Felines are known for being sly, but when I asked the folks behind The Fat Cat Beer Co. what they were all about, they were very forthcoming. While others may have skirted the question of why they had decided to enter the San Diego market by contract brewing their beers at Vista’s Latitude 33 Brewing Company, they fired back with a sound reason. “There’s nothing cheap about creating and operating a brewery, plus there is so much brewing capacity throughout the U.S. and San Diego that it really wasn’t necessary to exhaust the capital to open a brewery,” said Bruce Taub, Fat Cat’s “chief of whatever it takes.” Secondarily, Taub and his associates see contract brewing as the right thing to do from an environmental perspective.
But where did these guys come from? San Diego, actually. The owners live here. That, and the fact the State of California allows brewing companies to self-distribute, is the reason they are bringing their beers — all of which are canned and sessionable (6% alcohol-by-volume or less) — to the local market. The first of those, Bro-ceanography Pils, debuted last month and a portion of proceeds benefitted the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Plans for at least two more collaborations are in the works with United Cerebral Palsy of San Diego County tabbed as a beneficiary.
Fat Cat professes to be the first canned craft beer. Its Fat Cat Lager, a Vienna-style lager, was originally bottled and included in a Beers of America gift package. It became popular enough to build a following, so the original owners canned it. Poor management practices caused the company have starts and stops over the next two decades, causing the beer to only be sporadically available in the states where it was distributed. In 2012, the current owners took over and re-launched the brand behind the motto “Session Up!” They believe their low-alcohol approach will work, especially with first-time craft beer drinkers. “Can you imagine a Bud Light drinker trying a Stone IPA, Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin IPA, Green Flash Palate Wrecker or similarly styled beer as their first endeavor into the craft beer world?” asks Taub. “You would hear the heaving from the next county. Ha! They would never try another craft beer again. We avoid going too far in certain directions so that our beer is enjoyable and repeatable.”