Scotty surfing surf thorn brewing

Surfing & Beer with Scotty Kaplan

Here at Thorn Brewing, our people are just as important to our success as the quality of our beer. We take great pride in how we serve our customers, how we create the beers and also we get excited about our Tribe’s successes outside of the brewery.

The Fest

Coming up on May 12th, Scotty Kaplan, one of our founding brewers and OG bartenders is competing in the Shaper Festival of Surfing presented by Vans. The Shaper Surf Festival is a unique competition because all competitors are riding on boards that they shaped themselves. This is the 5th annual fest and promises to be the best one yet.

The Surfer

Recently, we caught up with Scotty behind the bar at Thorn North Park and got a chance to ask him some questions about how surfing and beer have shaped his life.

1. When did you start surfing?

I grew up in Long Island New York a few miles from the beach. I started bodyboarding when I was eight and in a short time, I was standing up on my bodyboard. When I was 13, I entered the North East bodyboarding regionals and got third place. After the contest one of the judges came up to me and said, “Great job kid, tell your dad to buy you a surfboard you are ready!” I conveyed the message to my dad and on the way home from the contest we stopped off at Bunger Surf Shop and I was able to pick out my very first surfboard, a used 7’6″ Bahne. From then on I was hooked.
Back then, I didn’t look at surfing as a competitive sport because it was more about camaraderie. Surfing in a NY winter in 37° water and 2 feet of snow on the ground required a certain mindset. If you found somebody as dedicated and as crazy as you, who was willing to endure the elements, you wanted to be friends with that person. When I was 16, I worked at a surf shop, Lido Surf, and Sport. The owners at the time wanted to push the young talent and the sport of surfing in NY. They organized a shop contest and I unwillingly entered and lost in the first round.
That would be the last surfing contest I entered until roughly 24 years later when in 2016 I get a text from my friend saying he entered me in the OB Surf Classic and he paid my entry. I didn’t really want to surf in the contest since I was more of a soul-surfer but I didn’t want to chicken out. For shits and giggles, I surfed in the contest and got second place. I was stoked!  I was determined to return the following year and win the 2017 Ob Surf Contest. I entered and won the 40+ longboard division. A month later, I entered the Shaper self-shape surf festival open longboard division. Luckily, I squeaked out another first place win. A couple of months later, I entered the Takayama Pro-am. I lost in the first round to one of my favorite surfers, Andy Nieblas. I was slightly bummed out but also determined to win at the pro level so I spent the last year of working on new moves, style, dialing in my equipment, and physical conditioning. Now, I’m 25 lbs leaner, 41 years old, and when most people have plateaued, I am progressing at the fastest rate in my life.

2. When and how did you start working at Thorn?

I started working at Thorn Street Brewery in December of 2012 when it first opened. I got hired on as one of two assistant brewers. After hard work and on-the-job training, I became the head brewer. I had homebrewed before working at Thorn, though. Inspired by Ale Smith’s Speedway Stout, I brewed my first homebrew batch in 2008. I don’t really homebrew anymore but I have been known to dust off my brewing-boots and brew a small batch at Thorn now an again.

3. Is Brother Scotty’s IIIPA your recipe?

Brother Scotty’s is not my recipe, exclusively. Just named after me in honor of the hard work and dedication to the craft. Also, Brother Scotty was the last beer that I brewed as the head brewer at Thorn Street Brewery. Now, I am the friendly face behind the bar so that I have more time to shape boards. Many of the beers at Thorn were created by a couple of brewers putting their heads together and trying to make the best beer possible. Two great minds are better than one.

4. When and why did you start shaping boards?

As a kid, I was inspired by a local shaper named Paolo Bianchinotti. I was his first team rider. I moved out to SD in 1999. A few years later, Paolo also moved to SD. Fortunately for myself, he took the time out of his day to show me some of the basic surfboard shaping skills. I shaped my first surfboard in a little shack I built on the side of my house in PB in 2002. Now that I reflect on that shape, The rails were asymmetrical, not by design, and the rocker was slightly off, but the board rode magically because I made it with my own hands.

5. Why is the Shaper Fest important to you?

The 2018 Self-shape surf contest is special to me because I was given the opportunity to surf a surfboard I handmade and a fin I designed against some of the world’s best surfing shapers.
I am bringing two boards to the contest this year. A 9-foot performance longboard which can be ridden as a tri-fin or a single fin and a 96 single fin spoon just in case the waves are small.

6. Are there any similarities to surfing and craft beer?

There are a few similarities between surfing, shaping boards, and brewing.
First, if you want to be good, you have to put the time, hard work, and determination.
You also have to be creative. Plus, after a good surf session, there is no better way to relax than watching the sunset and drinking a good beer.

7. What do you think the future holds for you and surfing?

Hopefully, I can do well in this surf contest and prove to the world that my surfboard designs work at the highest level. If somehow this year I fall short, I’ll be back next year even more determined with new moves and a more developed surfboard.

