A taster pour of Exquisite Blonde and a pint of 500 Millionaire.
After three years in business, O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Company closed its doors in October — sort of. The Scripps Ranch brewery was purchased by Savagewood Brewing Company, which started serving its own beers out of the location's revamped tasting room by early November. However, the new owner hasn't stopped serving O'Sullivan Bros. beer, and doesn't plan to.
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"I bought the whole shebang," says Savagewood founder Darrel Brown, explaining that, when Savagewood purchased the brewery's equipment and beer license, it included leftover beer inventory. Brown's been selling the beers alongside fresh batches of his own since taking over the space. But even when the O'Sullivan beer runs out, he aims to keep the brand going.
"I will re-brew throughout the year," he says, noting he's arranged to continue brewing O'Sullivan popular English and Irish beer recipes on sort of a royalty basis. "I don't believe a good brewery should ever die or go away."
Formerly a member of the QUAFF homebrew club, Brown first launched Savagewood in June, soon after O'Sullivan's reportedly went on the market. But he initially contract-brewed Savagewood beers with Groundswell Brewing Company in Santee. "I had some award-winning beers that a couple of retail places wanted to put on tap, and the easiest way for me to do that in a short amount of time was make a contracting arrangement."
One of Brown's beers, called Exquisite Blonde ale, overcame a field of hoppy beers to earn Best in Show in this spring's San Diego Homebrew Fest. It generated interest from bar and restaurant accounts, including in Brown's hometown in Antelope Valley. Within three months, he says Savagewood had gathered some momentum, selling 20 barrels of the blonde and 20 more of a session IPA, dubbed 500 Millionaire.
That's when Brown, a Scripps Ranch resident, began to seriously consider buying his neighborhood brewery. "It was actually my wife," Brown points out. His wife Cymbre had been the first to suggest he pursue a brewing business, and to see the potential in the O'Sullivan purchase. "She said, ‘What better way to get started than to have something small you can grow organically, right in your back yard?'"
Savagewood will likely continue contract-brewing its flagship beers at Groundswell; however, Brown and former Groundswell brewer Zach Hayes will put O'Sullivan's modest three-barrel brewhouse to the task of expanding the Savagewood lineup with whichever beers its customers respond favorably to. Thus far, they've made a West Coast IPA with New England–style yeast, and a vanilla cream ale brewed by request of Brown's wife, dubbed As You Wish.
The Browns also refurbished and expanded the tasting room, adding kid-friendly elements to make the space comfortable for their own young family and others in the neighborhood. "We've tried to make it a true neighborhood brewery," Brown says. "If you're a Scripps Ranch resident, you get a discount at all times."
Savagewood will host a grand opening parking lot party with food and new beer releases on December 2nd.