Happy 6th Birthday Thorn!

Six years ago, three guys had a dream that they could create a place in their neighborhood, North Park, that would serve not only as a social hub and community gathering spot but also as a place for locals and visitors alike to grab a quality craft beer that was made right at the source. We’ve come a long way since we first opened our doors during the 2012 SoNo Fest and Chili Cook-off and now our beer can be found throughout Southern California in cans and on draft and we operate a 30-barrel production facility in Barrio Logan. First of all, thank you, to all our patrons and friends who have graced our tasting rooms with your presence over the years and purchased our beer around town. Without our core fans, the growth that we have experienced wouldn’t have been possible. We are truly grateful for our patrons as well as the local shops, bars, and restaurants that carry our beer every day.

We’ve had an amazing six years so we thought we would compile some of our staff’s favorite memories from working at Thorn that illustrates just how special this community is to us and for everyone involved.

Dennis O’Connor, Co-Founder

I can’t believe that it has been 6 years. I still remember the first 6 months when I spent a ton of time behind the bar and we had to serve everyone tasters since pints weren’t yet allowed in tasting rooms. People who just wanted a beer would have to order a flight of that one style. Let’s just say that dish duty was next level.

happy birthday thorn

Other fun memories include our first award/medal for our Pilsner, buying my first six-pack at a convenience store, getting pictures by friends/fans when we made it into Costco, and drinking Barrio Lager instead of Tecate on Baja on surf trips.

happy birthday thorn

It’s been a great run! Our original location in North Park is a staple in the neighborhood and active in the community, and our expansion into another amazing San Diego neighborhood, Barrio Logan, has been a great experience. Very happy to be in both of these locations and able to get our beer out to the rest of San Diego. Thanks to everyone out there that supports Thorn. Cheers!

Eric O’Connor, Co-founder/Brew Master

My favorite memory was being invited to pour beer at the Single, Wet, and Wild hop festival at Sierra Nevada in Chico, CA.  Visiting the mecca of Craft Beer (for me anyway) was something I always wanted to do but had never gotten around to.  They threw us all a welcome BBQ and kickball game next to the Sierra Nevada hop fields and poured us a ton of fresh Celebration Ale, one of my all time favorite beers.  I don’t think it was for sale in stores yet, just a really great experience although later that night Tom (Kiely, Thorn Brewing’s GM) and I both had dead cell phones wandering the streets of Chico looking for a cab and trying to remember where our hotel was!

happy birthday thorn

Dan Carrico, Co-Founder/Director of Sales

I would say the best thing about starting Thorn Street Brewery has been all of the relationships that have been developed over the last six years. Relationships with employees, customers, the craft beer industry and most of all, the community as a whole is what I love most about being involved with Thorn. I feel we truly are a neighborhood brewery where people congregate and feel a sense of community, even outside the brewery through fundraising and sponsorship of worthy local causes.

happy birthday thorn

Tom Kiely, Thorn Brewing General Manager

Anna (Brigham, Marketing Director) walking into the brewery in 2016 asking if we won some sort of beer competition because we got tagged in a tweet by the West Coaster. I looked it up and saw it was the World Beer Cup for our Imperial Red Ale, Alpenglow (though it was named December Nights at the time of the competition), we forgot about it and didn’t know they were announcing the winners that day. I tried calling the brewers, Scott Smith, Eric O’Connor, and Shelley but they had an early brew day so they all went out drinking after and weren’t coherent enough to have a conversation about it. Then Cosimo Sorrentino (Monkey Paw’s Head Brewery at the time) whipped around the corner and picked me up, turns out 30th street cleaned up as Thorn, Monkey Paw, Fall and Hess all medaled!

