Take it From the Tap

By Brandon Hernández

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COMING TO A HEAD
What's new in brew or coming soon

AleSmith Brewing Co.: After 20 years of award-winning craftsmanship, one of San Diego's most renowned breweries is closing down its tiny tasting room and movin' on up (well, two blocks over, anyway). At the new AleSmith facility, roll-up garage doors will give way to San Diego's largest brewery tasting room, a 25,000-square-foot space equipped with more than 60 taps and an extensive outdoor beer garden. In the not too distant future - on a street called AleSmith Court, nonetheless - the offerings will also include a barrel-aged beer-blending

room, a second-story indoor/outdoor mezzanine and a museum devoted to former Padres great Tony Gwynn built in conjunction with Mr. Padre's family. 9990 AleSmith Ct., Miramar, alesmith.com

Magnetic Brewing: A nano-brewery built by an electrician on a street called Magnatron Boulevard... it sounds like a fictional conjuring plucked from a sci-fi movie, but it's the very real addition to Kearny Mesa's rapidly growing cadre of craft brewers. A mere football field's distance from its nearest brewery neighbor (Helm's Brewing Co.), Magnetic offers a line of head-wrecking, high-alcohol beers (most come in above 9% by volume... whew!) like a double IPA dubbed Magnatar. Didn't he once lose an arm-wrestling match to Optimus Prime? 5595 Magnatron Blvd., Kearny Mesa, magneticbrewing.com

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LET'S GO TO THE HOPS
November beer events

Ten days of ale and lager fun kicks off on November 6 courtesy of San Diego Beer Week. There'll be hundreds of craft beer-themed events taking place from Oceanside to Ocean Beach , Rancho Santa Fe to Rancho San Diego, and everywhere in between. Here's a cheat sheet for some beery events that won't disappoint. sdbw.org

Fri., Nov. 6, 9 a.m.: Rare Beer Breakfast, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Escondido
Fri., Nov. 6, 6 p.m.: 3-Year Anniversary, Amplified Ale Works/California Kebab, Pacific Beach
Fri., Nov. 6, 6 p.m.: Guild Fest: VIP Brewer Takeover, Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, Downtown
Sat., Nov. 7, 10:30 a.m.: Beer Geek Tour, Old Town Transit Center, Old Town
Sat., Nov. 7, 12 p.m.: Meet the Homebrewers, The Homebrewer, North Park
Sat., Nov. 7, 2 p.m.: San Diego Brewers Guild Festival, Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, Downtown Sun., Nov. 8, 5 p.m.: Cask Ale Marathon, U.S. Grant Hotel, Gaslamp
Mon., Nov. 9, 3 p.m.: Green Flash, Alpine & Ballast Point Invasion, SD TapRoom, Pacific Beach
Tue., Nov. 10, 3 p.m.: The Full Table, Benchmark Brewing Co., Grantville
Tue., Nov. 10, 4 p.m.: Quesoveza: A Cheese & Beer Odyssey, The WineSellar & Brasserie, Miramar
Tue., Nov. 10, 6 p.m.: Green Flash Cellar 3 Dinner, Churchill's Pub, San Marcos
Tue., Nov. 10, 7 p.m.: Chicks for Beer with Faction Brewing, The High Dive, Bay Park
Wed., Nov. 11, 11 a.m.: Three-Day Speedway Grand Prix, AleSmith Brewing Co., Miramar
Wed., Nov. 11, 5 p.m.: Cask Ale Marathon, The U.S. Grant Hotel, Gaslamp
Thu., Nov. 12, 6 p.m.: Craft Beer + Bites-SDBW Edition, SILO in Makers Quarter, East Village
Fri., Nov. 13, 2 p.m.: IPA Lounge, Thorn St. Brewery, North Park
Fri., Nov. 13, 6 p.m.: Battle of the Guilds, Toronado, North Park
Sat., Nov. 14, 11:30 a.m.: 3 Amigos with Bagby Beer, Nickel Beer & Port Brewing/ The Lost Abbey; O'Brien's Pub, Kearny Mesa
Sat., Nov. 14, 1 p.m.: San Diego Cheese & Beer Festival, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Liberty Station
Sun., Nov. 15, 12 p.m.: Beer Garden, The Lodge at Torrey Pines, La Jolla

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MEDAL SHOP
How S.D. continues to school the nation in beer

The Great American Beer Festival - it sounds grandiose... and it is. Held each year in Denver, it's the largest and most prestigious annual beer competition in the country. And every year, the competition gets more fierce and formidable. This year's edition saw 1,552 brewing companies enter more than 6,000 beers for judging in 92 different beer styles. San Diego brewers had an incredible showing, racking up 19 total medals (six of them solid gold), which is more than any region of its size from the Pacific to the Atlantic. On top of that, San Marcos' Rip Current Brewing Co. earned top honors as the best Very Small Brewery, scoring a gold medal for its German-style bock and a silver for its Scottish-style strong ale. Further proof of what we all know: San Diego is ground zero for craft beer quality and innovation.

