Can’t-Miss October Events in San Diego

Can’t Miss October Events

While we always have a full calendar of events here at the brewery, we also spend a lot of time out and about in San Diego participating in events that support the local community. October is chocked full of outside events and so we thought we would share a few of our upcoming favorites, to make sure you can take full advantage of all the fun brewing this month.

Bier Oktoberfest


This ultimate Oktoberfest celebration is packed full of beer, food and fun events! Featuring 11 local, San Diego, breweries pouring all German style beers, live music, food from The Brew Project like Bavarian Pretzels and hand-crafted sausages. Also, they have packed this event full of fun contests like stein holding and beer chugging contests!

Where: Hard Rock Hotel – 207 5th Ave San Diego

When: 10/8/16, 12 pm- 6 pm

Tickets: $10-$45 (depending) Available here

Beers By the Bay


Coronado’s annual beer fest is a beautiful event featuring 15 local breweries, live music, wine and craft food. Enjoy the beautiful view of Downtown San Diego as you sip and eat your way throughout the afternoon. Drink for a good cause because this event benefits One More Wave, the Stephan J. Wampler Foundation as well as the Coronado Schools Foundation.

Where: Coronado Ferry Landing

When: 10/8/16, 1 pm- 6 pm

Tickets: $40-$50 Available here

EVA Awards at the Un-Gala


The second annual 2016 EVA Awards at the UN-Gala showcases the East Village community with comedian/emcee Mal Hall, awards, live entertainment, a silent auction and raffle, food sampling, beverages, and more. No suit or tie required and no chicken dinner. Find out who snags the EVA award for “Most Pet-friendly business,” “@EastVillageSD caught on Instagram” or “Social Media” champ!

Where: Fault Line Park, 1433 Island Avenue, East Village

When: 10/20/16, 5:30 pm

Tickets: $35 Available Here

Hallo-Wine Fest


A fun-filled afternoon festival with a fantastic array of boutique wines, hand-crafted beers, local spirits, and gourmet hors d’oeuvres to sample. Live entertainment, a silent auction, and fantastic wine and craft beer, complete the festivities. All proceeds raised will provide critical assistance to San Diego’s most vulnerable children and families through Home Start’s programs.

Where: A beautiful exclusive private estate in Marston Hills near Balboa Park

When: 10/22/16, 3 pm-6:30 pm

Tickets: $50-$75 Available Here

Ye ScallyWag Fest


This music festival, put on by 91X, not only offers craft beer, wine and food, but also the legendary NOFX, Bad Religion, Goldfinger, Against Me!, Real Big Fish, and Wakrat! This is one is going to go down in the record books so make sure and get your tickets so you don’t miss out. With part of the proceeds going to Fight ALD, it’s the perfect afternoon to get your let your inner pirate out!

Where: Waterfront Park, Downtown San Diego

When: 10/22/16, 12-3 pm beer and wine tasting with music until 7 pm

Tickets: $55-$199 Available Here



picture of the Gallo family, including three grown brothers and their mom. one brother is struggling with addiction.

Touched by Addiction: Robbie’s Story

Touched By Addiction

While we do enjoy talking about beer, here at Thorn Street Brewery, sometimes real life happens and helps to show us a bigger picture in our surrounding community. September is National Recovery Month and with more than 21 million people struggling with addiction in the U.S., the impact on their families and loved ones is far-reaching.

This issue hit close to home recently, when one of our TSB tribe members, Robbie Gallo, was interviewed by about his family’s story. This campaign was created to shed light on the stigma attached to addiction and the effect on family members of people addicted to drugs.

Robbie is not only a valued employee here at TSB, but he is also a founding member of Vokab Kompany, a San Diego based hip-hop, electro, soul, funk band. Robbie’s brother, Brian is addicted to heroin and meth and thankfully is now in a 2 year rehab program at Delancey Street Foundation. When recently asked, “what it’s like to love someone struggling with addiction,” Robbie’s mom had some powerful things to say.

A mother’s love…

“You hope it’s not that bad. You hope it will get better. You prepare yourself. They might not survive. You must strengthen your mind -your heart. You look in on them when they are ‘sleeping.’  You check their breathing-like a newborn. You know you must be so crazy.