Join The Fun

This year’s Shaper Surf Fest is shaping up to be the best one yet! There will be food from Shake Shack and Hello Betty Fish House and live bands all day long, including:

Address: SEASIDE REEF | 2526 S. COAST HWY 101 | ENCINITAS, CA 92075

If you’re a fan of surfing, the Thorn Tribe, or just want a fun day at the beach, come on out to the Shaper Surf Festival on May 12th!
thorn beer thorn brewing

Celebs Can’t Get Enough Thorn Beer

Hot Trend Alert: Hollywood A-Listers are obsessed with Thorn beer! Moving north from the sleepy little hamlet of San Diego, Thorn beer is making a huge splash in Los Angeles! Celebrities all over Hollywood are sending their assistants to flock to local liquor and beer stores to get their hands on the newest trend to hit La La Land. There are many claims to how this elixir will help make your life better, but here are some of the biggest benefits of drinking Thorn Beer from some of the world’s biggest stars…

Superior Hydration For Workouts

Dwayne The Rock Johnson has taken over Hollywood to become the manliest leading man in a town full of leading men. He was recently seen leaving a heated Zumba class with an ice-cold Rock the Pale Ale. Other than its entirely unproven hydration benefits (beer is 93% water!), when asked why Rock the Pale is his favorite workout beverage, The Rock said, “Can you smell what The Rock is drinking?” and then he followed with, “It smells great; with hoppy, citrus notes. Just a really fresh beer.” 

Helps You Live Your Better Life

We were just as surprised as you are to see that The Big O was drinking our Relay IPA during the Gold Globes this year. In her never-ending quest to live her best life, she doesn’t usually drink alcohol, but she made an exception for the refreshing 4-hop West Coast-style IPA. When the Magnificant O was asked about her beverage of choice she said, “Be thankful for what BEER you have; you’ll end up having more BEER. If you concentrate on what BEER you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough BEER.”  Whoa…that’s totally heavy.

Stop Wrinkles In Their Tracks

While the queen of the Kardashian Empire rarely promotes products, she stepped out recently with a cold can of Thorn Foreplay Belgian Blonde. This dark haired beauty is famous for saying that she doesn’t drink alcohol so when the paparazzi approached her, surprised at her beverage choice, she said, “I do drink beer…even Foreplay Belgian Blonde on occasion…Not too often though because it causes wrinkles.” 

Makes You Incredibly Handsome and Charming

Ryan Reynolds is one of the most beloved celebrities in Hollywood. Men want to be him and women want to be with him. He makes everything he does look cool and that now includes drinking a can of Barrio Baja-Style Lager. When we approached this dimpled god to ask him why he drinks Barrio Lager he said, “Are you stalking me? Because that would be super. Can you drop off a case of this lager at my house on your way home? Great.” Sure thing, Ryan, just give us your address…

Now that you have seen the most powerful celebrities in Hollywood drinking our beer it must make you want to run right out and buy some yourself. Lucky for you, it’s now available all throughout San Diego County, the OC, and LA!

One last thing…

HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY! We love you, we love these celebrities and they, in no way, were drinking our beer (yet!) in these poorly photoshopped pics. We were just having a bit of fun on one of our favorite holidays of the year! But our beer will definitely be in LA and Orange County coming up in the next couple weeks so keep an eye out and you can always email for more info on where to get our beer.

beer week donuts

San Diego Beer Week with Thorn

It’s our favorite time of year…San Diego Beer Week! Being that San Diego is the Craft Beer Capital of the world, it’s our duty to make SD beer week the best beer week in the world. Here at Thorn, we take this responsibility very, very seriously. We pull out all the stops to bring you the best in beer events at both our North Park tasting room as well as throughout San Diego. Here’s a rundown of what we have going on during the next 10 days…


beer week events

Nomad Donuts Pairing:

11/4 12:30 – $25 (plus tax) for the 4×4 pairing with 2 donuts and 2 wood-fired bagels. We not only pair each treat with a beer but Kristiana Zabala, the chef behind the creative concoctions at Nomad Donuts, uses a different, complimentary beer in the food. Yum! Find tickets here…

Mastiff Sausage Co. Pairing:

11/5 12:30 – $30 (plus tax) for a 5×5 course featuring delectable dishes from Mastiff Sausage Co.! Tickets available here

Here’s a peek at the menu…

Course One

Savory Rye Bread Pudding

Toasted Rye Bread, Mastiff Breakfast Sausage, Wild Arugula, Cheddar Cheese

Abbey Wall Belgian Dubbel

Course Two

Sausage Taco

House Made Al Pastor Sausage, Charred Scallion Crema, Cotija Cheese, Red Cabbage, Tomatillo, Cilantro

Barrio Baja-Style Lager

Course Three

Fall Vegetable Hash

Potato and Butternut Hash, Brussels Sprouts, Green Peppers, Creme Fraiche

Chilicabra Pale Ale

Course Four

Chicken Coconut Curry

House Made, Chicken Curry Sausage, Heirloom Rice, Red Pepper Coulis, Candied Peanuts

Got Nelson? IPA

Course Five

German Chocolate Cake

Rich Chocolate Cake, Coconut, Brown Sugar Frosting

Cocomotive Coconut Porter

Truffles & Beer Pairing:

11/5 5:30 – $12 (plus tax) for 2×2 pairing featuring 2 handmade truffles using two of our beers, paired with that beer! You can come in anytime between 5:30 and 9 pm to get your pairing. Get your tickets here…

Venissimo Cheese Pairing:

11/11 1 pm – $30 (plus tax) for a 5×5 pairing (with something extra too) and an afternoon chatting with Rob Graff from Venissimo and Eric O’Connor, Brew Master here at Thorn. Tickets available here…


11/8 Beer Trivia with America’s Finest Trivia at 7 pm

11/9 IPA LOUNGE at 5:00 features 10 of our IPAs on tap in our back room making for a hoptastic evening!


beer week calendar

Don’t forget about all the events we are participating in around town! For a full list, check out our events calendar on our website.

