new years celebration with raccoon in a party hat

Our New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again. When everyone resolves to hit they gym, make more time for family, travel more…basically do all the crap that you have put off the entire year. While getting healthy, losing weight and finally cleaning out your garage area all noble goals, we have a few of our own new year’s resolutions to share with you all.

1. Barrio Will Open

barrio

Our Barrio Logan facility and tasting room is on track to be opened by April 2017! The production part will be ready to go a few months before that so we can get the new brewing system working and calibrated. The new building is huge, housing a 50-barrel system, a canning line, a tasting room and will also house the TSB offices and San Diego Taxman offices. We look forward to becoming as much a part of the historic and artistic, Barrio Logan community as we are part of our warm and cozy, North Park community. Get ready for an opening party to end all opening parties as this long-awaited, next step for Thorn Street is definitely something to be celebrated.

2. TSB Coming in Cans

image of TSB beer can resolutions

With the completion of our Barrio Logan location, in 2017 we resolve to get Thorn Street Brewery cans into liquor stores, craft beer stores and beyond. Right now, if you are craving a frosty Relay IPA, you have to come to the brewery or find one of the many bars and restaurants around San Diego that pour our beer. If you happen to be outside of the San Diego area then you are SOL.

In a few months, you will be able to grab a six pack of TSB cans and head off on your way, making an even easier way to share the TSB love with your friends. Furthermore, we will be partnering with a 3rd party distributor in the coming months to help get our beer to more people as well as expand to outside of San Diego county. We chose to use cans because it’s better for the beer, better for the environment, and easier for you to take anywhere. Look for cans of Relay IPA, Foreplay Belgian Blonde, Thorn Street Pale Ale and Cocomotive Coconut Porter to be coming to a store near you.

3. More New Brews

We love experimenting with new beer styles and recipes. In 2017, we resolve to keep pushing the experimental envelope while still making really delicious beer. Coming up on the TSB beer horizon is a Chocolate Milk Stout, a Cream Ale that may or may not have ginger, a Rye Irish IPA and a Zwickelbier, an unfiltered German-style lager that rarely sees the light of day outside of Germany. Once our Barrio Logan facility is up and running, we will be able to experiment even more when our 7 barrel and two, 1 barrel systems are freed from the grind of producing most of the beers we put out. Barrio will be brewing all the big beers and North Park will be ready to brew anything our talented brewers’ hearts’ desire.

4. More Awesome Collabs

unnamed-10

The San Diego craft beer community is really special to be part of because of the camaraderie and inclusiveness. Here at TSB, we try really hard to embody that ideal and are always working together with other breweries to create some truly, tasty beverages. We love to collaborate with young breweries, like 3 Punk Ales, which will be opening their tasting room in a couple months, to San Diego beer royalty like Pizza Port (look out for the Pizza Port/TSB  Hazy IPA coming soon…). In the new year, expect lots more collaborations including an upcoming one with Alpine Beer Co.

5. More Kick-Ass Videos

This past year we put out some (what we hoped were) funny videos to promote our core beers. We tapped the very talented and funny, Tom Kelliioni, from What’s on Draft to help us and what came out were three ridiculous videos showcasing some of our flagship beers. The response has been amazing and we are excited and gratified that people are connecting with us through these absurd videos. Look for more to come from TSB and “Hollywood Tom,” including one for Cocomotive, our coconut porter. Check out all of our videos here…

So here’s to a prosperous and delicious new-beer-year! Thank you for spending 2016 with us and we can’t wait to share all the fun and exciting new changes that are coming our way in 2017!

 

craft beer sign for trends

Year in Review: 2016 San Diego Beer Trends

Recently, the Brewer’s Association put out their Year in Review infographic for 2016 showing national beer trends. Here’s the breakdown of the info that they provided: There are now 5005 active breweries in the U.S. and craft beer has grown 8% year-over-year. IPAs account for 1/4 of sales in Craft Beer making it the most dominant style, though 65% of craft beer lovers say that they drink craft because it offers a wider variety of styles than traditional beer. We are shipping more craft beer abroad than ever before, and Portland was named #1 on the Beer Tourism Index (we already have talked about our disdain of the Beer Tourism Index).

None of this is particularly surprising so we thought we would do our own Year in Review and look at some of the beer trends we saw coming out of 2016 that interest us and how they impact the San Diego craft beer community.