You look for a lot of input, calling local rehab centers. Tahoe Turning Point, AA, NA, Salvation Army, Barton Hospital. Any, and all possible options. Some in CA, some in NV. You enlist your local police /sheriff for strength. You tell your loved one (Brian), that they are SO LOVED, SO VALUED, SO WORTH EVERY EFFORT. Please don’t die… You keep hoping and praying that something Grand and Magical could happen…”

Here’s the interview Robbie did, talking about the impact that his brother’s drug addiction had on his family.

Robbie and his bandmates wrote and recorded a song  with 9 Theory, called Warm in the Light, which was inspired by his brother’s strength and struggle. Family members of addicts are incredibly impacted by this disease and this campaign by is working to lift the stigma that loving an addict can carry. The third verse in the song is a good example of the heart and soul that went into making this song.

Warm in the Light

Rob Verse 3:
Truth is you were born with a good life
Hard to know which friends would be worth while
Just kids trying to find another planet
Who’d a thought that cha find another habit
Back then it was nothing but a little fun
That all changed when you found that prescription
Can’t understand you could love it more than us
But then again it was something that I never touched
A soft high in the clutch there was no plan
Went from pills, to a pipe, to a spoon man
Truth stands in the back ’till it’s called up
Until then all your talks just stuff
God damn man hoping that you’ll catch a clue
But me and you will see it through, never make do
We had a view of the world baby all smiles
Just a child and you’re forever worthwhile

Brian is about 6 months through the 2 year program and is doing great. Robbie feels very positive about his brother’s path at this point.  This song, while exposing the raw nerves of drug addiction, is ultimately uplifting in its message of support and strength.

Vokab Kompany is running a campaign right now raising money to create a vinyl record of this song as well as to support the Delancey Street Foundation. There are even rewards for people who donate, outlined in the sidebar of the campaign page.

Feel free to share and donate, or even just use this as a jumping off point to talk about this important issue with your friends and family.


Picture of a goblet of Fornication Golden Strong Ale sitting on a wood table in a brewery

Craft Beer’s Fresh Factor

Craft Beer’s Fresh Factor

We’ve all been there. You get home after a hard day at work, looking forward to cracking open a cold beer and settling into the night. Reaching into the fridge, you grab your favorite beer and take the first swig, realizing something’s just not right. The flavor is off and maybe a dull sweetness is coming through. Unfortunately, your beer has got that ‘not-so-fresh feeling.’

In previous blogs, we have talked about how age, heat, light, and oxygen are killers of taste when it comes to beer. Today, we are going to look at freshness and why it’s important in craft beer. First of all, there are many beers that are meant to be aged including barley wines, imperial stouts, Belgian strong ales, lambics and more. Though aging conditions are pretty strict in order to get the proper taste, these aren’t the beers we are talking about today.

IPAs, pale ales, ambers and lagers are just a few of the beers that are best consumed fresh. As a general rule, beers around 5% or under don’t age well unless a secondary fermentation is going on. Specifically talking about IPAs, the fresh, bright, hoppy characteristics that we love them for just don’t age well. In fact, hoppy beers will start to lose their aromas and hop presence when sitting in a bottle or a can for too long. A malty sweetness of IPAs often becomes cloying in an older IPA.

What’s too long?

Here’s a good rule of thumb: IPAs are best in the first 60 days. They aren’t going to spoil or become undrinkable on that 61st day, but they also probably won’t be as delicious. During the first 60 days, beer recipes are designed to be in harmony regarding malt sweetness, bitterness, hop aroma and flavor. Simply put, after that it falls out of balance. Sometimes that imbalance isn’t horrible or that off putting, but it’s not the intended experience. When people pay top dollar for craft beer, they should be getting a delicious beer.

So what can you do to make sure your beer tastes the best it can? Here’s three things to keep in mind when selecting your beer of choice…

Check Dates

For those beers that are bottled and canned, many breweries are now putting on “Enjoy By” or “Bottled On” dates. Check before you buy. If it’s a “bottled on” date then try and get ones that were bottled within 60 days of the day you want to drink it. Many bottles and cans still don’t have  freshness dates on them so in this case you need to think about where you buy your bottled beer from. If you buy your beer from a liquor store or beer store that is popular and goes through a lot of inventory, you are good to go. If you are buying it from a random 7/11 in an area where craft beer isn’t that popular, that beer may have been sitting on their shelves for quite a bit of time.