Another funny one is when there were a few bars telling me that Budweiser was telling them to not serve our beer because we snitched on them to the ABC. (Hilarious considering their “proof” was this blog that we wrote about AB InBev getting fined for pay-to-play activities after a year-long undercover investigation. All info Anna pulled was just from googling articles pertaining to the investigation)

Cory Scott, Thorn North Park Manager

Every Carnitas Snack Shack Brunch has been amazing. Great group of guys to have cook for us. Always lookin’ forward to the yearly release of Brother Scottys IIIPA and the Thorn Street Golf Tourneys throughout the years have always been fun times!

thorn happy birthday

Danielle Stuht, Beertender

The first time I met anyone from the Thorn crew was when Jay Jones (Sales extraordinaire) and Tom crashed Thr3e Punk Ales Beer for Breakfast at 91X. I didn’t know it then, but that was my introduction to the Thorn Tribe. (If you don’t already, tune into 91X every weekday morning and hear Danielle chat it up along with the rest of the crew from the Moug Show)

One of the things that make the tasting room in North Park special is the regulars. Thorn Street really is a neighborhood brewery and the relationships I’ve built with regulars over the past year is something special that I’ve never experienced anywhere else I’ve worked. John’s homemade pickles, Tony bringing Max in for snuggles, Dave bringing in Moose, Chris bringing in Clementine… Okay, maybe it’s the dogs that I love the most about our regulars. Haha. But seriously, the regular patrons of Thorn Street don’t view us as just beertenders, they take interest in our personal lives and that’s something truly special.

happy birthday thorn

Anna Brigham, Marketing Director & Events Coordinator

I have so many great memories of Thorn over the last four years. The first thing that sticks out to me is all of the fun events we collaborate on with local vendors like Nomad Donuts, Venissimo Cheese, and Carnitas Snack Shack. My favorite event (which is hard, it’s like picking your favorite kid) has been the Vagina Monologues, first held at Thorn Street Brewery in 2016. We packed the upstairs and with the talented Coe Hennessey helming the production, it turned out to be a magical night that raised more than $1000 for Planned Parenthood. Then last year, we took the production down to Thorn Barrio Logan to the next-door warehouse where we had nearly 250 people packed in for an exciting night filled with love and support from the audience and cast members. That year, Dr. Bronner’s hopped on board and were a huge help in the production department and with the expanded space allowing for more attendees, we were able to donate more than $2000 to Planned Parenthood. This year, we are doing it again, so stay tuned and mark your calendars for the best Valentine’s date night in San Diego!

happy birthday thorn

Another favorite memory is from the July 2016 blog I wrote about Thorn Street selling to Disney for $10 million. I couldn’t believe how many people believed the headline and the reactions ranged from them congratulating us to being excited that they can get a slice of Disney in North Park to people hating the idea and calling us sellouts. It was a great lesson in the fact that people really only read headlines because if any of them had read the first paragraph, they would have immediately recognized it as satire. I also wrote that it was a joke at the end of the piece but it still caught on like wildfire, was read by more than 20k people and it has been referenced years after the original post. 

Jay Jones, Sales

My favorite memory and probably the thing that changed my life was when Tom walked into Crushed in PB with Dan expecting to see a couple Thorn handles on, but was met with a Fall Brewing tap takeover that had occurred the night before, so Dan and Tom convinced me to do a 22 tap takeover (every faucet Crushed had) that was the beginning of an amazing relationship between Crushed and Thorn, and a relationship that we have all benefited from. 

Side note: Here’s Tom’s version 😉

When I first started my sales route, in 2015 I think, I was doing a ride along with Dan and I took him to PB so he could meet a buyer named Jay Jones at Crushed. It was one of the few bars that almost always had our beer on. We showed up and not only was our beer not on, but the new brewery that just opened up down the street (Fall) had four on. I felt like a dink, so when Dan went to pee I told Jay of the situation, not that he did anything wrong but just how the timing was bad. Jay then asked if I wanted to do an event with 5 beers, I said how about 22 (because they had 22 taps) and he didn’t hesitate…“let’s do it”. The event was a blast and ended up being the moment that led to Jay joining Thorn!

2018 6th Anniversary Party

There are so many great memories over the last few years and this year will only add to them. For our 6th Anniversary, we are releasing one of our OG beers in cans for the first time. Saturday, December 1st, we are celebrating with cans (and draft) of Red Headed Hop Child, a hoppy red ale. So stop by 12-3 pm for drink specials, a sweet deal on six-packs and to say hello. Cheers to Thorn turning six!

happy birthday thorn

raccoonicorn thorn brewing

It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s a Raccoonicorn!

