San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!

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Societe IV : Let the Games Begin!

2016 has been something a weird year for me in the world of craft beer. I have never had to defend my own personal opinions from other beer drinkers in the way that I have had to do since January when the usage of the term “indie beer” got exposure on a quasi-national level. It marked something of a turning point for me as I realized that the craft beer world was not quite not the shiny, happy place that I had turned it into in my mind. In short my love affair was under something of a strain.

So leave it to Societe Brewing to host an event that not only delivers the goods on every level but helps to rekindle the fires of my passion for this elixir that I love so much.

Societe Brewing has been one of my favorite breweries since they opened their doors four years ago. Honestly, Societe is probably my personal favorite but the thought of trying to rank breweries in San Diego is not only daunting but counterproductive to the harmony and unity between breweries in the area. Those ideas of harmony and a collaborative spirit between breweries was proudly on display at Societe’s fourth anniversary party this past Saturday, known simply as Societe IV.IMG_7095

Part of the fun with anniversary parties at Societe has been that every year is something new and they are continually raising the bar. This year will be a hard one to beat. Incorporating an Olympics theme, complete with a torch and a parade of the “Ale-thletes” to start the event, Societe invited nearly two dozen breweries (and one-man team Nate Soroko) from all over San Diego and one from Northern California to compete in a variety of brewers games, including a washer toss tournament, grain stacking challenge, tri-clamp challenge, Beer Chugging, Stein Holding and even an impressive barrel throwing event, which for those who are not sure, a barrel weighs right around 90 pounds and is not the easiest thing to throw for distance, but was a sight to behold. The spirit of camaraderie and friendship were on display for all to see and take part in and the fun that these folks were having was simply infectious as it was impossible to find someone not having a great time.IMG_7098

As fun as all the games were to watch and enjoy rooting for your favorite local brewers, we also came for the beers. I found several new treats to savor while enjoying all the festivities the day had to offer. New variations of The Bachelor, their single hop IPA series, included Nugget, Calypso and Idaho 7 while The Bachelorette, their single hop lager, introduced the Sterling varietal. To round out the new beers was the first Societe witbier, The Filly. Suffice to say everything was incredibly enjoyable and of the highest quality.

What came as perhaps the biggest surprise of the entire day, and announced only a few hours before the event, was the opportunity to purchase their very first bottled beer, a feral ale called The Swindler. As someone who was lucky enough to have this beer during the Societe 3 event last year, I can attest to its absolute incredibleness.IMG_7103

At four years in Societe is continuing to showcase not only their excellence at brewing but at displaying the strong sense of community between an incredible number of local San Diego breweries. In a lot of ways I was filled with a great deal of pride, even if my connection to the brewing industry is tangential at best, the event left me invigorated and rejuvenated. So cheers to Societe and all the Ale-thletes, I hope this one becomes a tradition, but even if it doesn’t, I will still be there to give all the support I can.



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Press Release: Societe Brewing Company Announces Societe Three, a Third Anniversary Celebration

Summer is here and that means one big thing for craft beer lovers of Southern California in particular and any fortunate enough to be in town for a nice beer-cation; This June Societe Brewing turns three, and this promises, as past years have proved, to be a fun-filled three week event that everyone is invited to. All the details can be found right here:

San Diego, California – June 12, 2015 – July 3, 2015 | Societe Brewing Company announces a three-week long celebration of its Third Anniversary of successful operation in San Diego, California. From June 12 through July 3, 2015, Societe Brewing will celebrate Three. Co-founded by two professional brewers, Travis Smith and Doug Constantiner, Societe Brewing will commemorate three years of brewing by hosting beer-focused events in its Tasting Room in Kearny Mesa, San Diego, all throughout the three-week celebration span.

“We are really excited to once again be celebrating our anniversary. It’s a time to further appreciate what we do every day—brew awesome quality beer,” says Lorah Smith, Events Manager at Societe Brewing Company. “Three is going to be amazing! We think you will enjoy some familiar events with new twists, and the new additions as well. Without your continued support, we wouldn’t be here. Our celebrations are all about the beer, of course, but they are also all about you, our supporters.”

