donuts and beer tasters

Donut and Beer Pairings: The Hole Truth

Donuts and beer?? Yes, please! While some might scratch their heads at pairing beer with sweet treats like donuts, it has turned out to be an incredibly winning combination here at Thorn Street Brewery. It helps that we collaborate with the best donut spot in San Diego, Nomad Donuts, a shop that puts out an impressive array of incredibly creative donuts. On any given day, you can get inspired donut creations like Brown Butter Popcorn, Watermelon Tamarind Chili, and Blood Orange Creamsicle. The chef behind this donut madness is Kristianna Zabala, a pastry chef who took the leap from restaurant to donut shop and has never looked back.

The first pairing we did with Nomad was in April 2015 and it sold out quickly. We ended up doing two sessions to accommodate the incredible response and we learned two things from that first pairing. The first was that people loved donuts and beer together and the second thing was two sessions meant a 7-hour event for our staff and Brad Keiller, the owner of Nomad Donuts, which was just too long. We decided to do one session per future event and have the pairings a few times a year to spread out the donut-love and are now on our 6th pairing together.

One of the coolest things about pairing with these guys is the process and thought that goes into each donut. It all starts out with the week before the event. Kristianna comes into TSB with her boyfriend and food partner, Fernando Alatorre, a chef from Mr. A’s, which incidentally is where the two met. Her son, Kingston, never misses a planning session either, always excited to eat BBQ and drink some house-made root beer. While Kristianna has been making waves in the dessert world for some time, including a win on Sugar Showdown earlier this year, she is also an accomplished chef outside of desserts. Recently, she has participated in a Filipino Flavors dinner at Jsix, was the guest chef on Meatless Monday at Cueva Bar and took part in a multi-chef collab dinner at Council Brewing.

When asked, Kristanna actually says this is her favorite part of her job. “Collaborating is the best part. You get to work with different flavor profiles and different styles, whether it be beer or product that we are using or collaborating with another chef.”

We all sit down with two full tasting trays full of whatever 14-16 beers we have on tap, some BBQ from Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado, next door, and then the fun begins…

tasters of beer to prepare for nomad donut pairing

Working their way through the beers, Kristianna and Fernando are in turns both hilarious and deep thinkers when it comes to planning the pairings. They rapidly discuss their ideas, taking into consideration not only what’s happening in the food world at the moment but also seasonal flavors and local ingredients.

“I always bounce off ideas off of him,” Kristianna says “He’s my counterpart for all my beer pairings; helping balance flavors and pair the beers.”

First, she figures out which beers she wants to use in the donuts and then they discuss which beers go best with that donut. But what’s the hardest part?

“After trying so many beers, it gets hard, the palate gets tired,” Kristianna explains. “The hardest part is pairing something that is not as sweet and trying to bring out the flavor of the beer with the sweetness of the donut.” In fact, the tired palate dilemma is easily solved with a trip to the BBQ joint next door since the smoky, savory meats really help to clear up any leftover taste in between beers.

The two chefs are intense. They take the pairings seriously and push each other on their ideas, talking fully through every flavor note and taste that comes from the beers and how it will affect the donut combination. At one point in the night, Kristianna looked over at Fernando and says,

“Listen to this…I know you are going to be like, why are you doing this to yourself, but maybe we should do a mini Scotch egg.”

The idea is bomb, but the work and finesse it will take to pull off 100 quail Scotch eggs is no joke. After some discussion on logistics and where to source eggs from, Kristanna states, “Well, I’m fucking doing it!”

Fernando laughs, unsurprised, and wonders aloud how much he will be helping out early Sunday morning. After the three pairings are set, it’s time to wrap up this party. It’s 9 pm and we have been talking, planning and laughing for 2 hours straight.

“Are you ready for this?” Fernando asks Kristianna with a twinkle in his eye.

She shoots back with supreme confidence,”Are you ready? I’m ready for anything.”

Want to taste the magic? There are still a few tickets left to this pairing coming up this Sunday at 12:30 pm through Eventbrite.




sam adams big beer

Too Big For Craft Beer?

