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SUMMER 2014 | SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BEER NEWS | VOL. 1 NO. 6


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E ofG OU R STAT N I S U R E E ! W N B ST RUCTIO N REW YOU R O N B I O L A T N N O R I A S E L ROFES STEM AND P Y S T R A E H T ke! hat you ma w e m o h e Tak parties! Great for

Tasting Bar – 16 taps HAND CRAFTED HOUSE BEERS AND ROTATING GUEST TAPS/BOTTLES Restaurant with beer infused American cuisine

Pierce St.

WICKS BREWING CO. 91 f w

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e. Sterling Av

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11620 Sterling Ave, Riverside, CA 92503 Hours: Sun- Wed 11am-10pm Thurs- Sat 11am-11pm wicksbrewing.com | 951.689.2739


West Coaster, THE PUBLICATION

Graphic Designer ASHLEY DREWITZ ashley@westcoastersd.com Media Consultant TOM SHESS thomas.shess@gmail.com

F T E D AL

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CE 2009

Art Director KAYLA COLEMAN kayla@westcoastersd.com

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Executive Editor RYAN LAMB ryan@westcoastersocal.com

BREWING H A

Publisher MIKE SHESS mike@westcoastersocal.com

Advertising Executive JAMES MCCANN james@westcoastersocal.com Contributors BRETT NELSON MITCH STEELE SAM TIERNEY TOMM CARROLL TIM STAHL Want to contribute? Drop us a line! © 2014 West Coaster Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

“No beer was wasted in the making of this publication.”

TABLE OF CONTENTS 4-7

Brews in the News Clips of beer news from all over Southern California. Got tips on stories? Do you work at a brewery, bar or bottle shop that deserves coverage? Drop us a line!

8

Into the Brew Firestone Walker’s Sam Tierney breaks down what happens when beer goes wrong

11-13

#instabeer A collection of great Instagram photos that use the hashtags #sdbeer, #labeer or #sbbeer

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Matters of Quality Stone’s Mitch Steele (hoptripper.com) discusses solid beer in this new wave of craft brewers

17-18

East vs. West Why does SoCal get limited access to beer brewed by the Atlantic? Tomm Carroll wonders…

ON THE COVER: Craft Beerd ® is a beer art brand inspired from the craft beer culture we love, created by Rudy Pollorena Jr. in 2013. Rudy started in SD, and the addition of LA this year “made sense to be next in line.” For Beer Week, Rudy will have pop-ups, includings The Meeting of Guilds (September 25 @ Mohawk Bend). Learn more at craftbeerd.com

EUROPEAN-STYLE BRASSERIE.

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BREWS IN THE NEWS Left to Right: Matt DeLoach (winemaker), James Malone (winemaker), on-site supervisor Sean McMahan of RDWS, and Mike Arquines (chef) of Abnormal Beer Company. Not pictured is brewer Derek Gallanosa. Photo by Rob & Ren Quitasol (RenAndRob.com)


What’s Brewing @ The Bruery In Anaheim, The Bruery has begun welcoming fermentation tanks for its new project, Bruery Terreux, where farmhouse-style ales fermented with wild yeasts as well as oak-aged sour ales will be served at a new tasting room. Current brands such as Saison Rue, Oude Tart, and Hottenroth Berliner Weisse will be transitioned to Bruery Terreux. All wort will still be produced at the original location, and then relocated for fermentation, barrel aging and packaging in their specialized, $4 million investment. In 2013, The Bruery bottled 45 different beers, yet acknowledged that five of them were not up to their standards, mainly due to the introduction of unwanted yeast strains and bacteria.

Suds in San Clemente Just north of San Diego County, San Clemente has two recent additions to its craft beer scene (standing on the shoulders of Pizza Port and Left Coast). Artifex Brewing opened on August 4 with an IPA, IPA on Nitro, and a Hoppy Wheat on tap, all brewed on their 15BBL brewhouse. Partner Johnny Johur worked at Pizza Port Solana Beach for more than two years, and in April he and the team collaborated with Ryan Fields at Pizza Port San Clemente to

produce a 7.1% West Coast-style IPA. Just four days after the opening of Artifex, Pierside Kitchen + Bar held a preview night three miles away with 30+ bottled beers and plenty of Southern California beer on tap.