Continuing the commemorative glassware tradition, Societe Brewing will offer a special Third Anniversary glass for sale for $10, while supplies last, beginning on Friday, June 12. When guests bring their Third Anniversary glass back into the Tasting Room any day during the celebration, they can receive $3 pours of any beer that is available. When guests bring back their clean Second Anniversary glass, they can receive $2 pours of any beer that is available. Bring in a clean First Anniversary glass, and pours of any beer are just $1 each. The full, regular line up of Societe beers will make appearances, with the return of The Gleaner, Societe’s Saison brewed with California Sagebrush. Look for a few surprises on tap, too, including a new hoppy beer.

In addition to the glassware promotion, a Costume Party and Photo Booth session is scheduled for June 13, and guests will be able to receive a take home photograph of themselves in their finest, old-timey attire. Societe will also offer three distinct opportunities to taste a newly blended Feral beer.

For the main event, Societe Brewing presents Dulye’s Mess Hall, a ticketed, private beer dinner hosted in Societe’s Tasting Room on June 18. Working in collaboration with Chef Adam Dulye, formerly of The Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco, Societe will host a tasting reception and three-course family style meal. The menu features a fresh summer vegetable panzanella, a trio of wood-grilled and roast pork, and a decadent trio of desserts.

“We want a beer and food dinner that will spoil you going forward,” says Douglas Constantiner, Co-Founder of Societe Brewing Company. Dulye’s Mess Hall will be another chance to drink the new Feral Beer, The Thief.”

Tickets for Dulye’s Mess Hall will be sold physically in the Tasting Room and also online via Brown Paper Tickets at societethree.bpt.me. The Tasting Room will otherwise be open to the general public for business as usual throughout the three-week celebration, and Societe Brewing is both kid and dog-friendly. The last day for Societe Three is July 3, and the brewery closes on July 4 for the Independence Day holiday. Additional information about Societe Brewing Company and about Third Anniversary can be found at www.societebrewing.com/three.


Societe Brewing Company (8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92111) is a production microbrewery, opened by two professional brewers in 2012 in San Diego, California. Societe Brewing Company focuses on hoppy Out West ales, Belgian-inspired Old World ales and lagers, and dark and flavorful Stygian ales. The brewery also features a 1,500 square foot barrel room housing its Feral, barrel-aged beer program. Societe’s beers are currently available in the Tasting Room at the brewery and at the finer beer bars and restaurants throughout San Diego County and in the Northern California San Francisco Bay Area.

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Press Release : Benchmark Brewing Company, Fall Brewing Company, and Societe Brewing Company Announce the Return of the Summer Solstice Ale Trail

I am very pleased and excited to share the news of the return of San Diego Ale Trial. This event was a lot of fun to complete last year and this summer event promises new features that will only enhance the level of fun for all the craft beer lovers who are willing to take the journey on the trail. Not to mention the fact that three of San Diego best and brightest young breweries are hosting this event only makes it even more exciting. Read on for all the details:

San Diego, California – May 21, 2015 | Benchmark Brewing Company, Fall Brewing Company, and Societe Brewing Company announce the Summer Solstice Ale Trail 2015, a collaborative celebration of summer and San Diego beer. Beginning in and throughout the month of June, these three local San Diego brewer owned and operated breweries are coming together to celebrate the diverse range that the San Diego beer community has to offer.

“The Summer Solstice Ale Trail is back this year, and I couldn’t be more excited,” says Mike V. Sardina, the Assistant Executive Officer at Societe Brewing Company. “We’ve lined up three of my favorite breweries in San Diego, and we’re making it easy and fun for folks to visit all three Tasting Rooms and experience a comprehensive range of world-class beer, all brewed in San Diego and all awesome and delicious.”

When thirsty beer travelers navigate the Ale Trail and present the official 2015 Summer Solstice Ale Trail Passport at each brewery’s Tasting Room, that brewery will stamp the passport in recognition of the visit. By obtaining a stamp at each brewery and completing the passport, beer lovers will be able to redeem their passports at any location in order to receive a commemorative pair of drinking socks that celebrate the classy side of San Diego beer.

“We are thrilled to be co-hosting the Summer Solstice Ale Trail again this year with Societe Brewing and are excited to welcome Fall Brewing into the group! We are proud to have three young breweries that are owned and operated by professionally trained brewers on the trail this year,” says Rachael Akin, the Co-Founder and Brand Czar of Benchmark Brewing Company. “The celebration happily falls during the American Homebrewers Association’s convention here in San Diego, as AHA members ourselves we are particularly looking forward to welcoming homebrewers from all over the country into our tasting room.”

