Karl Strauss Brewing- San Diego- BBC14

While the panels and speakers at the Beer Bloggers Conference in San Diego were very informative, it was really nice to get out and speak to some people from local breweries.

On Friday evening, we headed to Karl Strauss Brewery for some beer, tacos, and good conversation.

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Beers on draft included the tower 10 IPA, Big Barrel IPA, Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, and my favorite, the Red Trolley Ale. The outdoor beer garden was nicely set up with strings of lightbulbs illuminating the sandy ground. I also thought it was great that there were games and things to play with scattered around. A box of dominoes and cards held court on one table, ladder golf was set up in a corner, and inside the brewery next to shelves of barrel-aged beers was the Karl Strauss cornhole set. The presence of the games as well as the communal picnic tables outside gave a friendly, party atmosphere.

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After we filled up on tacos and beer, Chris Cramer, the CEO of Karl Strauss, came up to the front to speak. His talk was incredibly entertaining and also insightful. Contrasting solid facts with witty anecdotes really worked for the crowd. Although it did start to get loud towards the end of the speech, Chris did hold the crowd’s attention well.

What I thought was most interesting was the legacy of the man who was Karl Strauss, Chris’s relative that he lovingly referred to as “Uncle Karl”. Strauss was born and raised in Germany and studied brewing at the technical university of Munich-Weihenstephan, where he earned a degree in malting and brewing science and a Master Brewer certification. He moved to the US in the 1930s, where he settled in Wisconsin and got a job at Pabst and steadily moved up the ranks. He actually was a part of the team that reformulated the recipe for Pabst Blue Ribbon. Karl worked as Vice President of Production until his retirement after 44 years with the company.

 

Chris Cramer was inspired to bring good beer to San Diego through his travels. He tried Real Ale while in Europe, and at a brewpub in Australia, he saw the small production and how good the beer was and thought it could be feasible to take back to America. At a family event, he told ‘Uncle Karl’ about his idea, and Karl was delighted to pass on the brewing knowledge he has gained over his lifetime.

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The story of Karl Strauss was a feel-good one, since it stemmed from family and hard work. Karl taught Chris and his partner, Matt Rattner, the quality control he had learned from his days at Pabst. The beer was held to a higher standard, with the independence and unique brewing recipes of a small batch, with the diligent quality control of a commercial brewery.

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Karl Strauss Brewery opened in 1989, and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

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BrewTravels: San Diego, CA (BBC14 Part 1)

I find the best way to explore new cities is to start off with a beer in my hand. That is what I wanted as soon as I stepped off the plane, traveling from the east coast to San Diego, California. I arrived a day early for the Beer Bloggers’ Conference so I could explore the city on my own a bit ahead of time.

It’s amazing how saving money will cause me to go out of my comfort zone. Not wanting to pay for a $27 cab ride from the airport, and realizing that hotel was not as close as I realized, I decided to navigate the public transit system. and won! The bus line runs 24 hours and was much easier than I expected and I felt somewhat less touristy. The trolley was simple as well. After I salivated all over the bus looking at tons of taco joints, I checked into my hotel and planned the rest of my day. I originally set out for Seaport Village, but hunger for sustenance in my belly and liver won over and I stopped in the Knotty Barrel on Market Street. A nice little bar with outdoor seating and an indoor shuffleboard table, happy hour had just started so I decided on a beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts and a nice big lump of beer cheese (made with Allagash Black) with pretzel bread. What made me really happy was that I had not had OR heard of many of the beers on the menu.

I started off with a Grazias Cream Ale from Hess Brewing. Malty deliciousness, it reminded me of those Vienna finger cookies I used to devour when I was a kid. A nice simple style that went well with the bread and cheese.

My next pint was from Acoustic Ales, another San Diego brewery. I enjoyed their Shake Your Money Maker Brown chatting about New Haven with not one but TWO people sitting on either side of me. It’s funny how you can go all the way to the other end of the country and bump into people who lived in New Haven.

I never actually made it to Seaport Village, although there are still a few more days if I really want to. I ended up spending my paycheck before it got direct-deposited throughout the Gaslamp Quarter. As a brewer, bartender, and audio engineer, I work with my hands a lot. So nail polish isn’t something that sees my nails a lot. But a few beers deep and no plans to wash dishes until Tuesday, I decided I needed a manicure from the ladies at Va-Va-Varnish. It was a great little space and if I had more time, more cash, and longer nails I would have considered more of their services.

I also did some shopping for non-beer related merchandise since I figured I’d spend more than enough on beer in the coming days. Lots of interesting shops, but I am still on a quest for a coozie to add to my collection.

I’ll be at the Beer Bloggers’ Conference until Sunday, so check in on here for my daily recaps, as well as drunken/witty posts on Twitter, beer porn on Instagram, and the beers that I remember to check into on Untappd. All under @nowbeerthis.