San Diego, California, was destined to be a beer county. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailed his flagship, the San Salvador, from Navidad, Mexico, into San Diego Bay on Sept. 28, 1542, under the flag of Spain. He came ashore near Ballast Point on Point Loma. He was talked out of naming his discovery Sculpin but rather San Miguel and declared it a possession of the King of Spain. In November 1602, Sebastian Vizcaíno arrived with his flagship “San Diego”, sent north by Spain from Navidad. Vizcaíno surveys the harbor and what is now Mission Bay and Point Loma, naming the area for the Spanish Catholic saint San Diego de Alcalá. Sept. 26, 1774, the first colonist arrived in San Diego. They dream of a great zoo and 148 breweries in the area, but instead battle native Indians. The San Diego Brewing Company opened in 1896 as the first commercial brewery in San Diego County. Prohibition shut down it and six other breweries. Aztec Brewing Company, San Diego Brewing Company and Balboa Brewing Company opened after Repeal. In 1989, the Karl Strauss Brewing Company opened a brewery and brewpub on Columbia Street in downtown San Diego, the first commercial brewery in San Diego since 1953. In 1992, homebrewing enthusiast Jack White opened Home Brew Mart in San Diego — a shop filled with supplies, ingredients and instructions for helping his fellow brewers make better beer at home. A simple shop it remained until Yuseff Cherney, an award-winning homebrewer himself, hopped aboard. The two men opened Ballast Point Brewing in the back of the store in 1996, launching an adventurous wave of craft breweries along with Stone Brewing, Alesmith and Pizza Port. Today, there are a 148 craft breweries in San Diego County, as well as a pretty decent zoo. We present a beer flight of five San Diego County craft beers in our flight, Craft Beer Crosscut 7.12.17: A Flight of San Diego.
A team of pro surfers, skaters, and snowboarders launched San Diego’s Saint Archer Brewing Company in 2013 with the mission to brew creative create beers for action sports fans. That creativeness is on full display in the brewery’s Citra 7 IPA. Saint Archer puts Idaho 7 and Citra hops front and center with a touch of light crystal malt. Idaho 7 was first released in 2015 as an experimental hop variety from Jackson Hop Farm in Wilder, Idaho. It possesses aromas of pungent stone fruit and citrus — apricot, orange, red grapefruit, and papaya — along with resinous notes of pine. Citra hops adds intense citrus aroma to this hop forward IPA.
7% ABV, 41 IBU
After Green Flash Brewing’s lupulin lab grabbed the production reigns of several Alpine beers, the mad IPA scientists brewed even more amazing hopped-up masterpieces such as Hop Boxed, which was Alpine’s Duet’s malt bill, but instead of Simcoe and Amarillo hops, scientists used Citra and Mosaic. Alpine changed the name of Hop Boxed to Windows Up, but the mix of Citra and Mosaic still hold the window up for a soft and bitter room. Alpine describes it as falling squarely under the “dank” category. The dank base is complementary to the bitterness instead of balancing with a counterpunch. Windows Up is an IPA of two profiles that truly meets in the middle. With an aromatic floral and orange nose, the flavor begins soft on the mouth with a green meets papaya-citrus wash over the tongue that breaks away in a piney punch that leads to a bitter finish.
7.1% ABV, 55 IBU
Peaks and Pints can say with confidence Sacramento alt-rock band Deftones wasn’t inspired by the Bear Flaggers band, Beartones, but frontman Chino Moreno and crew did form in Sacramento, which has Bear Flag Revolt ties. When Moreno isn’t screaming “I watched you change into a fly!” he’s drinking craft beer. San Diego brewery Belching Beaver got word of Moreno’s drinking passion offering the band a collaboration opportunity to brew Phantom Bride IPA, a single off the band’s recent album, Gore. Moreno chose the Mosaic, Amarillo, Simcoe and Citra hops that went into this hoppy, West Coast style IPA. The crushable, super fruity IPA offers orange, citrus, pine, grapefruit and peach flavors with a moderately low bitterness.
6.8% ABV, 85 IBU
Much like the first Bear Flag —a cotton sheet, red paint, crude drawing of a grizzly bear and a lone red star — Modern Times Beer specializes in mashups, blending together different styles and flavors. Blazing World is an aggressively hoppy brew that shares characteristics with both imperial IPAs and amber ales. Nelson Sauvin, Mosaic and Simcoe hops give it a dank aroma packed with white grapes, mango and grapefruit peel, while the flavor blends burnt sugar, biscuits and grass.
8.1% ABV, 95 IBU
So much of the good, green stuff is packed into Green Flash’s West Coast IPA that you’ll find it overwhelming if you haven’t prepared yourself. Imagine licking a pine sapling on a spring day in a grassy meadow with your friend blowing weed smoke in your face. Seriously, West Coast is a bit like cramming fistfuls of freshly mowed grass into your gob due to a “menagerie of hops” layered throughout the brewing process including Simcoe (to impart a unique fruitiness and grapefruit zest), Columbus (for strong hop pungency), Centennial (for pine and citrus notes), and Cascade (for floral aroma). As the brewery puts it, it is a “multi-dimensional hop experience.” And they ain’t lying. It’s just over 8 percent ABV, with a malt body, resinous, hoppy and dank.