Boston Beer Co. is having a rough week. The “Pappy” of craft beer has been seeing a slowdown in their growth for the last couple of years, but the course-corrections that they employed seemed to have fallen short.  According to the Boston Globe, they just announced that their yearly profits fell 12%, from $156.2 million in 2015 to only bringing in $137.6 million on 2016. Furthermore, their depletions (the sales of their products to retailers from distributors) fell by 5%. To make matters worse, depletions in the first 6 weeks of 2017 have been down 15% from this same time last year.

Jim Koch, the founder and CEO of Boston Beer Company, tried to make sense of it to his investors as well as the media who have been watching the decline of one of the founding fathers of craft beer.

“New craft brewers continue to enter the market and existing craft brewers are expanding their distribution and tap rooms, with the result that drinkers are seeing more choices, including a wave of new beers in all markets,” He stated. “I’ve heard speculation from a couple of retailers that perhaps the fact that there were too many choices has, in fact, turned consumers away from craft with its extraordinary variety and category clutter and confusion and pushed them to something simple,”

Too Many Choices?

While “too many choices” could be an issue for people just turning to craft beer (and that very well might be a barrier to entry for some macro-beer drinkers) this issue doesn’t translate into why the sale of Sam Adams has slumped. Sam Adams isn’t on the decline because there are too many choices in the beer cooler. That would mean that people who had bought Sam Adams in the past were walking into the stores now, feeling overwhelmed with the “category clutter” and doing what? Walking out without buying anything? Buying more clutter craft beer? Buying macro beer? It just doesn’t make sense. What’s more likely is that craft beer drinkers don’t think Sam Adams is “craft” anymore and are buying different craft beer. Sam Adams is losing customers from the very base that they helped build.

Big Craft Beer

While Boston Beer Co. is still considered a craft beer based upon their ownership (at least 75% ownership by a craft brewer) as well as the number of barrels they brew (less than 6 million), they are still a giant company compared to most of the craft beer market. It appears as if their success and growth is now the issue, but they aren’t alone in this situation.

Along with Boston Beer Company, four out of the top five craft beer brands (in production volume) saw declines this last year. Fortune reported that Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Craft Brewer’s Alliance (owns Redhook, Kona Brewing and more) all ceded share last year, with only Lagunitas seeing a slight growth. Lagunitas is 50% owned by Heineken which brings up an interesting angle.

It seems like there is a widening gap in the craft beer industry. On one side you have the hyper-local breweries and on the other side, you have craft breweries that are owned by big beer and therefore backed by big-beer-money. The little guys are considered “cool” and are heavily supported by their local communities and the bought out breweries have the resources. In fact, two craft breweries that were bought out by big beer, Ballast Point and Goose Island both saw growth this last year while many other breweries of their size didn’t. There may be a multitude of reasons for their growth but it’s hard to ignore the fact that once big-beer-money is behind a brewery there is an ability to spend millions on marketing as well as lower their price point on kegs and even in stores (except Sculpin…Ballast has locked that beer in a premium category where they can charge an insane $17-$18 a six pack on the East Coast).

This would leave the middle guys (big craft breweries but not “big beer”) in an awkward position. They aren’t as cool as the thousands of small breweries popping up in neighborhoods every year and they don’t have the cash to (pay to) play with the big dogs.

Local, Local, Local…

This past year in San Diego, we have heard two larger breweries describe “hyper-local” craft beer as one of the reasons for their slower than expected growth. Stone and Green Flash both talked about the increased competition from hyper-local breweries being a factor in their less-than-expected growth and subsequent layoffs this past year. While both of these brands are highly respected within the industry, maybe they are hitting that “middle zone.” Stone and Green Flash are big dogs in San Diego but still small when it comes to the overall beer market and it’s hard for them to compete with the cheaper kegs, giant distribution channels and million dollar marketing budgets of big beer. Add in the increased competition from super local brands and it’s understandable why it can be hard being stuck in the middle.

