Take it From the Tap


By Brandon Hernández

As part of a yearlong campaign called “Beer to the Rescue,” more than 20 local breweries will brew specialty beers, the proceeds from sales of which will benefit the Lupus Foundation of Southern California ( The campaign is a collaborative effort initiated by yours truly. I was diagnosed with Lupus in 2014 and, rather than simply live with it, I’ve opted to leverage the strength, support and high-quality beers of this county’s brewing community to raise awareness and funds for this chronic autoimmune disease. Stay on the lookout for beer-release events by following Beer to the Rescue on Facebook and Twitter (@beertotherescue). The following are the first two Beer to the Rescue brews, both of which debuted in January.

Do Me a Flavor

New beers to cheers and brews to peruse

Benchmark Hildegard
In another case of going big for charity, Benchmark Brewing Company has offered up a hop-heavy triple IPA for this campaign. Exploding with fruity, piney hop aromas and a pleasant, resinous bitterness, it’s fittingly named after Hildegard of Bingen, who was Germany’s first female physician and a great healer who used herbal remedies to cure the sick in medieval times. Benchmark Brewing Company, 6190 Fairmount Ave., Grantville,

Nickel Double Dubbel
This brawny quadrupel (the highest in alcohol of Belgium’s “abbey ales”) comes on strong with flavors of molasses, nutmeg, plums, dates and raisins. The beer is available at Nickel Beer Co. out in apple country, or its sister operation, O’Brien’s Pub in Kearny Mesa. Later this year, a richer, boozier version of the beer aged in rum barrels will be released under the title “Double Dubbel Animal-Style.” Nickel Beer Co., 1485 Hollow Glen Rd., Julian,

Let’s Go to the Hops

February beer events

2014 Belgian Festival
Indulge in singels, dubbels, tripels, quads, saisons, sours and more at this inaugural fermentation fête focusing on rare and delicious brews plucked from and inspired by the country many consider the motherland of beer. February 22, 11 a.m., Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station, 2816 Historic Decatur Rd., Point Loma,

6th Annual Brewbies Beer Festival
Celebrate your love for beer and boobies at this Valentine’s Day fest benefitting the good work of the Southern California-based Keep-A-Breast Foundation. February 14, 12 p.m., Bagby Beer Co., 601 South Coast Hwy., Oceanside,


On Tap

What’s new in brew or coming soon

Half Door Brewing Company

The East Village’s ongoing influx of exciting hospitality venues includes this stylishly homey brewpub from the family behind downtown’s venerable Irish pub, The Field. A brother-andsister team ar

e tackling brewing and management, respectively, with the former combining SoCal beer sensibilities with his Eire-y heritage to create a traditional dry Irish stout as well as a

West Coast IPA, both of which will cozy up next to plates of modernized comfort dishes including a short-rib stuffed brewer’s pie. 903 Island Ave., East Village,
Kilowatt Brewing Company

This nanobrewery (the smallest category of breweries, from a production standpoint) will aim to get customers lit with imaginative interior lighting and a bar with customized, colorized appeal. Its beers - outlandish offerings like a smoked stout, mint chocolate porter and goji berry mountain honey ale - figure to be just as illuminating.

7576 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Kearny Mesa,


Brewmaster Q&A

Marty Mendiola Founder and brewmaster
Second Chance Beer Co.,

Marty Mendiola is a fixture in the San Diego brew scene. He’s a former president of the San Diego Brewer’s Guild and a highly decorated brewmaster who earned major hardware at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup - and he’s done it all during 17 years spent with the same company. His name has become synonymous with Rock Bottom’s La Jolla brewpub, but he’s ready to brew up his own success story via Second Chance Beer Co., a passion-project scheduled to open later this year.

Brandon Hernández: Was it hard leaving Rock Bottom?
Marty Mendiola: It is bittersweet to leave a company I have worked with for over 17 years. Rock Bottom really takes care of its brewers, allowing them to brew their own recipes and giving them a lot of freedom. But one thing my boss always told me is how proud he is that so many Rock Bottom brewers go on to run other successful breweries like 3 Floyds, Sun King, Surl and Gigantic. Let’s just add Second Chance to that list.

What is the significance of the name?
When I think of a second chance, I’m reminded what good fortune it is to receive one. A second chance encourages you to seize the moment, because if you don’t, it may pass you by. It’s a great reminder for me to live in the moment and be thankful for what I have.

Where will the brewery be located and what will the tasting room be like?
The brewery is in Carmel Mountain Ranch. The tasting room will be decked out in warm woods, stone and glass, with an emphasis on reusing and repurposing materials such as barrels. We will have lots of plants and will make the room feel comfortable. We’ll also have a conference room off the tasting space that will open onto a small patio.

What types of beers do you plan on brewing at Second Chance?
I love great session [low-alcohol] beers like Kölsch, Irish reds and English browns. They’re a nice change of pace from the many IPAs we have in San Diego. Don’t get me wrong - of course, I love hops and have several IPAs planned, including a great red IPA. I also love Belgian-style beers, and we will have a couple of great versions.

What are your favorite San Diego breweries?
I first worked as a bartender at Karl Strauss in 1995. They’ve been a good influence on my life, and my wife and I got married at their Brewery Gardens. Ballast Point’s lineup of beers is quite impressive. I love the quality beer at AleSmith and Societe, and I enjoy Stone’s brews and unwavering attitude and courage in pushing boundaries.

Second Chance Beer Co.
15378 Avenue of Science, Ste. 222, Carmel Mountain Ranch

Brandon Hernández is a native San Diegan with a fervent passion for craft beer and the talented individuals who produce it. He is a Senior Communications Specialist for Stone Brewing Co., an editor for Zagat, has served as a consultant to Food Network and contributes to national and San Diego-based magazines including The Beer Connoisseur, Imbibe, Wine Enthusiast, San Diego Reader and more. The first publication for which he ever wrote about beer was PacificSD. Follow him on Twitter: @sdbeernews and @offdutyfoodie.