Drink at the Source

Luckily for most of us here in San Diego, we live within a few miles of a brewery. If you want the freshest beer available, drink at the source! There is nothing better than a freshly kegged beer, so don’t be afraid to ask the beer-tender which beer on tap was just kegged. They will always be the most delicious and you will be able to taste the intricacies and notes that the brewers worked so hard to put in the brew.

A good rule of thumb when you go to a bar is to ask the bartender which kegs were just put on recently. Although this doesn’t always mean its the freshest keg, it gives you the best chance of not getting an old beer. Luckily, most bars go through beer fast enough to where a keg is pretty much always going to taste good, as long as their lines are clean.

Keep it Cold

Have you ever heard of the 3-30-300 rule? Don’t worry, most people haven’t. Basically, it’s been found that in 3 days at 90°F  you could get the same age related flavor development as you would in 30 days at 71°F and 300 days at 33°F.

Simply put, keep your beer cold!! Sure, by the time you get the six pack of beer home from the store, it’s probably already been up to room temp a few times and it’s going to taste just fine. Just don’t leave your beer in your car as this is a sure way to skunk it. Furthermore, be VERY wary of stores that have their beer on shelves where sunlight hits them and warms them higher than 70ish degrees. Now, we aren’t suggesting that as long as you keep your beer refrigerated it can keep for almost a year. However, based on the 3-30-300 rule, beer should probably not be kept at room temperature for more than 30 days if freshness is a factor in its flavor.

Happy hunting for the freshest beer around!

picture of two carnitas tacos with guacamole and pico de gallo

Carnitas’ Snack Shack: Pork Heaven in North Park

Carnitas’ Snack Shack: Pork Heaven in North Park

Few restaurants revel in pork-fueled-fare like North Park’s, Carnitas’ Snack Shack. This pork-centric spot has been featured in magazines and on TV shows, both locally and nationally. Owners, Hanis Cavin and Sara Stroud, opened the doors in 2011, in an unassuming area of West-North Park. Named after their beloved, pot-bellied pig, Carnitas, their restaurant had a loyal following pretty much as soon as they opened their doors. They feature menu items like their famous carnitas tacos, pork belly, and a killer of a pork sandwich (carnitas, schnitzel AND bacon!).

triple threat pork sandwich with bacon, carnitas and schnitzel and a side of corn salad

With their die-hard, devotion to quality, craft food, a line out their door is a regular site. Get there when they open to miss the line of devotees.

Today, there are three Carnitas’ Snack Shack locations offering up some truly inspiring and creative pork-themed dishes. Del Mar Highlands was graced with their pork-presence a few years ago. Recently, they just opened up another bustling spot on San Diego Harbor’s Embarcadero. The downtown location is especially exciting because it really hits the touristy spot in San Diego, and what better way to be introduced to San Diego cuisine than with Carnitas’ Snack Shack!

While beer is a natural pairing to such rich and savory food, Chef Hanis is always up for doing special events outside of the walls of his restaurants. In fact, we love working with all of the Carnitas’ people and couldn’t be more excited to have them for the upcoming Carnitas’ Snack Shack Beer Brunch! This Sunday, 11 am to 1:30 pm get ready for all of this pork-glory to rain down on TSB.

The beer brunches here at TSB are famous for an abundance of delicious food as well as Hanis’ engaging presence, working and hanging for a beer with patrons.

This brunch is planned to have seven meat-tastic courses including:

  • Rib-eye and tomato, spinach Benedict
  • Bacon-chocolate pancakes with real maple syrup
  • Hash brown cakes
  • House-made breakfast sausage and bacon
  • Carnitas’ Machaca with fresh tortillas
  • Smoked pork loin with buttermilk mash potatoes
  • Roasted cauliflower “salad” (here’s your dose of veggies)

We don’t want you to miss out on the insanely delicious, Sunday brunch, so get your tickets today! Only $35 for all you can eat and two TSB beers of your choice!


