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Author Archives: Tomme

  1. The Lost Abbey Beers (Part 2)

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    On the Lost Abbey side of things, there are always too many beers when it comes time to making decisions as to what we should send.  Some years, it’s easy.  We have a whole bunch of new beers.  Other years, the process takes more work as there are crowd favorites, brewers favorites and my favorites to be considered.  This year we didn’t even send Cuvee de Tomme for the first time in almost 10 years.  But that doesn’t mean we didn’t send some amazing beers.

    For the floor each session we’re pouring 4 different barrel aged beers along with Carnevale.  This means that all of our beers are either barrel aged or Brett beers.  And for that, I am sure there will be many extremely happy consumers waiting in our line.  We entered a total of 8 beers under The Lost Abbey umbrella.  New this year for us is that we have not entered the Experimental Category or anything in the Belgian and French Ale category as well.  These are a bit of a departure for us.  However, we have entered many of the sour categories where we have seen success before.  Here then without further ado are the beers we have entered.  This is the order in which they would be announced for the results.

    Framboise de Amorosa – Category 18 American Fruited Sour
    We LOVE this years batch of Amorosa.  It has a depth of Raspberry flavor and aromas.  It certainly is sour as all get up and very much suited for this category.  My biggest fear here is that the category doesn’t really want oak constituents in the flavoring of the beer.  We thought this problematic last year as well and then Red Poppy went on to win a bronze medal.  As this will be our first Lost Abbey Category, we will have HIGH hopes for this beer.  Amorosa hasn’t reached the same competitive level of accomplishments like Red Poppy but you gotta start winning somewhere.

    Carnevale – Category 19 American Brett Ale
    After many years of trying to define the role of American Craft Brewers and their use of Brettanomyces, it appears the category and descriptions are in our favor.  We think Carnevale absolutely fits this mold and expect the skillful use of Bretta to be part of the success of this beer.  There will be numerous beers that may have a “bigger” Brett character but the subtle integration in Carnevale (Brett Anomolus vs. Bruxellensis) makes this one special beer.  In years past, we have won in back to back categories.  This one sets up for us to do the same if the judges see things our way.

    The Angel’s Share (Bourbon Finish 2011) – Category 22 Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Ales
    Sometimes you have to send beers into battle even if you think you’re bringing a butter knife to a samurai convention.  Angel’s Share has never been overwhelmingly supported at the judging level.  But that being said, we like to think someday we’ll get it right.  Until then, we just think it’s great to keep showcasing the beer on the festival floor.  Won’t be crossing our fingers too heavily on this one.

    Veritas 008 – Category 23 Wood and Barrel Aged Sour
    This is exactly the category for all sorts of beers we make.  We believe that Veritas 008 (and not Cuvee) gave us the best chance to succeed this year.  For those unfamiliar with our Veritas series, they are one time one place beers designed to showcase the brewer’s art of blending.  Veritas 008 might just well be our most polarizing Veritas release ever.  Made from 3 oak barrels of sour base beer, our brewers added black tea and lemon zest to the beer before packaging.  This has to be one of the most refreshing beers we have ever released.  Let’s just hope the judges are in need of some loving refreshment as well.

    Serpent’s Stout – Category 24 Aged Beer
    One of our Ten Commandments is that “Fresh Beer is Good.  Aged beer is better.”  We at Lost Abbey believe this to be the case.  So we’re going to knock the dust off these bottles of 2-3 year old Serpent’s Stout and make a run for it.  The beer tastes almost too fresh for this category.  Hoping for the best but we may need to wait longer for this bottling to hit its stride.

    Road to Helles – Category 25 Keller Biers
    I confess, I drink a lot of Road to Helles.  It’s such an easy beer to throw down.  The problem with our version of a classic Helles is that we add a wee bit more hop then we probably should.  As we’re not striving for authenticity, we’ve never been concerned about that minute detail.  We entered this beer last year as a Pilsner where it was determined we needed more hops.  Go figure.  So this year, we’re gonna try the unfiltered category.  This category allows for a bit more yeast notes and hop character since the beer isn’t filtered.  We’re not trying to set the Lager world on fire at Port Brewing.  But from time to time, we have some nice beers that should be given a chance to shine.

