thorn brewing beer

North County Breweries Hit By Cash Box Bandit

In the last couple of weeks, North County San Diego has been hit by a string of burglaries that have targeted local craft breweries, meaderies, cideries, a winery and a couple of craft beverage purveyors. So far, it sounds like more than 16 spots have been broken into with most of them having their cash boxes stolen whether there was anything in them or not. The perpetrator is fast, reportedly in and out in less than a minute, and seems to know where the targeted cash boxes are, suggesting that he possibly has been inside the breweries before or has cased them from the outside. The brazen cash-box-grab is shocking and unsettling for the SD brewing community and we are hoping that by spreading the word, someone will know something that will help catch this POS.

This list of spots that were broken into and/or robbed was compiled by a local Facebook beer group and the Coast News:

  • Iron Fist Brewing Company (Vista)
  • Golden Coast Mead (Oceanside)
  • Prohibition Brewing Company (Vista)
  • Barrel Harbor Brewing (Vista)
  • Bittners Restaurant Equipment (Vista)
  • Brother Provisions Market and Deli (Rancho Bernardo)
  • Lost Cause Meadery (Mira Mesa)
  • Black Plague Brewing (Oceanside)
  • Papa Marce’s Cervezaria (Carlsbad)
  • La Fleur’s Winery (San Marcos)
  • Rip Current Brewing (San Marcos)
  • Newtopia Cyder (Scripps Ranch)
  • Booze Brothers (Vista)
  • Double Peak Brewing (San Marcos)
  • Serpentine Cider (Miramar)
  • Longship Brewing (Mira Mesa)

Additionally, info from industry insiders reported four more breweries and tasting rooms in the Temecula/Murrieta were hit. While, so far, police haven’t confirmed that these are all related, it’s hard to think they aren’t. Especially when security camera footage shared with NBC News by many of the breweries that were hit show a person with a similar build in similar clothing. Additionally, one of the breweries reported that they found a white Jeep in their camera’s footage that came and went right around the time of the break-in which matched up with the type of car spotted by another brewery that had been hit.

The most recent brewery that fell victim is Double Peak Brewing in San Marcos which opened at the beginning of this year. They posted this pic of the break-in on their Instagram profile yesterday along with this text:

The brewery bandit strikes again! We had a break in at 2 am this morning from the same scumbag that’s been hitting up several breweries around town. He broke a window, crawled in, and went straight for the empty cash register. We assume he scoped it out the night before because we saw a vehicle pull out around midnight (while we were there). He looks about 6ft tall, slim build, and was wearing a gray hoodie and jeans. If anyone recognizes this dude please call the local PD and report him ASAP. To all other breweries around town – if you think it won’t happen to you, think again! We’re the new guys in town and he still managed to hit us. Let’s get this guy before he hits up anyone else! 

thorn brewing

If you have any information that you think may be of help to the investigation, please reach out to the San Diego County Sherriff’s Dept.


thorn brewing cutwater

AB InBev Buys Into San Diego with Cutwater Spirit Aquisition

Many people thought that it was just a matter of time before Anheuser-Busch (AB InBev) sunk its teeth into the San Diego craft beer scene but in a slight pivot this week, they announced that they acquired Cutwater Spirits, the San Diego-born craft distillery.  Many people in the craft beer scene were not surprised by this purchase because the founders of Cutwater were also the founders that sold Ballast Point to Constellation for the monumental price tag of $1 Billion in 2015. They obviously know how to grow a brand (quickly, in Cutwater’s case, since it’s only been around since 2017) to a level that it’s highly desirable to mega-corporations and for that, they deserve kudos since that is no small feat.

The disappointing part of the situation is that they sold to AB InBev, one of the worst big beer companies when it comes to how they behave and compete in the craft beer sphere. In fact, if it was any company other than AB InBev there would likely be no discussion at all because there is nothing wrong with people make money by working hard on their dream, something that most of us in craft beer are trying to do too. But with beer sales not in the same insane growth pattern they once were and their core brand Budweiser suffering as much as it is, it makes sense that AB would make their moves on spirits and canned cocktails, one of the faster-growing segments in the alcohol industry.

While we certainly don’t fault the Cutwater owners for selling the company, many of us have to find other delicious canned cocktails to love because we just can’t stomach putting money into AB InBev’s pockets when they continue to work against the craft beer community. Just to go over a few of AB InBev’s moves over the past few years, here’s an excerpt that explains it pretty well from one of our recent blogs:

The reason why many craft beer insiders and consumers are bummed when their favorite craft brewery is sold to AB InBev is that they are actively trying to squash the ability for smaller breweries to compete fairly in the marketplace.

They put big money into lobbying for legislation that favors big beer (AB InBev spent nearly $8 million lobbying last year while the Brewers Association spent $294,000 on lobbying in the same period). They take part in pay-to-play tactics with stores, bars, and restaurants earning tap handles and cooler space (and have been fined multiple times for such practices). They buy up wholesalers and distributors and in some regions, they are the only distributors for craft beer. On top of that, they incentivize these distributors to heavily sell their portfolio which they were fined for in 2017 citing anti-competitive practices.

Furthermore, AB InBev has its hands in every part of the beer industry. From owning, October, and Good Beer Hunting, to owning both Midwest Supply and Northern Brewer, the two biggest homebrew supply companies in the country, to the countless alcohol distributors they own, to all the craft breweries that they have purchased over the last few years. AB InBev is invested in nearly every segment of this industry.