Expanding the area where your beer is available raises an interesting issue. For example, expanding into Orange County and Northern California are goals for many small San Diego breweries, but our local brands are outsiders beyond the borders of San Diego. What happens when after beating the “drink local” drum for years, your beer is no longer “local?” Thorn Street, along with numerous other smaller breweries that are poised to move beyond San Diego county distribution, are about to find out.

Stone and Green Flash made a savvy move with the opening of breweries in Virginia (Richmond and Virginia Beach respectively). Along with all of the other reasons that it makes sense to open up breweries across the country, they have to win over craft beer consumers in their local area and it’s much easier to do that when your beer is “brewed locally.”

Where Does Boston Beer Go From Here?

Who knows what will bring Boston Beer Co. back to their former glory. Will it be by focusing on their classic brands like Sam Adams Boston Lager and Rebel IPA? Maybe instead of focusing on recapturing the consumers who are already craft beer drinkers and have moved on to “craftier” beers, they should focus on bringing macro-beer drinkers over to the “dark side.” Their beers are easy-drinkers that paved the way for many craft beer palates. With such a huge market of macro-beer drinkers out there, the pool to pull from is huge. Craft beer is still only 21% of the overall beer market. Maybe it’s up to Sam Adams and all craft breweries, really, to figure out a way to convert just some of the other 80%. The beer drinking market is there for the taking, we just have to find a way to tap into it.




russian Imperial Family sitting for a photograph in black and white

The Royal Beginnings of Imperial Beer

Imperial Ales have been popping up on beer menus across the U.S. with more and more frequency. One question we get asked a lot here at Thorn Street is, “What’s an imperial beer?” Whether you are ordering an imperial stout, an imperial IPA or an imperial red ale, it all means one thing: more. More hops, more malt and more ABV. Before we get into exactly what this beer style is, let’s take a look at where it all began.

Peter The Great Big Lush

Imperial style beers came into this world after a trip that Russian Czar, Peter the Great, took to England in 1698. He fell in love with the roasted, malty quality of the Porters that were popular in London at the time and decided he couldn’t live without it. After he returned to Russia, he sent for some porter to be shipped to the Russian Imperial Court, but by the time the beer arrived, it had spoiled. Never ones to give up, London brewers decided to up the hops and ABV in the next barrels of beer they sent over in the hopes that they would keep over the 1000 mile voyage.

Thankfully, it worked and the beer arrived in Russia in all its dark and complex glory. The beer was an immediate sensation in the Russian Imperial Court, which is how it became known as ‘Imperial Russian Stout.’ Stout, at the time, was just a stronger style of porter, hence the use of the term in the naming of this style of beer.

San Diego-Style Imperials

While the imperial style started out as a porter, the craft brew renaissance has brought about imperial versions of almost every style. Perhaps the most common style here in San Diego is the imperial IPA. From Green Flash’s West Coast IIPA to Alpine’s Pure Hoppiness, San Diego breweries have helped to define what an imperial IPA is.  Here at TSB, we have our own imperial IPA called The Menace, which truly is a menace in that it’s an incredibly easy to drink 10% beer. We also have a Russian Imperial Stout, called Dark Tsar that is 10.4% and Alpenglow, an Imperial red ale which won a silver medal at the World Beer Cup in 2016.

Imperials vs. Doubles

Another question we get a lot here at TSB is, “Are imperial ales and doubles the same thing?” The answer is yes, double and even triple IPAs are simply ways to say “more hops, more malts, and more alcohol.” The terms are pretty interchangeable, though double/triple is most often used in terms of IPAs here in the states. Furthermore, the U.S. craft beer movement is heavily influenced by Belgian beer where there are dubbels, trippels, and quads. They also refer to the beer being a bigger version itself, with more hops, malts, and increased ABV. Their origins, like most beer history, are somewhat murky but one theory is that it has to do with Trappist Monks marking two, three and four X’s on a bottle of beer to denote how strong it was and what number of beer it was that they made of a series.

