One of Oceanside's newest beer companies sold its first bottles of beer to the public this week, but you probably didn't get one.
Horus Aged Ales doesn't have a public tasting room, nor even the familiar stainless steel brew tanks visible at most brewing facilities. What it does have are a hundred oak barrels filled with beer and a prolific brewer who's worked with some of the industry's best, despite working full time as an aerospace industry accountant.
And according to Kyle Harrop, he's not giving up his accounting work anytime soon. "I want to continue my day job," he insists. "I love it. This brewery thing is more of a side project.”
With a satisfying career and a young family at home, Harrop couldn't make the 24/7 commitment to brewing he deemed necessary to justify investing in a costly 15-barrel brewhouse. Instead, he's assembled a small-barrel house, just big enough to store beers aging in oak that once contained the likes of bourbon, brandy, gin, and both red and white wines.
Prior to the bottle-release, Horus Aged Ales had only served beer at beer festivals — and only that since December. Nevertheless, 2017 proved an incredibly active year for its brewer: Harrop participated in 55 beer collaborations.
Several of these beers were made locally, at breweries such as Pizza Port, Rip Current Brewing, and Abnormal Beer Co. However, the majority were brewed out of town, as Harrop traveled 16,000 miles to visit beer companies throughout the U.S. including Alvarado Street Brewing in Monterey, California; Great Notion Brewing in Portland, Oregon; and J. Wakefield Brewing in Miami, Florida.
"Most of them are friends from the past that I've run into at different beer festivals and industry events," Harrop says. Active in both homebrewing and bottle-share networks over the past decade-plus, Harrop has developed relationships with an international cadre of brewers. With no brewhouse of his own, he's worked as a gypsy brewer, visiting contacts at their breweries and working together to develop and produce beer recipes.
Since Horus doesn't have the equipment to make fresh beer, Harrop continues to brew this way and hopes to release fresh pastry stouts and IPAs in conjunction with fellow San Diego brewers over the course of the year. But thus far, the focus has been filling those barrels.
For Horus's first bottle release, Harrop reproduced 11 of his collaboration beers, which he blended and aged in a Pappy van Winkle bourbon barrel. Dubbed Oceanside's 11, this specific blend is composed of stouts and barley wines. Announced via Instagram, 480 bottles went on sale on BrownPaperTickets.com at noon on February 20th. In the time it took you to read this sentence, the bottles were gone.
"I never thought that this would sell out in literally two seconds," Harrop posted to social media. He later told the Reader he was "blown away by the response," and that the bottle-sale page received 51,000 hits.
He plans to release more beers beginning in March, and the bulk of Horus releases will be the style of beer he's best known for: mixed fermentation ales. Harrop's sours are principally brewed using a wild yeast he cultivated from berries in his backyard and has developed over the past 12 years by harvesting the dregs of lambics and other Belgian sour ales. He says it possesses a lot of citric character, some stone fruit, and plenty of funk.
In other words, stay tuned. These could be gone in one second.