We hope to see you for San Diego Beer Week! Please contact for any questions about our events.


5 Things I Learned at GABF

5 Things I learned at GABF 2017

The Great American Beer Festival was held this past weekend in Denver, filling the city with more than 60,000 people ready to celebrate the wonderful elixir that is craft beer. 800 breweries from across the country attended, pouring 3,900 beers for thirsty attendees. There were almost 8000 beers entered in the competition, in 98 style categories. With so much beer to drink in so little time, the Thorn team knew that we had our work cut out for us. Attending this year was me, Jay Jones (sales), Eric Shelley (NP head brewer) and Scott Smith (Barrio Head Brewer). While it was my first year attending the fest, the other three are seasoned veterans. Other than being an insanely fun weekend filled with craft beer, delicious food, and…other enjoyments, there are five things that I learned about GABF which make this festival bucket-list-worthy.

Denverites Are Absurdly Nice

While the city of Denver is really pretty and clean, what was most notable about the city was how incredibly nice the residents were. Now I like to think that San Diegans are nice and helpful, but we don’t hold a candle to Denverites. Not sure where you are going and looking at your iMaps to figure it out? No problem, someone will stop and ask if you need help with the directions. This happened at least 4 times. Yes, maybe we were lost more than the average bear, but the Uber app is very confusing when it comes to pick-up points! People sitting at tables beside us in the restaurant were always friendly and offering advice. The staff from the breweries, restaurants, and bars that we visited were incredibly accommodating and just friendly. And that goes for the whole city…just super friendly people all around.

So Much Beer, So Little Time

This sentiment goes not only for the actual GABF festivals but also the surrounding watering holes. There is so just much great beer. At the fest, the hall is so huge, I’m pretty sure there are parts that we didn’t even get to, even though we walked and walked around tasting beers. One ounce pours at each booth made it so you could taste more beers than a normal festival, but even then, with 3,900 beers pouring, it was nearly overwhelming. When not working the fest, we set out to experience Denver’s beer scene. We hit up Recess Beer Garden for a kick-ass food and craft brews, Star Bar for live music and more beer, Prost Brewing, Denver Brewing Co., The Source, and Trve Brewing Co. for some damn fine sours.

Awesome Volunteers

One thing that really struck me (and maybe this goes along with Denverites being nice) was that all of the volunteers working the festival were awesome. Whether they were pouring our beer and learning all they could about the brewery so they could be the best ambassadors or they were trying to keep the brewers and festival attendees safe by patrolling the stairs leaving the venue (I guess sliding down the bannister was a beloved and dangerous pastime of festival goers), they did so with humor and grace. They had so many volunteers you could always find one when you need one, and the festival organizers treated the volunteers well, making the whole event enjoyable and a real party-like atmosphere.

Shame is the Name of the Game

One of the funniest aspects of the fest was immediately apparent on the first night. I was sipping on some fine craft beer and all of a sudden I heard a huge rise in the crowd noise. Every few minutes you could hear the crowd start cheering/booing and in a venue that huge with so many thousands of people it was certainly loud. Turns out, like a lot of fests, when someone drops their taster glass the whole crowd around starts cheering and pointing. When it happens at GABF, it’s a hole other ballgame based on the sheer size of the crowd. Yes, you are getting shamed by hundreds if not thousands of people at once, but it lends to the party atmosphere of the whole event and somehow turns the embarrassment of dropping your glass into the entry to an exclusive club of slippery fingered people. Thanks to What’s on Draft for capturing the madness on video…

Brewers Are Romantics

Saturday morning was the Awards Ceremony. There is an electricity in the air as brewers file into the huge conference room, hoping to bring home one (or more) of the nearly 300 medals given out in 98 different style categories. The IPA category is always the most popular one with more than 400 entries, so in an effort to keep the hall filled with brewers until the end, they announce it last. While Thorn didn’t bring home a medal this year, lots of our San Diego beer-brethren did and we were super excited for them, cheering extra loud whenever an SD brewery pulled a medal (14 in all!). But the sweetest moment of the awards ceremony came when a brewer from Wibby Brewing, from CO, got down on one knee, on stage, after winning an award and proposed to his girlfriend. The ceremony stopped for a moment as all of the hardened, beer-soaked, brewers cheered like crazy as the two lovebirds celebrated the proposal. She said yes, thank goodness because that would have been awkward otherwise, and after a few moments, the ceremony continued.

The Proposal from WhatsOnDraft on Vimeo.