San Diego Nears 100 Breweries Arguably California’s most active county in terms of current brewery numbers as well as those in planning, San Diego’s breweries make up nearly one-fourth of California’s statistics. The two latest additions to the ‘active’ brewhouse list include Bagby Beer and Bolt Brewing, both with impressive pedigrees. Jeff Bagby of Bagby Beer in Oceanside was the director of brewing operations for Pizza Port for many years, while Bolt Brewing is a reincarnation of one of San Diego’s earliest brewing operations in the modern era, having originally opened in Fallbrook in 1987. The brewery-in-planning count also seems to keep rising, with several spots, like Abnormal Brewing Company, having experienced brewers at the helm.

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ce. experien 25 yearsreen. h it w e c g s a jection an herit of Germg room with prog brewer atin e s f oups. o Skilled Spacious tastin y o plent rowlers-to-g rties, large gr g rts pa o p s , pintsand s g meetin e! able fore music and mor ace avail liv Event sp

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Hoppy Beers in Europe Both Green Flash and Stone announced big European projects in July. Green Flash is currently brewing their West Coast IPA out of St-Feuillien in La Roeulx, Belgium for distribution throughout Europe. The beer is being brewed to (nearly) the same specifications as the batches from Green Flash’s San Diego brewery, with the hops and yeast (White Labs 001) sent over from San Diego; the malts, however, were sourced in Europe.

CCBA @ Anaheim Brewery As reported via LA bloggers Beers in Paradise (beersinparadise.com), Anaheim Brewery hosted a meeting of the California Craft Brewers Association in August. Executive Director Tom McCormick spoke on the issues affecting the 400+ breweries in California, with writer “Beer Snob” Dougie quoting him as saying “I’ve never seen growth like this.” Also, currently pending in Sacramento is a bill to approve the sale and distribution of beers at farmers markets, as well as legislation that will segregate home-brewed beers to its own section at festivals, so that they are not confused with established breweries. Several new growler laws are also being considered, with some looking to Oregon for guidance (growler fills at bars, gas stations).

Stone plans to open a brewery and beer garden in Berlin, German, and they’re hoping to have it up and running by late 2015, and the same goes for their location-TBD eastern U.S. brewery. The Escondido-based brewery, which just turned 18 in August, has already started construction to convert the old gasworks plant into another Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens.

More from beersinparadise.com: Photos from Blue Palms’ 6th Anniversary Festival Blue Palms is one of LA’s top beer bars, with a constantly changing draught beer list, and great food. In the past six years, the region has undergone a renaissance of craft beer, with Blue Palms owner Brian Lenzo on the forefront. Photos courtesy Guillermo Bugarin & Beers in Paradise.


INLAND EMPIRE RISING BierBuzz Masquerade - October 18 @ Inland Empire Brewing Company Business Park The beer advocates and content creators behind BierBuzz are hosting their Masquerade this year in Riverside from 5 - 9 p.m. on October 18, while donating a part of the proceeds to Pints for Pitties, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to rehabilitating and rehoming pitbulls while advocating for these dogs through public education. Costumers are encouraged, and live music will accompany the growing list of breweries, which at time of press included Craft Brewing Company, JT Schmid’s, Hangar 24, Left Coast, Dale Bros, Einstök Icelandic, Tap It, Goose Island, Angel City, Firestone Walker, Brew Rebellion, Wiens, Refuge, Wicks, Hamilton Family, Rök House, Inland Empire, and Polymath. Designated driver tickets are just $15, while general admission goes for $35, and $45 for VIP. To learn more, visit MasqueradeBeerFest.com

ISCBG Fest - September 27 @ Riverside Municipal Airport Like the rest of Southern California, the Inland Empire is currently experiencing staggering growth in the number of breweries,tm 3 - 7 p.m. Tickets will soon be available at brownpapertickets.com for $35, with proceeds supporting the United Way Fund of the Inland Valleys. The ISCBG executive board consists of President Kevin Wright (Hangar 24), Vice President Scot Koury (Packinghouse), Treasurer Andy Dale (Dalo Brothers), MemberAt-Large Representative Aaron Heyden (Black Market), Event Coordinator Ron Gomez (Packinghouse), Marketing Manager Ed Parker (Brew Rebellion), and Secretary Joe Savage (Secretary). The guild holds monthly meetings and is set to welcome in-the-works breweries like Escape (Redlands) and No Clue Brew (Rancho Cucamonga). Other potential guild members include Bear Lake Brewing (opened April 8) and Hamilton Family Brewery in Rancho Cucamonga (opened June 21). Look for more IE beer news to pop up on West Coaster Social Media.