    Red Poppy – Category 70 Belgian Lambic and Sours
    After years of moving Red Poppy into all sorts of categories, we’re just going to plunk it down here in the Flanders Red/Oud Bruin sub category.  This batch of Red Poppy has all the merits of a go the distance Field of Dreams like sour.  I for one am not much of a betting man but if I was…I’d be more then all in on this one.

    Judgment Day – Category 71 Abbey Ales
    Way back in 2007 we entered Judgment Day in the Great American Beer Festival where it received a gold medal for Specialty Beers (Unique fermentable being raisins).  Apparently Raisin beers are not longer unique enough as they just aren’t winning anymore.  So this year, we’re running the beer in  the Abbey Ale category and making no mention of the raisins.  As Quads go, ours is very dark.  It’s been a while since this beer won in a pure Belgian Category but this seems like a great beer to test the judges.  This is a hugely contested category full of all manners of world class beers.  As we specialize in Belgian Inspired Beers, it would be great to have this feather in our cap.  Fingers crossed.

    That’s it for now.  We’re always confident that the beers we have sent will compete well.  This year is no different.  With over 4k beers in the judging, the odds continue to be stacked against us.  It’s what drives us to work harder and continually work on improving our beers.  Best wishes to the other brewers we’re competing against.  Everyone shares in the joys of winning and turmoil of not.


  2. Denver 2011 and GABF Entries Part one

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    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    It’s September 29th which means that the GABF officially opens later today. This is the first GABF in 15 years that I will not be attending as Sydney’s new sister Lexi Morgan Arthur was born on Tuesday at 2:35pm.  All are doing well and  I am sure Lexi is dreaming about her first Duck Duck Gooze as we speak.

    Each year before heading off to Denver, we the brewers at Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey sit down and appraise the entries we are sending (essentially we open one sample bottle held back from each bottling for the comp).  This year we are entering 14 beers (6 Port Brewing and 8 Lost Abbey beers).  Word on the street is that over 350 breweries registered more then 4,000 beers in the comp.  I also see there are 176 judges slated to make the determination which beers are medal worthy. Normally I relish the opportunity to be one of those judges.  But at 4,000 beers man they have the work cut out for them!

    I’m sure many of you (like me) are curious how our beers will do.  Let’s take an inside look at the beers we’re sending and the categories they’ll be judged in.  Since there are less Port Brewing Beers, we’ll start there.

    Panzer Pilsner – Category 13 Other Strong Ales and Lagers
    You may recall that Panzer received a Silver Medal in this same category last year.  We weren’t enamored with the batch last year and while this one is good, it’s hard to know just what the judges will want in this category.  Rarely does it seem that beers consistently win in this category so we’ll hang our hopes elsewhere.

    Hot Rocks Lager – Category 15 Indigenous Beers
    Hot Rocks was literally on fire last year.  It won a silver medal at the World Beer Cup and a bronze at the Great American Beer Festival.  It was a great validation for our brewers that this beer “rocks.”  The category gets a new name this year but it’s still a game of this beer is out of category and awesome!  We love this batch of Hot Rocks but it may be a bit too bitter to stand up to the judges scrutiny.

    Churchill’s Finest Hour – Category 22 Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Stout
    From one of the most hotly contested categories at the festival comes our stealth entry.  The only Port Brewing Beer not being poured on the festival floor, Churchill’s Finest Hour Imperial Stout has a layered texture we don’t normally see in our barrel beers (Older, Angel’s and Santa’s).  There is a higher residual extract as well which means the beer has great silky body.  While I would love to see this beer do well for multiple reasons, it’s one of the most contested categories at the fest.

