Craft Breweries Feeling the Effects of the Government Shutdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

internet killing beer

Is the Internet Ruining Beer?

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


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


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

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

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

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

Thank You, Instagram

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

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

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

A Little of This, A Little of That

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

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

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





tropic daze thorn brewing

Tropic Daze for Summer Days

Summer is in full swing and we are releasing the second IPA in our Essential IPA Series this week. Say a tearful goodbye to Got Nelson? and hello to Tropic Daze IPA!

We like to think of Tropic Daze IPA as an island oasis in your glass. With flavors of fresh-cut, juicy pineapple, pink guava, nectarines, passion fruit, and zested pomelo this 7% IPA is one for all your senses.  After one sip, you’ll feel the cool, ocean breeze on your face and the sand in your toes.  It’s the perfect addition to any staycation or afternoon at the pool.

This is the second IPA in our Essential IPA Series that will be housed in our sweet, Argyle can. We love to have fun and experiment with packaging and that is front and center with this can design. From the fresh, argyle pattern to the playful color scheme, we hope it stands out from the pack. For people wanting more information on which hop profile is in their Essential IPA, they can head to our page, to get any additional info for the beer. As always, if you aren’t sure which beer you have, just flip it over and see the name printed on the bottom. For people picking up six-packs, all the Tropic Daze six-pack holders are baby blue, like the perfect sky under which to enjoy this refreshing beer.

“The Essential IPA can is a game-changer by allowing our IPAs to evolve with hop availability and our ever-changing palates.” Dennis O’Connor, Thorn’s CEO and co-founder said. “If you like fresh, these IPAs are your best bet.”

Want more of the Argyle? We also have these sweet Essential IPA Series socks available for $10 at both tasting rooms and in our online store.

tropic daze socks thorn brewing

Tropic Daze is now available throughout San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles, so grab yourself an essential six-pack today!

Heady Topper Invades San Diego

A couple of weeks ago, we saw rumblings on social media that Heady Topper, from The Alchemist in Vermont, was available in select bottle shops and bars around San Diego. My first thought was that these were black market beers since The Alchemist famously doesn’t distribute beyond an incredibly tiny footprint in Vermont. For years, if people outside of this 25 square miles wanted to get their hands on a Heady Topper, they had to trade for it or make the pilgrimage to Vermont, wait in line, and get their allotment of this hazy brew.  So how did Heady Topper, along with Focal Banger IPA and Crusher IPA, get so far West?

thorn brewing heady topper

Heady Out West

It turns out, the good people at The Alchemist did, in fact, send the beer out to SoCal. According to The Full Pint, who reached out to the Vermont brewery, they stated :

“Every now and again, we have some extra pallets of beer that we like to send sporadically to different markets. We’ve sent pallets to New York City for example, and we decided to send some to the Los Angeles and surrounding markets.”

Considering just how many posts we’ve seen announcing the beer at different locations throughout San Diego, that has to be a lot of pallets. Especially if they distributed beer to L.A. too. Could they really have that many extra pallets sitting around? Maybe. But maybe they are testing the market out here to see just how well their beer would do if the were to expand distribution. If it’s any indication, people were quite excited to see The Alchemist’s beers out here and get the opportunity to get their hands on them while they are fresh.

All It’s Hopped Up To Be?

For those uninitiated, Heady Topper is perhaps the original hazy IPA. Once infamously hard to get, this beer has been the gold standard in hazy IPAs by which many others are measured. Hazy IPAs were New England brewers’ answers to the dry, hop-monsters of the West Coast. By tweaking brewing recipes they were able to create IPAs that people described as tropical, fruity and juicy. Why juicy? Probably because these beers are known for their bright, tropical notes and soft finish. While hazy beers were once thought of as a flash-in-the-pan style, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, this year, the Great American Beer Festival will create a category for hazy ales in a move that legitimizes this growing style further.

I took a trip to Vermont in April and brought back so many local IPAs that I had to buy a suitcase to hold them all. There really is a ton of great beer coming out of Vermont and this haul was no exception. This time, I brought back Head Topper, Focal Banger, Sip of Sunshine from Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Cone Head from Zero Gravity, and Second Fiddle from Fiddlehead Brewery. One notable thing was that it wasn’t difficult to get Heady Topper or Focal Banger this time around in VT. When, on previous trips, I had to align just right with drop-off times and locations to score a 4-pack, this time around, it was available pretty much in every bottle shop I went to. If the market for Heady is softening in VT, it could be one reason why they might be testing out new markets for distribution.