Things’ll Never Change

Another concern when a big buy-out happens is whether or not the employees that work there now get to keep their jobs. If history is any sort of predictor, when big beer comes in and buys up a brewery, whether they would admit it or not at the announcement of the acquisition, changes are often inevitable.

This past October, Lagunitas laid off 12% of their workforce after being bought out fully by Heineken. In August, Constellation laid off dozens of craft beer sales employees from Ballast Point, Funky Buddha, and Four Corners Brewing and AB InBev cut down its High End national sales team that deals with craft beer (i.e. the sales reps from the craft breweries they have bought) by 360 people in September of 2017. It’s rare that a company remains the same after it’s bought by big beer, so we will have to see what shakes out in those changes that will take place. Hopefully, they keep their talented staff that has helped grow the brand to the level that it was desirable to AB.

San Diego Comes Through

In the end, nothing is likely to stop the expansion of AB InBev into new markets or their continued growth into all segments of the beer market. Cutwater is just a drop in the bucket when their parent company AB InBev reported revenue of $54.9 billion from September of 2017 to September of 2018. To put that in perspective, that means that they make approximately $150 million per day. While many people won’t care that Anheuser Busch now owns Cutwater, there is a small segment of consumers that are interested in company ownership. For these people, there is a great group of craft distilleries that can fill the void. Check out some of these spots next time you have a hankering for craft spirits:

You and Yours Distillery 

San Diego Distillery

Liberty Call Distilling

Malahat Spirits Co

Henebery Spirits

Seven Caves Spirit

619 Spirits

Old Harbor Distilling

California Spirits Company

Swinford Spirits

Copper Collar Distillery

Oceanside Distillers

Perfect Soul Whiskey

117 West Spirits

Pacific Coast Spirits

Shadow Ridge Distillery

Please shoot me an email at if I’ve missed some San Diego craft distilleries on this list.


thorn beer chickity check yo self breast cancer

Beer for Breast Cancer: Chickity-Check Yo Self Pale Ale

We are excited to announce the release of a very special new pale ale, Chickity-Check Yo Self. Just as important as it is to check the date code on your beer cans to ensure freshness, it’s even more important to check yourself regularly and to know your body. With 40% of diagnosed breast cancers being detected by women who feel a lump, early detection is key.

Chickity-Check Yo Self Pale Ale (5%) was brewed in collaboration with Melanie Pierce, the founder and heart and soul of Brewbies. The Brewbies Festival was founded in 2010 to raise money for Keep A Breast Foundation and also highlight the positive impact of the craft brewing community. For their 10th anniversary of the festival, she wanted to go with a sessionable beer with notes of citrus and pine from the use of Simcoe, Chinook, and Centennial hops. Also, in keeping with Brewbies tradition, hibiscus was added to the brew for a pink hue in the finished beer.

Our Head Brewer, Doug Pominville, was passionate about creating and brewing this beer. “We all have someone important in our lives that has been affected by cancer,” he shared recently. “Both of my grandmothers fought the good fight but in the end, both of them were taken away by the big bad. This charity festival is very near and dear to my heart and a portion of all the proceeds from this beer will benefit the Keep A Breast Foundation. Please join me in raising a pint for all of our loved ones who are battling, those who have won, those who have lost the fight and yell, f*ck cancer!”

Thorn Brewing Co. and Brewbies are proud to partner together to support our community with this limited edition beer. Available in both cans and on tap, $1 per six-pack and $1 per pint will be donated to Keep A Breast Foundation.

More on the Brewbies Festival (from their website)

Brewbies was born and raised in San Diego craft beer, a community of brewers renowned for more than just their unrivaled creativity, commitment to excellence, and superior standards – this is a group that is also respected for their camaraderie, friendship, and support of one another. These qualities are not only the foundation of craft beer in San Diego – a global movement considered by many to have begun right here in California – but the very reasons this incredible festival continues nine years later and is thought of as one of the most successful events of its kind anywhere.

And, it’s no secret that beer has the power to bring people together:  that was the intention, all the way back in 2010 – to bring good people together for a worthy and important reason. Since day one, nine years ago, 100% of the proceeds from Brewbies have been donated to the Keep A Breast Foundation, to support their many impactful education and awareness programs, to help all people be more aware of the health of their body, and reduce or eliminate their risk of developing cancer.

Brewbies has managed to raise more than $450,000 for Keep A Breast Foundation as well as support programs.

More on Keep A Breast Foundation (from their website)

Over a decade ago, KAB’s founders, then involved in their own arts organization, rallied to support a friend with breast cancer. They developed an idea to express the female experience of breast cancer by reimagining the traditional canvas as a participatory sculpture. After some experimentation and partnerships with the right people, they developed and tested a technique for capturing the female bust in a plaster. The result was a white cast that was then customized by artists. The success of these breast casts as conversation starters, awareness builders and fundraising tools ultimately leading us to what is now the non-profit The Keep A Breast Foundation.

Now there are Keep A Breast Foundations all over the world and they even have their own app which reminds women to do a monthly breast exam to help with early detection. In 2018 alone, 67,000 women downloaded the app. Download the app here.