INTO THE BREW

SPOILAGE ORGANISMS IN THE BREWERY B eer is a living product, created by billions of microscopic yeast cells eating their way through the array of malt and other sugars that brewers add to water to make wort. During the brewing process, wort is boiled in order to sterilize it, and then cooled so that yeast can be added to begin fermentation. After the cooling process, it is imperative that the wort is transferred to a sanitary environment for fermentation. The introduction of any microorganisms other than brewers’ yeast can cause off-flavors and ruined beer from what is commonly referred to as “infection,” though one of my brewing professors once proclaimed “Beer doesn’t get infected. Beer isn’t a person. Beer gets contaminated!” Beer-spoilage-organisms fall into two groups: wild yeasts and bacteria. Wild yeast strains are any yeast strains other than those specifically cultured for use in beer fermentation. This includes wild strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is the species of ale yeast and some wine yeasts and baking yeasts, yeasts of the Brettanomyces genus, and less commonly of the Candida and Pitchia genera. Wild yeast species commonly produce phenolic (spicy, plastic, smokey) off-flavors and uncontrollable amounts of fruity esters and fusel alcohols. They also tend to be non-flocculent, leading to visible turbidity if present in finished beer. Brettanomyces species also have the ability to break down and ferment longer chain sugars that b r e w e r s ’ yeast cannot, creating the possibility of overcarbonation and exploding bottles. The types of bacteria of most concern to brewers as potential beer-spoilers are lactic acid bacteria (LAB) of the Lactobacillus and Pediococcus genera. Some species of these genera are resistant to the anti-microbial properties of hop acids, making them very dangerous to brewers. Both types produce sour flavors via lactic acid during fermentation, and some Pediococcus species also produce large amounts of diacetyl, giving beer a buttery aroma and slick mouthfeel. In some cases, Pediococcus will produce an extracellular polysaccharide that gives beer a thick, viscous texture often called “ropy” because the beer will look like rope pouring from the bottle. While both of these genera are avoided in lager and ale production, pure strains of some species are used by brewers for making sour beer styles. Lactobacillus is key for

BY SAM TIERNEY

Berliner weisse, while Pediococcus is also used for many American wild ales and the sour red and brown ales of Flanders. Wild forms of both are also found in wild lambic fermentations in the Senne Valley of Belgium, where the acid they produce is key to the flavor profile of the style. Other types of bacteria are less dangerous to brewers but can still be problematic in certain circumstances. Acetic acid bacteria such as Acetobacter species can metabolize alcohol to produce acetic acid, which is the acid in vinegar and has a very strong flavor. Luckily, acetic acid bacteria can only grow in the presence of oxygen, which is typically at very low levels in packaged beer and almost nonexistent in brewery fermentation tanks after fermentation has started. Where Acetobacter can become a problem is in barrel aged beer because of the oxygen introduction through the wood of the barrel, or in cask beer that is exposed to air after it is tapped. Two other types of bacteria that can grow in the presence of oxygen are the Pectinatus and Megasphaera genera, which while rarely an issue, can cause horribly offensive aromas reminiscent of feces and vomit. If you are unlucky enough to taste a beer contaminated with one or both of these, you’ll never forget it. Luckily for beer drinkers, modern brewing technology makes it relatively easy for brewers to ensure that their beers remain free from spoilage organisms, and even when beers do become contaminated, none of the microbes that can grow in beer can actually make us sick. They might make a beer taste awful, but there’s no chance of a trip to the hospital. To avoid microbiological contamination, brewers thoroughly sanitize all hoses, tanks, and containers that will contact beer. This can be done with heat or chemicals, and brewers will typically clean with anti-microbial detergents at high heat before finishing with another food-safe sanitizing agent such as ethanol, iodophore, or paroxyacetic acid. As a final level of security, most large brewers also pasteurize their beer, which involves heating it to a specific temperature for a set amount of time in order to kill any microbes present. This can be done with either a flash pasteurizer before packaging or a tunnel pasteurizer after beer has been bottled or canned. Conversely, almost all small brewers choose to not pasteurize their beer as it can have a negative flavor impact; plus, the equipment is expensive. As such, there is always a risk of a contaminated beer going to market. If you do come across one, hopefully you can now take a good guess at which microbe is the guilty party. Into the Brew is sponsored by The High Dive in Bay Park