This year, as part of the National Homebrewers Conference experience, the three breweries will offer a free-shuttle bus that runs between each brewery, as well as to the Conference location at the Town and County Resort. The Conference runs from June 11 – 13, 2015, but look for the shuttle bus to hit the Ale Trail on June 9 from 3:00pm – 8:00pm. Hop on the shuttle and complete the Ale Trail loop in one amazing afternoon of San Diego beer.

“Being asked to join two of our favorite breweries for this year’s Summer Solstice Ale Trail was a huge honor. Since they opened, both Societe and Benchmark have demonstrated what breweries run by brewers can accomplish,” says Ray Astamendi, Brewmaster and Co-Founder. “Their unwavering dedication to quality and the craft has been a huge source of inspiration for us. As a life-long homebrewer, I am excited to offer our wares to visiting homebrewers and craft beer aficionados alike.”

The Summer Solstice Ale Trail 2015 Passports will be available at each brewery beginning in early June, and the passports and sock prizes will be available while supplies last. Watch for an upcoming social media announcement from the breweries for the exact date of the Passport release. Benchmark Brewing Company, Fall Brewing Company, and Societe Brewing Company look forward to celebrating the summer, and enjoying some great San Diego beer.


Benchmark Brewing Company (6190 Fairmount Ave. Ste. G, San Diego, CA 92120) is a production craft brewery owned and operated by Matt Akin, a local professional brewer, and his family. Opened in 2013, Benchmark focuses on full flavored session (low ABV) beers, their Oatmeal Stout currently holds the top award in that category from the Great American Beer Festival. Benchmark beer is self-distributed and is currently available in the Benchmark tasting room and in local San Diego bars and restaurants. At present, Benchmark beer is available on draft only with plans to release 16 oz. cans beginning this summer.

Fall Brewing Company (4542 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92116) is a production brewery and tasting room that is owned and operated by a small group of craft beer enthusiasts. Located in a 5,000 square foot warehouse on the northern end of 30th street, Fall Brewing Company opened in November of 2014, and offers a wide variety of ales and lagers. Fall Brewing Company currently offers draft beer throughout San Diego County, but will be bottling by mid-summer.

Societe Brewing Company (8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92111) is a production microbrewery, opened by two professional brewers in 2012 in San Diego, California.  Societe Brewing Company focuses on hoppy Out West ales, Belgian-inspired Old World ales, and dark and flavorful Stygian ales.  The brewery also features a 3,000 square foot barrel room housing its Feral, barrel-aged beer program.  Societe’s beers are currently available in the Tasting Room at the brewery and at the finer beer bars and restaurants throughout San Diego County and in the Northern California San Francisco Bay Area.

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Societe Brewing sets loose their latest and greatest, ‘The Miser’ Triple IPA.

Friday the 6th of November will kick off the start of San Francisco beer week. While an exciting time for craft beer lovers in not only the bay area, but much of Northern California itself, down here in San Diego we really know what SF beer weeks means. It means it’s the official start of Pliny the Younger season, where all the hop heads of Southern California begin to pester the bartenders around town for any and all information on when their favorite bar will hold a tapping of this universally praised triple IPA from the hop masters at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, California. In fact, I’ve overheard multiple conversations about this years Younger release since shortly before Christmas. That’s how excited people get for it.

A few years ago, the triple IPA was something of a rare bird. Usually only trotted out by craft breweries for special events and rare occasions like the local beer week or their own anniversary party. The unyielding rise in the popularity of the IPA style of craft beer has lead to double and triple IPA’s becoming increasingly more common. Many breweries will usually have one or two that they release over the course of the year, unless of course, they are in a position to keep the beer amongst it’s yearly offerings. It’s become an increasingly crowded field with arguably Pliny the Younger being the beer that has set the standard to which all triple IPA’s aspire to be.2015-02-04 12.59.55

In my humble opinion, over the past couple of years, a lot of breweries have raised their game in an effort to nudge Younger from its top spot. Knee Deep Brewing’s Simtra, Drake’s Hopocalypse and Green Flash’s Palate Wrecker are just a few examples of triple IPA’s that have pushed to style forward.

Starting now the style gets pushed forward even more.

