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Stories by Brandon Hernández

Dark Days at Iron Fist

Vista brewery set to debut a rum barrel-aged imperial stout

As temperatures begin their annual, wintry decent — OK, so we’re only talking a few degrees in sunny San Diego, but humor me — thoughts of tropical isles are hardly top of mind. But Vista’s ...

“Marketing” local beer

Passage of AB 2004 allows local brewers to sell beer at farmers’ markets.

As one would expect from a county with a climate so well-suited to nourishing crops and orchards, plus a top-notch artisanal culture, San Diego’s farmers’ markets are a cut above; places that, in addition to ...

Early Look: 32 North Brewing Company

New Miramar business really gets it, and “it” includes skillful brewing

I’ve met many new-brewery owners in my day. Sometimes, they’re so out of touch from a business or brewing standpoint that I fear for them. I recently had the opposite experience when meeting Steve Peterson, ...

Opens and annies

October 24 | Grand Opening: New centrally located 32 North Brewing Company will throw open its doors and throw down with a Day One inventory of core beers such as Landfall Berliner Weisse, Fly By ...

No beer, no problem

The Cork and Craft’s food makes waiting for house beers easy

“I cook food. I roast coffee.” This is the mantra Mike Arquines leads with from the helm of newly opened restaurant, urban winery, and soon-to-debut brewery, The Cork and Craft (16990 Via Tazon, Rancho Bernardo). ...

American Voo Doo

Oggi’s production arm releases two forms of its imperial stout.

The second I laid eyes on a bottle of Left Coast Voo Doo American Stout (produced by Left Coast Brewing Co., the brewing operation from which most of the beers of the Oggi’s brewpub and ...

Virginia is for (beer) lovers

Two San Diego companies building breweries in the Old Dominion

It may be 2,600 miles away on the opposite side of the country and bear little cultural resemblance to Southern California, but relatively soon, Eastern Virginia will feature not one, but two companies providing an ...

Ballast Point open for business in Miramar

Rapidly growing brewing and distilling company debuts new tasting room.

Between droves of beer fans driving in for a first look and an army’s worth of delivery trucks pulling up to have their trailers filled with palettes of fresh Sculpin IPA and Pale Ale, Carroll ...

Fests of all flavors

Sampler Flight of beer events from October 14-20

October 17 | Oktoberfest Celebration: For one über-fantastic Saturday, the gang at Helm’s Brewing Company will do everything it can to convert their nautical-themed industrial suite into a center for Germanic celebration. Deutsch costumes, music, ...

Bine & Vine looks the part

Recently renovated standout bottle shop ups its game with redone interiors

Believe it or not, there was a time when craft-stocked bottle shops weren’t in every neighborhood throughout San Diego. Sure, there was craft beer, even the local variety, but it took awhile for the retail ...

Julian's mascot beer

Nickel Beer Company brews ale-cider hybrid with local apples

I love the Padres and Chargers, but a balding, portly friar and buffed out lightning bolt are hard to get excited about. San Diego isn’t known for cool mascots. Fortunately, it is known for exceptional ...

Local beer cellar bets

San Diego County beers best suited for prolonged aging

The term “beer cellar” can come off a bit pretentious, intimidating ale and lager fans who are only ankle-deep in the liquid medium. But fear not. Unlike wine cellars, which veer toward the legitimately pretentious, ...

Coastal exposure

Santee’s Twisted Manzanita Ales opens PB tasting room

In going coastal, Twisted Manzanita Ales (4652 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach) has departed from the interior motif of the tasting room at its Santee headquarters. Ironically, this comes from the company desiring to provide a ...

Putting the fest in October

Sampler flight of beer events from October 7-13

October 10-12 | Wet Hop Festival: For lupulin lovers, this is the most wonderful time of the year. The hop harvest is afoot and that means tons of great pale ales and IPAs made using ...

Local 2014 GABF winners

SD shines early, often at Great American Beer Festival

San Diego County brewers are used to successful outings at the country's largest, most-respected brewing competition, the Great American Beer Festival. Held annually in Denver, the combination festival and competition draws thousands of beer fans ...

Underground beer tasting

Examining the first Barrel-aged Rare Form, Amplified Ale Works’ first Barrel Works release

In my day, I’ve been treated to grandiose tastings of fine food and beverage in posh, intimate settings replete with marble, rich mahogany, and fine Corinthian leather, where I’ve been served by tuxedoed and otherwise ...

Baja Beer Touring: Mexicali — Part II

Closing out three days in Baja with a fiesta, siesta, and of course, more craft beer.

The following is the sixth in a six-part series about that adventure, which yielded some good beer and a good deal more. Mexicali - Part I is the previous stop on this tour of Baja’s ...