Craft Breweries Feeling the Effects of the Government Shutdown

While hardly the most affected by the Government shutdown, craft breweries are feeling the pinch and it could have serious consequences for many of these mostly small businesses. Whether it’s trying to get a Certificate of Label Approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) so beer can be shipped across state lines or applying for a license to sell beer, things are slowing down for many breweries. While it usually takes about three weeks to get label approval, there’s no telling how long it will take once submitting and now breweries are scrambling with their beer schedule and beers that are already in tanks which don’t have the proper approvals.

Many breweries are struggling and one even went so far as to sue the Federal Government. Atlas Brewing from Washington D.C. is suing the Federal Government for not allowing them to ship new beers without proper labeling, yet won’t approve the labels because of the shutdown.

Atlas Brewing filed the paperwork asking for an injunction on January 15th citing an attack on their free speech.

 “Atlas sits on 40 barrels of seasonal, perishable beer – an apricot-infused India pale ale known as The PRecious One – that it cannot lawfully label for interstate sale in kegs, as scheduled, for lack of COLA (Certificate of Label Approval). Atlas needs not only to sell this product, but to have its fermenting tanks emptied of The Precious One to make way for the production of other beer, including summer seasonal brew. The government approved the brewery’s label for sale of The Precious One in cans, but stopped reviewing COLA applications before reaching Atlas’s application to approve The Precious One’s “keg collar” label. Atlas cannot can its entire production of The Precious One. It must ship substantial amounts of this beer in kegs, in interstate commerce and soon, lest The Precious One becomes worthless. And it has other beers in the pipeline, require labels not yet approved by the government.”

Being that this brewery is in Washington D.C. which pretty much necessitates shipping beers over state lines, it really puts them up against the wall for not only for their beer in tanks now, but also beer production moving forward. Yes, they can keep producing and shipping beers that have already received label approval, but many times grains, malts and hop bills are planned out months to years ahead of time so changing up brew schedules can be difficult and costly no matter what.

Bart Watson, the chief economist with the Brewers Association, spoke with VinePair and said that most breweries shouldn’t feel the economic impact too significantly because they can substitute other beers into their brew schedule that already have the proper labeling. This is probably what most breweries will do with the unfortunate consequence being a lack of new beers being released out in the community especially by larger breweries that need to regularly ship out of state to meet their targets for the year.

Here at Thorn, we are waiting to see how things play out. We have some limited release cans in the works but these may have to be put on hold until the shutdown ends. Even when things return to normal, there is going to be a backlog of COLA applications which we anticipate will make the approval process take much longer than normal, and will deny you an expedient opportunity to enjoy our newest creations.

thorn brewing sierra nevada

Beer Community Comes Together with Resilience IPA

One of the best things about being part of the craft beer community is the support that breweries show to one another in times of need. Yes, there is still healthy competition within the industry but most brewers, sales reps, and tasting rooms staff all seem to really have each other’s backs when it matters. From lending out specific hops or malts for a scheduled brew to donating to each other’s family causes to sharing information and expertise with each other, brewers are a loyal bunch.

Recently, Butte County in California was hit was the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history. More than 14,000 people lost their homes when the fire tore through 153,000 acres in Northern California and 86 people lost their lives. Sierra Nevada Brewing is in Chico, CA, just minutes away from the areas hit worst by the Camp Fire, was immediately ready to take action. Not only was the community that supports them in turmoil, but they had many employees lose their homes. They decided to brew a beer for the cause and donate 100% of the proceeds to help the Camp Fire victims.

What happened next is the support that the craft beer community was built upon. Sierra Nevada put out the call to other breweries for them to brew their own versions of the same recipe for Resilience Butte County Strong IPA and donate 100% of the proceeds to the cause. They reached out to hop and malt suppliers and set it up so that the breweries brewing the beer wouldn’t have to pay for the ingredients, making the decision even easier for many breweries. More than 1400 breweries around the country stepped up to help, donating their time, staff, and tank space to brew Resilience IPA. That’s one in every five craft breweries in the U.S. willing to lend a hand to friends in need, even if these friends were essentially strangers.

Said in their own words from their blog:

We sent out the “bat signal” calling our friends in the industry, asking our suppliers to donate ingredients, asking other breweries (our competitors) to donate their time and labor costs, and asking our wholesalers and retailers to carry the beer for free. It was a big ask, and we never could have anticipated the response.

More than 1,400 breweries signed up to brew Resilience. Our suppliers donated ingredients to every brewery nationwide. Wholesalers and retailers agreed to carry the beer and donate every dollar they received. All of them agreed to do this for free to benefit people they had never met.

In all, Resilience Butte County Proud IPA should hit the market in mid-late December more than 17,000 barrels—or 4.2 million pints—strong. Every dollar Sierra Nevada receives will go to those impacted by the Camp Fire.

Here at Thorn, we were happy to help out and brewed our own version of their Resilience IPA that we are releasing on December 20th, which has been coined Resilience Night across the country. If the beer sells out, it has the ability to raise more than $15 Million in donations for the Camp Fire relief fund. Our Resilience beer will be on tap at our Barrio Logan tasting room starting 12/20 until we sell out and like all the other 1400 breweries, every dollar from the sale of the beer will be donated. Here’s hoping that for victims of the Camp Fire, their holidays are just a little brighter knowing that there are so many people thinking of them and doing their part to help ease their financial burdens.

For more info on the breweries who are brewing Resilience IPA and donating funds, check out Sierra Nevada’s Resilience Map.