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8/16/14 12:59 PM


#beer Over the next three pages we’ll share some of our favorite

er e b SD

#

photos from Instagram that use local beer hashtags. First up is #sdbeer, with more than 10,000 photos to date.

@aylon

@breweryadvertising

@culturebrewingco

@el_brewchacho

@palmspringsliquor

@pizzaportbrewingco

@roughdraftbrew

@sdbreweryinsider

@socalriders


er e b #L A @absolutionbrewing

@braverybrewing

@brewwings

@craft_beards

@esbcbrews

@goldenroadbrew

@highlandparkbrewery

@santamonicabrewworks

@thepourboyblog

@wolfcreekbrewery

@smogcitybeer 12 | Summer 2014


er e b SB

#

@hoppedlat

@dabanales

@fw_bblmeister

@sean_and_malcom

@mgsweetie327

Use these beer hashtags to promote your local breweries, and remember to follow @westcoaster_socal & @westcoastersd to see more SoCal beer!

Next to Shell Station

WestCoasterSoCal.com | 13


MATTERS OF QUALITY

BY MITCH STEELE, STONE BREWING CO. BREWMASTER

D

uring the keynote session of the Craft Brewers Conference, Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association, gave his annual state of the industry talk. In that discussion, he told a story about going to a beer festival and trying many really bad beers from newer brewers. These brewers thought their beer was fantastic, and were buoyed by the positive response they had received from their customers, so they had no idea their beer, from a technical standpoint, was flawed. This is cause for concern. Paul’s takeaway message: “QUALITY QUALITY QUALITY and ‘don’t f*@k it up’ for the rest of us.” A lot of craft brewing people have spent years building this industry, and one serious quality issue could really ruin the great momentum that has been built. In the biggest honor of my career, right after Paul’s opening address, I was awarded the Brewers Association Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing, and as I walked up on the stage to say a few words, I decided then and there that I would follow up Paul’s comments with a few of my own, which ended up being something about how the growth of this industry is great, but if you are starting a brewery, please, please, please hire a brewer who knows what the hell they are doing. A few hours later, Dr. Michael Lewis from UC Davis gave a seminar where he stressed the importance of having technically trained brewers on your staff. And he took it a step further, saying that it is also important that they have an independent certification of their mastery of the craft. Recently, my friend Jeremy Danner from Boulevard Brewing Company posted on Facebook the following: “Fellow brewer