All in all, the weekend was a huge success. Coming together with brewers from all over the country was an incredible time and one that we are only just now recovering from. If you are a serious craft beer fan, I would highly recommend making the trip to at least one GABF in your lifetime, not only for the fun that can be had in Denver and GABF but also for the awesome people you will meet throughout the entire weekend.


wine tasting in the valle

Just Another Day in the Valle

One of the coolest things about living here in San Diego is our close proximity to Mexico. From the brewery, it’s a 15-minute drive to the border and from there the possibilities of international fun are endless. Superb food, delicious wine, craft beer, warm people and a scenic drive are all waiting for you in Baja, so grab your passport and use this day-trip itinerary that the Thorn crew recently followed in Mexico.

Mexican Insurance is Your Friend

heading to the valle

First things first, you’ve got to get Mexican insurance before heading across the border. Most American insurances will not cover you down there and you don’t want to have to foot the bill for both your damage and any damage you might cause. Mexican insurance is cheap and it’s easy to get. There are tons of places to stop at the border before you drive across. Our favorite is Baja-Mex, which is right by the outlet mall at the border, because not only can you get coverage there but you also can exchange your dollars into pesos. You can also buy get coverage through their website from the comfort of your own home, print out the documents and you are good to go. The exchange rate was 17.8 pesos to $1 when we went. To quickly calculate costs, just divide the cost of something (in pesos) by 17.8 and you will get the dollar cost of whatever you are buying. We were quickly taken care of by Chuy, the owner, and were off on our way within minutes.

Food First

dona estela in the valle

When setting out on a day of drinking, it’s always a good idea to put down a good base first.  There is no better place to get an authentic Mexican meal than La Cocina Dona Estela. This family-owned restaurant is at the end of a long dirt road in the Valle de Guadalupe. The restaurant is spacious with plenty of seating and while it doesn’t have AC, it does have lots of fans that keep it cooler in there than the 100 degrees it was outside when we got there. The highlights of the meal were the rojo chilaquiles, nopales, fresh tortillas, hand-squeezed lemonade and if you are feeling frisky in the morning, the sangria. Also, when you sit down they bring you a heap of freshly made tortilla chips, salsa, and queso fresco to get you started. The restaurant is surrounded by a bevy of animals like pigs, cows, and goats and we were treated to the incredibly enjoyable sight of pigs swimming on our way out.

Wine Next

wine tasting in the valle

After filling up on Dona Estela’s delicious food it was time to start wine tasting. Valle de Guadalupe is home to over 151 wineries ranging from small family-owned wineries to expansive wine-focused resorts. Being that this was a quick day-trip and we had plans in Tijuana at 5 pm, we decided to hit up 2-3 stops for wine. We started out at Adobe Guadalupe, a winery that is also a horse farm which happens to be the largest breeder of Azteca Sporthorses in the world. This winery is in a church type building and is air conditioned, which is a major bonus on a hot summer day. The wines were really tasty, especially the Bordeaux, and only $10 for a tasting of 5 wines.

Next, we headed to Monte Xanic (pronounced Monte Shaneek) for the next round of wine tasting. This winery is perched up on a hill and has probably one of the best views of the Valle. While not air conditioned, it’s hilltop location meant that there was a nice breeze that came through as we tasted away. Again, the tastings were a smashing deal at $10 for 6 tastings of both reds and whites. 

More Food

Any trip to the Valle isn’t complete until you stop at Finca Altozano from renowned chef, Javier Plascencia. This expansive, open-air restaurant has beautiful views of the Valle and some of the best food we’ve had anywhere. What’s cool about this place is that rather than just having one brand of wine to taste, they have an extensive wine and craft beer list from the local wineries and breweries. We settled on bottles of a dry Rose that was chilled and refreshing. Maybe it was that we were finally acclimating to the temperature or maybe it was that this was our third stop of th day but even though it was 100+ degrees, sitting on their deck sipping wine in the shade was relaxing and comfortable. The food was the star here, though. Our favorite dishes were the grilled octopus, handmade sausages, grilled corn, octopus ceviche, ahi tostada and their freshly baked bread with 4 different sauces of varying degrees of heat. The grilled octopus was definitely the must-have dish of the meal, with a savory, wine and butter sauce that was to-die-for.

Xolos Fever

Finally, we headed back to Tijuana for the last stop in our Baja day-trip, a Club Tijuana soccer game. For many of us, it was our first time at a Xolos game and it really was a blast. The huge red and black stadium arose out of a packed parking lot filled with tailgaters and bands. Not Mariachi bands, though, more like small vagabond marching bands which were jamming all throughout the parking lot, lending a celebratory feel even before entering the stadium. Once inside the stadium, it was impossible not to be caught up in the general excitement that was flows through the crowd. The soccer game was entertaining, but perhaps one of the best things at the game was La Masakr3, or the Massacre, which is a group of rabid fans that sit behind one of the goals. They literally never stopped moving the entire game. Whether flag waving, fist pumping or clapping, they moved to the intoxicating beat of multiple drums that would kick any drum circle’s ass from our hippie college days. In fact, it’s rumored that if the fans in this section stop moving, they get poked or are asked to leave, so they take their cheering pretty seriously.

Bonus: on our walk back to the van from the game, we came across a random zoo or big cat enclosure. There were tigers, white tigers, jaguars and more, all within arms reach and without the pesky safety enclosures that American zoos have in place. You could literally walk right up to the cages and if you are dumb enough stick your fingers through. I think that they are owned by Agua Caliente but it’s unclear from my internet sleuthing.