So now you guys don’t have to wonder! Imperial IPAs are the same as double IPAs and it’s all thanks to Peter the Great…or is it the Trappist Monks? One thing is for certain, beer has a rich and complex history, much like the taste of a delicious Russian Imperial Stout.

a choice of 5 different beers

A Matter of Choice

A Matter of Choice

With the recent reports that craft beer sales are slowing, many are left wondering if the golden bubble is finally bursting. No industry could keep the year over year growth that craft beer has seen these last ten years. If you look closer at the numbers, the picture becomes a bit clearer as to why sales numbers are down from what they were projected to be, based on previous years. Here’s the numbers from 2015, and while 12.8% growth is nothing to sneeze at, that number is down from 18% volume growth in 2014. Recent reports from the biggest craft breweries like Samuel Adams, Craft Beer Alliance, and New Belgium show less-than-projected growth for the 2016 year.

chart showing craft beer growth for 2015

Too Much Choice?

Ironically, even AB InBev has an opinion on the recent slowdown of craft beer growth. CEO Carlos Britos was explaining the beer giant’s less than expected growth in the 3rd quarter and remarked about the lower than expected numbers.

“Our customers are thinking, ‘how much more of an assortment can you carry?'” Brito said. Turning to consumers, Brito said they were “a bit tired of choice and go for fewer brands”.

This comment is rich coming from a company that actively has tried to decrease choice for craft beer consumers through their (now defunct) incentive-based programs to their distributors. It’s like they are trying to will their wish for the future into existence.

I disagree wholeheartedly that craft beer consumers are sick of the amount of choices they see at a bar and beer store. In fact, while Brito is talking about choice in terms of brands of beer, if you look closer at the idea of choice, it appears that consumers are choosing the brands that offer MORE choices in styles and beers.

A Closer Look

Yes, the numbers have fallen, but a lot of that decline is because the biggest breweries which carry more weight in those figures have seen the biggest decline in volume. Maybe this volume decrease is because more and more craft beer drinkers are turning to hyper-local breweries? Smaller breweries have the ability to create a constantly innovative line-up of beers. In a way, Boston Beer Company is a victim of its own success. It’s such a pioneer in the industry and has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. However, with that level of growth comes the hindrance of big business. Also, the bigger Sam Adams gets, the perception of them being a craft beer seems to decrease. When there is so much choice at any given bar or brewery people are often turning to the newer, smaller brands.

Here at Thorn Street, we have a constant rotation of 15 beers on tap including many one-offs that will be later brewed on a bigger system, while others never will return. When people come and drink in our tasting room, as well as the hundreds of tasting rooms across San Diego, they are literally sipping the cutting edge of craft beer. Small breweries can think up a beer and have it brewed the next day. They can delve into unusual styles like Brett and Gose. There are fewer people to get approval from when trying new ideas. This leads to innovation because brewers are given more autonomy to brew their hearts’ desires.

So, no, Carlos Brito, craft beer drinkers are not sick of choice. They are moving on to more choice and are becoming savvier consumers. They are able to spot his comments as wishful thinking from a company who would love nothing more than to cut down the amount of craft beer choices available to people.


three beers sitting on a wooden table in pint glasses

San Diego Beer Week is Here!!

The best week for San Diego craft beer is finally here!! In its 7th year, San Diego Beer Week is a celebration of San Diego’s rich craft beer culture. This week is a time for breweries, bars, and restaurants to pull out all the stops with events, tap takeovers, head-to-head competitions and more. With more than 130 breweries in San Diego putting on hundreds of beer events throughout the ten-day beer-fiesta, there is definitely something for everyone.

This is our favorite week of the year, here at Thorn Street Brewery. We get to pull out all the stops on events both inside the taproom as well as at bars and restaurants throughout San Diego county.

