By Brandon Hernández
COMING TO A HEAD
What's new in brew or coming soon
Division 23 Brewery: Local breweries follow diverse themes ranging from Catholicism to Steampunk. This newcomer to "Beeramar" is going with HVAC-inspired décor, which makes sense considering its founders met and began home-brewing together while working in that industry. In going pro, they hired a brewer with experience at Widmer Brothers and Bear Republic to craft a line of low-octane, high-flavor beers to be served up in a man-cave-like tasting room complete with flatscreens, ping-pong and shuffleboard. 7408 Trade St., Miramar, division23brewing.com
Citizen Brewers: Ever wanted to brew your own beer without adding a bunch of pots, tubing and a glass Sparkletts jug to your kitchen repertoire? Rejoice! Now brewing up a beer is as simple as heading down to this newly established, brew-it-yourself operation. Equipped with multiple brew kettles, fermentation vessels and even a setup for recreational brewers to draw up their own bottle artwork, it's the perfect place for aspiring brewers to get their feet wet with a knowledgeable brewing lifeguard's oversight. 5837 Mission Gorge Rd., Ste. A, Grantville, citizenbrewers.com
DO ME A FLAVOR
New beers to cheers and brews to peruse
Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie Porter: This scrumptious bit of dessert in a glass is an alluring, English-style dark ale crafted to hit the palate like something straight out of Mom's cookie jar. Brewed to support local lupus charity Beer to the Rescue, the beer was selected by brewer Daniel Cady's mother, who was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder 18 years ago and has been soldiering on ever since. Cheers to her indomitable spirit... and to good taste! Twisted Manzanita Ales, 10151 Prospect Ave., Santee, twistedmanzanita.com
Dark Currant Saison: This North County San Diego take on a traditional Belgian farmhouse ale is off the wall. While such beers are light with flavors of fresh fruit and spice, this beer is brewed with roasted malts to give it bolder, sweeter malt character that's accentuated by the addition of dried currants. A touch of orange peel helps to bolster the citrus esters given off by a Belgian yeast strain, making for a multi-layered taste experience like no other available in Poway, Brussels or anywhere in between. Lightning Brewery, 13200 Kirkham Way, Poway, lightningbrewery.com
LET'S GO TO THE HOPS
July beer events
Mike Hess Fest: North Park 's largest brewery is taking over an entire block and inviting brewing contemporaries from San Diego and Arizona to the party. Those fave friends' fermented fluids will be paired with fine fare from famous foodies including Waypoint Public, URBN Coal Fired Pizza, City Tacos, Slater's 50/50 and more. July 25, 12 p.m., 3812 Grim Ave., North Park, mikehessbrewing.com
Heroes Brew Craft Beer Festival: Nerds come in all varieties, and this is a chance for folks who enjoy geeking out on beer and/or comic books to toast their shared obsessions during a day packed with costume-clad imbibers sampling more than 20 ales and lagers from a cast of brewing superheroes. Pow! Bang! Boom! (Burp!) July 11, 3 p.m., The Loma Club, 2960 Truxton Rd. (at Liberty Station), Point Loma, heroesbrewfest.com
MEET YOUR MAKER
Dean Rouleau, Brewmaster, Prodigy Brewing Company
Two years ago, Dean Rouleau left San Diego Brewing Company's brewhouse - which he had helmed for years, collecting myriad awards in the process - to launch his own venture, Prodigy Brewing Company. Now, although it's been a long time coming (and his new place still doesn't include a tasting room), Rouleau's first drafts are finally trickling out to premier craft beer venues across the county.
Brandon Hernández: What will Prodigy bring to the San Diego brew scene?
DEAN ROULEAU: Authenticity. I'm ready to do my own thing and unleash the flavors I have had in my mind of minds. I believe that personal relationships are much more important than financial gain, and that sustaining the earth is more important than building soulless empires.
What direction will Prodigy follow from a brewing perspective?
I pride myself on creating gold-medal-winning, hop-forward beers and I'll continue in that direction. But I don't want to pigeonhole our brand identity to just hoppy beers. We'll produce other varieties, focusing on a couple of very well thought-out ales. I'd rather focus on making a couple of superior products than 10 to 12 beers that are just OK.
You have big oak tanks at your brewery. What are they used for?
We are in love with our oak foudres. They're infused with red wine that came from an exclusive, members-only Northern California winery, and we'll use them to create highly complex, Old World sour beers.
You'll be mentoring young brewers, a practice that inspired your project's name. Please expand on that. Mentoring has always been a part of Prodigy's vision. It's not just about making beer or fabricating equipm ent, but getting people to reach new heights and personal achievements via craft beer. We want others to learn this craft and, by doing so, create a vast network of great brewers. We have created our own tank fabrication shop that will enable us to custom-build brewing equipment right here in San Diego. Our goal is to teach brewing, provide brewing systems and mentor new businesses.
Brandon Hernández is a native San Diegan with a fervent passion for craft beer and the talented individuals who produce it. He is the author of Complete Guide to San Diego Breweries, Senior Communications Specialist for Stone Brewing Co. and contributes beer-centric content to national and San Diego-based publications. The first publication for which he ever wrote about beer was PacificSD. Follow him on Twitter: @sdbeernews and @offdutyfoodie.