I brought the beers back to the brewery and we tasted through the East Coast IPAs. First, let’s be clear, they were all great beers. All were hoppy, bright and fresh, with a touch of malt character when compared to many West Coast IPAs. One thing did stand out to me; now that hazy IPAs have been a thing for a couple years out here in SD, the San Diego brewing community has gotten pretty good at making them. So good, that many San Diego hazy IPAs rival if not surpass Heady Topper and Focal Banger. When I first tasted Heady, years ago, I was deliciously surprised by the style, the myth, and the taste. Now, we have so many great hazy IPAs available to us that while the beer was still good, it didn’t seem to pack the punch it once did to my palate. Perhaps my palate has even evolved somewhat to expect the juice-bombs that we enjoy here in SD, including Thorn’s own Hopster Pot Hazy IPA. The West Coast likes going big, and it appears that our take on hazy IPAs is no exception.

In the end, if The Alchemist starts distributing regularly here to San Diego, it would be a welcomed addition to our already rich San Diego beer scene. After all, we aren’t exclusionary of non-local beers, as long as they are good and with the high-quality beers coming out of this Vermont brewery, that wouldn’t be an issue.

Do you have a favorite San Diego hazy IPA that you think is as good or better than Heady Topper?

brunch eggs thorn brewing

Spring Brunch with Mastiff Sausage Co.

Join us on Sunday, April 8th at 11 am for a five-course gourmet beer brunch with Mastiff Sausage Co. here at Thorn Street Brewery in North Park! Tickets are only $32 and include five brunch courses and five paired 5-oz tasters of beer. Here’s a peek at menu:

Meyer Lemon Crepes
Stuffed with House Made Ricotta, Green Garlic, Topped with Meyer Lemon Preserves
Carrot & Candied Pork Belly Salad
Raw and Roasted Rainbow Carrots, Candied Pork Belly, Carrot Top Pesto, Arugula,
Toasted Cumin Carrot Vinaigrette   
Minted Pea & Asparagus Saute  
English Peas, Shaved Asparagus, Snap Peas, Artichokes, Fresh Mint
Shakshuka with House Made Beer Bread
Smoked Pork Sausage, Baked Spicy Tomato, Charred Peppers, Roasted Eggs
Grilled Apricots & Goat Cheese
Local Honey, Sorrel, Bee Pollen, Fennel
variety pack from thorn brewing

Not Another Dreaded Variety Pack

We’ve been told that variety is the spice of life and while this may be true in many cases, it can spell disappointment when you are talking about beer variety packs. We’ve all gotten them before; buying beer for a party or just to stash in your beer fridge, the variety pack that mostly has beers you like. It’s a good deal though, so you get it for the other three beers you enjoy and hope that someone else will drink the cranberry/orange marmalade ale that comes in the pack too.

When creating Thorn’s first variety pack, we thought long and hard about which beers to include. While we were already canning a couple of our tried and true brews that were a slam dunk for the pack, we had to pick two new beers to put in cans for you. Being that this is San Diego, we decided to focus on our hoppier styles. Yes, we brew a fantastic barrel-aged Dark Czar, and yes, it will someday be available in bottles which you will be able to take home and hold on to, but this pack was not about that. It was about grabbing a delicious, fresh, hoppy ale, no matter what, and giving some variety without going completely off-script.

What’s in the Box?

Without further ado, here are the beers that are featured in our brand new variety pack, Hop Box 24, that will be available in a certain San Diego big-box store starting the week of March 26th:

variety pack for thorn brewing

Hopster Pot
New England-Style Hazy IPA
7.0% ABV  |  40 IBU
Hopster Pot is everything you are looking for in a New England-style India Pale Ale…hazy, raw, tropical, and oh-so-juicy! Our brewers hand-select the hop varieties for each batch based on flavor and aroma. Visit to see what hops are in your brew. This first batch that we canned is brewed with Ekuanot, Amarillo, and Citra.

Got Nelson?