Events At Thorn Street Brewery

  • Sat 11/5 Venissimo Cheese and Beer Pairing – 1 pm – $30 – 5 by 5 pairing with discussion and Q&A with Brew Master Eric O’Connor and cheese expert Rob Graff from Venissimo.
  • Sun 11/6 Nomad Donuts and Beer Pairing – 11 am – $20 – 3 by 3 pairing with entry into a raffle for exclusive merch from both places. Here’s the planned menu:
    FOREPLAY – paired with Caramelized Pear Jam / FORNICATION Goat Cheese / Toasted Walnuts
    PROFESSOR XPA – paired with Carnitas Snack Shack Carnitas, Corn, and Cheddar Meat Pie / BARRIO LAGER Jalapeno Glaze
    COCONUT PORTER – paired with Banana Custard / 007 PALE Caramel Glaze

    This event is now sold out, but we do have a few tickets available to buy on the day-of, so if you missed out on presale tickets, get down here by 11 am on Sunday to claim a walk-in ticket!

  • Mon 11/7 Truffle and Beer Pairing– 4-8 pm – $11 – 2 by 2 pairing featuring Abbey Wall Belgian Dubbel with an Apple Pie Truffle and Castaway Coconut Porter paired with a rum, coconut, and caramel truffle.
  • Tues 11/8 Belgian Beer Night – 5 pm – no ticket needed – 6 Belgians on tap along with a sour blend.
  • Thurs 11/10 IPA Lounge – 5:30 pm – no ticket needed – 10 IPAs on tap up in the back including a new series for single hop IPAs, Got Galaxy?, Got Amarillo? and Got Simcoe? and you can mix the IPAs to make-your-own- IPA blend!
  • Sat 11/12 Carnitas’ Snack Shack Beer Brunch – 11-2 pm – $35  – Seven courses of heaven along with 2 pints or 4 half-pints that are suggested pairings with the different items.

1. Bacon and Housemade Sausage
2. Fried Chicken Biscuit and Gravy – pair with Tropic Daze IPA
3. Churro French Toast with Boozy Whipped Cream and Fruit – pair with Coconut Porter
4. Breakfast Enchiladas Suizas – pair with Smuggler’s Cove Amber
5. Hash cake
6. Smoked Pork with Apple Slaw
7. Spicy Steak Scramble with tomato, pickled serrano peppers, and chipotle aioli – pair with Relay IPA

Events Around San Diego

We have more than 10 events out and about in San Diego so make sure to carve out some time for these events:

Fri – Nov 4th – Crushed – Thorn St vs. Duck Foot
Thorn Street and Duck Foot are Battling Head to Head in a Blind Taste Test where YOU decide who has the better beer!

Sun – Nov 6th – OB Noodle House Bar 1502 – 6 pm – Meet the Brewer

Sun – Nov 6th – The Holding Company OB – Afroman w/ Pat Hilton performing – 8 pm

Mon – Nov 7th – FootGolf Tournament – Mission Bay Golf Course – $30 per twosome

Tues – Nov 8th – West Coast BBQ – Tap Takeover and Meet the Brewer 6 pm

Wed – Nov 9th – OB Noodle House & Sake Bar – Tap Takeover and Meet the Brewer

Wed – Nov 9th – Glow Ball Tournament at Loma Club with Kings of the North IPA Tasting – $35 – North Park vs. North County!

Wed – Nov 9th – Kona Kai Resort Five Course Beer Dinner – Meet the Brewer

Call for reservations – 619-221-8000

Thurs – Nov 10th – Hamilton’s Fling (Sold out)

Thurs – Nov 10th – Main Tap Tavern Cask Night – 7 pm

Fri – Nov 11th – Regal Beagle Burger Night – $11 for a TSB beer and delicious burger

Sun – Nov 13th – Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines – The beer event to end all beer events. Tickets still available for $85 and it’s totally worth it!


girl in red shirt pouring beer into a taster glass at the GABF

GABF…Here we come!

GABF…Here we come!