The local medal count:

Very Small Brewery of the Year
Rip Current Brewing Co., San Marcos

Gold Medals
Break Line Bock, Rip Current Brewing Co., San Marcos
The Coachman, Societe Brewing Co., Kearny Mesa
Le Freak, Green Flash Brewing Co., Mira Mesa
Revolver IPA, BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., Santee
Veritas 015, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos
Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout, New English Brewing Co., Sorrento Valley

Silver Medals
Black Lagoon Scottish Strong, Rip Current Brewing Co., San Marcos
Scripps Pier Stout, South Park Brewing Co., South Park

Bronze Medals
Bacon & Eggs, Pizza Port, Ocean Beach
GRAMBO, Pizza Port, Solana Beach
Guillaume, Pizza Port, Ocean Beach
Saison, URBN St. Brewing Co., El Cajon
San Diego-style IPA, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., La Jolla
Serrano Pale Ale, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Scripps Ranch
Shark Bite Red, Pizza Port Bressi Ranch, Carlsbad
Teahupo'o, Breakwater Brewing Co., Oceanside
Windansea Wheat, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., Pacific Beach
Witty Moron, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station, Point Loma
Z-Man Stout, Pizza Port, Carlsbad

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DO ME A FLAVOR
New beers to cheers and brews to peruse

Revolver IPA: Of all the medals won by local breweries at GABF, none is more impressive than taking the top spot in the most highly contested category, India pale ale. San Diego is widely regarded as being home to the best IPAs anywhere, but thanks to western- and Americana-themed East County outfit BNS Brewing and Distilling Co., that legend is bolstered by hard evidence. BNS shot down the other 335 IPAs vying for top of the hop heap - the most entrants in any category, by far. BNS Brewing & Distilling Company, 10960 Wheatlands Ave., Ste. 101, Santee, bnsbrewinganddistilling.com

Lupus Has Left the Building: Flashy jumpsuits, a killer bouffant, the trademark lip curl - there's lots to love about Elvis Presley, including his ardor for carb-heavy snacks. Fallbrook Brewing Co. recently took on the challenge to replicate the flavors of one of The King's favorite treats, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, in this German-style Hefeweizen. Wheat and natural peanut flavoring bring the bread and butter, while banana-like esters help make it an altogether unique ale. Fallbrook Brewing Company, 136 N. Main St., Fallbrook, fallbrookbrewing.com

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MEET YOUR MAKER
Brewmaster Q&A with Paul Sangster
Co-founder & Brewmaster, Rip Current Brewing Co.

It's cool to pick up some heavy-medal hardware at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), but to be named the best brewery of your size in the entire nation - out of more than 4,000 total breweries - well, that's really special. And earning such a title comes down to the quality of a company's beers. We sat down with this year's recipient of the Very Small Brewery and Brewmaster of the Year award to gain insight into what such big-time recognition means, now and into the future.

Brandon Hernández: Did you expect to do as well as you did?
PAUL SANGSTER: We went to GABF hoping to win one medal of any type, and prepared to go home empty-handed and just happy to see our colleagues at other San Diego breweries do well. In such a huge, competitive competition, it's hard to win two medals, particularly because each brewery is limited to five total entries. It's a huge thrill to have been awarded two medals and given the honor of being the Very Small Brewery of the year. These awards are nothing we could have imagined or hoped for.

But surely you had some faith. Maybe some beers you thought had better chances at medaling than others.
Going into GABF, we thought the bock was our best chance to get a medal, followed by our Scottish strong ale. When bronze and silver for the Bock category were announced, we started to think it wasn't going to happen. But it was so nice to be wrong.

What does this win mean for Rip Current?
It's a tremendous morale booster for the brewing team to be recognized at the most important competition of the year. It's truly a reflection of the team's focus on beer quality, and I'd like to recognize Guy, Jeff, Justin, Sean and James for making this possible. This is starting to sound like an awards show speech, so I guess I should thank the Academy, too. Ha!

Okay, then. Any other people you'd like to thank?
The band isn't playing you off just yet. We are grateful to those who helped us along the way, including homebrew clubs like QUAFF and the Society of Barley Engineers. [Rip Current cofounder Guy Shobe] and I were active members in both clubs, and they impacted the way we make beer. More recently, we have enjoyed being a part of the amazing San Diego professional brewing community and appreciate all the help we have been given over the last few years. We hope and expect that another very small brewery from San Diego will win this award next year and we'll support them as others have supported us.

Where do you go from here?
Next year, we'll grow in GABF's "small brewery" category, but our focus at the brewery is not on competitions, but rather on beer quality and our customer experience. We're looking forward to introducing barrel-aged and sour beers to our line-up over the coming year, and continuing to improve our brewing processes and quality.

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, Marketing Manager for AleSmith 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.

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