Walter Mencken 10:06 a.m., Feb. 6
Ribbon Cut, Doors Open: White Labs is Open for Business
Friday afternoon, Mayor Jerry Sanders wielded his giant novelty scissors, snapping them shut on a yellow ribbon on the threshold of the new White Labs tasting room (9495 Candida Street). This symbolic gesture marked the official grand opening of the Miramar-based company’s first-of-its-kind bar, which I wrote about on the dawn of its soft-open period back in March. Back then, the tasting bar had been fully constructed, but was a work-in-progress from an interior design standpoint. Everything is now in place and looks sharp, especially with a crowd of beer lovers taking up every inch of square footage.
When addressing the suds-hungry masses, Sanders—who, over the course of his mayoral tenure, has been a vocal proponent for the San Diego craft brewing industry—gave big-time props to White Lab owners, Chris and Lisa White. In doing so, he recalled a meeting with Jim Koch, where the founder of The Boston Beer Company (the largest craft brewery in the US, which most people better as Sam Adams) touted White Labs as the best yeast producers in North America.
Most brewers agree. The figures aren’t readily available, but the majority of brewing industry insiders speculate that White Labs is the number one yeast production company in the country. They are as much a part of the fabric of the San Diego brew scene as any of the breweries in the county.
The component they add to the beers that shape the scene—yeast—is the primary provider of the flavors unique to each style of beer they are used to produce. Thanks to the establishment of the White Labs tasting room, this fact is now on display for beer drinkers to easily experience. Flights of beers made using the same recipe but different strands of yeast can be sampled there, and the variance in each is dramatic, not only in taste, but aroma and appearance as well.
Sanders referenced his own experience in learning the differences in yeast characteristics under the tutelage of the Whites. He also commented that what White Labs does is as sophisticated as anything going on in the biotech industry, and labeled their business as a cornerstone what he called “brewtech,” a segment of local business that continues to grow and thrive.