Robert Bush 6:31 p.m., May 18
Ramona's first brewery to revive uncommon styles
Once upon a time, beer in San Diego consisted mainly of but a few styles: hefeweizens, amber ales, brown ales, porters, stouts, pale ales and, of course, the India pale ale. But, as craft brewing has taken hold across the county, brewers have gone on to tackle all sorts of beer styles. Nowadays, it seems pretty much every type of ale and lager the world has ever seen—and then some—are available in America’s Finest City. A recent interview with an upcoming brewing company, ChuckAlek Independent Brewers (2330 Main Street, Suite C, Ramona) disproved that theory. There are a number of Old World styles currently unavailable in San Diego…but not for long.
Ever had a Grodziskie ale? How about a Kentucky common? To the best of my knowledge, neither are being produced locally, and one would be hard pressed to find them on shelves anywhere in the country. In the case of Grodziskie, it’d be extremely tough to find even in its country of origin, Poland, where the ChuckAlek team says it is no longer produced except among homebrewers. This is why they’re producing it. It doesn’t exist, but they feel it should. That same thought process is why they’re basing their operation in Ramona. No brewery exists there, but they feel one should.
I first wrote about ChuckAlek two weeks ago when talking about some of my new brewery leads. Shortly after, the company’s CEO Marta Jankowska shared some details about her business, which is aiming for a soft open in late December and a grand opening in January of next year.
ChuckAlek is named after Jankowska’s grandfather, Alek. The other half, Chuck, is the name of the grandfather of ChuckAlek’s brewer, Grant Fraley. Fraley, a mapping and aerial photography software developer, has been homebrewing for a number of years. He started with IPAs but, inspired by time spent studying the history of beer and visiting droves of breweries during stretches spent living in Germany and Austria, he switched to reviving lesser-seen and in some cases defunct European styles. He and Jankowska refer to this style of beer-making as “heritage-infused brewing.”
Fraley’s Grodziskie, a smoky wheat ale with hop bitterness that was inspired by a Polish ancestor who fought against the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Vienna, will be named The Hussar. His light-bodied Kentucky common ale, which will be brewed with hops grown in Julian, is named Fiddler after another ancestor, legendary Kentucky fiddler, J.P. Fraley. ChuckAlek will also produce a Dusseldorf-style altbier called Dowser, a porter fermented in part with wild yeast (Brettanomyces), and a Berliner weisse (a low ABV slightly sour wheat beer).
Once ChuckAlek is open, those beers will be available almost exclusively from their combo tap room, public house, and brewhouse. The tap room will be a typical tasting room where visitors can order taster samples of what ChuckAlek has to offer, while the public house (which will include a view of the one-barrel brewhouse, from which Jankowska and Fraley plan to produce between 250 and 300 barrels of beer in 2013) will be the place to enjoy full pints of their heritage-infused creations.