Hazy IPAs

2016 was the year that hazy, New England-style IPAs jumped onto the national beer scene making its way to the West Coast. For years, Vermont breweries like The Alchemist and Hill Farmstead have been brewing these juicy, hazy, hoppy IPAs, with the whisperings of this unfiltered brew making their way to the West Coast. Lucky for IPA lovers like us, the style is now appearing all over San Diego beer menus. From Modern Times’ Blam Blam, to beers from Abnormal, Knotty Brewing and even Stone, New England is making itself known as a distinct style here in SD. Pure Project has some of the best SD examples of this style with their Murklands IPA, a hazy pale ale with Citra hops and Murk of the Beast brewed with Nelson, Citra and Mosiac hops. Both are delicious, juicy (as they say) and a delicious turn in the world of IPAs. Even more exciting, keep an eye out for our recent collab brew with Pizza Port of, you guessed it, a hazy IPA!

SD Loves It In The Can

Cans have made a big impact on the SD beer scene this in 2016. Many breweries are choosing to add cans to their offerings or (like we will be doing) going to canning altogether. Coronado Brewing, 32 North, Novo Brazil and Stone are just a few of the breweries who have gotten in the can-game this year. Why cans over bottles? First, they are better for the environment. They are lighter and more compact to ship than bottles, allowing for more to go in each shipment and requiring less fuel to move them. This lowers transportation costs as well as their impact on the environment. Also, cans are recycled at a much higher rate than bottles with cans containing on average 40% recycled material compared to the 27% average in bottles.

Another reason why many breweries have moved to canning is that cans are a superior package to bottles when it comes to preserving the quality of beer. Head Brewer here at Thorn Street Brewery, Scott Smith, explained it simply, “No air, no light…cans are just better for the beer.” Light and oxygen are two factors that play a crucial role in the flavor of the beer, so if they are better controlled with canning, then that means less waste and less of a chance that someone’s going to get a skunked beer.

Slow Growth for Big Craft Beer

San Diego was not immune to the reported slowdown in craft beer sales that we saw this year. While 8% growth is considered quite good in most industries, it’s down from the double-digit growth the industry has enjoyed for the last number of years. Nationwide, Sam Adams (Boston Beer Co.) is struggling, with sales falling from 5% in the first two quarters of 2016 to 8% in the third quarter. Sierra Nevada and New Belgium have also experienced their sales dropping this year and Stone Brewery had to lay off 5% of their workforce recently because of less-than-projected-growth.

This is a case of bigger is not always better. In fact, if you removed the biggest craft beer breweries, Boston Beer, New Belgium and Sierra Nevada from the data set, craft sales would actually be up 16% mid-year according to Brewbound. People are turning to more local, more independent beers. Even in the case of Stone, which is local to San Diego, they are getting hurt by people turning to hyper-local breweries to get their craft beer fix. People want the beer that was brewed in their hood, which brings us to our next point…

More Neighborhood Breweries

We love a good neighborhood brewery. Neighborhood breweries are walkable, bikable and surrounded by great restaurants, shops and other things that you can’t get in a business park. 2016 saw more and more breweries in San Diego opening their doors closest to your front door! Barn Brewing in North Park and the long awaited North Park Beer Co. both opened in 2016 along with Burning Beard and Finest Made in El Cajon and Santee respectively. While it’s completely understandable why business parks are the homes of big breweries pushing out thousands of kegs a year, we love the trend of neighborhood breweries opening too. A closer UBER ride is always a good thing!

What beer trends did we miss? Let us know on FB or in the comments here!


Holiday Gift Guide for Craft Beer Drinkers

While the holidays are filled with wonder and merriment for many people (i.e. kids), for others it can be a stressful time of year trying to find the perfect gifts for the people that matter most in their lives. To make it a little easier this year, we thought we would give you some gift ideas for the craft beer lovers in your lives. Now, this isn’t some lame list poached from Buzzfeed. These are things that we actually own or have given to people as gifts and can vouch for their quality and/or usefulness. Some of these items are local to San Diego and all are from businesses that you can feel good about supporting. Here are our top picks for best gifts to give people who love craft beer.