Anna Brigham

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internet killing beer

Is the Internet Ruining Beer?

This week the San Diego craft beer community was hit with the news that two well-respected breweries will likely be closing down this month. Council Brewing (Kearny Mesa and Santee) and Benchmark Brewing (Grantville & Bay Park) both put out statements on Facebook. Council wrote a heart-breaking post thanking their patrons for their support and outlining the tough year they had business-wise.


While Benchmark’s announcement wasn’t that they are closing, they are in need of a buyer/influx of cash to save them from shuttering their doors. Owner, Rachael Akin, made this public post…


As I was writing this post, I was also perusing the news coming out about these two breweries and I saw a piece published today, by Ian Anderson for the Reader , that was pretty close to what I was going to ruminate on but instead of starting over on my blog piece, I got to thinking about one quote that stuck out of his well-written article…

“The internet is ruining beer,” she (Rachel from Benchmark) says, citing social beer review apps such as Untappd, where user earn added cachet for every new beer they rate. “People are seeking out very specific things that are only available very specific places,” Akin adds, noting that beer buyers have followed suit, consistently expecting breweries to come up with the next new hit. “You can’t just make beer that’s good to drink every day.”

Anderson writes, “She points to the proliferation of social media culture as contributing to the decline in business, as capricious fans spur each other to bypass familiar brews, regardless of quality, to chase beers that are new and hard to get.”

Is the internet ruining beer? Rachel makes an interesting and eye-opening point. Her assessment of people’s desire to find the next hot, new thing can be seen not only in the beer industry but across other industries too with similar, unintended negative effects.

Thank You, Instagram

Nature has taken a beating because of Instagram. Whether it’s people posting perfect pics of a secret beach they found (and often geotagging the spot too) or about an unnamed hike through a natural park, many beautiful and often environmentally sensitive locations are being blown up to the detriment of the locals and the environment itself.  People want to discover the next hot spot or secret locale, usually with little regard for the impact that sudden fame will have on the physical location. From parking to bathrooms to trash removal, a sudden influx of people, many of whom are not accustomed to “leave no trace” mentality of nature lovers, can be catastrophic to a once serene landscape.

This plays out in restaurants too. One might think that there is nothing better than getting your restaurant on a popular “top ten” or “best of” list. After all, who doesn’t want a bunch of new, hungry customers? Recently, Thrillist posted an article by a writer that was entitled, “I Found the Best Burger Place in America. And Then I Killed It.” He wrote about how he named a small Portland burger joint as having the best cheeseburger in the country and five months later it shut down with the owner lamenting that being number on this list was “the worst thing that ever happened” to the little restaurant. It’s a really interesting article so I encourage you to hit on the link above, but the gist was the owner said his little restaurant couldn’t handle the influx of new patrons. That people were waiting five hours in line for this burger, that his staff couldn’t handle the busier pace and the service suffered and in turn, the opinions going out the door were less than stellar.

Is this all part of the same problem? People’s hunger for lists, best-ofs, secret spots and finding the next hot craft beer is satiated by social media and the internet. So while the internet may not be totally ruining beer, it absolutely has changed the way that people consume and think about it.

A Little of This, A Little of That

What’s the answer though? Rate beer isn’t shutting down anytime soon and Instagram travel bloggers aren’t going anywhere. How do we as an industry change with the times and use the internet for all of its benefits vs. fall victim to its dark side? How can consumers not fall prey to the sweet song of the internet’s “best of” lists and hottest new trend?

There are no clear answers to this conundrum that many San Diego breweries are facing. Maybe as brewers, we have to try our best to stay relevant in the ever-changing beer-scape. To continue making the best beer we can and marketing it to not only craft beer fans but people outside the craft beer-bubble. It means changing with the times while still staying true to our roots and identity as a brewery. Running a brewery is expensive and growing that brand is even more expensive. It’s probably no coincidence that both Council and Benchmark opened new locations recently. While new locations are a way to increase revenue, they also increase overhead and labor and are expensive to build out. Both breweries also spoke of the over-saturation of the San Diego craft beer market as driving factors in their poor distribution sales. Expanded distribution tends to be a double-edged sword. Yes, it’s exciting that your beer gets in front of a bunch of new consumers but it costs a lot of money to have someone distribute your beer for you (or to self-distribute, those refrigerated trucks aren’t cheap) so then you have to produce and hopefully sell a lot more beer just to break even.

What can we do, as consumers, to support our favorite breweries? Maybe take Rachel’s words to heart and while it’s exciting to seek out the next new beer or brewery, if we have a favorite, make sure they are on our rotation more often and that we purchase their beer in stores. As much fun as it is when a new brewery opens its doors, in today’s San Diego craft beer market it also means an increase in competition for the other breweries out there. Not that competition is bad in a marketplace, but at some point there reaches a saturation point where it becomes hard for the industry to sustain itself. While one can argue whether or not San Diego has truly reached that saturation point yet, it remains true that if we want our favorite breweries to stick around, we need to buy their beer, plain and simple.





SDBW: It’s the Most Wonderful Week of the Year!

San Diego Beer week is almost here and that means, fun events, delicious food, good friends and of course, craft beer! Here at Thorn Brewing, not only do we have a full schedule of events at our two tasting rooms, but we also are participating in tons of exciting beer-centric events throughout San Diego. Here’s what we have coming up between 11/2 and 11/11 so get out your calendar and get some of our rad events on your schedule for SDBW 2018!