Denver better be ready for a massive influx of of beer, beards and breweries, because this weekend marks one of the most exciting craft beer events of the year. The Great American Beer Festival, also known as GABF, is the ultimate craft beer weekend with more than 3,800 different beers being poured by 780 breweries and attendance expecting to top 60,000.

hundreds of beer festival attendees at the great american beer fest

Luckily, Denver is ready and waiting. Now that the festival is in its 10th year, it sells out within an hour of offering up tickets to the public and is buoyed by more than 200 local events leading up to this beer-soaked weekend. No ticket? No problem, because tons of people travel to Denver this weekend and enjoy events without tickets to the fest at all. Eater Denver recently outlined 10 must-attend events that don’t require a GABF tickets including high-end beer dinners, a barrel aged beer competition and an annual Beer Drinker of the Year contest where the winner can win free beer for life at Wynkoop Brewery. Joining all of our brewers and sales team this year are the winners of our first ever GABF giveaway, Toni and Terri! We couldn’t be more excited to share the experience with them and look to hear from them about their take on the fest in a future blog piece.

The Competition

GABF is not only the ultimate tasting experience for attendees, but it’s also one of the most prestigious beer competitions in the nation. The World Beer Cup is the only beer competition that holds a candle to the GABF here in the states, though it’s every other year and includes international breweries. A medal at GABF is a huge accomplishment for any brewery, yet San Diego breweries cleaned up at last year’s competition. We are so proud of our SD homies who took home a cool 14 medals last year and our North Park tasting room neighbor, Rip Current, even won Very Small Brewing Company and Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year.


Our Beer Entries

Like all the breweries competing this year, TSB is hoping for a medal while also enjoying the opportunity to hang out with like-minded beer geeks. We sent off samples of our beers to be judged by their panel and will wait for the results at the awards ceremony on Saturday morning. We entered five beers into the competition; North Park Pale Ale, Smuggler’s Cove Agave Amber, Foreplay Belgian Blonde, Barrel Aged Dark Tsar and a special, American Brett Saison made with peaches, called Joe Pesch Brett. A lot goes into deciding which beer to send and what category to enter it in, but ultimately, we are really happy with the beers that we sent.


Good Vibes from Denver

We were recently featured in a write-up from the Denver Post as one of the Top Beer Picks from the Pacific Region. Here’s what they had to say…

On a recent weekend spent in the beer-Nirvana of San Diego, we hit the big names veterans like AleSmith, the beer-geek favorites like Societe, and the up-and-coming hot spots like Council Brewing, but the beer that left the most lasting impression on me was from a tiny neighborhood spot that I hadn’t heard of. After a couple days of pummeling my palate with IPAs, inky imperial stouts and acidic sour beers, it was the simple pils and a session IPA from Thorn Street Brewery that I remember most fondly. The latter brew was so sticky and dank it made my eyes water, and I couldn’t get enough.”

We will be live streaming the awards from TSB this Saturday at 10 am at the brewery. So, wish us luck this weekend, and look for our blog piece next week with the wrap-up from the festival.


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 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

Making Beer Dreams Come True: What’s On Draft Season Two


Some say that craft beer takes itself too seriously. The stereotype of bearded hipsters solemnly sipping on barrel aged Imperial Stout while quietly discussing its merits and follies is one that has fully permeated the craft beer industry. Luckily, there are two beer dudes who are are not only serious about the craft but are serious about having a great time too.

Tom Keliinoi and Aaron Mayer are two best friends who also love craft beer. Tom is a native San Diegan who worked for years in the entertainment industry in L.A. before moving back to San Diego and working for Acoustic Ales, where his bestie, Aaron, is head brewer.  They began working on their idea for a web series devoted to the love of craft beer which became, What’s On Draft.

What’s On Draft Season One brings viewers behind the scenes in some of San Diego’s hottest craft breweries. Tom and Aaron filmed segments with brewers and industry insiders talking about the beer, the brewery’s story as well as tastings of specific beers from the brewery. They take viewers behind the scenes and show parts of breweries that most patrons rarely see.

One of my favorite segments is at Alpine Beer Company. Tucked up in the mountains, an hour’s drive East of San Diego proper, Alpine Beer Co. makes some of the best beer in San Diego. Learning more about how this brewery operates as well as hearing funny insider stories makes for a highly enjoyable viewing that gives watchers a never before seen perspective on this small but influential brewery.

They also showcase some hilarious and topical short films like, Beards of Love, a satirical look at the ubiquity of beards in the brewing industry.