So there you have it, an easy Baja day-trip itinerary that will leave you full of food, wine, and fun. The best part is that it was a quick crossing at the border at 10 pm on a Tuesday night and we were all tucked in our own beds by 11 pm. If you have a weekend to spend at the wineries, that’s even better, but it’s such an easy day-trip, don’t put it off if you are searching for the time.

Want to win a trip for 2 to tag along the next time we go to the Valle? Just sign up for our Facebook Messenger group at and type in the word “Valle” and you will be entered!

Big Ideas in Beer?

Craft beer is an industry built on creativity and imagination. Most of the time that creativity leads to tasty beer and innovative products, but other times it can leave you scratching your head and wondering, “What were they thinking?”

We thought we would give you a round-up of some of the most creative products we have seen recently, for better or for worse. All of these products raise the question of whether it’s a product meant to meet a real need or it’s a gimmick. Not that gimmicks are necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes the things done in fun and meant to be gimmicky ends having surprising legs (I’m looking at you Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout).

Shower Beer

shower beer gimmick

Shower beer is certainly not a new concept. In fact, enjoying a cold beer while taking a warm shower seems to be a universal activity that spans the world. This simple pleasure spawned the idea of Shower Beer by Swedish brewery Pang Pang and Snask Creative Agency. This beer is a 10% brew sold in 6 oz bottles to help kick start your night out. It’s meant to be a quick shower beer, though this might be the first sticking point for veteran shower beer lovers who want more than a couple of sips of beer. This has gimmick written all over it not only because it was co-created by an ad agency, but also, is it really filling a need? It seems that the ultimate shower beer might be any beer you love in a can. How can this be the ultimate shower beer when it comes in a glass bottle? Now that so many craft beers come in cans, it’s easier than ever to get your favorite brew into the shower. There’s even a website for people who love to drink beers in the shower: Their directions for drinking the perfect shower beer are short and sweet:

big idea

Mad Hops

This could be the product that no one asked for but might fill a need for some people; flavorings for cheap beer to make it taste like expensive beer. Not kidding. Wild Blueberry, Apple Amber, Mexican Lime, and Pale Ale are just a few of the flavorings Mad Hops offer that you can squeeze into “everyday” beer to make it taste like a craft beer. The Mad Hops marketing shows them transforming Coors Light into a delicious craft beer. The admittedly good reviews on Amazon highlight things like;

“It makes Bud taste like something from a local micro brewery. “

“People had a blast changing the regular old beer into a craft beer of their choice!”

“Completely transformed my cheap beer into a craft beer. So yummy and cheaper!

Craft beer is certainly more expensive (and for good reason). But maybe the people who would buy this product don’t have access to the plethora of amazing beer we have around here. In the end, there seems like there could be a market for this, but not likely in San Diego.

Fried Fried Chicken Chicken Beer

We’ve survived many strange beer ingredients over the years, some of which we blogged about in the past including, beard yeast, pizza, and bull testicles. Now, Veil Brewing and Evil Twin Brewery have collaborated to put out a beer called Fried Fried Chicken Double IPA, made with real pieces of fried chicken tenders from Chick-Fil-A.

Creative beer ingredients will always get a pass as long as they taste good. This beer is unabashedly a gimmick because the brewers fully admit the beer tastes nothing like fried chicken. In fact, it only has trace amounts of fried chicken in the beer, amounting to less than .4% of the total weight of mashed ingredients. People seem to be enjoying the beer for what it is, a hoppy double IPA bursting with Citra, Simcoe, and Enigma hops. The two breweries, meanwhile, get a huge boost in media exposure from the dubious idea of fried chicken in a beer.

Canvas Barley Milk

Brewers are often looking for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle their beer-waste. Now, a company called Canvas developed a product called Barley Milk made with the spent grains from breweries. They call it “saved” grains to gussy the name up a bit but it doesn’t sound like a half-bad idea. Lots of people will drink anything high in fiber and protein and we certainly can take the help with disposing of brewery waste. They currently sell their drinks on Kickstarter and have raised more than $40k towards their $25k goal. The only thing that makes me go hmmmm is that at the very bottom of their Kickstarter page, it says they are backed by AB InBev’s “global disruptive growth group,” Zx Ventures. It’s unclear why a company backed by a multi-billion dollar company need to use Kickstarter to fund their products, but only time will tell if this barley milk has any staying power.

In the end, these companies should be applauded for their boldness to try something new. Whether it’s a gimmick or not hardly matters if the company gets positive buzz created around their business. So congrats to these guys for boldly going where no brewer/company has gone before and having some fun while doing it.






Drinking Laws That Make You Go Hmmm?

Laws governing alcohol have always varied state by state with some more restrictive than others. Whether they are blue laws prohibiting sales of alcohol on Sundays and in some cases across whole dry counties, or less strict laws where the sale of hard alcohol is restricted to state-run liquor stores, states love to legislated the hooch.