7.0% ABV  |  64 IBU
This single hopped IPA showcases the incredibly complex and unique Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. Notes of Sauvignon Blanc grapes and berries mix beautifully on the palate. But did you check out this can?? This beer is the first in our Essential IPA Series in a first-of-its-kind can that will keep up with your ever-changing-palate. If you look closely, you will see all four of the IPAs in the series so you can get excited for what’s coming up on the beer horizon. How do you know which IPA you have? The 6-pack toppers will have a color-coded sticker, so look at the top to see which IPA you are going to pop! The Essential IPA Series is always fresh, always 7% and always an IPA.

essential ipa can thorn brewing

Relay IPA
7.2% ABV | 72 IBU
This San Diego-style IPA is hop-forward and not overly malty or bitter. It’s been our best selling beer since we opened our doors and one of the pillars of our brew program. Simcoe, Centennial, Amarillo, and Citra run a hop relay during the brew. Flavors of citrus, mango, grapefruit, and pine blend to form a deliciously hoppy beverage.
Rock the Pale Pale
Pale Ale
5.3% ABV | 55 IBU
Just like San Diego’s independent music scene, this traditional, California-style pale
ale unapologetically stands out. It’s a highly balanced beer with pine and citrus hop flavors coming from a generous late-kettle addition and dry hop.
Next time you are throwing a party, or just want to stock up your beer fridge, grab one of these Hop Box 24s. In fact, we are throwing a contest to make the whole thing a little more fun…
Because we love the earth we want to see your most creative way to reuse our Hop Box 24 after you buy it and empty it out. Take a pic of your upcycled creation and post it on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #thorncans (don’t forget to tag @thornbeer for Instagram or @thornbrewing for Facebook too!) and we will pick a winner at the end of April! 
Brewbies Festival poster- Thorn Brewing

9th Annual Brewbies Festival

The 9th Annual Brewbies® Festival benefitting Keep A Breast Foundation at Bagby Beer. in Oceanside on Saturday, February 10th, 2018.

Join us for a beautiful afternoon to celebrate two of our favorite things – craft beer and boobies! Enjoy an array of outstanding, interesting, unique and (our favorite) signature PINK beers from over 40 of the best breweries around! As always we donate 100% of the proceeds from Brewbies to The Keep A Breast Foundation to help support their mission of empowering young people around the world with breast health education and support! Tickets go on Sale 12/18/17!!

-Baller Status (VIP Early Entrance) Get in early and start enjoying beers at 12pm-5pm $65 includes custom Brewbies® glass, an i love boobies! bracelet, and early access to ALL of the unique and specialty beers available with unlimited 2 oz samplings!

-Planned Ahead (General Admission – in advance) from 1-5pm $45 in advance ($60 at the door). Price includes Custom Brewbies® glass, an i love boobies! bracelet, and unlimited 2 oz samplings of over 80 different craft beers!

-Last minute (Day-of tickets)* $60 at the door. *Please note that if the venue reaches capacity we cannot guarantee entrance into the festival. We recommend purchasing your tickets in advance.

Don’t drink and drive! Brewbies is located 4 blocks from the Oceanside Transit Center. Take the train, Grab an Uber, Ride your bike!

Don’t miss out on the BEST raffle/silent auction of the year!! Raffle tickets are $5 each. You can purchase them in advance or day-of.

100% of the proceeds will benefit the Keep A Breast Foundation’s Check Yourself Program.

This event is 21 years and older. All parties must show a valid ID for entrance. Sorry, No refunds will be made. Absolutely NO children OR pets are allowed. The last call will be at 4:30pm. #RainOrShine

Brewery and Sponsorship Inquiries can be sent to

*Remember drinking more than one (1) drink each day (if you are 21, of course) increases your odds of developing breast cancer. Alcohol can increase the levels of some hormones, such as estrogen and unusually high levels of estrogen increase the risk of breast cancer. We know it’s not fair but think of the consequences if you drink too much. Be responsible and drink in moderation if you do.

Thorn Brewing Secret Society of Adultologists at the Natural History Museum Poster

The Secret Society of Adultologists: Courtship, Love, and Sex at the Natural History Museum

Friday, February 9, 7–10 PM

The San Diego Natural History Museum comes alive at night for an exclusive 21+ after-hours event, The Secret Society of Adultologists.

Do you remember your first crush? Your first kiss? The feeling of butterflies in your stomach as you got the nerve up to talk to a certain individual you saw across the room? The Secret Society of Adultologists is going to stimulate your senses and invite visitors to explore the world of courtship, love, and sex in the natural world. The entire Museum will be packed with activities, giving guests an opportunity to explore the hidden side of love in nature while also providing a more intimate view of The Nat.

Science, craft beer and cocktails, music, storytelling, food, crafts, and art.

Museum scientists will share treasures from our collection of more than 8 million specimens. We will have a Valentine’s Day crafting station, a special natural history-inspired “prom photo” station, love jam music, special access to our rooftop bar, live animal encounters, and games that test one’s love IQ. Full list of programs and activities below.

