Take It From the Tap


By Brandon Hernández

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

Coronado 18th Anniversary Specialty Ale:

What started as a tiny Coronado brewpub has grown to become the world’s reigning medium-sized brewery. The first-place winner at the World Beer Cup - essentially the Olympics of beer - Coronado Brewing Co. now has an additional brewing facility within San Diego Proper and will soon open a second brewery-restaurant in Imperial Beach (the first remains open on Orange Avenue in Coronado). To celebrate 18 years in the brew biz, the company is going big, releasing a double IPA packed with plenty of Citra, Mosaic, Nugget and Simcoe hops. Get a sip at the brewery’s anniversary event, August 2 at its mainland tasting room. 1205 Knoxville St., Bay Park,
Stone 18th Anniversary IPA: Another brewery, San Diego’s largest, is celebrating the big one-eight, and doing it in grand fashion on the campus of CSU San Marcos. At an August 15 reception, beer nuts can rub elbows with brewers before the next day’s gargantuan, dual-session festival - California’s largest annual fermentation fete. Throughout this two-day affair, the gargoyle clan (see Stone’s logo) will be pouring a celebratory imperial brown IPA, dry-hopped with an abundance of lemony El Dorado hops. 1999 Citracado Pkwy., Escondido,

On Tap
What’s new or coming soon

Bagby Beer Company:

While working for Pizza Port, Jeff Bagby amassed more medals and awards than any brewer in the country. Soon, he’ll be striking gold, silver and bronze under his own flag as the owner and brewmaster of a massive, two-story brewpub installed in a former Coast Highway automotive dealership. A garage has been converted to a brewery and cellar; a showroom and offices into a restaurant complete with multiple bars, a patio and an ocean-view balcony. This place will be nothing less than San Diego’s next beer Mecca. 601 S. Coast Hwy, Oceanside,

Toolbox Brewing Company:

In a day and age when it seems a new brewery is opening almost every week, this one has generated serious buzz behind a bevy of bugs. Brewer Peter Perrecone plans on featuring an “American farmhouse” line of brews made dry, tart and funky by wild yeast and bacteria such as Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus. Those creations will share tap space with hoppy IPAs of varying strengths (one of which will also be dosed with Brettanomyces), and an imperial stout for good measure. 1495 Poinsettia Ave., Ste. 148, Vista,

Brewmaster Q&A: Devon Randall
In 2010, she was as an unpaid intern working for the world-renowned Pizza Port empire. Four short years, Devon Randall has gone from a keg-cleaning, floor-sweeping Jane-of-all-mundane- trades to one of San Diego’s most respected brewers and an icon for women looking to gain a foothold in the beer industry. Pizza Port Solana Beach 135 N. Highway 101, Solana Beach 858.481.7332,

What do you like most about brewing?

Devon Randall: Everything. I am completely in love with brewing. Seriously, I would marry it if I could. The romance of tasting special beers and learning their history is intoxicating. And brewing is a multisensory process - the sounds of the fermenting beer bubbling away, the feel of mashing-in and minute temperature changes, the smell of grain meeting water first thing in the morning, the aroma of each hop addition bursting from the kettle. And then there’s the yeast, the living organisms that produce the alcohol. Someone once told me I sound like I’m talking about a pet when I describe my relationship with yeast. It’s sort of like a pet, needing to be fed, put to sleep, woken up and looked out for to ensure its overall happiness and comfort. And of course I love interacting with people at the bar that are enjoying my beers.

As a woman, you are in the minority in the brewing business. What’s that like?

Women in the brewhouse are definitely getting more attention lately. When I started, there were hardly any. If anything, it has probably worked to my benefit. Sometimes people remember you because you’re different from the norm. While I think there should be more women brewing - seriously ladies, this is one awesome job, and you can totally do it -I want to be seen as a brewer first and foremost. We don’t call women ‘female chefs,’ ‘female accountants’ or ‘female doctors.’ Brewing should be no different.
What should people wanting a quintessential taste of your beer and brewing style order when they visit Pizza Port?
Solana Beach is IPA town, so I would recommend one of the house IPAs I keep on rotation: Solana Beach IPA, The Kook, Whale’s Tails Rye, McFly and Citra-r-Ama. We get so busy in the summer that a typical batch of IPA lasts less than two weeks, so they’re always incredibly fresh. I’m also proud of two of my award-winning brews, May the Port Be With You Imperial Porter and OATS Oatmeal Stout. Ideally, our house beers suit a variety of beer moods.

What’s new on the horizon for you and Pizza Port?

Our Bressi Ranch brewery recently increased capacity to produce more of our core beers - Swami’s IPA, Ponto Session IPA and Chronic Amber Ale. We’ve also started a small oak-aging program, so we get a chance to play with sour bugs and bourbon barrels. Look out for those beers in about six months.

What San Diego breweries are tops on your list?

Societe is putting out some awesome beers, and I really like their crew. Alpine will always hold a special place in my heart; their Duet IPA is total bliss. Automatic has the coolest brewhouse in town, and brewmaster Lee Chase is full of knowledge and has a fun outlook on brewing. I’m also stoked on Rip Current. The owners are former homebrewers who definitely deserved to go pro.
Hops To It
August beer events

Tom Nickel Birthday Roast:

He’s been named the best brewpub brewer in the world and he owns an eponymous brewery, beery barbecue joint and one of the longest-tenured craft bars in San Diego, but that doesn’t mean Tom Nickel’s too big for good-natured ribbing by industry buds from Ballast Point, Monkey Paw, Societe, Alpine and Green Flash. Laugh along with Nickel’s roast while enjoying beers from those breweries plus a decadent feast prepared by local culinarians (including yours truly). August 17, 6:30 p.m., O’Brien’s Pub, 4646 Convoy St, Kearny Mesa,

Del Mar Beer Fest

:With such high-quality beer being brewed throughout San Diego County, it’s easy (and enjoyable) to drink local, but this race-day event will serve up more than 40 international ales and lagers hailing from European nations where brewing traditions were born, including Belgium, Germany, Ireland and more. Admission is free with Del Mar racetrack entry, and it’s a safe bet that even the snootiest beer snobs will trot away happy. August 24, 1-6 p.m., Del Mar Racetrack, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar,
Brandon Hernández is a native San Diegan with a fervent passion for craft beer and the talented individuals who produce it. He is a Senior Communications Specialist for Stone Brewing Co., an editor for Zagat, has served as a consultant to Food Network and contributes to national and San Diego-based magazines including The Beer Connoisseur, Imbibe, Wine Enthusiast, West Coaster and more. The first publication for which he ever wrote about beer was PacificSD. Follow him on Twitter: @sdbeernews and @offdutyfoodie.