Since late last year, when Saint Archer Brewery and Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits sold to a multi-national conglomerate, San Diego’s brewing scene has been something of a house-divided. Most are staunchly opposed to the presence of Big Beer in the world’s craft-brewing capital, but rather than throw stones, Monkey Paw and South Park Brewing headman Cosimo Sorrentino has extended olive branches and started public dialogs in hopes of bringing the brewer community together. He’s also brewing up a storm in tandem with local contemporaries, creating collaboration beers debuting across the county. Even with the cramped calendar that comes with the aforementioned endeavors, he took the time to sit a spell and catch up.
Brandon Hernández: What drives you to brew so many collaborations?
COSIMO SORRENTINO: The vast majority of brewers I meet are incredible people who truly care about what is in the glass, but unfortunately not everyone is given the opportunity to focus on the beer or has the freedom to evolve and learn due to business, marketing or investor concerns. Collaborations transcend these restrictions.
What sort of headway has been made in bringing the brewing community back together?
The general level of aggression in the scene has receded quite a bit. The respect we have for each other as beer-lovers, hard workers, artists and individuals has brought insight to and transcended the decisions of business-owners during this period of rapid expansion and changing morals. And now there are whispers of collaborations with a brewery or two that, only a few months ago, would’ve seemed impossible.
What are some of your collaboration beers that San Diegans can get their hands on in August?
I worked with Cellarmaker in San Francisco for a beer that showed up at ALS Fest, and that beer will be on-tap at Hamilton’s Tavern in South Park on August 13. South Park Brewing Company should have All You Need Is Love, an IPA brewed with beet juice in collaboration with Hillcrest Brewing Company to raise money for victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. And maybe, just maybe, there is still some Baby Bonobos-a session version of our wildly popular San Diego pale ale-on at Gordon Biersch, where I brewed it with longtime San Diego brewing fixture, Doug Hasker.
How do you handle having such a full plate with two breweries, collaborations and your endeavors off-the-clock?
Right now, beer is my wife, my child and my hobby. I have yet to meet someone who has been presented the opportunity I am lucky enough to have. There are brewers that have worked in this town for 20-plus years to create and maintain our community, set the quality standards and, most importantly, establish a sense of camaraderie and respect. I would be doing a disservice to my city, our industry and the drinkers who spend their hard-earned money if I didn’t take full advantage of this unique period and place in the industry. San Diego as a whole is making better beer every week and I am happy to be a small cog in that machine.