New English Brewing Company owner and brewer Simon Lacey
11545 Sorrento Valley Road #305, San Diego
Even after half-a-decade in operation, New English Brewing Company remains one of San Diego’s best kept craft beer secrets. Run by English transplant Simon Lacey, it brings an authentic taste of the U.K. to the local beer scene. New English’s growth has been slow but steady, and significant enough that Lacey has added on equipment and new beer styles as he makes a push toward greater public attention.
Part of this initiative includes breaking away from his overriding mission to share the fermentable culture of his homeland in Southern California. Instead, he’s going with the local flow and introducing a West Coast-style India pale ale called Humbly Legit IPA. Dry-hopped with Cascade and Centennial hops, 7.5% ABV and coming in at 70 international bitterness units, it has the stats to go toe-to-toe with San Diego contemporaries like Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Stone IPA, and Green Flash West Coast IPA. Another addition to Lacey’s lineup is New English Pacific Storm Stout. It’s a non-British offering as well, but not so far removed. A 5% ABV Irish-style dry stout, the beer is designed for draft production, primarily as an extra creamy pour from a nitro tap.
Lacey’s beers have fared well and “faired” well of late. Six medaled at this year’s L.A. County Fair Commercial Beer Competition, with three—Explorer ESB (the best extra special bitter in San Diego in this journalist’s opinion), Why Not American Wheat Ale, and Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout—garnering gold medals. The other three winners took second in heir respective categories.
Consistent success over the years, plus increased sales, have provided Lacey the faith to expand his brewery by installing a new 15-barrel direct-fired brewhouse from local company Premier Stainless Systems. He has also added 2 30-barrel fermenters, allowing New English to up its annual capacity to approximately 3,000 barrels a year. Sometimes, slow growth is the best growth. Historically, rapid escalation of demand and kneejerk expansion have proved the death of many American craft breweries. Even if it has kept New English a bit under the radar, Lacey’s slow-and-steady method just may help him muscle his way past other entrants in the San Diego brewing race.