Baja Beer Touring: Mexicali — Part I

Tasting through Mexicali’s hot craft brewing scene

The following is the fifth in a six-part series about that adventure, which yielded some good beer and a good deal more. Valle de Guadalupe - Part II is the previous stop on this tour ...

Baja Beer Touring: Valle de Guadalupe — Part II

Time spent amid passionate, close-knit brewers trumps truly excellent gourmet fare.

The following is the fourth in a six-part series about that adventure, which yielded some good beer and a good deal more. Valle de Guadalupe - Part I is the previous stop on this tour ...

Cheesy, hoppy good times

Sampler flight of local beer events for September 29 to October 5

October 2 | Homage to Fromage: The Hilton Del Mar has a cheesy idea for showcasing some of the finest beer in the county. They’re bringing in the artisans from Port Brewing / The Lost ...

It's dessert in a glass

South of the border inspiration yields a sweet milk stout

For all the mixed emotions about the company’s branding, Belching Beaver Brewery makes some mighty fine beers. That sentiment is nearly unanimous across top-level local beer enthusiasts. Those who don’t spend their time hitting up ...

Baja Beer Touring: Valle de Guadalupe — Part I

Bout with carsickness rewarded with a World Beer Cup-winning IPA.

The following is the third in a six-part series about that adventure, which yielded some good beer and a good deal more. Tijuana - Part II is the previous stop on this tour of Baja’s ...

Ken Schmidt & Iron Fist’s ono pia

Respected homebrewer and Vista brewery team-up to provide plenty of Aloha.

In a county flush with domestic fermentation talent, Ken Schmidt is kind of a big deal. A homebrewer since 1966, he’s concocted inventive beer recipes for decades. Many are laced with flavorful adjuncts evocative of ...

Baja Beer Touring: Tijuana — Part II

TJ’s craft brewing scene is rich with local ties and influence.

Tijuana - Part I is the previous stop on this tour of Baja’s craft brewing culture. The following is the second in a six-part series about that adventure, which yielded some good beer and a ...

Baja Beer Touring: Tijuana — Part I

TJ’s artisanal rebirth has expanded to include craft beer in a big way

Being as keyed-in to the brewing industry as I am, I’ve been aware of the fact that there is a burgeoning craft beer scene in Baja, California. Unfortunately, keeping as keyed-in on the brewing industry ...

Beer bridging a variety of events

Sampler Flight of beer events from September 23-29

September 27 | Tour de Fat: Craft beer, music, fun and two-wheeled conveyances will collide in Golden Hill when New Belgium Brewing makes its annual Tour de Fat stop in San Diego. The event is ...

Biere de Gourde

The Lost Abbey debuts first draft of pumpkin-infused Belgian-style Brett beer

It’s pumpkin beer season, which means breweries around the country will offer their spins on autumnal harvest-themed brews. Because pumpkin is such a popular and familiar ingredient, these beers are easy to love. They envelop ...

Coming Soon: Inland Tavern

Long-time San Marcos watering hole, Penny Lane, being born anew

Though I always passed it up for nearby competitors Churchill’s Pub & Grille or Sublime Ale House, there was something comforting about driving past Penny Lane Pub & Grill. Tucked off the side of San ...

Brewers moving on

Examining recent resignations by local brewing personnel

Chuck at Green Flash. Mitch at Stone. Devon at Pizza Port. Employees of local brewing companies become so engrained into the fabric of their operations that followers of the San Diego craft beer scene think ...

Anniversaries, festivals, and more

Sampler flight of local beer events for September 16-22

September 16-20 | Five-Year Anniversary: Five years ago, Station Tavern opened its doors and it’s been a fave of South Parkers and family devotees ever since. Five days of fun will include the release of ...

Early Look: Lightning tasting room

Poway-based brewery finally opens up an official sampling space.

Jim Crute was almost giddy — well, about as animatedly giddy as an analytical science guy like him can get — as he opened the door to the business suite next to his Lightning Brewery ...

A deeper shade of pink

Green Flash’s annual fundraising beer a thing of beauty

There are few charitable causes as universally backed by the brewing community as the fight against breast cancer. This has much to do with how many peoples’ lives are touched by this scourge. One in ...

First Drafts: Toolbox Brewing Company

New Vista outfit is a center of wild yeast experimentation

These days, new brewery openings can feel very similar. Regardless of décor, back story and other defining characteristics, beers from new operations tend to be, for the most part, predictable. This isn’t because what breweries ...

Meet 32 North Brewing Company

Latest entrant into suds-heavy Miramar area will bring ex-Karl Strauss brewer

Miramar is already home to a plethora of local breweries including powerhouses AleSmith Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits and Saint Archer Brewery. Few communities offer as many brewery-touring options. The current count is ...