Recently, a bill passed the Texas House of Representatives and is on its way to the state senate that would require breweries that make more than 225,000 barrels of beer a year to buy back their own beer from distributors, to serve in their tap rooms. Who would be pushing for this bill? Distributors and wholesalers, of course. While this bill defies common sense, they seemed to have convinced enough reps to vote in their favor. The only thing this bill would do would be to send more money to the wholesalers, cutting into the already narrow margins that most craft breweries face. While this only affects larger breweries (for scale, Stone produced about 325,000, in 2015, according to Wikipedia) at this point, the bill is still damaging to the craft beer community and would ultimately mean an increased cost in beer for consumers.

We’ll be keeping our eye on how this turns out for our craft beer friends over in Texas, but until then, here are four more state drinking laws that seem just as ridiculous…

1. Not So Happy Hour

Although happiness is not illegal, in 8 states including Massachusetts, Vermont, Utah, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Alaska, happy hours are banned. The laws were passed in these states in an effort to curb drunk driving, although the jury is still out on whether these laws have actually helped to do so. The ban on happy hours centers around not giving alcohol at a discount or away for free in deals like 2 for 1, but many establishments in these states are still able to offer happy hours, as long as it’s only for food discounts.

2. Horseback DUI

That’s right, in states such as Colorado, Michigan, and even here in California, it’s illegal to ride a horse on a public road while drinking. This law is aimed at the fact that horse and riders can cause major problems on roadways if not handled properly, but it does leave the question…if the horse isn’t drunk, then isn’t he your designated driver? In fact, a well-trained horse might be the first driverless vehicles around…suck it, Google.


3. No Touch in Nebraska

This law is all about protecting patrons at bars and restaurants. In Nebraska, it’s illegal for bar owners or employees to touch patrons. No hugging, kissing or patting anywhere near their “no-no square.” Not sure how this applies to spouses or girlfriends/boyfriends, but we are pretty that this law isn’t super enforced around the state.



4. How Young is Too Young?

This is truly the most surprising of the drinking laws that we found…In 8 states including, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming it’s actually legal for underage patrons to drink alcohol in a bar or restaurant as long as they are with their parents. Here in California, there is no serving to minors in any respect and it’s actually illegal to even serve alcohol to your kids in your own home. I’m a bit skeptical of the wisdom of letting parents decide whether their kids should be drinking at bars and restaurants, but I would guess that most people in these states don’t take advantage of these laws.

So to recap, some states decided that happy hour is too dangerous while others think it’s A-OK to serve kids alcohol as long as their parents are there. With the wide array of drinking laws on the books here in the U.S., it would be prudent to check up on the laws in your particular state. Remember, always drink responsibly and make sure you have a designated driver…as long as it isn’t your horse.

stranger beer with rocky mountain oyster

Stranger Brews: What’s In Your Beer?

Craft brewers love to experiment. Whether they’re home brewers or work at a major craft brewery, creativity is really at the heart of this industry. Brewers are always willing to push the envelope with styles of beer as well as ingredients. Purists will tell you that adding things like vanilla, chocolate or chili peppers to beer is unnecessary and in some cases, offensive, but others embrace the experimental nature of brewing and have fun with figuring out different ways to create their favorite beverage. Let’s take a look at five weird beers and their strange ingredients…

1. Bottled Instinct, 6/1% ABV (The Order of Yoni) 

While trying to come up with something witty and funny to write about this vagalicious beer I realized that nothing was better to describe this beer than the words on their website.  All typos are their own…

“Imagine woman of your dreams, your object of desire. Her charm, her sensuality, her passion… Try how she tastes, feel her smell, hear her voice… Now imagine her giving you a passionate massage and gently whispering anything you’d like to hear. Now free your fantasies and imagine all of that can be closed in a bottle of beer. A golden drink brewed with her lure and grace and flavored with wild instincts. Imagine a beer which every sip offers a rendez-vous with this hot woman of your dreams… she hugs you and kisses you gently, looking straight into your eyes… How much would you give for such a beer?

The secret of the beer lies in her vagina. Using hi-tech of microbiology, we isolate, examine and prepare lactic acid bacteria from vagina of a unique woman. The bacteria, lactobacillus, transfer woman’s features, allure, grace, glamour, and her instincts into beers and other products, turning them into dance with lovely goddess.”

Though they have very high standards for their models that they use in the Bottled Instinct campaign. “Every model in the beer project has to sign the contract with high penalty for working in adult industry, sex industry, as adult actress, escort, prostitute, etc., etc., etc.” Because vagina beer can’t get a bad rep…

2. Pisner Pilsner, Unknown ABV (Nørrebro Bryghus) 

A Danish brewery is taking upcycling to a whole new level by using human urine to help create a specialty beer lovingly dubbed, Pisner. In an effort to highlight what they are calling beer-cycling, this brewery used urine from a huge music festival in Denmark called Roskilde Music Festival. They gathered over 50,000 liters of urine and used it to fertilize the barley crops used to make this pilsner. The drug content of the festival urine alone should give one pause, but apparently, it makes for great fertilizer. This beer was made specifically to sell at this year’s 2017 festival as a way to utilize the immense amount of waste created by a fest of this size.

