Ever since rumors first surfaced of famed craft beer expert “Dr.” Bill Sysak opening a brewery, the craft beer world has been abuzz speculating on the who’s, what’s and whens. Who would Bill be teaming up with, what would they be brewing, and when would this project be revealed? San Diego finally gets the answers as Wild Barrel Brewing opens its doors to the public.
A collaborative powerhouse team of four partners make up Wild Barrel, with “Dr.” Bill as CEO, Bill Sobieski as Director of Brewing Operations, Preston Weesner as Director of Barrel Operations, and Chris White as President. “Dr.” Bill is known throughout the country as the lovable and insanely knowledgeable craft beer expert, tasting tens of thousands of beers in his career and introducing San Diegans to one-of-a-kind beer events like his “Oakquinox,” “Sour Beer Fest,” and “Pour it Black” festivals, along with countless beer dinners as the former Craft Beer Ambassador at Stone Brewing Co.
Bill Sobieski is an award winning homebrewer, known for his unbeatable “Mission Impechable” a peach sour which developed a cult-like following at beer festivals, and has worked at multiple breweries over the years. Preston Weesner comes to Wild Barrel as the former master blender from Portland’s Cascade Brewery, who ran the live barrel program releasing over 50 one-off blends per year. Rounding out the quartet, Chris White is an entrepreneur of two successful business and cigar aficionado, who was introduced to craft beer through Dr. Bill five years ago.
One of the most exciting tidbits for craft beer fans is the launch of their beer club entitled, “Inner Circle of the Barrel.” This exclusive buy-in includes a bevy of rewards, with members receiving twenty 500 ml bottles of ten different barrel aged beers, both sour and clean (2 bottles of each), a set of club glasses, an official club t-shirt, 10% discount online and on-premise, the first right to large releases, public offerings, and next year’s club. The cost is $300+ tax and CRV.
PACIFIC sat down with the Wild Barrel team for the inside scoop on this much-anticipated opening:
In a nutshell, what’s the ethos of Wild Barrel?
SYSAK: Making exceptional craft beer that will satisfy the most hard core beer geek and be friendly enough to bring in the newest fans.
You make both kettle sours and barrel-aged sours. What’s the difference?
SOBIESKI: Kettle sours are soured in the boil kettle for a few days then boiled to kill off the lactobacillus, then fermented with normal yeast in fermenter, and the fruit is added at the end. With barrel aged sours, the wild yeast and bacteria are added to the wine barrel and can take months for the sour character to develop, but much more rich flavors.
What’s the first beer someone should try at Wild Barrel...
SYSAK: White Rabbit. It’s our gateway beer. It’s a Belgian Wit with Curacao orange peel, but we wanted it fresher so we zested fresh Valencia oranges.
SOBIESKI: Prince of Dankness. It’s double dry hopped with Nelson and Motueka hops from New Zealand.
SYSAK: Look for Sauvignon Blanc-like grassiness, melon, tropical fruit, and big dank pine.
SYSAK: (laughs) The Hipster Latte. We’re all out of avocado toast, so come by and have a Hipster Latte, man bun included. It’s a Mostra coffee milk stout with coconut palm sugar and lactose. You get aromas and flavors of Brazilian roasted coffee, milk chocolate, a silky mouthfeel from oatmeal, and that trademark coffee bitterness throughout.
For wine drinkers?
In unison: San Diego Vice.
Speaking of Vice, you have three different fruit variations. What’s the scoop there?
SOBIESKI: Every variation is based on what’s seasonal. For the guava, I have a tree in the yard that I’ve been saving fruit from for a year and freezing, and this year I picked fresh and pureed them together.
SYSAK: The San Diego Vice with Montmorency cherry is made with tart cherries from Michigan. Look for ripe fruity notes with hints of almond on finish, and tart with a dry finish. The Vice with black currants is big, rich, and luscious, with berry notes like in cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Red wine drinkers will love this.
Favorite beer style:
SOBIESKI: IPA. Our Indie IPA is dry hopped with Citra. We single dry hop this IPA and will be rotating the hops. We just brewed yesterday with Mosaic.
What do you drink when you are not drinking beer?
SYSAK: Bourbon or Bordeaux
WHITE: George T Stagg & white Burgundy
One beer & food pairing?
SYSAK: Prince of Dankness with Carrot Cake
Wild Barrel Brewing is located at 692 Rancheros Dr., San Marcos. In addition to seven beers on tap, merchandise for sale includes Wild Barrel cognac and tulip glasses (look for the ones marked with 4 oz., 8 oz. and 16 oz.), hats, and t-shirts, all available at the brewery and online at wildbarrelbrewing.com.