September suds sippin’

Sampler Flight of beer events from September 9-15

September 12 | Meet the Brewer: One of the best things about San Diego’s largest, beeriest eatery, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, is that anyone who loves craft beer wants to ...

Council rolls out the barrel(-aged beer)

Well-received new brewery releasing first of its tart, barrel-aged beers

Perhaps no brewery that’s debuted in 2014 has arrived to such immediate and nearly unanimous fanfare as Council Brewing Company (7705 Convoy Court, Kearny Mesa). From hop-forward pale ales and IPAs to low-ABV English-style ales ...

Aztec’s serpentine double IPA

Vista brewery turns out what may be its best beer yet

It’s common for brewing company owners to be high on the skills of their brewers (ironically, I type this shortly after the head fermentation specialists at Barrel Harbor Brewing Company and Helm’s Brewing Company have ...

Beerbucha in Oceanside

Craft beer and kombucha sharing space on tap and in the same glass

I’ve learned to expect the unexpected from certain breweries that don’t adhere to common rules of beer service. Chief among them is Oceanside Ale Works (1800 Ord Way, Oceanside), a company that’s played fast-and-loose for ...

It’ll probably involve offal

When I think of my ideal food day in San Diego, it doesn’t involve heavy white linens, maître d’s, or putting on a suit and tie. Maximum dining enjoyment in my laidback hometown comes from ...

Start September with a bang (& beer)

Sampler Flight of beer events from September 2-8

September 3 & 4 | Give a Pint, Get a Pint Blood Drive: The San Diego Blood Bank will post up its bloodmobile in the parking lot outside Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – ...

Early Look: Bagby Beer Company

Exploring ex-Pizza Port champion brewer’s new Oceanside digs

When I last toured the construction site of Bagby Beer Company, the place still mostly looked like the auto dealership and repair facility it was in its former life. A visit this weekend turned up ...

Societe’s beer bloggers’ delight

Unique Kearny Mesa brewery’s single-hop IPA delivers unanimously good flavors

Even if they don’t always write about it, beer bloggers tend to be extremely opinionated. It takes a lot to please one, much less several, but last weekend, after attending the 2014 Beer Bloggers Conference, ...

New San Diego brewery guide coming!

San Diego Beer Week launch planned for 2014 edition of critical local brewery guide

“We’ll need it by the end of the month,” said my publisher in regards to the first critical guide to brewery-owned properties in San Diego County. Even to non-writers, a month to complete a thorough ...

Abnormal Beer and more for RB

Upcoming Rancho Bernardo business has restaurant, brewery, winery all under one roof

It’s not all that abnormal, but it is unheard of — a combination restaurant, winery, and brewery all under one roof. Such will be the concept behind The Cork and Craft (16990 Via Tazon, Suite ...

Firkin reggae, sours, sliders, and more

Sampler Flight of beer events from August 26-31

August 29 | Firkin Friday: Scot Blair revels in introducing patrons of Hamilton’s Tavern to the liquid assets of special, smaller, lesser-known breweries, and will be sharing the wares of San Francisco small-batch outfit, Cellarmaker, ...

All Duck Foot’s quacked up to be

Gluten-free brewing operation to be housed near Miramar pyramid

When I sat down with Duck Foot Brewing Company owner Matt DelVecchio last September, I conducted my interview on the patio of his coastal North County condo. The next time we convene, it will be ...

Nothing spells “happy anniversary” like IPA

Breweries like Coronado’s eponymous fermentation outfit emoting I-P-YAY!

All the cool kids are doin’ it: brewing über-hopped double IPAs to celebrate their companies’ anniversaries. The most recent are San Diego stalwarts, Stone Brewing Co. and Coronado Brewing Company, both of which hit the ...

Open, open, open

A hit-list of planned opening dates for upcoming brewery projects.

I have nearly 50 upcoming breweries, brewpubs, tasting rooms, and other brewing company-owned facilities on my radar. Thanks to San Diego Beer News, people are well aware of this, which leads to me being asked ...

Belching Beaver going the brewpub route

Vista-based brewery bringing a combination brewery-restaurant to Vista

Brewery expansion remains in full swing, with yet another local brewing company closing in on a satellite location. This time it’s one of the breweries that helped start the tasting room trend, Belching Beaver Brewery. ...

Craft enjoyment in many forms

Sampler Flight of beer events from August 21-25

August 21-23 | Fallbrook Brew-sic Celebration: The county’s northernmost brewery, Fallbrook Brewing Company, is inviting musical acts into its tasting room for a groove-fest sharing the company’s acronym. Stop by in the evening to take ...

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