Shirts on Tap

20160430_shirtsontap_6

Shirts on Tap is a San Diego company that has since expanded their network to Portland and Denver. For $15 a month they send you a t-shirt from a local brewery or you can get a rotation of shirts from all three craft beer cities. The shirts come in an adorable box that is also stuffed with stickers, coupons, and brewery info. You can sign up for as many months as you would like and cancel at any time. I got this for my husband for Father’s day and he has been very pleased with the quality of shirts and the designs. The best part is that the subscription is easily transferable, so when the original gift receiver gets enough shirts, you can change the subscription to different sizes and/or genders.

Hydro Flask Pint Glass

hydro-flask-featured

I confess, I have a slight obsession with all things Hydro Flask. They make the colorful, double-walled water bottles that keep cold things cold for 24 hours and hot things hot for 12 hours. Then they created a pint glass and I found a new favorite beer cup! I love my IPAs ice cold and it seems crazy because the top of the cup remains open, but this cup keeps my beer noticeably colder down to the last drop. It’s also great for drinking in cold weather because the cold temperature of the beer isn’t transferred onto your hand and the cup also doesn’t sweat in the summer. Not only is this pint glass great for beer but it’s perfect for coffee in the morning too. It’s completely worth its $24.95 price tag and my advice is to get two, just so there’s no fighting over who gets the best beer glass ever.

Anything Craft Beerd

craftbeerd_thematrix_abc_610c9b03-6bb5-401e-b815-1849b94db0c4

Craft Beerd is a company owned and run by local artist and hop-head, Rudy Pollorena Jr. Rudy is a familiar face around the San Diego craft beer community and an all around cool guy. His love of craft beer and his knowledge of the industry is reflected in all of the pieces he creates, from shirts to artwork to glassware. You’re sure to find something for any craft beer lover on his website and even better, they ships nationwide.

Growler Cage

p4pb9853536

While there are a lot of growler bike carriers on the market, lots of them are leather, hipster things that look neat but are either super expensive or not that functional on different styles of bikes. Most of the popular leather ones are designed to only fit a men’s bike, which is pretty lame since we all know, girls drink craft beer too!  The Growler Cage is awesome because it can be attached to different areas of your bike, holding a 64oz growler (either glass or steel) snuggly and safely for your journey home from your local brewery.

The Gift of Beer

a beer wrapped in christmas garland like a gift on a red background

This is a no-brainer, but what do craft beer people love to do more than anything? Drink beer! So getting them a gift certificate to their favorite local brewery, along with a shirt if you are so inclined, is a sure-fire way into their beer-soaked hearts. GCs are especially good for teachers, bosses, and employees, which is how my daughter’s piano teacher has ended up with a gift certificate to Societe Brewing every year. The best part is that in order to get the gift certificate, you will have to go into the brewery, and who can go in an awesome brewery without sitting down for a quick pint? No one, that’s who.

We hope that this list is helpful to you when you are making up your holiday gift lists this year. Let us know what your favorite gifts are to give the craft beer drinkers in your life and happy holidays from all of us here at TSB!

Black and white picture of san diego famous beers tourism

Five Reasons Why San Diego Should Be Higher on the Beer Tourism Index

Travelocity’s Beer Tourism Index

Recently there was a bunch of press about the new Beer Tourism Index put out by Travelocity and the Brewers Association. This is a brand new metric that scored cities on things like the number of breweries per capita, ride-share options, the proximity of international airports offering direct flights, and the cost of lodging.

Surprisingly, San Diego sits at the #8 spot, sandwiched in between Spokane, Washington, and Madison, Wisconsin.

travelocity's beer tourism index

Here’s the thing, we don’t need San Diego to be number one on this list (though a good argument can be made for the top spot), we just think San Diego deserves to be a little higher on this index. We can get behind the high spots for Portland, Denver, and Seattle, but Spokane, Washington is a better beer place to visit than San Diego?

If you look at the above index it seems that the breweries-per-capita is the number that pushing these cities up the list the most. Number 3, Seattle gets a paltry 3 for lodging (so either it’s very expensive or there just isn’t much of it?), yet the fact that they have a high breweries per-capita moved them up the list. Also, why on earth does San Diego get a 55 for its airport? San Diego’s central airport is awesome and right in the middle of so much. To see that Seattle gets a 99 on their Air Score, for an airport out in the middle of nowhere, makes one wonder. Maybe all of their breweries are situated near the airport out in the middle of nowhere?

Screw it, Travelocity’s index sucks. It doesn’t give you a clear picture of what you are getting by choosing a higher ranked beer destination and misses out on the truly cool things that many of these beer destinations have to offer. Here are five reasons why San Diego is one of the top spots for beer tourism…at least top three!