Here’s a sneak peek at what the food looked like at a past beer brunch at TSB:

Picture of Carnitas' Snack Shack brunch plate including potatoes, pork loin, sausage and benedicts

A picture of plant holders that are made in the shape of letters to spell out the word BEER

Beer Trends: What’s Hot and What’s Not

Beer Trends: What’s Hot and What’s Not

A bar/restaurant tap list and inventory management company, called, recently released a 2016 report using data culled from their client base. With more than 50,000 taps being monitored, they have a pretty interesting view of what people are buying and drinking in the U.S. They compared 2015 data with 2016 data in the same months to see what sort of growth was happening in the industry. Although some of these numbers might have as much to do with expanded distribution as people’s taste in beers, let’s take a look at some of the trends we see…

IPAs Are Still Killing It

IPAs were the overall top seller in the craft beer category and #3 over all. This isn’t surprising based on what we see here in San Diego. What’s cool, is that the fastest growing IPA is the delicious, Fresh-Squeezed IPA from Deschutes Brewery in Oregon. They managed an 87.7% growth from this time last year with no end in sight. This fits in line with the explosion of wet-hopped IPAs we’ve seen in the industry this past year. In fact, we made our own foray into wet-hop territory with our recently released, Moist Def Wet Hop IPA. Apparently people are digging the fresh, dank taste of these wet-hopped beers while still comfortably exploring the beloved IPA category. Shout-out to Stone Brewing, who’s IPA saw the 4th largest growth within this category, jumping up 25.3%.

Pale Ales vs. Session IPAs

One surprising statistic that jumped out was that pale ales have fallen 22% from this time last year. This is interesting because pale ales are so close to IPAs and one would think that the two would enjoy the same spike in growth. Perhaps, though, this dip has less to do with people ordering less pale ales and more to do with how breweries are labeling their beers. Within the industry there are brewers that embrace the idea of session IPAs and others that say the name is a marketing gimmick. Some feel that session IPAs are really just pale ales that are rebranded to boost sales because, let’s face it, people love IPAs.  It becomes up to each individual brewer as to how they want to define their beers. Here at TSB, we have both pale ales and session IPAs on tap.

The incredibly delicious Hoppy Birthday, from Alpine Beer Company, seems to be making movement on this very topic. It’s branded in most places (including their website) as a session IPA, but I have recently been seeing it in stores as a “pale ale.” It’s a great beer no matter how it’s labeled, but this illustrates the close relationship that pale ales and session IPAs have and how flexible some beer categories are.

left side is a picture of Hoppy Birthday with Session IPA label and the right is a picture of that same beer with a Pale Ale label

People Love a Negra Modelo

The biggest growth over all was Negra Modelo, which jumped a whopping 700% in sales over last year. Now, Negra Modelo is from Grupo Modelo, a Mexican company that was bought out by AB InBev in 2012. In 2013, U.S. Justice Department filed an anti-trust suit against AB InBev which forced them to sell the U.S. distribution rights. They ended up selling to Constellation Brands, who owns Ballast Point, and the rest is history. This move should sound familiar because it’s exactly what is happening now with AB InBev’s takeover of SAB Miller. SAB Miller had to sell its stake in MillerCoors to Molsen Coors in order to get U.S. approval. What does all this mean for Negra Modelo? Basically, that Constellation Brands is having a killer year all around and people love a good Mexican beer.

For more reading on the topic of Constellation Brands and  AB InBev’s merger with SAB Miller check out our recent blog posts on the topics:

The Purge: More Ballast Point Execs Flee

Anti-Trust Regulators Probe AB InBev’s Can


black and white picture A of 30 craft beer tap handles in a craft beer bar

Craft Beer Bars & Sell Out Bars – How you can tell the difference

Quite a bit has been written on the topic of craft breweries that sell out to big beer and what the term “craft beer” really means. One thing that hasn’t been explored, however, is what are Craft Beer Bars & Sell Out Bars.