    Wipeout IPA – Category 51 American Style IPA
    You really have to love a category that shows no signs of getting smaller.  Last year, Ernest took it home for Pizza Port San Clemente in ridiculous fashion.  While Wipeout remains our best selling beer, it rarely gets invited out of the first round and onto the next flight of tables.  We don’t care.  It’s brewed the way we want to drink it and most assuredly the way we always want to drink it.  Bottle smelled and tasted fantastic.  But again, one of the toughest category there is.  Not liking our chances here.

    Mongo IPA – Category 51 American Style IPA
    We’re guilty of entering a beer down here.  At just over 8.0% ABV Mongo is a true tweener.  It’s really not big enough to stand out in Double IPA land so we’ll take a stab here.  Love the body on this beer and the aroma is pretty spot on as well.  Mongo may not do well at GABF but don’t be surprised if the Alpha King Challenge finds a love for this our 2nd best selling beer.

    Hop 15 – Category 52 American Style Double IPA
    Every year we brew a batch of this mean beer and send it off to the judging table.  Some years it excels others not so much.  A 3 time medal winner at the GABF and multiple Podium dweller at Alpha King, Hop 15 is a awesome expression of what hops can do for you.  Bottles tasted great on Monday.  Not sure there won’t be 70+ beers in the category but we like the beer to do well.

    This wraps up our beers on the Port Brewing side.  As the Abbey ones are a bit more distinctive, we’ll wait until tomorrow at around 1pm to release the tasting notes as to ensure that we don’t divulge too much about our beers and the categories they are in.

  3. Sinners and Saints Clubs – 2011


    Best Wishes and Holiday Greetings from The Lost Abbey.

    As many of you have recently contacted us about the Sinner’s and Saint’s club renewals, we felt it was time to make the announcement about our club status for 2011.

    It is with sadness that we report, there will be no Patron Sinner’s and Saint’s clubs in 2011.

    When we launched these programs in 2006, we were one of the first breweries in this country to do direct-to-consumer mail order shipments for beer.

    It was an ambitious program that required us to develop a membership and order fulfillment system from scratch and commit a third of our workforce to the customer service side of the club. Many of you got to know the club managers, Ruby and David, quite well from your communications and pickups.

    But this isn’t why we’re ending the clubs. (We’re 12 full timers and 4 part timers now — a veritable army compared to the old days.) The biggest reason for shuttering the clubs is the numerous changes at the state(s) level for shipments direct to consumers.

    It’s been a tough few years for states economically and that’s caused direct-to-consumer-shipment regulations to turn into a constantly shifting landscape which had us adding and/or removing states from the do/don’t shipment mix as we worked to comply with all the various laws and rulings. Other regulatory burdens and reporting issues also compounded our troubles in keeping current with the demands each state places upon alcohol producers. As a result, we concluded that continuing to operate the Sinners and Saints clubs is at best a risky venture, and the smartest course of action is to suspend the clubs until a more favorable environment presents itself.

    We apologize for the delay as we realize that many of you use the Sinner’s and Saints programs as Christmas Gifts (lucky those people who got a membership in their stocking). Sorry to be the bearer of such bad news. On the upside, David and Ruby still call Lost Abbey home and we’re actively pursuing angles that will allow the clubs to rise from the ashes in a new form in the near future. Keep an eye out for an announcement some time in early 2011.

    We thank you for your support and look forward to delivering even more epic beers to you in the future.


    Tomme & The Lost Abbey Family

  4. The New York Times…


    This morning, my phone roared to life as it does each day when it awakens from a short but well deserved slumber. Google Mail alerted me that the New York Times had indeed published the article detailing our week long conversation with members of the Pagan Community. And unless you have been around the brewery for the last week, you might have missed these conversations.

    You see, they started last Friday October 15th at 12:01 AM when a slew of emails hit our Lost Abbey in box.  Many of them were of the cut and past variety and they all were sent to detest our “New” Witch’s Wit label. We thought this odd since the label was first produced in 2008 and has never once inspired anyone to contact us to express their displeasure.