Brewing collaborations are one of the best parts about craft beer. Whether it’s a working relationship that brings collabs together or personal connections these co-brewing experiences help to create cohesiveness within the beer community as well as put out some pretty rad beers.

Recently, Thorn got together with brewers from two prolific L.A. breweries and something magical happened. They created a beer so wonderous that it had to be named Raccoonicorn. When asked how the name Raccoonicorn was decided, head brewer for Thorn Barrio, Doug Pominville said, “Getting to brew with a unicorn is rare and magical all on its own, but getting to the chance to brew with two of the best brewers in Southern California is a shooting star. Ralph is just along for the ride.” The two brewers he is referencing are Devon Randall from Arts District Brewing Co. & Alexandra Nowell from Three Weavers Brewing Company. These two women are making amazing beer at their own breweries and we were really honored and excited that they lent their time and skills to this collaboration of Raccoonicorn.

thorn brewing raccoonicorn

Brewed with Galaxy, Mosaic, Nelson, and Ekuanot hops, this 6.5% rye IPA is incredibly tropical & citrusy. After one sip you’ll be floating on the wings of a Pegasus as it takes you through a journey of awesomeness on your palate.

The Raccoonicorn IPA release is a limited can release and will be available in our Barrio Logan tasting room on Friday, Aug 10th until we run out. Come by on Friday and meet the brewers! Not only will Thorn brewers Eric Shelley, Doug Pominville and Eric O’Connor be hanging out to chat about all things beer but Alex and Devon are planning on making the trip down to SD from LA to hang with the crew. We also will have sweet limited-edition tees and tanks available until they sell out. On Saturday, August 11th Raccoonicorn will be released at our North Park location too, so come on by!


thorn tribe challenge

Let the Games Begin: Thorn Tribe Challenge 2018

Get ready for the most exciting event of the summer…the Thorn Tribe Challenge! The Thorn Tribe Challenge is a 2-month long challenge where people complete any number of hilarious beer-related tasks and compete to win rad prizes! In previous years, this has been an internal competition with our staff but this year we thought we would change it up and let you join in on the fun. For the next two months, you can play along and compete for exciting prizes too!

The challenge not only brought our staff together and created a great sense of team unity but it also pushed us to get out and about in San Diego and take advantage of all the cool things in and around our city. Take a look at some of the previous tasks we had to complete…

Thorn Tribe Challenge 2018


1) You must capture (picture or video) your challenge and post on Instagram using #ThornTribeChallenge in order for it to count. Also, there needs to be some sort of Thorn gear/swag/branded item in the pic to qualify (or could be taken in one of our tasting rooms, location tagged).

4) All pictures/videos need to be original content for this contest. No re-posting/using old pictures.

5) You can only get points for each challenge once (unless noted*).

6) Prize: Brewery Pub Crawl for you and five of your friends starting at Thorn NP and ending at Thorn Barrio Logan. Visiting 6 restaurant bars/breweries and at the end you get to name a new Thorn Beer! All drinks and lunch included. Tour led by Thorn VIPs Dennis O’Connor and Boston Tom! 

7) Challenge runs from July 1 – Aug 1. With winners getting picked at the end of July AND the end of August!







  • Attend Thorn Outside Event at local bar/restaurant (5 points each time – unlimited)
  • Get a picture with someone in ‘Uniform’ (trade hats for extra 5 points)
  • Post a photo of a friend overseas repping thorn gear
  • Thorn in a classified ad
  • Make a short song about Ralph the Raccoon and sing it
  • Do a beer shot with someone over 70 years old in either tasting room
  • Throw a BBQ at Your house with Thorn beer
  • Sneak beer into a movie theater or Drive-in
  • Get top 3 score at any game at Coin-Op or H&A and enter initials TSB
  • Attend Trivia or Loteria in Thorn Barrio Logan
  • Ride a Penny Farthing in a Raccoon Costume
  • Get 5+ dogs in one picture at tasting room.
  • Drink Thorn in another country
  • Go sightseeing at La Jolla Underwater Park in Thorn gear (extra 5 pts if underwater)
  • Drink a Red Headed Hop Child with redhead in tasting room
  • Drink a Got Nelson? IPA with someone named Nelson (show picture ID in pic)
  • Drink a Dank Rizzo IPA with someone with dreads in the tasting room
  • Drink a Farmer’s Only Saison in tasting room dressed like a farmer in overalls
  • Paint your nails like a Raccoon
  • Floss dance in front of a Dentist Office in Thorn gear
  • Drink a Barrio Lager in Baja


