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Pizza Port Brewing Co.

April 24 – Friday

Ƚ Ƚ

Comedy Heights Night @ Bay Bridge Brewing "Hops on the Harbor" Beer Pairing Dinner Cruise w/ Pizza Port Brewing Co.

INCLUDE YOUR EVENTS IN NEXT MONTH’S CALENDAR FOR FREE! EMAIL: info@westcoastersd.com

44 February 2020


South Park Brewing plays host to the Loosely Bound Book Club once a month on the following Thursday evenings: 2/27, 3/26, 4/30, 5/28, 6/25, 7/30, 8/27, 9/24, 10/29, 11/29, and 12/17. Find more info at Facebook.com/SouthParkBrewCo.

WestCoasterSD.com 45


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West Coaster February 2020  

West Coaster February 2020