The Amplified Ale Works brewing team: Alex Forsman, Cy Henley, Jeff Campbell
Since Amplified Ale Works launched in late 2012, brewmaster Cy Henley had been making beer on a three-barrel system in the company's Pacific Beach brewpub. That changed this spring, when Amplified officially began producing its product in a seven-barrel brewhouse in Miramar.
4150 Mission Boulevard #208, San Diego
He no longer works by the beach each day, but Henley points out working on a larger scale gives him good reason to embrace the move. "It now takes me five hours what used to take me two days to do."
The Pacific Beach brewpub hasn't gone anywhere, but it serves a new purpose. Henley and his brewing team start all the beer in Miramar, then truck some of the wort to PB, filling that location's three seven-barrel fermenters. Between the two locations, they can now brew more beer in a wider variety of styles.
That includes Whammy Bar Wheat, an occasional beer that now looks to figure into regular rotation since winning a gold medal at last month's World Beer Cup. "We honestly didn't know if we were going to be brewing it again," says Amplified cofounder Alex Pierson. "We didn't think it would be a staple. But after winning, we're actively in production and it's one of the first beers we're talking to new accounts about."
Before, nearly all of Amplified's beer went to customers enjoying its ocean-view deck. Now the brewery will send kegs, and eventually cans to local accounts. Since its branding stems from the team's shared love of rock music, Pierson is aiming to place beer in local music venues rather than traditional taprooms. "That's really our niche," he says, "Something where we have a branding parallel."
At the new Miramar tasting room, this music association is front and center, with tasting flights served in guitar-shaped trays and an entire wall given over to a blown-up photo of DC punk rockers Bad Brains.
The new location is a turnkey brewhouse established by HG Fenton company's Brewery Igniter program, which means Amplified signed a lease instead of investing in new equipment.
Pierson considers it an intermediate solution that will help the company grow into a 10- or 20-barrel brewhouse down the road. Amplified has started on a one-year lease, with the option for three additional one-year extensions. "Maybe four years before we move on to our own space," he figures, "or perhaps working with HG Fenton again — they want to help us grow out of this space."
The new space also features a water-treatment system — part of the reason Amplified brought in Rip Current Brewing vet Jeff Campbell to be director of brewery operations. "Jeff's been a huge addition for us," Pierson explains. "His knowledge of water profiling — which is what he was doing at Rip Current — brings a different skill set."
Henley notes this has resulted in better all-around quality for Amplified beer — "A cleaner-tasting beer profile," he explains. "It improves shelf life, it improves head retention, it helps with clarity — everything about it is just more professional."