World Beer Cup champion brewer Ryan Brooks has stepped down as brewmaster of Coronado Brewing Company — though for the moment he'll remain in the building.
170 Orange Avenue, Coronado
Brooks left his position to start a new brewery dubbed SouthNorte Beer Co. However, while he will now serve as brewmaster in his own company, he does so with the implicit blessing of Coronado founders Ron and Rick Chapman. Coronado Brewing is listed as an investor of SouthNorte, and Brooks will begin producing beers for the new venture at Coronado's production brewery in anticipation of a summer launch.
This will remain the case until the fledgling business establishes its own location — a rep for the brewing company said, "SouthNorte is still looking to secure a future site for the brewery" but declined to specify where in San Diego that might be, nor whether the search might include Mexico.
It's not an unprecedented move in San Diego craft beer. Eleven years ago, Pizza Port founders Vince and Gina Marsaglia invested in a partnership with Pizza Port brewer Tomme Arthur to launch new brands Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey.
A press release announcing Brooks’s and Coronado's new venture states, "The brand identifies with the areas of Southern California and Northern Mexico, and was born from the border culture and mutual influences each region has on the other."
Brooks has been active for years engaging with Baja California brewers, sharing both resources and advice, and his statement in the press release suggests he plans to adopt Mexican influences in his beer. “The more time I spent in Mexico with my family the more inspired by and attached to the Mexican culture I became.... With SouthNorte, I want to share my love of that culture and transport the U.S. craft beer drinker by letting them experience the vibrant and unique flavors of Mexico wherever they are.”
The creation of SouthNorte comes at a time when Mexican imports comprise the fastest-growing segment within the entire U.S. beer market, and the craft-beer industry is seen as turning its attention to attracting Latino beer drinkers via marketing and/or the support of Latino-owned breweries.
A rep for SouthNorte declined to respond as to whether there were immediate plans to distribute the beer south of the border. The press release stated, "Distribution for SouthNorte will initially focus on the San Diego market, with plans for organic growth throughout Southern California and eventually other relevant markets."
Coronado Brewing has not yet named a new brewmaster to replace Brooks and will begin the search for one in coming weeks.