    Turns out that recently a very famous member of the Wiccan Community “found” our beer in a store. She was immediately appalled by our use of 16th Century images featuring a Witch being burned at the stake. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter were all employed to mount an assault on our systems. An email campaign was also started and a barrage of very similar emails filled our in boxes for the duration of the weekend.

    Many of these emails labeled our Marketing and PR Departments as ignorant, woman hating Cretans. Some claimed that no sane person in their right mind would use an image of a buxom Witch being burned at the stake for commercial gain.

    We have a stack of emails asking whether we would show Jews being gassed or African American’s being lynched. Of course not was our reply. Others seemed to think we were responsible for recent incidents in Darfur as well. It was amazing chain of events to say the least.

    Apparently, many of the emailers didn’t bother to spend time researching our branding and the positioning of our beers. In blindly denouncing our original art and the satire of our labels, most of the emailers failed to connect with our brands. Looking at these emails, it was obvious that in our desire to tell a great story, we had forgotten to get that information on our website in a meaningful way.

    Sitting in my office, I can honestly say it was hard for us to see the forest from the trees.

    Since day one, The Lost Abbey has been about original artwork, original beers and original back label stories tying them together. I know this because it’s been my job to develop the beer, commission the original artwork and write the back story for the label. This has been no easy task. Yet, I am very proud of our labels. They are cohesive and constantly work at pushing the boundaries of beer as art.

    But we’re still missing some of the storytelling aspects on our website. So we’ll be adding this to our list of things to do in the not so distant future.

    But getting back to the Pagan and Wiccan brewhaha that ensued is why I am blogging today. Sage was tasked with answering the communities and in his response he emplored the emailers to approach our beers as a collection of original artistic pieces displaying the struggle between good and evil. As soon as this email began making the rounds, some members of the pagan community responded with more positivity; others were still not placated.

    Each day last week, I came to work and wanted to communicate this situation to our Lost Abbey Clergy. I felt it was important to share this with the consumers of our beers who support the artistic direction of this brand. Ultimately, I decided against it as this because I didn’t want to fan the flames of this little wildfire. This was incredibly difficult for me as I received some memorable emails and quotes like this one: “Screw you, you fat ass beer slugging alcoholic Christian Ass Hole.”

    But now that the New York Times published a story in today’s paper detailing our situation with the Pagan and Wiccan communities, I typed this blog post to share my thoughts with you. Please go read the New York Times piece. Then please go read the notes I published about our Witch’s Wit Label on our website. When you’re finished, you can use this forum for comments about this beer. We’d love to hear what you have to say about this.

    At this time, the only decision that has been made about this label is that we have agreed (as owners) to discuss this label controversy at our meeting in November. We remain committed to the art of story telling and using beer as our medium and hope to keep delivering more amazing beers and stories for years to come.

    NOTE: We have enabled comments on this post so the subject may be discussed openly. However, comments that contain profanity or libel or personally threaten anyone — Lost Abbey employee or comment contributor — will be immediately deleted. Thanks.

  5. And away they go 2010 GABF Beers


    As is the annual tradition for the GABF, I am here to give you a bit of insight as to the beers we sent, categories entered and our reasoning.  It’s Friday morning and I just finished judging.  Most of my judge friends are finishing up their last rounds as we speak.

    For the 2010 Great American Beer Festival we again have two booths and sets of beers on the floor.  On the Port Brewing side, we have entered the following beers:

    Wipeout IPA-  This is entered in  Category 47- American IPA which remains the single largest category at the fest.  We love Wipeout, and it’s our best selling beer.  But seriously, I don’t know if this beer has enough aroma to slog its way to the final round of 12.  It’s just that tough.

    Mongo IPA- A first year entry at the GABF this fall.  We LOVE Mongo.  It’s in great shape and along with Hop 15 is entered in Category 48 Imperial IPA.  We have won three medals for Hop 15 over the years.  But this year, I’m choosing Mongo as the victor for this race.