  • Cliff jump in Thorn Gear into ocean
  • Play a game of disc golf at Morley Field
  • Get Thorn mentioned in a news article
  • Get Thorn on a podcast or radio station
  • Get a priest or nun to say “Jesus loves Thorn”
  • Get a picture of a band member rocking Thorn schwag at a show/concert on stage
  • Surf (or attempt to surf) a wave with a Thorn beer in hand
  • Donate blood in Thorn gear
  • Dress up as Ralph and do Karaoke
  • Picture of you in lowrider drinking Barrio Lager
  • Enjoy a Hopster Pot Hazy IPA while eating lobster
  • Put up a Tinder/dating profile and use at least 5 of our beer names in your bio
  • Get a picture with a real raccoon
  • Get a picture with a Zonky in TJ
  • Hula Hoop while drinking a Thorn beer
  • Create a recipe using Thorn beer – video tutorial
  • Compose a rock song about Thorn while drinking Rock The Pale and playing an instrument
  • Ride your bike from North Park to Barrio Tasting room (or vice versa). Pic at start and finish
  • Dress up the OB Lifeguard statues in Thorn Gear
  • Chinese fire drill, everyone dressed as raccoons
  • Make your own Thorn cup pint of recycled material and bring to the brewery for a beer. Must have hand drawn/painted thorn logo
  • Hop-on-hop-off trolley wearing raccoon costume
  • Pick your own strawberries at Carlsbad Strawberry Company in Raccoon costume
  • Go to a Padre’s game in Thorn gear and drink Thorn beer where we are on tap. (or smuggle in your own cans)
  • Sneak Essential IPA Can into Del Mar Races


  • Photobomb a live TV broadcast pointing at your Thorn hat
  • Get a mariachi band to sing a song about Thorn
  • Make a ThornTron Suit
  • Get a piggyback ride from someone with a Face Tattoo
  • Build a Thorn Can Throne (able to be moved/used for future events)
  • Get on a Jumbotron in Thorn gear
  • Dress up the Cardiff Kook in Thorn Gear
  • Go parasailing wearing Thorn gear
  • Ride the Belmont Park roller coaster in Ralph costume
  • Mission Hills ghost tour in raccoon costume
  • Run a 5k race in raccoon costume
  • Visit Blacks Beach wearing raccoon mask only
  • Shave Thorn logo into your hair


  • Get Thorn tattoo (logo/raccoon counts)
  • Get on Price is Right (some branding makes cut, ralph head counts)

So what are you waiting for! Get in on the fun and join the #ThornTribeChallenge this summer! For more info and to stay updated and see all the pics posted over the summer,  go to the Thorn Tribe Challenge Page! 

Questions: events@thorn.beer

thorn brewing dogs dog

The Dog Days of June

Dogs are an important part of Thorn Brewing. With two dog-friendly tasting rooms, we love seeing all our cute, furry friends who come and visit us daily with their humans. Because they bring so much joy to our lives and ask so little in return, we thought we would declare June the Month of the Dog!

