Thunderhawk Alements officially joined Miramar's growing Miralani Drive brewing scene in mid-September, opening its small tasting room and drinking patio to weekend crowds. It sits in just across the street from the recently opened Setting Sun Sake and just-turned-three 2Kids Brewing Company.
Founders Jonathan Barbarin and Bill Lindsay have been friends since pre-school and have the photos to prove it — you may find snapshots ranging from pre-school through teen years mixed in among the nano-brewery's eclectic decor.
A lot about their business reflects their shared personal history. The San Diego natives began homebrewing together seven years ago, developing recipes to share with friends at parties. One of their core beers grew out of request for a wedding reception — a honey ginger saison flavored with oak and spiced with Torrey Pine needles. "It's a super local, San Diego ingredient," Barbarin points out, "It only grows here and on Santa Rosa island [off the coast of Santa Barbara]." Fittingly, they wound up calling the beer Torreyana.
The name Thunderhawk came from an in-joke that arose when an airplane flew overhead while homebrewing with friends in O.B. "It's kind of like our homebrewing heritage," Barbarin says, adding, "It's unique. No one else has it." The same could be said about the term Alements. Barbarin laughs, "That was just something we made up."
Thunderhawk opened with eight beers — three of them a single pale ale dry-hopped differently, one a coffee pale ale made using beans from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.
Two other core beers stick closer to traditional beer styles than the latter, specifically a British ESB and a German dunkel weiss, both inspired by the brewers' beer travels. "They're a couple styles Bill and I discovered going to Europe after college," Barbarin explains. "Those two beer styles were amazing to us in their purest form over there." Over There is what they call the dunkel Weiss — referred to as a dark hefeweizen on their menu to be more relatable to casual beer drinkers.
The small brewery only plans to produce 200 barrels in its first year, brewing one barrel at a time on its small electric brewing rig. Consequently, most of its beer will be served in-house, with limited distribution in kegs. The tasting room also offers nonalcoholic beverages for designated drivers to enjoy, including cold brew coffee and a house brewed root beer.
The brewhouse is designed to expand eventually, but the next step may involve converting to an all-solar-powered brewery. "It just makes sense these days," Barbarin says of installing solar panels, "It's pretty affordable, and the carbon offset, all the feel good parts of it, are a bonus."