    Hot Rocks Lager- Fresh off a Silver Medal win at the 2010 World Beer Cup in Chicago, we are again entering this beer in #13 Out of Category- Traditionally Styled Beers.  This is a new batch of Hot Rocks and we  think the bottles tasted amazing.  Clearly it has a tough road ahead of it.  This is category is growing in size each competition.  The batch that won in Chicago had a little bit deeper Melanoidin character and this one is drier so I just don’t know.

    Panzer Pilsner has been moved out of the Pro Am side of the competition and is now entered in the Other Strong Ale and Lager Category 11.  The draft tasted awesome last night.   The bottles we opened at the brewery a week a go…not so much.  Definitely not going to be hopeful here.

    The last of our 6 Port Brewing entries holds the most hope.  This year they have split the barrel aged strong beer category.  This means that barrel aged Imperial Stout like beers have their own place.  This is great.  I saw from the registrations that there were only 33 beers entered.  As this is the best batch of Older Viscosity we have ever made, it could do very well.  Perhaps Terri will have to accept the award (if it wins) since it’s her favorite beer of all time.

    On the Abbey side of things, we have expanded the offerings to 9 beers entered in the competition.  I think there are some real opportunities to do well here.  Remember that last year we took home dual gold medals for Carnevale and Duck Duck Gooze.

    We have entered both of these beers again.  The Carnevale is the 2010 version of the beer and it lands in category 65 Belgian and French Specialty.  We love this years batch as much as last years so fingers crossed.

    The Duck Duck makes a return appearance to the Category 66 Lambic or Sour Ale along with Framboise de Amorosa.  It might be tough for the Duck Duck to repeat its gold medal ways.  But the bottle I shared with my dad the other night was pretty special.  Framboise was entered as a sour brown with raspberries added.  It’s a bit sharper than I would like it to be.  However, the raspberry character is so amazing, it can’t be overlooked.  We will need one of these beers to do well this week for sure.

    This year we are not pouring Cuvee de Tomme nor have we entered it in the competition.  Taking Cuvee’s place is Brouwer’s Imagination #2.  This is a blended sour ale that was carefully put together after a very laborious tasting session after the Stone Sour Fest in July of 2009.  We LOVE the wine barrel expression in this beer.  It’s got an amazingly long tannic finish.

    Bragging rights will be on the line in this category as Dave Keene brings Cable Car 2009 to the table.  If it’s any indication after last night (keg blew in 2 hours) this one is legit.  Rumor is Matt Bonney and Dave Keene have a side bet going as someone could walk away victorious.  The Cable Car is perfect right now.  The acid to wood balance is stunning.  So let’s hope both of them win and they figure out how to settle that bet.

    The awards ceremony gets real for us at category # 7 which is the specialty beer category.  We won the Gold Medal in 2007 for Judgment Day here.  It’s been a while since I loved a batch of Judgment Day as much as I love this one  Let’s hope we hit the ground running with our first beer category of the afternoon.

    After Judgment Day, we’ll have a short wait before the American Wild Ale Category gets called at #16.  We entered Red Poppy here this year.  My fear is that there is too much oak on display in the beer.  Everything else about the beer is fantastic.  The category specifically states no “Vanillan” so let’s hope the judges are boneheads here.

    For the very first time, we will dip our toes in the water of Lager Land.  As you know from visiting the brewery, we have been working on a new beer called Road to Helles all summer long.  It’s fantastic.  The first batch was a bit too hoppy for style so it’s been entered as a German Pils.  Every bottle I opened in the last two weeks has been great.  Here’s hoping we shock the world Lager Style in category 25 German Style Pils.

    And last but not least, we have returned to the GABF with Angel’s Share in hand.  Specifically, this is the 2010 batch of Angel’s Share Grand Cru.  For what it’s worth, I adore this beer.  I think the depth of flavors is silly.  I don’t expect this will pull its weight.  We love it.  Our patrons love it but I fear the judges will think otherwise.  If this thing catches lightning in a bottle, I for one will be very happy.

    That’s it from Denver.  We’re about 25 hours away from the biggest beer award ceremony ever.  I’m already counting down the hours and know I won’t be sleeping much tonight. It’s a great feeling knowing we have so many chances to succeed on the biggest stage possible.  It’s Denver and we’ve brought the noise.

