By Brandon Hernández / Photos by Sara Norris
Do Me a Flavor
New beers to cheers and brews to peruse
When Vegas restaurant vet Schuyler Schulz moved to San Diego, he fell in with brewers who respected his skills for pairing fine food with fine beer. One was AleSmith brewmaster Peter Zien, who hired Schulz as a consultant. Now, Schulz is helming The Bellows, an upscale San Marcos eatery that, thanks to his taste bud, has a mildly smoked dry stout on the tap list to complement his wood-fired grill fare.
AleSmith Brewing Company, 9366 Cabot Dr., Miramar
Grapefruit Sculpin IPA:
Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA is ubiquitous in San Diego. Tropical flavors and a solid (but not overblown) bitterness make it an archetype of the style. Those characteristics also make it the perfect backdrop for the addition of citrusy, tastefully bitter grapefruit peel - so much so that San Diego's fastest-growing brewery recently released this delish variation in cans.
Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits; Scripps Ranch, Miramar, Linda Vista, Little Italy and Petco Park
ith eight brewery-restaurants throughout Southern California, it's easy to see Karl Strauss as a big, beery machine, but at its core beats the heart of Paul Segura, a passionate San Diegan who's helped transition what was once a single-mindedly Old World European outfit into a limber operation boasting one of San Diego's most wide ranging beer portfolios. At Uncle Karl's Pacific Beach brewery, Segura reminisces about the past decade and a half he has spent working for San Diego's oldest post- Prohibition brewing company.
Brandon Hernández: How did you get into brewing and, eventually, Karl Strauss' brewhouse?
Paul Segura: After I had homebrewed for a couple of years, I joined a local homebrew club called QUAFF (Quality Ale Fermentation Fraternity), where I befriended Skip Virgilio, who later became the brewer at PB AleHouse. He let me volunteer at his brewery and learn how brewing's done on a commercial scale. I loved it so much, when I graduated from SDSU, I took out a loan and went up to UC Davis to become a member of the first graduating class of the American Brewer's Guild. After graduation, I cut my teeth at Hops! Bistro and Brewery, which became Hang Ten Brewing Co. when it was taken over by the Cohn Restaurant Group. Sadly, the brewery closed in 1999, but fortunately for me, I was hired at Karl Strauss right at the start of 2000.
Originally, Karl Strauss was all about low-alcohol, Germanic lagers, but now the company brews nearly every style under the sun. What's that transition been like?
When I started with Karl Strauss, drinkers weren't quite ready for crazy stuff yet. We used to use ale yeast
to make hefeweizens, but when we switched to traditional Bavarian yeast, we caught all sorts of grief. And anytime we brewed something new, like an imperial stout or barley wine, there was a painful amount of customer education that went with it. But we stuck with it, educating people as we turned them on to new flavors and styles. It's been a long, uphill climb, and it's very cool that people have come to embrace pretty much any beer that we come up with these days. It's like we have carte blanche to create anything, and we're stoked on that.
Food-and-beer pairings have been a big part of Karl Strauss' philosophy for a long time. What are some that stand out in your memory?
We love turning people on to all sorts of different combinations. Some pairings that stand out in my memory are our Windansea Wheat shrimp ceviche, Wreck Alley Imperial Stout crème brûlée, Blackball Belgian IPA mussels and the surf-and-turf kebabs we paired with the Rye IPA brewed for last year's American Craft Beer Week.
What do you like to do outside the brewery?
I love music of all genres, and I've played guitar for almost 30 years - even longer than I've brewed beer. I started jamming with some high-school classmates many years ago, and that evolved into a band called Rifftide. We've played at different venues around San Diego for years now, including beer events like the San Diego Festival of Beers.
What are your favorite local breweries?
Some longtime favorites are Ballast Point, Green Flash, Pizza Port, Coronado, Alpine, Rock Bottom La Jolla and Gordon Biersch... they have the best hefeweizen. And some of my newer favorites are Societe, Mike Hess, Saint Archer, Mother Earth Brew Co. and BNS Brewing and Distilling.
Hops To It
September beer events
San Diego Brewers Guild Golf Tournament:
Half the fun of golfing comes courtesy of the drink cart. Take imbibing on the greens to the next level by signing off for the San Diego Brewers Guild's inaugural fairway soiree, where fans can tee off with some of the county's renowned fermentation superstars. Golfers of all skill levels are welcome. Concerns about bogies and mulligans are bound to fade away by the back nine.
September 12, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Rancho Bernardo Inn, 17550 Bernardo Oaks Dr., Rancho Bernardo
Treasure Chest Fest:
Green Flash co-owner Lisa Hinkley is a
survivor and champion for charity organization
for the Cure. Each year, Hinkley and her brew buds break out rare beers (including a rotating brew called Treasure Chest - this year's version is a barrel- aged saison flavored with plums) and special casks, conspiring with some of San Diego's top chefs to provide food pairings. Drink pink and make a difference for charity in the process.
September 6, 12-6 p.m., Green Flash Brewing Company, 6550 Mira Mesa Blvd., Mira Mesa, greenflashbrew.com
What's new or coming soon
O'Sullivan Bros. Brewing Company:
Even though the Irish brothers behind this suburban newcomer have yet to sell their first pint, they've committed to 10 initial styles ranging from blondes and IPAs to stouts and porters. The smoked version of the latter goes by the moniker Catholic Guilt, and its sister red ale's called Finn McCool's Big Thirsty, so the O'Sullivans are bringing plenty of hearty Irish humor to their business park digs.
9879 Hibert St., Ste. F, Scripps Ranch, osullivan-brothers.com
Home Brewing Company:
A professional brewing operation run within a homebrew supply shop - once they get past the irony, customers will get to see how the ingredients they're contemplating using in their own creations are combined by owner and brewmaster George Thornton to produce premium ales and lagers. Those brews will be available in a tasting room just off the entrance and, if Thornton has his way, will inspire increased experimentation and a deeper dive down the brewing rabbit hole.
2911 El Cajon Blvd., #2, North Park, thehomebrewersd.com