North Park Tasting Room Events

Nomad Donuts & Beer Pairing

Sat Nov 03rd | 12:30-2pm
(Click here for tickets)*

We have done pairings with Nomad Donuts for the last four years and every time they up their game. This time around, we are doing a 3×3 pairing with three of their artisan donuts with three of our craft beers for $18. The pairing starts at 12:30 and goes in order so make sure to get here at the start of the event. This one always sells out so make sure and get your tickets ASAP if you want to take part in this sweet beer week event!

Venissimo Cheese & Beer Pairing

Tue Nov 06th | 6pm
(Click here for tickets)*

It wouldn’t be San Diego Beer Week without a cheese and beer pairing with our good friends at Venissimo Cheese! Cheese and beer together are one of life’s greatest pleasures. Taste the marvelous medley that these two bring out in each other while getting a chance to talk to the experts. Rob Graff, cheese expert from Venissimo, and Eric O’Connor, Thorn’s brewmaster, will be taking guests through this delectable journey with five kinds of gourmet cheese paired with five of our beers.

Learn about the different styles of cheese, why the specific beers and cheeses pair well together as well as craft beer and the brewing process. It’s the perfect way to spend a Tuesday night!

$35 for five cheese courses and five 8-oz beers

Beer Trivia

Come and test your beer knowledge on Wednesday, November 7th at 7 pm. You don’t have to be a beer expert to play, however, as there are questions in all categories, just all pertaining to the greatest elixir, beer!

Wed Nov 07th | 7pm

IPA Lounge

Fri Nov 09th | 6pm

IPAs have helped put San Diego on the craft beer map and to honor their kick-ass hoppiness we are stocking our back bar with nine IPAs from brand new IPAs to fan-favorites. Stop by Friday, November 9th at 6 pm at Thorn North Park and imbibe in:

  • Relay IPA
  • Mystic Gnome IPA
  • Sticky Henderson IPA
  • Dank Rizzo IPA
  • Hopster Pot Hazy IPA
  • Plus surprise IPAs!

No tickets necessary, just come in and enjoy the IPA Lounge!

Barrio Logan Tasting Room Events

Service Pig IPA Can Release

Fri Nov 3rd | 2 pm

We are kicking off San Diego Beer Week with a new limited release can! Stop by the Barrio Logan tasting room on Friday, November 2nd, for a pint and a six-pack of this brand new IPA. This beer is a throwback to the classic West Coast IPA inspired by an old Temecula brewery’s IPA that helped put San Diego on the craft beer map. This recipe was originally brewed in collaboration with Toronado SD for their 10th anniversary and this can is a nod to their inclusivity of all service animals, no matter what kind. This 6.4% IPA is bursting with notes of tangerine, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, summer melon, and pine, with a solid malt backbone to balance it all out.

Releases at Thorn Barrio Logan on Friday, 11/2 at 2 pm and then at Thorn North Park on Saturday, 11/3 at 2 pm after the Nomad Donuts & Beer Pairing event.

Camino De La Cerveza

Sat Nov 03rd | 4pm at Thorn
If you haven’t been to all of the awesome breweries in Barrio Logan yet, this is your chance! On Saturday, November 3rd, starting at 4 pm take a stroll around historic Barrio Logan having a beer at each brewery location! Meet new friends or bring a slew of your own, it’s going to be a fun evening no matter what! Here’s how it’s all going to go down…

4 pm – Meet at Thorn Brewing (1745 National Ave) to meet up with other brewery crawlers and hosts.
4:45 – Iron Fist Brewing San Diego (1985 National Ave)
5:30 – Attitude Brewing Company (1985 National Ave too)
6:15 – Altabrewingsd (1983 Julian Ave)
7:00 – Border X Brewing (2181 Logan Ave)

Don’t worry if you can’t make it for the beginning, just catch up with us along the way at the designated times!

The Pioneer BBQ & Beer

Sun Nov 04th | 1-4pm
(Click here for tickets)*

We are super excited to for this San Diego Beer Week event…BBQ and Beer with Pioneer Barbecue! Chef Hanis Cavin, owner/operator of the famed Carnitas’ Snack Shack(s) is behind this smokin’ BBQ spot and we are excited to kick off beer week at Thorn Barrio Logan with a collaboration with them. His food is amazing and the portions are awesome, so definitely make this one of your beer week events. Here are the details:

Sunday, 11/4, 1-4 pm at Thorn Barrio Logan

Tickets – $22 (plus ticketing fees) for a large plate of the following PLUS a Thorn beer of your choice. Suggested pairings will be available on the day of the event…

Dry rubbed smoked ribs
Smoked spicy pork cheddar sausage
Beer brined and smoked chicken wings

Sauces: St. Louis BBQ, Carolina BBQ, Ivan’s spicy BBQ

Mac n cheese – bacon topped
Smoked pork belly baked beans

Plates will be a combo of all!

Fede & Shannon Guest Bartending from Hoppy Beer Hoppy Life

Mon Nov 05th | 5-11pm

Stop by the brewery on our Industry Night and chat it up with our guest bartenders, Fede and Shannon from Hoppy Beer Hoppy Life!