  6. On Litigation


    I can’t actually remember the first time I met Arne Johnson or had one of his beers. I do know that White Knuckle is still one of my favorite California Beers. Back when I worked at the Pizza Port in Solana Beach, there were always stops at Marin Brewing Company on our way to Booneville and the Anderson Valley Brewing Company for their beer festival every year.

    On these same trips, we would also stop in Santa Rosa and visit Denise Jones when she was brewing at 3rd Street Aleworks. Denise made excellent beers in Santa Rosa and has continued that brewing excellence working at Moylan’s Brewing Company. They are both Head Brewer friends of mine. It’s quite possible (as of today) that they USED to be Head Brewer friends of mine. Filing suit against their employer has a strange effect on friendships. I’m pretty sure of that. I also know that Head Brewer’s don’t sue other Head Brewers. However, from time to time, Breweries are forced to protect their intellectual property and branding. It’s the ugly side of the business that breweries (and all small businesses) hope to avoid.

    On Thursday, we heard from hundreds of Craft Beer Enthusiasts who were outraged that we needed to sue anyone let alone another Craft Brewery. It was one of the most gut wrenching vitriolic laced days I have ever been a part of.

    Did we want this to happen? Hell no. But after all manners of conversations dating back to April of this year, we had reached an impasse. So last week Port Brewing LLC filed a Lawsuit for Trademark infringement against Moylan’s Brewing Company. The North County Times (a San Diego based newspaper) published an article detailing our filing and the reasoning behind it. Since Thursday is behind us and so much of the hate continues to fester on, we have decided to put some of the facts about our decision here online.

    We understand and respect that Moylan’s Brewing Company has been using Celtic Based themes and images for the past 15 years of business. This has never been part of our concern. It was also detailed that Moylan’s had at one time used a Silver Cross as a tap handle design. This is a picture with the original Moylan’s tap handles here (photo courtesy of Moylan’s Brewing Company):

    Moylan's cross tap handles: left & center - old handles (circa 1999), right - new handle (circa 2010)

    You’ll also note that on the right side of the picture, there is a newer version of a Celtic Cross tap handle. This is the tap handle that Port Brewing LLC believes infringes on our Trademark in as much as we have been using a highly stylized Celtic Cross tap handle since 2008 for our Lost Abbey beers.

    From the moment we first contacted Moylan’s Brewing back in April, it has been our intention to settle this amicably while at the same time not having our trademark put at risk or devalued. Their new Celtic Tap handle has been our singular concern as we believe it was only put into service earlier this year. We asked for (and never received) any assurances that the new stylized handle predates our first usage of our Lost Abbey Celtic cross design early in 2008. We searched their website, facebook page and even the internet to no avail. We could not find an earlier usage for the stylized Celtic Cross tap handle which looks like ours.

    Yes, it’s true. The Moylan’s silver cross handles (on the left of the photo) predate both the founding and creation of The Lost Abbey and our highly stylized tap handle that we put into use in 2008. We have never once disputed this fact. This was part of our original conversations. What has never been answered in our numerous dialogues with them is when they ordered and began using the tap handle (on the right side of the picture) that violates our trademark.

    Please check our FAQ’s which we compiled to address this issue. At this time, we are waiting for a response from Moylan’s Brewing Company and still are open to a resolution that neither weakens nor devalues our Lost Abbey Trademark stylized Celtic Cross Tap Handle. Tap handles are a big point of our branding for both our Lost Abbey as well as our Port Brewing beers. In fact, we have actually applied for the trademark to protect the “Flip Flop” tap handle design that we use for our Port Brewing beers as well. The bigger and healthier the Craft Brewing business gets, the harder it is to be unique and distinctive. Intellectual Property is something that all breweries (small and big) need to value. It’s one of the biggest assets we can own.

