Bill Batten was an integral cog in the AleSmith machine for well over a decade, ascending to the rank of Senior Brewer at the Miramar interest. When AleSmith moved to a new, much-larger facility, it handed the keys to its original brewery to world-famous Danish gypsy-brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergso to open Mikkeller Brewing San Diego. They also handed over Batten to Bjergso to ensure the new Mikkeller beers (produced as part of a creative partnership between Bjergso and AleSmith's owners) will be great from the get-go when that long- awaited newcomer to San Diego's suds-scene opens on the weekend of April 15.
You go way back in San Diego's brewing history. Tell us about your many years in the industry.
I got into homebrewing in the fall of 2001. After getting the brewing bug, I started looking into getting into the professional brewing industry. I started volunteering at AleSmith under its original owner and, when current owner Peter Zien purchased the company in 2002, I was hired on as a sales rep, becoming employee number three. I also helped out on brewing and packaging days until 2004, when I began brewing on AleSmith's original 15-barrel system while also doing sales, events, festivals and spreading the good word about craft beer. In 2008, I got to assist with removing the original system and installing the current 30-barrel system still in use today. During my time at AleSmith, I was able to help develop processes and recipes, and be part of an amazing staff that made the company what it has become today.
What are some of the key differences and similarities between AleSmith and Mikkeller Brewing San Diego?
When it comes to similarities, there will be an obvious focus on quality and process. As far as differences, the beers that we will be making are out of a completely different book. While they are balanced and similar to the AleSmith profile, the overall character is much more assertive than the beers brewed by AleSmith and will have more range of yeast character based on the different strains that we will be using at Mikkeller Brewing San Diego.
When will Mikkeller Brewing San Diego open and what sort of beers can visitors expect?
We are working on an opening date of April 16. We have been working on the final recipe formulation for our American Pale Ale, IPA and porter, which have been available around town, for the grand opening. We are working on other recipes that will be unveiled at the time of our opening as well. Our goal is to have upwards of 18 different beers on tap for the opening, including one-off variants.
What are some of your favorite San Diego County breweries and beers?
AleSmith, of course, and its Speedway Stout, IPA and Nut Brown ale; Societe for the Bachelor single-hop IPA series and The Pupil IPA; Monkey Paw for its Muriqui double IPA and Sweet Georgia Brown; and Fall with its 2 a.m. Bike Ride coffee stout served on nitro.
Mikkeller Brewing Company
9368 Cabot Dr., Miramar