The Secret Society of Adultologists is a whole new way to experience The Nat—stay late and rediscover your sense of wonder.

Tickets are $15 for members and $25 for non-members, and include access to all events and activities, but do not include food and beverages—both will be available for purchase at happy hour prices.

big white words on wooden back ground that says Brunch and Beer

Carnitas’ Snack Shack Beer Brunch

It’s baaaaaack! Our famous Beer Brunch with Carnitas’ Snack Shack! 

Sunday, September 25th from 11:00 am -1:30 pm, enjoy a SEVEN course brunch buffet from the culinary wizards over at Carnitas’ Snack Shack. Pork will be front and center, so please come ready to consume some meat! The best part is, tickets are only $35 for all you can eat at the brunch buffet and 2 beers!

P.S. Please don’t feel like you have to all come right at 11 am. Carnitas Snack Shack will keep the buffet filled the whole event and it would be great if some people decided to come a little later into the event for seating purposes.

Tickets will sell out so get ’em while you can here…

Pokemon Go and Four Other Recent San Diego Trends


Pokemon Go burst into pop culture only a few weeks ago, but it’s already reaching new milestones. Not only is it the biggest mobile game in U.S. history, but with more than 21 million active users a day, people are spending more time using the Pokemon Go app than using Facebook or Twitter! The thing about fads like this is that it’s all about staying power. Here in San Diego, we see people walking around all day with their phones up, trying to catch adorable Pokemon characters who they can then train and battle in “gyms.” Based on the Pokemon card game that was popular in the early 2000s, and is still popular among the 5-12 year old set, Pokemon Go blends people’s smart phone addiction with real time GPS tracking that seems to be the perfect storm to turns people’s obsession, no matter how brief, onto this new game. Thorn Street Brewery was designated as a Pokemon Gym, so we have had an inside peek at the players and the game and we give it two thumbs up. It’s fun, easy and actually brings people together.

Trends and fads come and go, however, and although we are happy to have Pokemon Go around as long as its little heart desires, there are a few other trends that we have noticed happening around San Diego that we are ready to have “go gentle into that good night.”



Sorry, North Parkers. Although we have nothing against facial hair in general, and understand that beards are an important part of craft beer and brewing, mustaches have run their course. Though this is not a trend that started recently, in our opinion, it’s time for it to be over. Not only are mustaches ruining hot guys everywhere, there is also that length where it goes from respectable to picking up every crumb or beer head it comes across and…just no. Now the mustache trend as reached it’s tipping point, since you can find them on everything in pop culture from phone cases, to fake nails to baby pacifiers so we can only hope that we see a decrease in ‘staches from here on out.

Orange Theory Fitness

4OTF Class94347

We are all for fitness, but the hushed and furtive tones that people are taking when talking about this newest fitness obsession, already raises red flags. Orange Theory Fitness is picking up the work-out trend where SoulCycle and Crossfit left off. People frenetically work out for 60 minutes while watching their name up on a big scoreboard and trying to keep themselves in the “Orange Zone” in the hopes of creating something called “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption” (which they tell you will keep burning calories after you are done working out). Our issue isn’t with the program itself, since everyone likes something different, but when you hear people talking incessantly about their undying love for it at happy hour, at school pick up and at everywhere in between, it’s officially reached fad status.

$8 Pints of Beer 


When out to dinner recently in North Park at an unnamed, delicious restaurant, it was shocking to see $8 for a pint of Societe Pupil IPA.  Now inflation is understandable, and for some reason a $7 beer doesn’t gall us in the same way, but $8 is just too much for a beer in our hood when you can go to any taproom or brewery near 30th street and get a delicious craft beer pint for $6. Sure barrel aged and high ABV beers are more expensive, but a good ol’ IPA shouldn’t be nearly the same cost as buying the 6 pack at the store. Our wallet needs the $8 beer trend to die, but unfortunately, we don’t see that happening anytime soon.

The San Diego Heat


We are just about to head into the hottest three months of the year, here in San Diego, in another record breaking year for heat. When I moved to San Diego 16 years ago, I remember a couple of week at the end of August topping 90 degrees, when now we have a couple solid months that push that temperature and higher. Yes, complaining about the weather is pretty pointless, but if we could just put in a good word with Mother Nature to please bring back our “70 and sunny” San Diego days that we all moved here (and pay out the nose) for, that would be awesome.

So there you have it; four San Diego trend that we are ready to see end. Let us know what fads are you hoping will be over this year?

Anna Brigham