Sour ales and experiences
Coronado Brewing is adding sour beers to its repertoire, while subtracting the East Coast from its distribution network.
The company plans to inaugurate a series of tart beers in June with the release of a sour peach and apricot ale.
“We’ve been working on this for at least 18 months,” said Ryan Brooks, Coronado’s brewmaster.
To avoid contaminating others ales, the bacteria-laced sours are made in a separate building at the brewery’s Bay Park headquarters.
Coronado is moving ahead on several fronts — besides sour beers, it’s launching Guava Islander IPA, building a tap room in Imperial Beach’s Bikeway Village and installing a new bottling line — while reducing its national footprint.
In August 2015, the brewery stopped shipping beers to the East Coast.
“It’s almost prohibitive to send a truck to the East Coast,” said Coronado co-owner Rick Chapman. “It cost too much money.”
Stone, Green Flash and Ballast Point solved that problem by building satellite breweries on East Coast brewery. Would Coronado follow suit?
“We’ve looked at it,” Chapman said.
He didn’t sound enthusiastic, perhaps because the gap between Coronado’s Number One market (California) and Number Two (North Carolina) is as wide as the continent. The brewery sells 70 percent of its beer in the Golden State where, as Brooks noted, no one confuses “Coronado” with “Corona.”
“We’re really focused on the West Coast,” Brooks said. “We are increasing our focus on the West Coast.”
Two years ago, after agreeing to participate in a panel discussion about the future of beer, I was warned about a fellow panelist.
“She’s really tough,” I was told. “Should be some fireworks.”
The troublemaker was Ina Verstl, a German writer and economist with a Ph.D from the University of Zurich. I don’t recall bloodshed at the conference, which was held in Brussels — perhaps I was too jetlagged to notice the carnage — but do remember Verstl’s keen, critical intelligence.
Those qualities are on display in “The Beer Monopoly” (Brauwelt International, $22.60), a recent book she wrote with Ernst Faltermeier, a German beer industry expert.
This opinionated account traces the fortunes of four global titans — Anheuser-Busch InBev; its since-acquired rival, SABMiller; Heineken; and Carlsberg. While the emphasis is on Big Beer, “Monopoly” also contains insights into the sales of craft breweries like Ballast Point and Saint Archer to conglomerates.
“These deals should not have caught us unawares, really,” my former tormentor noted.
“Craft brewers must plan for succession. None of the established craft brewers wants to run their brewery until the day they die. European culture requires that children must one day take over the family business, which may explain why so many of the breweries here have been in the family for generations.”
Kings of Beer
Mother Earth’s Cali Creamin’ (5 percent alcohol by volume) is a representative of the brewers-gone-wild camp. The vanilla cream ale smacks of sarsaparilla, vanilla, biscuit, vanilla and — trust me, it needs repeating — vanilla.
This is the Vista brewery’s most popular beer, and I can see why. It’s clean, light-bodied and, despite its resemblance to a beery vanilla float, not too sweet. It’s nice.
But is it a King? Not in my book (or column). Instead, Latitude 33’s Blood Orange IPA (7.2 percent) keeps the crown for another week. This Wallenda-like ale expertly walks the tightrope between nectar-like goo and too-faint fruit essence. Blood Orange is sweet and juicy, yes, but in a way that is sure-footed and balanced.
Women of the world, unite — and brew!
Wednesday was International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day, a global campaign founded by Britain’s Sophie de Ronde and organized by San Diego’s Denise Ratfield. Among the local participants gathering to produce “Unite” beers:
AleSmith, Pariah, San Diego Brewing, all in San Diego; Toolbox, in Vista; Tijuana’s Cerveza Artesanal 5 & 10; Mexicali Homebrewers Association and Cerveceria Averno, both in Mexicali.
This international event involved breweries in Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom, South Africa and other countries. Abroad and at home, these unique Unite beers should be on tap next month.
Curious about this project? Details are at unitebrew.org.
Words to drink by
“Instead of water we got here a draught of beer, a lumberer’s drink, which would acclimate and naturalize a man at once — which would make him see green, and, if he slept, dream that he heard the wind sough among the pines.” — Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Did you know?
Scotland’s BrewDog is crowdfunding a Columbus, Ohio, hotel. Each room in “The DogHouse” will have craft beer taps; the “luxury suite” will include an IPA-filled hot tub. Donors at Indiegogo are offered everything from tours ($25) to a 50-room takeover ($3,000).