Barrel-Aged Beer Night

Wed Nov 07th | 2-10pm

Join us on Wednesday, November 7th at Thorn Barrio Logan, for a special San Diego Beer Week edition of our Barrel-Aged Beer Night! We will be pouring:

  • Barrel Inception (Dark Tsar infused with coffee)
  • BA Abbey Roof Belgian Ale
  • BA Dark Tsar Russian Imperial Stout
  • BA Dark Tsar Russian Imperial Stout Uncut

Enjoy specials on barrel-aged bottles and glasses too!

Sour Beer Night and I Bless The Grains Beer Release

Fri Nov 09th | 2-10pm

Whether you love sour beers already or have never tasted one before, this event is for you! We have a full list of Thorn sours that will excite your taste buds with their delightful tartness and effervescence.

We are also releasing I Bless The Grains, a Sour Brut IPA hopped with all South African hops in collaboration with Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing Co. This 6.66% beer is pale yellow in color with a thin white head, effervescent with hints of pineapple, Meyer lemon, tangerine, guava, grapefruit, pear, and subtle grassiness. You can expect a nice puckering tartness with a clean, dry finish laced with citrus and tropical fruit flavors from the hops. The hops that were used are African Queen, Southern Passion, and Experimental XJA/436.

Beer list:
To Blave Hoppy Sour Pale Ale
I Bless the Grains Sour Brut
Rustic Ralph Peach – Brett Saison aged in chardonnay barrels
Rustic Ralph Blackberry – Brett Saison aged in chardonnay barrels
Cherry Sour
Plum Sour

All the Hops

Sat Nov 10th | 12-11pm
Why only taste some of the hops when you can have all the hops? All day, on November 10th at Thorn Barrio Logan, we will be serving all our hoppiest beers for your bitter-palate-pleasure. Stop by for a pint or taste your way through them all!
10 IPAs on tap including:

  • Relay IPA
  • Wedding Bliss Pale Ale
  • Mystic Gnome IPA
  • Hopster Pot Hazy IPA
  • Menace IIPA
  • Rock the Pale Ale

and more…

That’s it for Thorn tasting room events, but we also are taking part in a bunch of events around town. For more information on these events go to our “Events Around Town” page and check out the exciting stuff we have planned.

lagunitas change thorn brewing

Things’ll Never Change…

Heineken owned Lagunitas Brewery recently announced that they laid off more than 100 employees or about 12% of their entire workforce. Most of the layoffs were at their Petaluma headquarters and were across all departments. Punctuating this bummer-of-a-day for the ex-employees was a resurfaced 2013 tweet from Lagunitas founder, and now Heineken’s Director of Global Craft, Tony Magee:

thorn brewing change

These are prophetic words for the more than 100 people getting the pink slip. While he did express sadness about the layoffs (“today was a rough day as were the last week of considerations.”), this tweet definitely cuts deep from someone that once fiercely supported independent beer and then framed selling out to Heineken as “buying in” and described the sale as “using Lagunitas’ equity to buy deeper into an organization that will help us go farther more quickly than we could have on our own.” This last quote is from last year so what exactly has changed?

It’s not surprising that Lagunitas is feeling the pinch that many other large, regional breweries have been feeling the last couple of years. The pinch that comes from increased hyper-local competition and the immense amount of choice a beer consumer faces in an ever-changing landscape of craft beer. This sentiment was expressed by Lagunitas CEO, Maria Stipp, in her prepared statement to the press after announcing the layoffs. “The craft beer market is rapidly evolving and, in many ways, more challenging. More breweries, more choices …”

The Times They Are A-Changin’

What is surprising, however, is the change of tune this seems to be from a recent interview that Stipp gave to Brewbound. In the late-August piece, Stipp said that Lagunitas “ranks fourth in dollar share (up 4 percent) and sixth in volume (up 5 percent) through July 14, according to data from market research firm Nielsen.”

Furthermore, Brewbound reported that Lagunitas ranks No.1 in craft beer brands by dollar share and volume, both up 3%. In 2017, Lagunitas’ beer production rose 7%, to 984,000. That means they hold a 16% share of volume and dollar share in California. With this healthy outlook from August, it’s interesting that they are in enough financial trouble right now that they need to cut out 12% of their staff.

Parent Companies Just Don’t Understand

What good is selling out to a mega-brewery if they don’t provide somewhat of a safety net when it comes to financial issues at the once-independent brewery? When the Cox Brothers were interviewed a year after 10 Barrel sold to AB InBev, they gushed about their new access to capital and cash flow they received from their parent company.

Also, it was only last year that Heineken bought the last half of Lagunitas. In 2015, they paid nearly $500 million for 50%, so let’s assume with the slowing growth in craft beer Heineken got the second half for much less. Even if it was around $200 million, where did that money go exactly? To Magee and other investors? One would think that some of that cash could have been used to keep these 100 employees on the payroll.

In many of the articles written about these layoffs, they are compared to a few other recent layoffs including those weathered at Constellation, New Belgium laying off 4% of their workers and the Green Flash downsizing that happened earlier in the year. But all of these are different than the situation at Lagunitas because they weren’t posting the growth or market dominance that Lagunitas reported in August, the last two don’t have billion-dollar parent companies looking out for them, and the Constellation move was a conglomerate streamlining their sales team across all of their craft breweries, Ballast Point, Funky Buddha, and Four Corners.