    Lastly,filing paperwork with the Federal Courts does not mean we are obligated to sue Moylan’s Brewing LLC. I can tell you that we at Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey are not giddy with excitement about this filing. When I look out my office window, I know the 12 people who work at this brewery aren’t high fiving each other about their owners decision to do this. But they understand that Intellectual Property is a big part of this brewery and the beers we sell.

    So yes, Port Brewing LLC filed suit against Moylan’s Brewing LLC. We understand that owning a Craft Brewery comes with a spirit of Collaboration not Litigation. And paying lawyers to settle things isn’t a great use of hard earned profits. Every brewer I know would rather use the money to add additional capacity to brew more award winning beers. But this is a business. And sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. This is not an issue of Goliath suing David. Rather, at this time, it is a solely two small passionate craft breweries who happen to disagree looking to protect their intellectual property. Ultimately, a compromise that doesn’t involve the courts may be reached. And then we can all go back to focusing on doing the things we do best.

  7. High Tide Progress and an Expansion Update

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    As you can see from the photos, I spent Labor Day Weekend working the brewhouse at Port Brewing.

    First and foremost, the High Tide Fermentations (there are three tanks going) have progressed along nicely. We are at terminal gravity for all three tanks and tomorrow, we will begin preparations for the conditioning phase of the beer.

    Dude, that's a lot of fresh hops

    It’s great when they let me back out there. Brings a smile to my face to shovel grain. And yes, I am being serious. As DOBO (Director of Brewery Operations) I often find myself behind the scenes doing all manner of things except brewing. It sucks. But that’s the reality sometimes. That being said, it’s been a very exciting week.

    Yesterday, a second truck carrying Simcoe Fresh Hops left Yakima, WA. and is doing the Convoy thing. Not sure if The Bandit is along for this ride or not, but we’re ready. The Fresh Hops will arrive in the early afternoon and head straight for our refrigerator.

    On Friday they will be stuffed into body bag-sized sacks and tied off to the insides of the conditioning tanks. It’s crazy how much work goes into prepping for their arrival and usage. But it’s all worth it in two weeks when we tap that first keg of Glorious Hop Infused High Tide IPA.

    This is now the 5th year we have produced High Tide. For this years undertaking we brought in 1,100 lbs of Fresh Cascade Hops for the brewday. An additional 720 lbs of Simcoe will be added to the tanks before the weekend. Given how vibrant and green those Cascade hops were, we could be talking about a seriously dank batch of beer. I can’t wait to see how green and stinky the Simcoe’s are as well.

    Seems like only yesterday we were brewing that 1st batch of High Tide in our single warehouse. Fast forward to today and we’re in the final stages of securing rights to a 3rd warehouse for Port Brewing. Last fall we moved our Distribution Center across the parking lot to make room for more beer. Later this week, we hope to sign the dotted line on the old Aramark building to our east. This is one of the few buildings in our block that Stone didn’t occupy when they were tenants here. It’s exciting for everyone.

    Gordie may be the happiest as we’ll be moving the bottling line out of the office area and expanding the conveyor lengths with new accumulation tables as well. Matt is giddy with glee as a guy can be as he is slated to have his very own office. Now he’ll have a place to hang that diploma from ASU that he rarely puts to use. The Head Cuban is strutting around like a proud peacock as he’ll have his own desk to sit behind and wave at people through the window just like me. David is counting the days until he has more space to build orders in his warehouse since we’ll be moving all of the raw materials and glass out of his warehouse.

    Yet, I might be have the biggest grin from ear to ear as we’re going to build an even bigger lab area with dedicated grow rooms for our critters, wild yeast and bugs. It’s super exciting to think about what we’ll be working with in those rooms. It also means we can finally talk about a real growth curve for the barrel aged sour beer program. Not having enough bugs and critters going is always a problem. I think we’re close to alleviating those concerns. And for that, I am thankful that we have another building expansion to deal with this fall.

