Beer business in San Diego is thriving. Just ask any of the brewers who were at the Brewers Guild Festival this weekend.
“In the last eight years we’ve brought our barrelage up five fold,” said Peter Zien from Alesmith Brewing. “We’re growing quite rapidly. So we have some big decisions to make about where we’re going to have our final brewery setup.”
Men’s Journal has named San Diego as one of America’s top five beer towns and DRAFT Magazine named four bars in San Diego on their list of the “Best Beer Bars in America.”
Ballast Point owner Jack White says there is a reason for the high quality beer in San Diego.
Mayor Jerry Sanders, who tapped a keg at the Brewers Guild Festival on Saturday, also raised his glass to the creativity pouring out of local breweries.
“It’s unbelievable what comes out of San Diego in terms of the beer world,” Sanders said. “It’s like one of the clusters we have. It’s like biotech and hi-tech and now we’ve got brew-tech. It’s great to have a cluster of innovative people making beer.”
The historic Mission Brewery was built in 1913, but went out of business due to prohibition. The brand was revived in 2007 and so far, history has not repeated itself.
“Next year we’re opening at the historic Wonder Bread Factory. We’re under construction right now. We’re putting in our new brewery right next to PETCO Park,” said Dan Selis. “We’re going to have a big tasting room.”
That’s not the only project they’re working on. The company is expanding production outside California.
“Our distribution is going into 10-15 states next year,” said Selis.
He says the craft beer business is so good; they’re having a hard time keeping up.
“It’s a great business to be in, in a recession where a lot of people are hurting,” said Selis. “Craft sales are up 10-12 percent year after year.”
It’s not just breweries that are reaping the benefits of San Diego’s growing beer business.
“I was in charge of baking the cakes at my office and a friend of mine loved beer and I made an Irish Car Bomb cupcake and then got obsessed with the idea,” said Misty Birchall.
And PubCakes were born.
“PubCakes are cupcakes made with beer,” said Birchall. “That PubCake has Guinness chocolate cake, filled with Bailey’s butter cream frosting and topped with Jameson Whiskey chocolate ganache.”
And then there’s the Stoned Portzilla.
“It’s made with Stone Smoked Porter… filled with a chocolate toffee ganache and topped with caramelized coconut,” said Birchall.
If this sounds like something you would like to try, you can find PubCakes at Torinado, K&B Wine Cellars and the Tipsy Crow.
“Come January I’m partnering with Treehouse Coffee and we’re going to open a shop in La Mesa,” said Birchall.
Chef Kyle Bergman from The Grill is also pairing food with beer.
“We try to work with the brewer to hone a menu that’s really going to be focused on what flavors are in their beer. For so long, beer food has been reduced to things like pizza and sausage and I think there’s a market for doing a higher end kind of food along with beer. There’s no reason why those flavors have to be exclusive,” said Bergman.
He says IPAs and Pale Ales are your best bet.
“A little bit of a harder sell is your sour beer, your barrel aged and your lambics, but for my money, that is the best food pairing beer, ever. It has the same kind of acidity and the same kind of flavors as wines. It pairs almost exactly the same as a wine. So, it’s a natural to use with food,” said Bergman.
The chef says people enter the restaurant a little half hearted at times, not sure if they really like beer.
“I’ll find you something that you can enjoy and we will pair your menu to that,” said Bergman.
Ballast Point has a new flavor on their shelves – but it’s not beer.
“We just thought the Bloody Mary Mix was a natural fit for the spirits,” said Ballast Point owner Jack White. “Every Bloody Mary Mix you get, you’ve got to add everything but the kitchen sink, you know from your refrigerator into it, so we thought that we could make one that already has all the good stuff in it. It’s really tasty. Very spicy.”
It got the thumbs up (and the bottoms up) from the crowd.
Here is the lineup for the rest of Beer Week.