"It's a lot of hard work, it's unforgiving. Work autonomously, be a leader." -- Scot Blair
Scot Blair and Cosimo Sorrentino. If you aren't laughing after sitting with them for a few minutes, you either aren't paying attention or have no pulse. Known in San Diego as the power team behind Monkey Paw Pub and Brewery, the engaging duo have known each other for years.
For several years, Sorrentino would bring Blair his homebrews at Hamilton's Tavern. "All of his beers were killer. I'm a homebrewer, too," Blair said. After opening Monkey Paw, Blair thought the beer could improve, and offered Sorrentino the job as brewer. "I wanted to empower someone, give them a chance to succeed. It wasn't about me." After an agreed amount of thinking time and research, Sorrentino happily accepted the offer.
From the beginning, history was made. The first beer they brewed, Great Ape Nectar, was an award winner. Initially slated to be a brown ale, an erroneous addition turned out a delicious porter that took gold in Los Angeles for the chocolate beer category. Their second beer, Brain Food, a collaboration between Doug Hasker of Gordon Biersch, Pat Korn of Green Flash and Eric March of Star B Ranch, also took gold in the German-style lager category, beating out popular rivals from top craft breweries.
But it wasn't easy. "It was a whirlwind starting, I was on an island," Sorrentino said. But with the help of brewers from around San Diego's craft beer community, Sorrentino settled into his role and continues to crank out incredible brews. In 2013, Monkey Paw took gold at GABF (Great American Beer Festival) in the American strong pale ale category for its Bonobos.
Stay tuned as the next Blair installation opens in South Park , with more delicious beers on the way.
Q: How old were you when you took your first drink?
SB: 13. A wine cooler.
CS: 10. Brandy Alexanders on Christmas Eve.
Q: When did you brew your first beer?
Q: If you could have one superpower?
SB: Heal the ill.
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
SB: Doing something you love to do.
CS: Cold beer and a warm body.
Q: What makes you laugh?
SB: Chris Farley.
Q: One wish?
SB: Three more wishes.
CS: South Park to open.
Q: Favorite vacation spot?
SB: New York.
CS: Oregon coast
Q: Desert island music?
SB: Black Crowes.
CS: 90s hip-hop.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
SB: I would rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.
CS: As a conduit of beer knowledge.
Q: What is your personal mantra?
SB: Life is a river that flows through me.
CS: Second place is the first loser.
Q: If you could invite three people living or dead to dinner, who would they be?
SB: Jimmy Morrison, Jane Goodall, the Dalai Lama.
CS: Michael Jackson (the beer writer), Frank Zappa, Kim Jong Un.
Q: If it's not a beer, what are you reaching for?
SB: Single malt scotch.
Q: Your last meal on earth?
SB: Jiro sushi with Junmai Ginjo Sake.
CS: Everything on the menu at Euclid Hall.
With 15 years in the restaurant and beverage industry and more than 700 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