Today marks the release of ‘The Miser’, a 10% ABV triple IPA from Travis Smith and his team of talented brewers at Societe Brewing. Already boasting a standout double IPA in the form of ‘The Roustabout’, one of their rotating specialty beers, they decided it was time to unleash their biggest hop-monster yet…at roughly the same time that Northern California will be sipping it’s Pliny the Younger. Whether the timing is by grand design or simply by coincidence, this beer does not disappoint.2015-02-04 13.00.28

Big, hop forward, resinous, citrusy, hints of pine, this is a dank beer in all the best ways. With hop profile that includes huge amounts of Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic and El Doradro (Thanks to Societe’s Mike Sardina for helping me identify those last two) you know this beer will be big on flavors. The hops mingle nicely on both the front and back ends of your palate. Did I mention, it’s big? Big. Dank. Delicious. If any of those three words don’t motivate you to drink it, nothing will and that just means more for me. This beer shows a level of precision in its crafting that is almost unparalleled. It is simply sensational.

In my estimation, while The Miser is certainly no match for the hype and cache that Pliny the Younger has deservedly earned over the years, this beer might be it’s biggest rival to date. In fact, it’s my opinion that this San Diego craft beer might even be better.



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Beer-Con Podcasts; Sounds so good you’ll think you’re drinking craft beer!

On Saturday August 23rd I had the privilege to attend Beer-Con 2014, and it was truly a special event that I’d like to share with everyone. Luckily, Cody from ThreeBZine.com has made that really easy by being onsite and recording his podcast live from the top floor of the ballroom. Cody sat down with each of the guest speakers and really get to the heart of what each person was bringing to the table as far as why they were at Beer-Con and why it’s important that the event continues to grow. It was an impressive lineup of San Diego Beer heavyweights like “Dr” Bill Sysak, Mike Hess of Hess Brewing, Shawn Dewitt of Coronado Brewing, Mike Sardina of Societe Brewing, Grant Fraley of ChuckAlek, Steve Zigray of Rip Current, Angel Miron of Lets Go Clandestino, Katy Hall from White Labs, Misty Birchall of PubCakes, Charles Eck of bottletrade.com and a few others heaped in for good measure, like Rudy Pollorena Jr. and Michael Bowen, the founder of Beer-Con. To be crystal clear, these guys weren’t at the event as some sort of sales pitch to buy their beers, these guys were here to share why it’s important that everyone continues to help craft beer grow and thrive in communities around the country. What these people had to say was fascinating and you’ll be able to tell from they way they speak on the subject, just how passionate they are about craft beer.

What is also very cool about these podcast episodes is the fact that Cody was gracious enough to allow me to sit sidecar as his usual co-host Dustin (who also gave me his blessing) was unable to attend. It was a truly special moment for me personally to get to sit in on these sessions and for that I can’t thank Cody enough. I hope you’ll seek out the sessions that are most appealing to you and enjoy them as much as we did making them, and then you can go back and listen to all the rest because there is some really great information in there as well as a couple of guys having a lot of fun. Cody has been releasing episodes on the iTunes store under podcasts at keyword ThreeBZine (they are free!) as well as on his website (also free!) and if you want to get crazy, head over to bandcamp.com where you can download all the sessions as one great album (Free! but please donate if so inclined).

Please check it out and let me know how we did. Well, to be honest, Cody crushed it as usual, so please let me know how I did.



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Save the date: August 23rd is Beer-Con!

Craft beer is my passion. If you are reading this blog odds are pretty good that it’s your passion as well. One of my favorite things to do here on the website and with my friends out at the bars is to share my knowledge and to hopefully learn new and exciting bits of information and insights into the world of craft beer. Whenever the opportunity arises sit back and listen to a respected member of the craft beer community speak about important issues in the world of craft brewing, I will always jump at the chance to sit in and try to soak up as much knowledge as I can. Luckily for us here in San Diego, there is a wonderful collection of very smart and knowledgeable beer people who can not only be informative but also very entertaining. It also doesn’t hurt that quite a few of them can also make a really nice beer to drink.

This is why I am so excited that on August 23, Beer-Con is back!

If you are not familiar, Beer-Con is a convention that is hosted right here in San Diego for all levels of craft beer lovers, from the newest of novices to the most expert of experts, Beer-Con is where you bring your passion for craft beer and share it with others. But this isn’t simply a gathering of craft beer enthusiasts, this is a convention designed to help you learn more about the world of craft beer and you have an opportunity to engage with the people who create your favorite brews. Panels are designed to help impart knowledge and to allow patrons to ask questions of their own.