These layoffs could be just another symptom of the craft beer market slowing along with regional breweries’ struggle to stay relevant in an ever-changing market. However, it seems like the sentiment that “things won’t change around here, we have the same awesome people brewing the same awesome beer,” a common expression from breweries that sell to big beer, just isn’t true in the end.






people at gabf

GABF: Bigger, Better, Unfiltered

This week marks the start of one of the most attended and talked about craft beer festivals in the country. With more than 62,000 expected attendees sipping on 4000 different beers put out by 800 breweries from across the country, this year’s Great American Beer Festival is shaping up to be the biggest craft beer party ever.

Changes From 2017

Each year, brewers from across the country descend on Denver, CO, to network, drink, pour, and celebrate the craft of brewing beer. While GABF tickets used to sell out the day tickets were released, this year there were Thursday night tickets available leading up to that first session. This was because organizers added an extra 100,000 square feet to the event footprint which is a 17% increase from last year, allowing them to sell an extra 2000 tickets. That’s good news for slackers and procrastinators but there are usually people selling tickets to get in outside the event center each evening if you want to try and attend last minute.

One of the simplest changes made this year, with possibly the biggest impact on attendees, was to organize the breweries by alphabetical order rather than geographical region. With 4000 beers spread out in a hall the size of 8 football fields, not being able to find breweries was an issue, so this is a welcomed change.

Another change this year is the addition of hazy IPAs to the GABF competition category list. This was the first year that breweries could submit beers in “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ales,” “Juicy or Hazy IPAs,” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPAs.” While scoring beers on their perceived “juiciness” might have seemed like a joke a few years ago, make no mistake, these categories will be turning out some fierce competition this year.

If throngs of crowds aren’t your thing, Denver’s got your back. As much fun as the actual festival is are all the craft beer related events happening at breweries and bars throughout the week leading up to GABF. September 14th kicked off Denver Beer Fest (their beer week) and there are more than 160 beer-centered events leading up to and happening during GABF. Whether you like sours, barrel-aged beers or have a hankering for firkins, there is something for every craft beer lover happening in Denver this time of year.

The More You Know…

Having been lucky enough to attend GABF before, there are a few things that stuck with me:

1. Not only is the festival incredibly fun but everyone I met seemed to be in a fantastic mood. Furthermore, I’ve never seen such happy or well-prepared volunteers at a festival before and considering there are more than 4000 volunteers, that’s a pretty big feat. In fact, it’s pretty hard to get a job volunteering for this festival and you have to be recommended by a previous volunteer to get the coveted job of pouring the beer for attendees.

2. You will not get to try all the beers you want to. Just accept it now, you will have to prioritize.  With 4000 beers to taste, you really have to geographically plan out your strategy for getting to the beers you want to taste in the time allowed. Especially considering some of the most popular booths have long lines and the fact that you also need to cover 585,000 sq. feet of convention center to get to those beers. Luckily, the organizers have got you covered and you can download a GABF app that you can use to map out your drinking for the night.

3. Don’t expect to use your cell phone while in the conference center. Last year, there was always a point in the session where the number of people simply overloaded whatever cell network/WIFI they had going on in the great hall. This can be an issue when you split up from your friends and don’t talk about a meetup point and it’s surprisingly difficult to pick out your people from a crowd of 20,000.

Thorn at GABF

We sent our crazy Thorn brew crew to Denver on Wednesday to represent so if you are GABF bound, make sure to stop by our booth and say hello. That was one of the most fun parts of being there last year, meeting all the new and old Thorn fans and chatting with so many great people. This year we entered four beers from Thorn North Park and four from Thorn Barrio. Our brewers worked incredibly hard to not only brew these beers but to bottle and ship them so that they arrive in peak condition. Here are the beers we entered along with the categories they were entered in. If you want to watch the awards ceremony live, you can tune into the Brewing Network for their live stream starting at 10 am in Denver (9 am here in San Diego).

Thorn Beer GABF Entries
  • Relay IPA – American IPA (Thorn Brewing Barrio Logan) – Cat. 62
  • Barrio Lager – American Lager (BL) – Cat. 38.a
  • Cinderella’s Midnight Ride – Pumpkin Spice (BL) – Cat. 6.b
  • Hopster Pot – Hazy/Juicy IPA  (BL) – Cat. 63
  • BA Abbey Roof Belgian Quad – Wood-Aged Strong Beer (Thorn Street Brewery North Park) – Cat. 28
  • Gutter Clown – American Strong Pale (NP) – Cat. 61
  • Dank Rizzo – American IPA (NP) – Cat. 62
  • ES Beetleguise – Extra Special Bitter (NP) – Cat. 71.b

– Anna Brigham


big beer Thorn brewing

Pay No Attention To The Big Beer Behind The Curtain

Recently, Vinepair put out an article entitled, “Craft Beer Was Built on an Us-Versus-Them Ethos. Now It’s Tearing Us Apart.” Strong words from the start, but I was eager to learn more. The author, Aaron Goldfarb, has a simple thesis when it comes to the issue of independence in beer:

It’s all in the eye of the beholder. And it’s causing a rift that is tearing apart the industry. This is a golden age of infighting among brewers, among fans, and among the beer media. It risks harming the entire beer industry with all its finger-pointing.