The cool thing about What’s On Draft is that these guys not only want to talk about craft beer, but they know the industry inside and out. That means that they know the right questions to ask in an interview, they are respected by brewery insiders and they understand the craft beer industry as a whole. But they aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves and craft beer, making their film shorts the perfect antidote to the perception that craft beer takes itself too seriously.

Now, Tom and Aaron are looking for funding for their second season and have a Kickstarter campaign up and running. They need your help to make the second season a reality and that means donating even a few $$ to their campaign. There are some really cool rewards set up for backers, so head over to their Kickstarter page and take a look.

On Saturday, June 25th, at 3 pm we will be holding a Viewing Party for What’s on Draft here at TSB. They will be showing segments and clips from their first season, holding a raffle with awesome prizes and hanging out, sharing a beer with you! We couldn’t be happier to support such a noble (and maybe a little self serving) cause so we hope you will join us to help them reach their goal and put out more craft beer videos.

For more information head on over to their Kickstarter page or their website!

Anna Brigham


ShoreRider Catches a Wave in La Jolla Shores

La Jolla just got a dose of summer…Opening this weekend is the newest beach hangout on the block, ShoreRider. This laid-back eatery sits just a couple of blocks from La Jolla Shores, features a sun-soaked patio and offers wine, craft beer and SoCal inspired beach fare. The vibe ShoreRider gives off is simple…everyday feels like summer.


Owners, Darren and Lauren Moore (from Confidential, Lincoln Room, Alibi Mission Gorge and La Puerta) and Dennis O’Connor (from Thorn Street Brewery and Home & Away) bring years of combined experience to this new project and recently answered some burning questions about their new spot.


What was the concept behind ShoreRider?

Dennis, Darren & Lauren – The concept behind ShoreRider is to be an extension of the beach – casual and fun, where life is simple. We want people to bring their friends & family and have a day at the beach with us. Great food, cold beers, delicious wine, sangria, poke, local fish, a top-notch burger, and the list goes on. We do have a strict dress code though…you have to wear a smile.


What would you say is the design aesthetic of ShoreRider?

Dennis – I like to say “Paul Pinterest” designs all of my spaces. Thorn St, H&A, and the Rider are all born from a great team and ongoing collaboration efforts. No plan except an open mind, hard work and thorough execution. I think you need to start with a blank canvas and chip away at details as you go. Let the space speak to you. 


What drew you to La Jolla Shores?

Darren & Lauren – La Jolla Shores is beautiful.  The soul of La Jolla resides here. The people are amazing and the opportunity to be right off of the beach is great. We look forward to helping spread the word about the gem that is The Shores. We hope ShoreRider can bring some character and a unique element to the community here.


Dennis – I was born and raised in San Diego and spent a lot of time at the Shores. My dad, Patrick O’Connor, is a retired lifeguard and that was his beach from ’69 – ’77. I learned how to surf at The Shores as a kid, and this beach and the cove go back as far as my memories do. When the opportunity presented itself, the only answer was “f*ck ya!”


What do you want ShoreRider to be known for?

Dennis, Darren & Lauren – The most fun place in La Jolla Shores! ShoreRider is a community sandbox. Locals gets to enjoy their home with everyday pricing and tourists get a taste of what San Diego is really all about. We also want to thank our all-star friends/crew who helped bring ShoreRider to life:

Brittany Lang – BL Design

Pat Wilkening – RedCraft Customs –

Jimi ‘The Welder’

Daniel, Jose, the Pastor, and cousins

Jonathan Frank

Joe Ebner



So get your summer started and stop by ShoreRider! It’s kid and dog friendly (as long as they don’t pee on the floor) and has a full menu of beach-eats including poke, nachos, wraps, guacamole, fresh salads, handcrafted burgers and more. Check out their expansive menu here.


With so much heart and soul going into ShoreRider, it’s “shore” to be a summer-loving good time!




2168 Avenida De La Playa (199 steps from the beach)

La Jolla, CA





Open daily -11am – Close