Recently, here in San Diego, an unnamed bar opened up and we were super excited to check it out. On its website they boasted that they offer 20 microbrew and local taps for craft beer lovers. Although there were 20 taps, that’s where the accuracy in their statement ended. While there was Coronado Brewing and Stone on tap, the rest of the taps were a mixture of not-at-all craft beers like Budweiser, Modelo and Stella and a number of what we like to call “not-so-craft beers.” These are the craft beers like Elysian, Golden Road, 10 Barrel and even the San Diego produced Saint Archer which have been bought by Big Beer. Unfortunately, this sort of faux craft beer lineup is a recurring trend that we have seen here in San Diego.

The issue here is that these bars and restaurants are using the popularity of craft beer to get people in their doors and then are serving them beers that may not be craft at all. Although some people don’t care who makes their beer, many people drink craft beer not only because it taste great but also because of the independent community of brewers, neighbors, and makers that they support by buying craft. Why would this unnamed bar serve only two, local, truly-craft beers when there is so many great craft beers at their disposal? They may love the cool commercials on TV? Or maybe, it comes down to money…

First, though, let’s address why brewery ownership matters at all. Although many of these not-so-craft breweries still make good beer, they are now owned by big beer (like AB-InBev or MillerCoors). Big beer actively tries to undercut the competition by both legal and, in some cases, illegal means. One of the ways this happens, is that with the support of these huge companies sourcing their ingredients and hardware, breweries can charge less for their beer than competitors. Breweries have to sell their kegs at a specific mark-up above cost. Therefore, if they can drive their costs down, they can charge less. An example of this is how Goose Island (owned by AB InBev) often charges $110 per 1/2 barrel of their IPA, whereas many independent craft breweries have to charge $180+ to hit margins and stay in business.

We get it. This is business. Craft breweries are allowed to charge what they want for their kegs (within legal parameters). Furthermore, bars have a bottom line that needs to be met and it can make sense from a money-standpoint to buy the often cheaper, not-so-craft beer. That’s fine, but they just shouldn’t tout their beer lineup as local or “craft.” There is a huge difference between a “craft beer bar” and a bar that serves a craft beer. Some bars are intentionally blurring the lines between these two things and most people have no idea.

Here’s a list of breweries that are owned by big beer companies and therefore aren’t-so-craft anymore. If you go into a bar and see mostly these beers on tap, it’s probably less of a “craft beer bar” and more of a “bar that serves some craft beer.”

Not-So-Craft Breweries

10 Barrel Brewing — AB-InBev

Ballast Point Brewing — Constellation Brands

Birra Del Borgo (Italy) —AB-InBev

Blue Moon Brewing — MillerCoors

Blue Point Brewing —AB-InBev

Breckenridge Brewery —AB-InBev

Devils Backbone Brewing —AB-InBev

Dundee Brewing — North American Breweries (owns Genesee and Labatt)

Elysian Brewing —AB-InBev

Four Peaks Brewing —AB-InBev

Golden Road Brewing —AB-InBev

Goose Island Beer Company —AB-InBev

Hop Valley Brewing — MillerCoors

Lagunitas Brewing — 50 percent owned by Heineken International

Leinenkugel’s Brewery — MillerCoors

Magic Hat Brewing — North American Breweries

Mendocino Brewing — United Breweries Group

Olde Saratoga Brewing — United Breweries Group

Portland Brewing Company  — North American Breweries

Pyramid Breweries — North American Breweries

Revolver Brewing — MillerCoors

Saint Archer Brewing — MillerCoors

Shock Top Brewing —AB-InBev

Terrapin Beer Company — MillerCoors

We realize that there are all types of bars in the world and many don’t care at all what kind of 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.






Picture of couple with big smiles and their dog after winning an all expense paid trip to GABF in Denver, Colorado courtesy of Thorn Street Brewery.

Meet the Winners of our GABF Trip Giveaway!

Meet the Winners of our GABF Trip Giveaway!

It’s that time of year again! Kids go back to school, days start to get shorter, and in a couple of months it might start cooling off here in San Diego. Most importantly, however, it’s almost time for the Great American Beer Festival in Denver! The GABF is probably the most prestigious national beer competition in the country. It features more than 800 breweries, 3,800+ beers and 60,000 attendees. It’s two days (Oct 6th through 8th) of craft beer heaven with tastings and events and breweries all vying for gold, silver and bronze medals in hundreds of beer categories.

