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Though the doors to their tasting room have been open for some time, Rip Current Brewing Company (1325 Grand Avenue, San Marcos) celebrated its official grand opening on June 7 and 8 with its Rip Current Awareness Week event. It was purposely timed to coincide with national Rip Current Awareness Week (it was also Hemp History Week…mental note, start setting up San Diego Beer News Week now), but was more about raising the visibility of the wide array of beers being produced at this North County facility.

From the beginning, it’s been the mission of founders/brewers Paul Sangster and Guy Shobe to run their business with a homebrewer’s spirit. For them, that means trying their hand at producing just about everything. Sometimes, they aim to produce a perfectly to-spec version of a traditional style. Other times, they infuse extra flavor elements to create something nouveau. Regardless, they approach the process exactingly, drawing off their considerable brewing experience. And more often than not, they produce beer that’s of a quality exceeding their limited professional tenure.


Over the two-day grand opening, Sangster and Shobe were able to keep all 19 of their taps flowing with beers ranging from a trio of hefeweizens to a triple IPA and three iterations of their Russian imperial stout. Core beers brewed up in their 15-barrel brewhouse shared chalkboard space with a number of specialty beers produced on Rip Current’s much smaller pilot system. The latter is what allows the duo to offer such a variety of beer styles at all times.

Among the special beers was Chocolate Milkstache, a chocolate-infused sweet stout that, served on nitro, came across creamy and brought back fond memories of a childhood spent stirring Hershey’s syrup into ice cold milk. A coffee version of that beer was also on tap along with polar opposites—a year-old keg of a dessert-like Vanilla Storm Coffee/Vanilla Imperial Porter and a one-day young batch of the botanical letterbomb, Lupulin Lust IPA.

Each guest was presented with a bottle of a small batch beer, Vanilla Rescue Buoy Russian Imperial Stout, which was also on tap at the event. Made from a tincture of Bourbon-soaked Madagascar vanilla beans, it was more intense in its vanilla character than most ice creams and a bit sweet. The beer was designed to be aged, which will allow the sugariness to subside a bit, and should make for a nice treat down the road.

Just as the horizon would seem to hold good things for Rescue Buoy, the future looks promising for Rip Current. Many homebrewers have shed their amateur status to open new San Diego breweries, but Sangster and Shobe have made the adjustment better than perhaps any, and endeared themselves to consumers and fellow craft brewers thanks to adherence to the mission statement in their business plan—do whatever’s best for the beer!

*Beer photo by Tyler Graham*

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