High-Quality Beer

Karl Strauss at GABF 2016

Portland may have more breweries per capita (San Diego’s population is huge so we will never win this one), but we did some math as to medals won at this year’s GABF where San Diego took home more medals than any other city. Yes, we also have 130+ breweries to Portland’s 92, but when the numbers are run, 13% of San Diego breweries won medals compared to 10.8% of Portland breweries. So San Diego’s beer is more award winning than the number one spot, per capita. Plus, why should travelers care about the population density vs. number of breweries? The more breweries the better, and if they happen to be better breweries based on medals in world renowned beer competitions, than so be it.

Walkability

a big sign in the middle of the road that says "north park"

This is where San Diego wins big. Yes, there are lots of breweries to walk to in Denver and Portland, but do they have a 1-mile corridor NOT set in a business park where people can walk to numerous breweries/tasting rooms along with fabulous food options in a hip and inviting neighborhood? Nope! North Park kills it for walkability, craft beer and food. If you want to hop in a car, you can always hit up the cluster of breweries off of Miramar as well as head up North to the land of Mother Earth and Stone Brewing. But for sheer walkability to the number of craft beer tasting rooms/breweries, North Park is where it’s at.

Weather

5865311710_b5754431d5_b

Weather is another bright spot for San Diego. None of the other cities come close to our beautiful, 70-and-sunny weather. Yes, Denver is pretty and has the full range of seasons, but there are some cold-ass months in there too. Portland rains more than half of the year, and Seattle is the rainiest city in the country. In San Diego, you can come any time of the year and walk around our beautiful city with little more than a hoodie. The balmy weather also means most of our breweries and tasting rooms make use of outdoor seating where (bonus!) you can often bring your pup as a drinking companion.

West Coast IPA

wc

We are the birthplace of the West Coast IPA, which for many is the best IPA available, anywhere. Sure, Vermont is doing some cool things with their hazy, dank, IPAs but when most people in the U.S. want a crisp, hoppy IPA, it’s a west-coast style that they are reaching for. Why not visit the breweries that are responsible for introducing and cultivating this incredibly popular style? Ale Smith, Stone, Green Flash, Coronado Brewing and Alpine are just a few of the breweries that have helped to shape the West Coast IPA and all are must-stop spots for San Diego beer tourism.

Fish Tacos

tumblr_m74b5nmih91r72qvgo1_1280

Ok, this last one might be a stretch, but one thing that was striking about the list of Best Cities for Beer Tourism was that they lack the cultural diversity of San Diego. When you look at the demographic breakdowns at Census.org of the top spots on this list they all beat San Diego in the percentage of white people who live there. While San Diego is 46% white, Portland is 72% white, Seattle is 66% and Denver brings up the rear at 53%.

Of course, we aren’t saying that these spots (especially Portland which is renowned for its farm-to-table cuisine and eclectic food stalls) don’t have great food. They don’t, however, have our Baja stand-by, fish tacos! We easily have the best Mexican food north of the border, whether it be the savory, al pastor street tacos, crispy fish tacos, the delicious bastardization that is a California Burrito or the freshest ceviche served 5 different ways. The best part is most of this delicious food is cheap and readily available to any hungry traveler looking to get a good base for a day of craft beer drinking.

So there you have it…five reasons why San Diego should be higher up on this list that probably no-one will ever really use to travel anywhere. But if they do, they should know, San Diego is a better beer destination than Spokane. 😉

Photo of spilling beer with TSB logo used for our blogs

Brew Blog: Most Popular Posts of 2016

At the beginning of this year, we decided to start a brewery blog as a way to share info, talk about industry happenings and also have a little fun. The response has been amazing and we really appreciate all of you reading our stuff every week and commenting and continuing the conversations beyond the blog. As a way to say good-bye to 2016, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the five most popular blog posts that we put out over this last year.

It’s hard to know which topics are going to resonate with readers, but from this list we can tell a few things; people are interested in both local and national beer news, they want to hear about what’s going on behind the scenes and they want to keep updated on Big Beer’s slow and steady march into craft beer territory. So in descending order, here are the top five Thorn Street Brewery beer blog posts of 2016:

5. The Real Issue with 10 Barrel Brewing in the East Village

Back in February, San Diego learned that 10 Barrel Brewing (owned by AB InBev) would be moving into East Village and opening a brand new brew pub. Industry insiders were not worried so much about the competition as they were the lack of transparency of ownership and how 10 Barrel would be able to masquerade as a local SD craft brewery (since they will be brewing on site) and consumers would be non-the-wiser that they were actually lining the pockets of a company who has actively worked against the craft beer industry.