14 | Summer 2014

types, as you plan your trips to GABF this fall, if you can afford a week in CO, you can afford a microscope. Buy one.” I loved this post… If you’ve read my previous blog posts (@ www.hoptripper. com) you already know that beer quality is very important to me. It is important that, as brewers, we all strive to make the highest quality, most consistent beer that we can. As the saying goes, a rising tide raises all boats. On the other hand, a craft brewer making lousy beer can drive fledgling craft beer drinkers permanently to other beverages, like wine or spirits. And that’s bad news for all of us. Unfortunately, there are some brewers starting up who don’t understand the importance of this, and worse yet, how to achieve it. I teach the Wort Production and Recipe Formulation for the UC San Diego Extension Brewing Certification Program, and one thing I constantly preach to my classes is that if you are starting a brewery, at a minimum you need to invest in a microscope, a pH meter, and hydrometers. Basic stuff, right? But I’ve walked into so many new breweries that have none of this, or perhaps just hydrometers to check gravity, and it just makes me shake me head. And not enough brewers out there have had any formal sensory training, and know how to identify off-flavors in their beers, and subsequently, how those off flavors are formed, and how to fix them or prevent them. Again, beer quality, as defined by most brewers, has a very clear meaning: The ability to brew beer with no off flavors, the ability to brew the same beer consistently from batch to batch, to recognize and fix quality issues before the beer gets packaged, having the recognition of when it’s best to simply dump a beer that has gone south, and the ability to evaluate beer ingredients to brew the best beer possible. Notice I did not mention formulation. To me, that’s where the consumer comes in. Once all the brewers master the art of quality, their formulations can come under fair scrutiny by beer drinkers, who then use their purchasing power to determine which beers thrive and which beers don’t. I’ve seen many people take the opinion that having poor quality beer out there won’t affect the overall growth of craft beer. In other words, beer customers won’t turn away from craft after having a poorly brewed beer. In some respects that is true – one bad apple won’t spoil the whole bunch. But here is a reason why brewing quality matters: The craft industry is now a major factor in overall beer consumption. Big brewers are starting to really focus on craft beer, and they have the marketing power to exploit poor quality beer and generalize that across the entire craft beer scene. This is not a joke or an idle threat; look what Anheuser-Busch did to craft beer in the 1990s, when they drove the exposé on Dateline with Sam Adams and the concept of “who really brews your beer.” The fallout on craft beer started immediately afterwards, and it took years for the craft beer business to recover, and most contract brewers disappeared. These big brewers understand quality, and have a lot of power, and if they ever figure out how to effectively combine these two elements to convey their message it could have a very bad effect on the rest of the industry. Fortunately, for us, their Executives and Marketing folks still don’t “get” what craft beer is all about, so they haven’t been able to effectively talk about this with any credibility. As Michael Lewis says, it’s not good at all for craft brewers to get smug with our success, spend too much time patting ourselves on the back, and rest on laurels, since a potential quality disaster is just around the corner.


LA BEER WEEK

RETURNS WITH LA BREWERS GUILD AT THE HELM BY FRANCES MICHELLE LOPEZ

T

he Los Angeles County Brewers Guild (LABG) has taken the reins of organizing Los Angeles Beer Week to bring you the firstever LABW hosted by breweries, for beer people. The change comes after LABW’s original committee chairs decided to pass the torch to the fast-growing Guild’s welcoming arms. LABG couldn’t be more thrilled to curate the week-long event which will launch with a newly revitalized LA Brewers Beer Week Kick-Off festival taking place in Old Chinatown Plaza in Downtown LA on September 20th. The newly restructured opening will featuring an invitational-style roster of California breweries and the largest-ever showing of LA beer represented. “The founders of LABW did a great job creating a structure around which the culture of craft beer was able to grow and flourish over the past five years,” LABG President Jeremy Raub said. “The LA Brewers Guild aims to continue building on that strong foundation, adding more interactive and educational components that will engage and energize the LA beer community.” The LABG consists of over 20 LA breweries that are committed to craft, community, and culture. LA Beer Week will be entering its sixth year and will feature a multitude of events around the greater Los Angeles area. “The group of passionate advocates that have held the reins all these years has now entrusted them to the Guild, and we couldn’t be more excited,” said LABW Events Chair Thomas Kelley. “It’s

a natural progression for LA Brewers to take over, and we are certainly up to the task of showcasing all the great beer being made in LA County.” The event will also mark the return of LA Beer Week’s collaborative brew, Unity, brewed at Eagle Rock Brewery. This incarnation of Unity will be a pale ale with citrus -- utilizing not only locally grown oranges, but California Select malt donated by Country Malt Group, and a rare hop varietal called Gargoyle that is native to the Golden State. Beyond the major kick-off event, craft beer fans can look forward to the first-ever Meeting of the Guilds taking place at Mohawk Bend on September 25. Members of the LABG, San Francisco Brewers Guild, and San Diego Brewers Guild will congregate at the Echo Park establishment for a total tap takeover featuring 15 breweries from each Guild. Modeled after a similar event hosted by SF Beer Week, the event is designed to champion California beer (with a little friendly competition, too). To conclude the week, LABG member breweries will participate in a county-wide Open House on Sunday, September 28; giving patrons the opportunity to meander through the vast landscape of LA beer from the east side to the west side; south bay to the valley. For more information on LA Beer Week events and how to get involved, visit www.labeerweek.com. Special advertorial for West Coaster SoCal