Thorn Street Brewery makes the trip to GABF every year and this time we thought we would make it extra special by bringing along two craft beer fans. We decided to run a giveaway at the beginning of this year where people could win a trip for two to the GABF. All they had to do was sign up for our email list! This trip would cover the plane tickets, hotel and GABF tickets to the fest. We had more than 1000 people enter and now we are super excited to announce that the winner is: Tony from San Diego, CA! We couldn’t be more excited that Tony won, as he comes into TSB often, and I recently got a chance to sit down with Tony, his wife, Teri and their trusty companion, Max, to talk about the upcoming trip, TSB, and their affair with craft beer.

How long have you been coming to Thorn Street Brewery?

Tony: “Damn near since the day it opened! I tasted some beers, because you only sold tasters in the beginning, and bought a growler and was hooked. From day one, Thorn Street has had an Irish Pub feel, where you know your neighbors and the people who work here know you. Coming here has been a real palette experience too, from talking with the guys here and learning about the beers to the variety that’s on tap.”

Teri: “Thorn Street has become one of Max’s favorite places. Max has just as much fun coming here as going to doggie daycare. Max pulls us to come in. He practically dragged us down here tonight. It’s his family place. And this isn’t an anonymous bar. It’s a place to talk to people, have a beer, eat something from a food truck. We don’t’ go to bars. It’s not that here.

Max is their exuberant, steel grey, Standard Schnauzer who accompanies Tony pretty much everywhere and is much loved in the brewery.

What’s your favorite TSB Beer?

Tony: “My daily drinker is North Park Pale. I’m missing the Red Headed Hop Child…man this question is hard. I would say my very favorite is the Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Tsar on Nitro. Also I will have any of the Belgians.”

Teri: “Half Chilecabra, half North Park Pale. That’s my absolute favorite. It cuts down on the heat of the Chilecabra.

In fact, Teri credits her taste for beer from coming to Thorn Street. “I really only drink beer here. I like it here.”

Were you excited when you found out you won?

Teri: “He called me when I was making dinner and said, ‘There’s something I haven’t told you about…’ and I starting thinking the worst possibly scenario because that’s how he presented it!”

What Tony didn’t tell Teri at the time was that he had turned down trip initially. He and Teri’s beloved Standard Airdale Terrier, Beatrix, had suddenly passed away that week and when we emailed Tony and let him know he won, he thought the Festival was Labor Day weekend. Considering everything that was going on for them, he felt there was no way they could make the event in less than 2 weeks, and regretfully passed on the trip. Luckily, he figured out the date-mistake quickly and contacted us to see if he could still say yes to the trip. We hadn’t selected another email yet, so we were more than happy to give the trip to the original winner.

Teri: “To turn down a trip to a beer festival like this, it had to be severe.”

But Teri and Tony were chuckling about the almost-miss today, and she said, “When he told me everything I said, ‘Are you kidding me? I would have gone.’ ‘What about school?’ He asked. ‘I don’t care! I have the vacation time!”‘

Anything else you want to say?

Teri: “I want to reiterate, if this were just some bar to get a drink, we wouldn’t come here. The reason we come is that we know the bartenders and brewers. Everyone talks to us. Everyone knows Max. One of the things that makes it feel like a European pub is that moms are here meeting up for a beer, which is great. The kids are playing around…how cool is that?”

Tony: “The staff is here to do their job and they do it well and they do an amazing job and it’s awesome. It’s just awesome.”

Teri: “I also love the specialty events that you guys do here. The donut pairings and the Girls Scout and beer pairing were so fun! Beer and the ice cream floats one was great too. And I was the biggest beer nay-sayer and then when I came here it was just sooooo fun.”

There you have it! Inside the minds of our big winners! They are getting ready for their winning trip to the GABF in the beginning of October and have promised to take lots of pics to share with us.

Want to be our next big winners? Make sure you sign up to be in our #thorntribe by signing up for our email list here…you never know what giveaways/contests we will cook up next!