3. Beard Beer, 4.8% ABV (Rogue Ales)


Truthfully, one could write a whole blog on the topic of strange beer ingredients and never look any further than Rogue Ales. They have a true zest for experimentation and their Voodoo series uses ingredients like donuts, bacon, maple, pretzels, banana, and lemons. True to this spirit, this American Wild Ale is made with the hair of a beard. Not just any beard either, the beard of John Maier, Rogue Ale’s master brewer. Apparently, they were looking for a new source of yeast and someone joked that Maier’s beard would be a good yeast producer since it had been around for more than 15,000 brews and sure enough, a yeast was born from his facial hair and used to brew Beard Beer. This brew is actually reported to be really good and won a gold medal at the 2015 World Beer Championships in the category of wild American ale.

4. Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, 7.5% ABV (Wynkoop Brewing Company)


Sometimes the strange ingredient in a beer really does leave you scratching your, ahem, head. This beer, brewed in Denver at Wynkoop Brewing Company originally as an April fools joke, is described as a meaty, foreign-style stout made with Colorado base malts, roasted barley and 25 lbs of roasted bull testicles. People seem to like this beer though, regularly giving it a 7/10 or higher on This beer was so popular at the outset that it enjoys a limited release yearly and happens to be on tap right now in their tasting room.

Although we do like to make additions to some of our beers here at Thorn Street Brewery, you are more likely to see jalapenos in our Chilecabra Pale Ale, coconut in our Castaway Coconut Porter and one-off additions like cashews in our Smuggler’s Cove Agave amber, than beard yeast or bull testicles. We salute these beers, though, because without this constant push for creativity and experimentation, craft beer wouldn’t be as awesome as it is today.

Gangster or investigator or spy silhouette on natural wooden wal

Big Beer Caught In Murder Plot!!!!

Tom Kiely thinks it’s going to be just another Tuesday of slinging craft beer when he steps out of his Toyota Corolla XRS to beat the pavement in the sleepy, seaside town of Pacific Beach. Little does he know that his very life will depend on his keen sense of danger, his skills with a hand-made tap handle and an empty keg of beer.

The rumors have been spreading for weeks in the San Diego craft beer industry that the deaths stacking up all lead back to one company; Budweiser. Big beer is big business, and after some time of the beer Goliath swatting away the craft beer gnats, maybe they decide to take additional steps to silence the dissenters. Wiretaps, strange men lurking in the shadows, this story could go all the way up to the top! Where does this trail of bad beers end??? First, let’s take a look at where it all begins…

The first victim is Steve Garcia from Chula Vista’s 3 Punk Ales. He is found murdered in a gutter in South Bay, with a bloody “B” scrawled on his forehead. The bodies begin piling up, as reps from three other craft breweries go missing and then later are found with the tell-tale, bloody “B.”


While Tom Kiely is concerned about his fallen beer-brethren, he also knows he has a job to do and that is to sell beer. He knows that if he can’t get Thorn Street Brewery beer out to the masses, big beer will win. He also knows that he has a giant target on his logoed t-shirt because he senses that he is next on the hit list. Mostly because someone private messages him through his Grinder account that he is next on the hit list, but also his gut tells him and a man of Tom Kiely’s character always listens to his gut…his big hairy gut.

But why would Budweiser be out to get Tom Kiely from Thorn Street Brewery? To clear tap handles of course. The rumors begin circulating when a new Budweiser rep, H.J. Peiswatter, starts telling local establishments that TSB is responsible for their recent ABC bust, up in Orange County. This rumor starts from a TSB blog that covered the bust, which takes its info from an ABC press release. The fact that the ABC investigation has been going on for more than a year before it is reported on by TSB or that there are no connections between TSB and bars in the L.A. area is lost on them, as are consumers’ tastes. But coincidentally, or perhaps not, that’s when the bodies start piling up. Is this new Bud rep really a beer salesman? Or perhaps he is something more sinister. With his freshly shorn face, khaki slacks, flip phone, and glass eye, he certainly stands out immediately from the other beer sales reps in San Diego.

Lucky for H.J. Peiswatter, he is on the right track. Tom Kiely, in fact, is a snitch and it all starts back in the Boston burbs. During his youth, Tom Kiely is heavily influenced by skittles, Pepsi, and his father. Starting out as a hairy young man who only gets hairier, Tom Kiely has a history of making friends with shady characters. In fact, one time his father, seeing the direction that his son is heading, tries to warn Tom about a young buck he befriends, saying, “He’d sell you down the river for a tube of pimple cream!!” Little does his father know, it will be Tom who sells this very same friend out for a bottle of Proactiv; because that shit is expensive.

This leads to a lifetime of snitching for Tom Kiely. From ratting out kids who walk on the grass when the signs says, “Please Stay On Walkways” to informing the Baha Men who let the dogs out, Tom Kiely rises to fame on his penchant for whistle-blowing and his fierce Boston accent which only seems to get stronger the further he moves from Boston. But is it Tom that snitches on Budweiser to the ABC? Even for Tom, it would be a stretch to snitch on L.A. bars because if there is one reason Tom snitches, it’s for personal gain and there is no personal gain in snitching on L.A. bars.

Back to the dark and temperate Tuesday night with Tom Kiely. He has just finished selling three kegs of Relay IPA to an unnamed bar in PB and is whistling an ominous tune while walking back to his trusty Toyota Corolla XRS or as he affectionately calls it, Tom Cruiser. Just then, he hears a voice coming from the shadows. “Snitches get stitches.”

