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Hoptown Girl: Craft Beer is booming, more than ever

Posted: June 14th, 2011 | Food & Drink, Uncategorized | No Comments

A flight of Jolly Pumpkin beers at Bottlecraft

By Lauren Duffy Lastowka | SDUN Columnist

Mayor Jerry Sanders has declared June 2011 Craft Beer Month in San Diego. In his June 1 proclamation at the newly opened Green Flash Brewery facility in Sorrento Valley, Sanders cited the growth of the industry, the expansion of several breweries and beer businesses, and the growing allure of San Diego as a destination for beer tourism. So it’s no coincidence that a few major beer events will take place this month—including the American Homebrew Association’s National Homebrew Conference and the San Diego International Beer Festival at the SD County Fair. But there have also been a few more permanent developments in the past few weeks that make enjoying a craft beer easier than ever—even after Craft Beer Month comes to an end.

Stone Brewing Co’s exapansion
In mid May, Stone Brewing Co. announced a slurry of expansions, including a planned hotel across from its Escondido brewery, a forthcoming catering division, and a Liberty Station brewery and restaurant, all to debut next year. It has also taken over the former La Milpa farm, renaming it Stone Farms and planting its 18 acres to supply fresh produce for Stone’s soon-to-be multiple restaurants (Mil Krecu, of the Tierra Miguel Foundation, will manage the organic operation).

For Uptown residents, however—the most exciting—and immediate—Stone news is the opening of a storefront in South Park, which will offer bottles and growler fills to-go, with a planned 14 taps that will rotate to include seasonal and special releases. This means come mid June, for anyone in North or South Park, a growler of Stone beer is just a walk or a bike ride away.

The Stone Company Store will be located at 2215 30th St. #3 in South Park. For more information, visit: stonebrew.com

Bottlecraft Bottle Shop and Tasting Room
On May 12, a new craft beer store quietly debuted in Little Italy, changing the way we can shop for beer. Here, beers are sold individually, rather than by the six pack, and any bottle can be opened and enjoyed on the premises. It’s a wonderful concept that encourages curiosity and exploration: If you’re not willing to commit to a six-pack of a new beer, you can try one bottle. If you can’t decide between two styles, you can fill a six-pack with three of each.

Bottlecraft isn’t just about exploring, though. It’s about exploring communally. Owner Brian Jensen has created a space that is welcoming and inviting, designed to encourage customers not only to buy beer but to linger for a while. Jensen and a friend crafted the custom-built furniture, which includes a long communal table and plenty of bar and counter seating. On a recent Thursday evening, the space was filled with quiet chatter, a noise level Jensen finds ideal. His goal is to offer a setting that is friendly but more low-key than a bar, where the focus is on conversation and people can come to “geek out” on beer.

In the three weeks since opening, Jensen has already found a niche in the neighborhood. Customers stop by for a beer during lunch time (he welcomes the delivery of food), small gatherings in the evenings, and to finish projects on their laptops over a beer.

Bottlecraft is located at 2161 India St. and is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. A grand opening celebration is planned for June 18. Visit bottlecraftbeer.com for details.

Green Flash moves to Mira Mesa Boulevard
I have a soft spot in my heart for Green Flash’s West Coast IPA, and when I learned that I no longer had to travel to Vista for growler-fills and kegs, I jumped with joy. As of June 1, the Green Flash brewery and tasting room has set up shop in the middle of Sorrento Valley, in a massive 45,000-square-foot space.

While the main motive for the move was to increase production, the new location is far more convenient for anyone living in central San Diego. The space is also far more conducive to visitors than the Vista brewery, as the crowds who flocked to the brewery on opening day discovered.

The tasting room is vast and spacious, taking up the front corner of the brewery. More than 30 taps pour 15 beers—nine permanent and six rotating selections. The beers are available for tasters as well as tulip glasses and pints, and the space is inviting enough to encourage you to linger. The tasting room overlooks rows of barrel-aging beers, a bottling line, and eight shiny, stainless-steel brewing vessels, which when head brewer Chuck Silva starts brewing later this month, will have the capacity to produce 45,000 barrels a year (as of the writing of this article, production was still continuing at the Vista location). There’s also an outdoor courtyard, with a few picnic tables as well as parking for any local food trucks that stop by.

Green Flash is now located at 6550 Mira Mesa Blvd., in Sorrento Valley. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Friday, 3–9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 12 noon–9 p.m. For more information, visit: greenflashbrew.com.

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