WestCoasterSoCal.com | 15


WISHFUL DRINKING EAST VS. WEST: THE BEER AVAILABILITY QUESTION BY TOMM CARROLL

Sierra Nevada is officially christening their Mills River, North Carolina August 3. When will there come a time that East Coast-based breweries open facilities here in the West? Photo via Sierra Nevada

W

hy are there so many of our West Coast craft beers available on the East Coast, but so few East Coast counterparts to be found here? And it’s not just the Eastern seaboard beers we are lacking; most Midwestern, Southern and even some Mountain state brews are MIA on California tap handles and in bottle shops. If you don’t travel to other parts of the country much, you may not notice this dichotomy, or even care. Now I understand things had to start that way, given that the “microbrewery” craze (which ultimately transitioned into the American craft beer movement) began on the West Coast several decades ago with the likes of the Fritz Maytag-run Anchor Brewing in San Francisco (whose first batch of Anchor Steam wasn’t released until 1971), New Albion Brewing (Sonoma, CA, 1976), Sierra Nevada Brewing (Chico, CA, 1980) Bert Grant’s Yakima Brewing & Malting Co. (WA, 1982), Hopland Brewery/Mendocino Brewing (CA, 1983), and Columbia River Brewing/BridgePort Brewing (Portland, OR, 1984). By contrast, the pioneer craft brewery back East was Boston Beer Co. (MA, 1984). When I left New Jersey for Los Angeles back in 1981, there was practically nothing decent beer-wise happening, just the macros (a few more of them back then than there are now) and imports. The only thing that possibly could be considered local (and no, it wasn’t the Newark-brewed Budweiser!) was D.G. Yuengling & Son in Pottsville, PA, a still extant regional brewery with the claim to fame of being the oldest continually operating brewery in the nation. It was established in 1829 and survived the Prohibition era (1920-33) by producing “near beer” (0.5% abv), legal under the

18th Amendment. Yuengling’s ubiquitous Lager was a step above the macro versions, but then so ostensibly was Heineken and even Michelob; its Porter and Black and Tan (a blend of the lager and porter), however, were much more flavorful, but not easy to find in Central Jersey. Between journeys East to visit family and business trips to New York City, I was back in the tri-state area (NJ, NY, PA) at least every two-to-three years, always hoping, looking for good beer to drink. By the late 1980s, Boston Beer’s flagship Samuel Adams Lager became available (as it had in California), and some brewpubs began opening (and then closing) in New York and Philly. By the middle of the next decade, I could find Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Anchor Steam (finally, great beers!) in liquor stores (and occasionally on draught), and two still-in-existence small-production breweries opened in Central and South Jersey: River Horse Brewing in Lambertville (now in Ewing), and Flying Fish Brewing in Cherry Hill (now in Somerdale), respectively. Nearly 20 years later, things have changed radically. The East Coast and other areas of the country have certainly climbed aboard the craft beer bandwagon. They are still following the West Coast’s lead, but have definitely come into their own with some outstanding and unique beers. Now when I’m back there, with one stop at a liquor store or bottle shop I can quickly fill up my beer suitcase with a dozen or so 750 ml or 22 oz. bottles of craft beers I’ve never had, and sometimes never even heard of before, to bring back to LA. I could easily fill another couple cases as well. These breweries include Brooklyn, Blue Point, Captain Lawrence, Carton, Dogfish Head (the special releases), Kane, Maine,