This post led to two more (links to Part 1 and Part 2) on this topic after attending the San Diego Beer Forum that was put together by Cosimo Sorrentino in March. 200+ SD craft beer industry insiders (including TSB director of Sales and Logistics, Tom Kiely) got together to discuss 10 Barrel, what it means to be “craft” and what it means to “sell out.” A highlight of the meeting was a rep from a brewery that had recently sold to big beer insisting they were still “craft as fuck” because they hand-grind coriander.

Quotable Quote:

“It’s not that we don’t want another brewpub in San Diego, it’s that we don’t want a brewpub owned by a company which reportedly plays dirty and actively engages in actions that hurt the craft beer industry as a whole.”

4. Behind the Beer: Beer Festivals

This post was centered around our frustration with for-profit beer festivals (not local fests put on by charities or community boards) and their propensity to require beer donations from breweries while raking in thousands in profits for themselves and little to no information on how much money is actually being donated to the cause. Most beer fest attendees have no idea about how festivals are run or what is required to participate, so this was a good way to get some info out to you guys so you can make an informed choice.

Quotable Quote:

Beer festivals are a good time and we enjoy working them, but why can’t breweries get paid for the product they provide if the company running the festival is making a profit beyond what they donate to the charity?”

3. Big Beer Just Got Bigger

We have definitely put out our fair share of blog posts related to Big Beer and AB InBev. We believe it’s important to call attention to their questionable business practices and their propensity to buy up both craft breweries AND  beer distributors. They will have a lock-down on the beer industry at some point if they keep moving this direction and the merger with SAB Miller that happened in October is another step in that direction. Don’t worry, we will continue to be a mouthpiece for independent craft beer and not let this beer behemoth continue unchecked.

Quotable Quote:

“That’s why it’s important to inform people about who owns and ultimately benefits from the money they spend. Do you want your dollars going to AB InBev, a company that has a serious issue with playing fair and an impressive ability to merge into bigger and bigger entities? Or do you want your money going to support diverse, independent craft brewers? People who drive innovation, interact with communities on a local level, and truly care about the product they are putting out.”

2. Craft Beer Bars vs. Sell-Out Bars

This post sparked a lot of lively conversation on our Facebook page. Although we didn’t call out any restaurants or bars by name, most readers seemed to know just the type of bar we were talking about when we described what we were seeing around San Diego. These are bars that masquerade as “craft beer bars” while the majority of the craft beer offered is from breweries owned by Big Beer. Armed with a list of 24 craft breweries that have been bought by the big guys, we hope that consumers have a better idea which bars are beholden to big beer and which ones are remaining true to the indie spirit of craft beer.

Quotable Quote:

“We realize that there are all types of bars in the world and many don’t care at all what kind of craft beer lineup they have. But if a bar boasts that they carry microbrews and local beers, they should actually do so. You know who the sell-out breweries are…now you can spot the sell-out bars.”

1. Thorn Street Brewery Bought for $10 million

This is far and away our most, read, shared and talked about blog post. Little did we know that a satire piece about “selling out” would catch fire in such a way or that people wouldn’t actually read beyond that one headline. Anyone who read about one paragraph in would have known that we were joking but there were a good number of people too who read the headline then reacted and shared without venturing into the source at all. In fact, we still have people ask us about Disney or comment about us selling out on our FB page.

screenshot of a facebook page comment about Thorn STreet Brewery selling out to disney

 

We have, however, gotten unending enjoyment out of the reactions, from people who read the blog and got the joke to people who didn’t read it and propagated the ridiculous rumor. Just so we can be completely clear, we have not sold to Disney, we have not sold out to big beer and we would never make our beer-tenders dress up in costumes and break out in song whenever asked.

Quotable Quote:

“Our first theme is going to be Disney Princesses, so get ready for the magic! For starters, we’ll have a life-size Rapunzel tower built through the open roof in the back room which you get to climb up holding real, human hair. We also will feature a trio of trained Cinderella mice who will mend and/or hem your clothes for an eighth of “the good cheese.”

Thanks again for reading our blog for the last year, we can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!