This year the fun begins at 10am with a keynote address from the master of craft beer pairings, “Dr.” Bill Sysak, which I can speak from personal experience, should really help set the tone for a fun day. Panelist for this year will include, Doug Constantiner from Societe Brewing, Mike Hess from Hess Brewing, Shawn Dewitt of Coronado Brewing, Tristan Faulk-Webster from Aztec Brewing and many more as you get a full day of information and discussion from some of the best craft beer minds in Southern California. Your ticket will also get you a lunch, provided by MishMash, that gets paired with local craft beers and as if that isn’t enough, when the symposium wraps up, the beer festival starts! From 5pm to 8pm you can sample fine brews from the breweries listed above as well as Rip Current, Latitude 33, ChuckAlek and more!

I should also mention that your ticket entitles you to a free limited special edition t-shirt made by CraftBeerd himself, Rudy Pollorena Jr. It’s pretty badass.

You can also get more details on the event itself from my friends over at Three B Zine, the latest episode of the podcast features Michael Bowen, the creator/organizer of Beer-Con as well as Rudy Pollorena Jr. who talks about what ideas went into the design for the special edition t-shirt. It’s great stuff. You can find that episode right here.

This is not your typical beer festival, this is an excellent opportunity to increase you craft beer knowledge and it just happens to have a beer festival at the end to celebrate a successful day of learning from some of the best around about craft beer. Click here to go directly to the ticket purchasing page.

It’s important that all of our understandings of craft beer continue to grow. It’s vital that as consumers, we amass as much information as we can so that we will continue to make informed choices on how and where we want to spend our money. Smart consumers are what macro breweries are most afraid of. Craft Beer can’t change the world unless we help propel it to the great heights that it deserves to be at. Smart, well-informed consumers are going to be the ones that put macro breweries on notice that their time is done. Beer-Con is here to help make new well-informed consumers and help increase the knowledge of those who are already helping to spread the word. So when you go to beer con on August 23rd, take a person with you who needs that little extra push to be a smart consumer, heck bring two or three who need that push. When craft beer drinkers are legion is when we change to world. The revolution has already started, Beer-Con is here to help grow our army. This is your chance to become a better craft beer advocate as well as help make two or three new ones.

Having said all that, be sure to go and have fun! After all, if you aren’t having fun while drinking craft beer… you are doing it all wrong.



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2014 Sore Eye Cup; Will your Favorite Beer be Representing?

Last year I was invited to participate in the judging for the first ever Sore Eye Cup Award, given to the brewery who produces the best regularly brewed beer in San Diego. Alesmith Brewing was deemed the winner for Speedway Stout and while they faced sturdy competition, they were able to easily outdistance themselves from the pack. This year, Brian Beagle of Sore Eye Sports, has graciously allowed me to return the judges table and help determine this years winning beer and brewers. Speedway Stout, as reigning champion, is not eligible to win this year. This is where we need your help.

There are a lot of really great beers being produced in San Diego year round. So many in fact, that it’s almost impossible for a panel of judges to have had each and every one, especially in a competition of this scale. That’s why we are asking for your help. This is one of my favorite parts about the Sore Eye Cup, everyone in San Diego, and across the country, can have a say and help us narrow the field down to the true cream of the crop.

Head over to Sore Eye Sports right now and vote for your top three regularly produced beers from San Diego county. It’s a big field of competitors and there is a wide range of styles being represented. What if you don’t see your favorite? Just email Brian and he can still add your favorite to the ballot. Right now you can find a list of local favorites from Ballast Point, Stone, Alpine, Helms, Societe, Pizza Port and more!

There aren’t too many beer competitions around that solicit for the opinion of the people who actually drink the beers. By helping us to narrow the field, not only are you making our job as judges easier, you are making sure your favorites are represented and getting a shot at the title.

The Sore Eye Cup will be awarded August 22nd, but this is the final week of voting, so don’t delay and get your votes in. You can vote for three beers a day, so there is still a lot of time to help your favorite beers make it to the final round where it’s awesomeness will be judged. So whose beer will fill this 64oz chalice? Help us decide!



One Cup to Rule them All! - photo by Brian Beagle

One Cup to Rule them All! – photo by Brian Beagle