WestCoasterSoCal.com | 17


The distribution map for Bell’s Brewery, who recently began distributing in San Diego. Graphic via Bell’s Brewery Neshaminy Creek, New Holland, Sly Fox, Southern Tier, Starr Hill, Stoudt’s, Terrapin, Weyerbacher, Yards and many others. And yet, the list of West Coast beers available in the East just keep growing as well. I recall several years ago traveling to Washington, DC on a business trip, and bringing my suitcase full of West Coast beers to share with my friends living there. Among my stash were a few of the more rare releases from The Bruery. To my surprise, they could get most of them at their local Whole Foods! On East Coast shelves there is an amazing array of Cali-craft, from Stone, Port, Lost Abbey, Green Flash and Ballast Point to The Bruery, Firestone Walker, Lagunitas, Bear Republic, Anderson Valley, Anchor and Sierra Nevada, among others. There’s also some Oregon and Washington beers, and several from Colorado, including a few breweries (Breckenridge, Left Hand) that don’t distribute to Southern California! Russian River beers are the West Coast brews the East Coast folks really crave — unless they live in Philly, the only city (but not the state of Pennsylvania) the justly heralded Santa Rosa brewery distributes to east of the Mississippi. Okay, about now, you may be thinking, “What’s the big brewhaha? Who cares if East Coast beer isn’t easy to find here?” There are some self-deemed hopheads, always jonesing for those big, dank, additions of West Coast hops, who just don’t get East Coast American IPAs, let alone the British-style ones. I used to feel that way about pizza when I moved west. I spent a couple years trying to find pizza in LA that was at least close to New York/New Jersey pizza — or tomato pie, as we called it in Trenton. But I finally stopped thinking of these different takes on pizza as the same thing, and began enjoying both for what they were: East Coastand West Coast-style pizza. While local is definitely better for many styles of beer (including the almighty IPA), I don’t subscribe to the “East is Least and West is Best” mentality. And I, for one, would prefer to find East Coast and other region beers on local shelves rather than trading, picking them up during travels, relying on family and friends to bring them on visits, or resorting to LetsPour and other companies that ship out-of-state beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with those methods, many of which I take advantage of. In fact, I recently had some friends visit from Charlotte, NC, about a week after the World Beer Cup at the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, where Charlotte’s own NoDa Brewing struck Gold in the most competitive (244 entries) category, American-Style India Pale Ale, with its Hop, Drop ‘n Roll. Of course they brought along a couple of four-packs of 16-oz. cans of the award-winning beer. It’s a tasty brew, made with West Coast hops, including late-boil additions of Citra and Amarillo. Its flavor is much more balanced than many of our West Coast IPAs, so it would likely get lost among all the hop-bomb IPAs here. But drinkers who know and appreciate good, balanced beer would embrace it. And speaking of North Carolina, it is at the center of the recent trend of Western breweries setting up Eastern outposts to save costs

18 | Summer 2014

and energy in shipping to the East Coast market. Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Oskar Blues already are operating or still ramping up in the Tar Heel state; Green Flash is expanding to Virginia; and Stone is eyeing a location in the Southeast, possibly South Carolina. All of which means more Western beer for that coast. Notably, there is no sign yet of a reverse trend. Very occasionally, we do see distribution of their beers coming to our coast. Most recently, on May 1, the acclaimed Bell’s Brewing of Kalamazoo, MI — which had already expanded its reach to Arizona — entered the San Diego market. “We’re taking it one step at a time,” Amy Burns Barr, co-owner of California Craft Distributors, which is handling Bell’s in San Diego, told me at the Bell’s booth at the recent Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival in Paso Robles. “We plan to expand to LA and the rest of the state, but we don’t want the demand to outpace the supply.” Indeed, that is the simple answer to my quandary: The West Coast — and California in particular — is a huge market to enter for out-of-state breweries. Not only is it tough to carve out a niche with all those dominant West Coast styles (though great breweries like Bell’s should be able to do so), the increased production necessary to satisfy that niche is of utmost importance. Many breweries are simply unable to accommodate it, or to expand. Also, While San Diego and the Bay Area are each large established markets themselves, they aren’t really expanding that much anymore — unlike greater LA, which is a potential mega-market, with the number of craft beer drinkers increasing exponentially in the last half-dozen years or so and no plateau yet in sight. So ironically, it seems to me that the growing popularity of craft beer in Southern California is making it even less likely that we’ll be seeing any more out-of-state beers debuting here soon. C’est la vie. Now what was my password for LetsPour? Tomm Carroll is the LA correspondent for Celebrator Beer News. Feel free to let him know what you think (and drink); send comments, criticisms, kudos and even questions to beerscribe@ earthlink.net


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NOVEMBER 7-16 Get ready folks... our 10-day celebration of San Diego craft beer is coming! Tickets for the VIP Brewer Takeover, Guild Fest and more

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