Tom Kiely’s luxurious chest hair raises immediately. After years of getting jumped for being a rat, he has a sixth sense about these things. Out of the shadows walks a clean-cut, H.J. Peiswatter, staring ominously and wearing a“Budweiser Rules” shirt. Tom Kiely immediately knows he’s in trouble and he hurls the empty keg he is carrying (because TSB picks up their empty kegs in a timely manner) at H.J. Peiswatter and runs. The Bud rep takes up the chase and the two men run haphazardly through the alleyways of PB for about a block before Tom becomes too winded to continue. 

The only thing left in Tom’s possession is a beautifully, hand-crafted, wooden tap handle bearing the words “Rock the Pale Ale.” With a laser-like focus, he squares himself up against the nearly-hairless Bud rep and launches the tap handle at him. 

The tap handle smacks H.J. Peiswatter in the middle of his gleaming forehead and he says, “Ow! That hurts!” Tom Kiely rests his gaze on H.J. Peiswatter’s glass eye and says,

“Just as you hurt the local brewing community when you engage in pay to play schemes.”

H.J. Peiswatter pauses for a minute, looking confused, and says, “You know, Tom Kiely, I never looked at it that way before. You’re right, and I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you.” Tom Kiely says. Both gentlemen shake hands and walk away and the hero, a winded, tired, and lightly shat himself, Tom, gives a small fist-pump in the air like the ending of a John Hughes movie. What happened to the dead beer reps? It turns out that they were targeted by a pro-wine cult from Temecula and the “Bs” stood for “buttery,” but that’s a story for another day.

P.S. Don’t be a Hugh Jass Peiswatter!

Happy April Fools

from Ralph

Holiday Gift Guide for Craft Beer Drinkers

While the holidays are filled with wonder and merriment for many people (i.e. kids), for others it can be a stressful time of year trying to find the perfect gifts for the people that matter most in their lives. To make it a little easier this year, we thought we would give you some gift ideas for the craft beer lovers in your lives. Now, this isn’t some lame list poached from Buzzfeed. These are things that we actually own or have given to people as gifts and can vouch for their quality and/or usefulness. Some of these items are local to San Diego and all are from businesses that you can feel good about supporting. Here are our top picks for best gifts to give people who love craft beer.

Shirts on Tap


Shirts on Tap is a San Diego company that has since expanded their network to Portland and Denver. For $15 a month they send you a t-shirt from a local brewery or you can get a rotation of shirts from all three craft beer cities. The shirts come in an adorable box that is also stuffed with stickers, coupons, and brewery info. You can sign up for as many months as you would like and cancel at any time. I got this for my husband for Father’s day and he has been very pleased with the quality of shirts and the designs. The best part is that the subscription is easily transferable, so when the original gift receiver gets enough shirts, you can change the subscription to different sizes and/or genders.

Hydro Flask Pint Glass


I confess, I have a slight obsession with all things Hydro Flask. They make the colorful, double-walled water bottles that keep cold things cold for 24 hours and hot things hot for 12 hours. Then they created a pint glass and I found a new favorite beer cup! I love my IPAs ice cold and it seems crazy because the top of the cup remains open, but this cup keeps my beer noticeably colder down to the last drop. It’s also great for drinking in cold weather because the cold temperature of the beer isn’t transferred onto your hand and the cup also doesn’t sweat in the summer. Not only is this pint glass great for beer but it’s perfect for coffee in the morning too. It’s completely worth its $24.95 price tag and my advice is to get two, just so there’s no fighting over who gets the best beer glass ever.

Anything Craft Beerd


Craft Beerd is a company owned and run by local artist and hop-head, Rudy Pollorena Jr. Rudy is a familiar face around the San Diego craft beer community and an all around cool guy. His love of craft beer and his knowledge of the industry is reflected in all of the pieces he creates, from shirts to artwork to glassware. You’re sure to find something for any craft beer lover on his website and even better, they ships nationwide.

Growler Cage


While there are a lot of growler bike carriers on the market, lots of them are leather, hipster things that look neat but are either super expensive or not that functional on different styles of bikes. Most of the popular leather ones are designed to only fit a men’s bike, which is pretty lame since we all know, girls drink craft beer too!  The Growler Cage is awesome because it can be attached to different areas of your bike, holding a 64oz growler (either glass or steel) snuggly and safely for your journey home from your local brewery.

The Gift of Beer

a beer wrapped in christmas garland like a gift on a red background

This is a no-brainer, but what do craft beer people love to do more than anything? Drink beer! So getting them a gift certificate to their favorite local brewery, along with a shirt if you are so inclined, is a sure-fire way into their beer-soaked hearts. GCs are especially good for teachers, bosses, and employees, which is how my daughter’s piano teacher has ended up with a gift certificate to Societe Brewing every year. The best part is that in order to get the gift certificate, you will have to go into the brewery, and who can go in an awesome brewery without sitting down for a quick pint? No one, that’s who.

We hope that this list is helpful to you when you are making up your holiday gift lists this year. Let us know what your favorite gifts are to give the craft beer drinkers in your life and happy holidays from all of us here at TSB!