One step into Cellar 3 in Poway and visitors are given eye candy in every direction. Local art on the walls, large imported wood foudres, a sleek bar with 30 taps, and a beer list to make anyone drool.
With a stunning 500 barrels in house, and an additional 300 at the main facility in Mira Mesa , Green Flash is working on unprecedented numbers of barrel projects in San Diego. While the original brewery keeps barrels for distilled and "non-funk" projects, Cellar 3 explores the world of bacteria and yeast in Poway. Churning out releases like Flanders Drive and Oculus Sauvage, it's a must visit for any local craft beer fan.
Jesse Smith, tasting room manager, and Pat Korn, barrel master, head up the Poway project bringing a unique side of craft beer to the thirsty masses. Smith has been in the beer business over a decade, with time as a beer buyer, at Stone Brewery in Escondido and at Normal Heights hot spot Blind Lady Ale House. After becoming a certified cicerone, Smith further quenched his thirst for craft beer knowledge by passing the SDSU business of craft beer program. The engaging expert gives us the latest scoop on Cellar 3:
Q: How did Cellar 3 come about?
A: Green Flash started doing projects with barrel aging 8 years ago, using both distilled (like bourbon) and wine barrels, working with aging and maturing. In that process, we got more experimental. We began stocking up barrels at the other facility, and possible cross-contamination became the issue. That was a nail-biter, messing with microbes. We moved over here, and call it Cellar as a throwback.
Q: How have veteran Green Flash fans taken to the new incarnation?
A: Tried and true fans find out there is a facility out here, maybe come for the staples, and then we get to blow their minds on what we are doing here.
Q: And Poway locals?
A: I've yet to see a person walk out of here without a great experience. We are working hard to build this area up, and get more breweries out here. We are gaining traction, and locals are excited.
Q: What's a fun craft beer fact that people might not know?
A: Brett bruxellensis (a wild yeast strain we use) will do anything it has to survive. Not only does it cannibalize the other bacteria around it, but it can even break down cellulose in wood barrels. It's like taming lions. Saccharomyces (another yeast) is kind of a wussy.
Q: What's next for Cellar 3?
A: We want to be at the forefront of education with bacteria, barrel types, production, and brett strains, to show people that there is more to it than 'it comes out of a faucet and it tastes good.' Look for more events like our recent cheese and beer event with the French Cheese Board at Fashion Valley.
Stay tuned for a new batch of Rayon Vert, under a new yet-to-be-revealed name. Also in the near future, small batch offerings titled Barrelmaster's Reserve will be released, with a variety of bottle designs, for on-site only sales. When it's gone it's gone!
Final note: Be sure to stop in the next few weeks to see artist Jessica Siemens paint a new blank canvas every Friday. You can drink a beer, interact with an artist, and learn about groundbreaking beer. It's a date you can't miss.
With 18 years in the restaurant and beverage industry and more than 850 reviews under her belt, Laurie Delk is a one-stop guide to all things craft beer, wine and spirits. You can follow Delk on Twitter @100beers30days or Instagram @sandiegobeer. Send ideas for featured drinks to firstname.lastname@example.org.