Meet your brewer: Cal Ryan

Cal Ryan, head brewer at Groundswell Brewing Co. tasting room in Grantville. (Howard Lipin/U-T)
(Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A smallish Grantville brewery off Mission Gorge Road, Groundswell Brewing Co. isn’t the city’s splashiest or most well-known operation, but it’s making strides to change that - such as hiring 10-year brewing pro Callaway Ryan and acquiring the Santee-based brewery and distillery formerly operated by now defunct Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits. With the future spread out before him, Ryan, who once headed El Cajon’s URBN St. Brewing, is ready to rock at his new, much larger digs.

BRANDON HERNÁNDEZ: What prompted this big expansion, and why did you choose the Twisted Manzanita spot?

CALLAWAY RYAN: We started to see more demand across the board - (for) the Grantville tasting room, account sales, bottles and distribution in Los Angeles and Orange County. We needed to take control of our brew destiny. The Santee facility will allow us to expand distribution and keep up with demand. Even though the facility is more than we need today, we will be able to grow within those four walls for at least four to five years, and probably more. It also helps us to meet our brewing needs within three to four months instead of engaging in a lengthy build-out over the next 18 to 24 months.

What new and interesting things are coming from Groundswell in the near future?

Having access to a more-or-less turnkey system that is 10 times the size of our previous system is a huge boon. With that and all our added capacity, we should have the ability to do a lot more fun and interesting beers. We’re already in the planning stages of a barrel-aging program with both clean and sour beers. You should expect to see more kettle-sours, big beers, collaborations and one-offs.

What are your thoughts on the growing East County beer scene?

There’s a great sense of community in East County, and I’m proud to be a part of it. 2016 was a pretty intense year for our small corner of the craft community, but on the whole I would say that things are looking up. With the recent openings of some really solid breweries and several GABF medals, East County definitely ranks as a beer destination in its own right at this point.