Right away, he places the blame on craft breweries for causing a rift that he feels is tearing the industry apart. He laments that independent breweries pulled out of Beavertown’s beer fest (which he describes as “a cult North London craft brewery owned by a Led Zeppelin rocker’s kid.” He goes on to deride the breweries that pulled out of both Beavertown’s Extravaganza and Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium Invitational after both breweries sold to big beer. “Why, there’s that esprit de corp the industry was built on!” he writes.

The strategy of this piece relies on laying out all the different ways that breweries have grown through investments, from big beer (Beavertown by Heineken) to private equity investors (Brewdog, Cigar City) to being bought or invested in by less-vilified big breweries (Duvel Moortgat and Firestone Walker etc.). He asks how these investments are different from each other? That if one investor is considered the “them” in this “us vs. them” scenario he harps on, why aren’t they all? Goldfarb goes on to compare the craft beer industry’s us vs. them ethos to other industries:

This small-versus-big, indie-versus-corporate, us-versus-them side-taking exists in just about every creative field, yet it doesn’t seem to result in nearly as much annoying, buzz-killing, business-bankrupting infighting.

Dave Eggers went from a hip, San Fran novelist to a publishing magnate. David Chang from owning a small noodle shop to a restaurant empire. Michael Kors from a small luxury brand to a rapidly expanded fashion house. They’ve all had mixed success and certainly muddied their legacies, but no one small feels threatened by their mere existence.

Finally, he wrapped up his piece by describing his favorite illustration of the “real boogie man” when it comes to craft beer…and it’s one that has been suggested time and time again by big beer:

I thought this was best lampooned by the Good Beer Hunting twitter account, which tweeted a video of a snake fighting a cat while simultaneously being eaten by a frog and simply captioned it: “Craft fighting macro while wine + sprits eats market share. (sic)”

All Investors Are Not Created Equal

First, to cut through all of the bull in this piece, not all investors are the same. Just because a brewery seeks outside investment it doesn’t automatically make them a “them.” The reason why many craft beer insiders and consumers are bummed when their favorite craft brewery is sold to AB InBev, MillerCoors or Heineken is because these big breweries are actively trying to squash the ability for smaller breweries to compete fairly in the marketplace.

They put big money into lobbying for legislation that favors big beer (AB InBev spent nearly $8 million lobbying last year while the Brewers Association spent $294,000 on lobbying in the same period). They take part in pay-to-play tactics with stores, bars, and restaurants earning tap handles and cooler space (and have been fined multiple times for such practices). They buy up wholesalers and distributors and in some regions, they are the only distributors for craft beer. On top of that, they incentivize these distributors to heavily sell their portfolio which they were fined for in 2017 citing anti-competitive practices.

Furthermore, AB InBev has its hands in every part of the beer industry. From owning stake in online beer related sites like RateBeer, October, and Good Beer Hunting, to owning both Midwest Supply and Northern Brewer, the two biggest homebrew supply companies in the country, to the countless alcohol distributors they own, to all the craft breweries that they have purchased over the last few years. AB InBev is invested in nearly every segment of this industry.

So when Goldfarb wants to know why people don’t view private equity firms or Kirin (which invested in Brooklyn Brewery) in the same light as being bought by big beer, this is why. They don’t actively and underhandedly try and fix the competition to favor themselves to the detriment of little players in the industry.

This is also why his comparison to Michael Kors or David Chang going big-time doesn’t hold water. David Chang doesn’t go around lobbying for laws that make it harder for the mom and pop shops to operate. Michael Kors doesn’t buy up all of a specific cloth so that it’s only available for his shops like AB In Bev did with the South African hop market last year, either.

Consider the Source

Goldfarb’s arguments are tired but they are also incredibly familiar. The whole “it’s not big beer, it’s wine and spirits!” argument was used by AB In Bev in their video by the High End where they laid out all the reasons why selling to Big Beer was awesome. Also, lumping together all manners of investments to try and make it seem like, “hey, they are all the same so if you don’t mind when a private equity firm invests you shouldn’t care when big beer invests,” is definitely muddying the waters. Who is this guy that identifies himself as an “us” multiple times in his piece when he is clearly acting on behalf of “them?”

Among other publications like Vinepair, Goldfarb is a regular contributor to October, a ZX Venture funded lifestyle website.  ZX Ventures is AB InBev’s venture capital team that was created to develop new products for AB. ZX Ventures just got a promotion because they just took over the whole marketing department for AB InBev. Furthermore, Goldfarb’s favorite illustration mentioned above was from Good Beer Hunting, another AB InBev owned online publication. Finally, he goes on to lament that the Brewers Association is “the most divisive player of any one currently in the industry.” Hmmm. This was exactly the sentiment of Pete Coors recently in his open letter to the beer industry.

The King of Craft Beer

Big beer is smart and has deep pockets so they have been successful these last few years in their quest to break into and ultimately dominate the craft beer industry. So successful, in fact, that Budweiser was just named the biggest craft brewer in the U.S. AB InBev’s stable of craft breweries is paying off, especially when their revenue from Bud and Budlight have dropped another 3% in the second quarter of the year despite lower volume produced than previous years. It’s likely they will continue to build their craft beer segment with these successes and continue to infiltrate every aspect of the industry.

And no, craft beer is not tearing itself apart. If anything, this discussion is good for the industry.  While many consumers don’t and won’t care who owns their favorite beer, for others, this sort of information is helpful and eye-opening. Transparency and shining the light on unfair and underhanded tactics employed by players within an industry only make it stronger in the end.