Take it From the Tap

By Brandon Hernández / Photos by Paul Body

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Do Me A Flavor
New beers to cheers and brews to peruse

Aztec Hop Serpent
This business is the enlivened reincarnation of an antique beer brand that moved to San Diego from Mexicali in the 1930s. The redux calls Vista home and is run by SDSU alums who adhere to San Diego brewing tradition, crafting traditional beer styles. In the case of this beer, that means more hops. A double IPA made abundantly bitter with five different high-Alpha acid hops, it packs a wallop while remaining gracefully drinkable. 2330 La Mirada Dr., Suite 300, Vista, aztecbrewery.com

Green Flash Treasure Chest 2014
Having overcome breast cancer, the owner of this Mira Mesa -based hop haven has since mobilized her renowned brew crew to create a special beer to raise money benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure . The brew's style changes each year, but the noble mission behind it stays the same. Help fight the good fight by enjoying this exotic, Belgian-style farmhouse ale aged in red wine barrels with Italian plums. 6550 Mira Mesa Blvd., Mira Mesa, greenflashbrew.com

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On Tap
What's new and what's coming soon

Bolt Brewery
The first local brewing operation to be established in San Diego post-Prohibition popped up in Fallbrook in 1987 and closed less than a year later. Now, one of the original crew is bringing the brand back to life and, in the process, bringing La Mesa its first-ever local brewery. An IPA and pilsner will serve as the sudsy cornerstones of Bolt 2.0, while a big, outdoor area will provide plenty of space for open-air imbibing. 8179 Center St., La Mesa,  boltbrewery.com

Abnormal Beer Company
Opening a brewery is ambitious. Opening a winery is, too. Same goes for opening a restaurant. Put them all together and you have the daunting but incredibly cool three- pronged urban winery and brewpub coming to RB. A 6,000-square-foot space outfitted in slate, marble and dark wood, The Cork and Craft will be equipped with a full dining room as well as a beautifully appointed tasting room serving the suds and vino of the Abnormal Beer and Wine Companies. 16990 Via Tazon, Ste. 123, Rancho Bernardo, abnormalbeer.com

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Hops To It
October beer events

Pour it Black
The West Coast's largest celebration of dark beers is looming like a dark- hued, Munsters-esque cloud headed toward Stone Brewing Co.'s North County beer garden. When most people think of dark brews, they stop at porters and stouts, but black IPAs, sour beers and myriad other styles - many of which are so rare this is the only place one's likely to find them - will be out in force. October 19, 10 a.m., Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, 1999 Citracado Pkwy., Escondido, stoneworldbistro.com

Hamilton's Tavern Eighth Anniversary Festivities
Urban beer bar moguls Scot and Karen Blair are incapable of doing anything on a small scale. Case in point, they're celebrating their flagship venue's eighth anniversary with a slew of October events including flight nights, special casks, an Oktoberfest pub crawl and a blowout celebration on Saturday, October 18. You know, just your average low-key birthday party. Various Dates & Times, Hamilton's Tavern, 1521 30th St., South Park, hamiltonstavern.com

Brewmaster Q&A

Travis Smith (Head of Fermentation and Execution)
Douglas Constantiner (CEO and Brewer)
Societe Brewing Company
8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Kearny Mesa
858.598.5409, societebrewing.com 

Pedigreed brewers, friends and confidants Travis Smith and Douglas Constantiner have ridden mutual respect and matching ideals to the stratosphere of the San Diego suds scene. Though just over two years old, their passion project, Societe Brewing Company, is considered a part of the upper echelon of breweries, not just in San Diego but nationwide. And it's not just their poignant West Coast-style IPAs, Belgian-inspired brews and rich stouts earning them respect. Industry folk and beer fans alike appreciate Smith and Constantiner's devotion to staying active within the brewing community, lending a hand and advice to those coming onto the scene and remaining respectful of the trailblazers that paved the way for their breakout success.

PacificSD: How did the two of you meet and when did you decide to go into business together?
TRAVIS SMITH: We met working at The Bruery [in Placentia,California]. I was working there as a brewer and Doug got hired on about six months after I started there. We talked about starting our own breweries for a while, during the time we spent together carpooling to work and during our time brewing.
DOUGLAS CONSTANTINER: During our time there, he fell into the role of my mentor. Travis left The Bruery and moved to San Diego, but we would still hang out and get beers together at O'Brien's. The conversation progressed to the point where we started asking each other: What if we did our own thing?

Define your "own thing." What is the guiding ethos at Societe?
SMITH: We aim to brew the beer that we want to drink.Most brewers say that. And, ina town with 100-plus brewery facilities, it's hard to stand out. What makes Societe unique?
CONSTANTINER: Definitely the Feral program [of barrel-aged wild and sour beers]. Not many breweries are trying to accomplish what we are when it comes to what is going on inside our barrel room. And I think the fact Societe is owned and operated by two brewers makes a big difference. This is a brewery first, a business second, and so everything we do is a brewery decision first and a business decision second.

What are some San Diego brewing companies that you hold in high regard?
SMITH: Alpine and Benchmark, among others.
CONSTANTINER: I would add Stone, Karl Strauss, AleSmith and Mike Hess Brewing, too.

Why do you attempt to visit every brewery that opens and be so open and helpful to other new brewing companies?
SMITH: It's important to be a part of the greater community. It's not just a competition, especially here in San Diego. It's about lifting everyone up, and it's good for everyone to make better beer. It's the weak links in the community that are bad for beer. CONSTANTINER: [Other brewers helping us out] is how we got where we are today, but we are not open and helpful just to return the favor. It really is about the community. There is strength in community, and I think that is one of the reasons that craft beer is where it is today.

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