Pints for Pups

dog thorn brewing

First, we are partnering with Baja Dog Rescue to help them get much-needed donations to keep their shelter running smoothly. Baja Dog Rescue is run by some very dedicated volunteers who have helped more than 6500 dogs since 2010. They are non-profit, no-kill shelter that houses up to 200 dogs at any given time. With that many pooches to care for, they need a lot of supplies. In past years our #thorntribe has done an amazing job of bringing in their old, lightly used and new items that are requested by the shelter. Here’s a list of some of the main things they need:

– Dog Food
– Chicken & Beef Broth
– Big Bags of White Rice
– Old Towels, Blankets, Sheets
– Antibacterial Ointments, Peroxide, Alcohol
– Q-Tips, Cotton Balls & Gauze
– Bulk Newspaper (used to line puppy pens)
– Laundry Soap, Hand Soap, Bleach
– Dog Medications (slightly expired ok)

We are taking donations until 6/10 at both of our locations so go through your garage, your laundry room etc. and see if you happen to have any of these items handy. On Sunday, 6/10 we are going to celebrate with a Pints for Pups happy hour at Thorn Street Brewery where you can bring in your dog to take pics in our doggie photo booth, hang out with the good people from Baja Dog Rescue and help raise funds for their cause.

Beer Tasting Has Gone To The Dogs

On June 24th, get your furry friend ready to come to Thorn Street Brewery in North Park to experience a beer tasting of their own! We see so many doggies in our tasting rooms with their humans and they can never imbibe (hops are poisonous to dogs, so please don’t give them human beer). Now they finally can, with our Best Bud’s Brew Dog Beer Tasting! We partnered together with Marley’s Pet Planet to bring you a beer tasting event that features four dog brews in different flavors for your pooch and then four tasters of Thorn beer for their humans. These dog beers are made with all natural ingredients and don’t have any antibiotics or hormones in them, making them safe and healthy for your pup. The dog beer is human-consumable too, so people will get to taste all of the beers included in the event. The dog brews featured will be:

  • Amber- bone broth, organic molasses, organic peanut butter powder, apple cider vinegar
  • Porter- bone broth, organic molasses, bacon, apple cider vinegar
  • Blond- bone broth, honey, peanut butter powder, apple cider vinegar
  • Ginger- bone broth, organic molasses, fresh ginger, apple cider vinegar

The seating will be limited so that the dogs and humans attending can be comfortable so people should grab their tickets soon! Tickets available here…http://bit.ly/2IV8kQW

Can’t make the 6/24 event or it’s sold out? No worries! We are doing another tasting at our Barrio Logan location on Saturday 6/30 at 3 pm! Link to tickets here…

Thorn Cutest Dog Contest

Want to show off your adorable pup to the world? Now you can! For the month of June, enter your dog into Thorn’s Cutest Dog Contest by posting a pic on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #thorndogs and also tag us in the pic and you will be entered! The picture MUST either be taken in one of our tasting rooms or have Thorn gear/cans featured in the pic too to qualify. The winner will get a $50 gift certificate to Thorn, a 6-pack of dog beer for their pup and the glory of being Thorn’s Cutest Dog for 2018! Winner will be picked on June 30th and featured on our social media!

More Dog Events Around San Diego

We aren’t the only brewery that loves dogs in San Diego. There are a few other breweries that are also holding dog-centered events in the month of June.

Societe Brewing has picked PAWS, a San Diego Humane Society program, as their June charity partner. Every year in June they hold a pet food drive and this year PAWS is the lucky recipient. Throughout this whole month people can bring in dog/puppy, cat/kitten food and treats in their original packaging to donate to their cause.

Deft Brewing in Bay Park is throwing a Barks, Brews & Mews Fundraiser for the San Diego Humane Society on June 9th at their tasting room. Live music, raffle & silent auctions and new dog merch will be featured along with a beer released for their event.

Any other dog events this month that we should add to this list?

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 info@thorn.beer 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…https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nomad-donuts-and-beer-pairing-tickets-38447373128

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 herehttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/mastiff-sausage-co-beer-pairing-tickets-38545928911

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…https://www.eventbrite.com/e/truffles-and-beer-at-thorn-street-brewery-tickets-38546192700

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…http://venissimocheese.vendecommerce.com/class-schedule/products/11-11-beer-cheese-sampling-thorn-street


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 events@thorn.beer 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 http://bit.ly/2eqTcJp 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: www.showerbeer.org. 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.