    GABF is next week and there is a whole slew of Port Brewing and Lost Abbey support heading to the Rockies. Look forward to the GABF Competition summary to appear on Friday September 17th in the early afternoon. The judging will have taken place and ballots will have been cast by then. The only thing left to do is sit back and wait for the best 2 hours of our year when our friends, competitors and great brewers get to reap what they sow. We have entered 15 beers between the two brands this year. There will be lots to read about.

    Stay tuned.

  8. “I’ve come to The Lost Abbey seeking Deliverance…


    As we’re not a “real” abbey, we don’t have large stone walls surrounding our monastery. We most certainly do not have a front gate being guarded over by a man of the cloth either.

    Not The Lost Abbey

    But like most abbeys, we open our doors on a regular basis for those in need.

    Some have smallish needs (like a cold glass of Lost and Found). Others have much larger needs (like cases of Red Poppy).

    Yet, one constant remains. Our doors are opened to Sinners and Saints alike on the simple premise that all come to The Lost Abbey seeking something.

    Ultimately, this means we’re all in the same boat together. It matters not whether you are a certified Saint or a problematic Sinner, the end is most assuredly going to arrive at some point. And on that day, we’ll huddle together wondering what is left for us as we leave this place.

    Most likely we’ll be lined up together seeking some measure of Deliverance. If we’re lucky, we’ll all catch the train headed towards heavens’ front gate. Others will not be so lucky. I suppose, it will be an epic struggle as the Angel’s of Mercy clash mightily with the Demons of Hell.

    Just thinking about a Battle Royale for all these souls gets me thirsty.

    So today, we’re bottling Deliverance, and let me tell you, it’s one HEAVY beer.

    What is Deliverance and how does one bottle it? Well, it’s a blend of Bourbon Barrel Aged Serpent’s Stout and Brandy Barrel Aged Angel’s Share. You see in Bourbon Barrel Aged Serpent’s Stout we have captured the essence of one very evil beer (the Devil’s brew if you will). Blacker than the strongest plague and hotter than Hades itself, there’s fire in this beer- a veritable cauldron of Bourbon infused beer. Left to its own devices, this would be one sinister liquid.

    Yet, we have tempered this odious darkness with heaven sent Saintly created Angel’s Share. And together, these two beers will work in harmony to deliver us on that day.

    Deliverance by Dominguez

    Sean Dominguez worked overtime on the painting for this label. It is perhaps one of the darkest and most disturbing things he has painted for us. So demented in fact his wife Paige expelled it from their home the moment it was completed.

    Thankfully, it joins Judgment Day, Inferno and Witch’s Wit in exploring the darker side of life’s struggles and The Lost Abbey role in finding Deliverance for souls — banished or otherwise.

    A couple of weeks from now, we’ll be having another release at the Lost Abbey and I fully expect it to be an glorious day. More souls than ever before will find their way through the Abbey’s open doors.

    And it will come to no one’s surprise as Saint and Sinners alike approach the alter and utter the phrase – “I’ve come seeking Deliverance.”

    For that, I am thankful we have found a way to put Deliverance in a bottle.

  9. Party Central


    This past weekend we celebrated our 4th Anniversary of doing business as Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey. It was a great party and a welcome change of pace from last year when we turned 3 and celebrated all day with 700 or so of our closest friends. This past weekend, we changed things up a bit and went with ticketed split sessions allowing us to control the ebb and flow that was impossible to do last year. In doing things this way, we created a much more intimate setting as we only had 350 people at each of our sessions which is WAY more manageable.

    4th Anniversary Party fun

    Of course it was not all roses. We had some long waits for the Pizza that were serving. And others complained Vince was supposed to be cooking. Hopefully these minor issues didn’t keep most from enjoying themselves.

    I’d also like to take a moment to thank Rich from Dr. Pepper and Amy from Republic of Tea for sponsoring our designated driver hydration needs. Both of them kicked down ample non alcoholic products for the day. The Volunteer pool for this party also went above the board helping us direct traffic, move stuff and generally lay out the facilities. It was awesome to work with such a group of people. When we were finished on Saturday, I couldn’t help but think how lucky we were to have them assisting us.

    Many of the attendees on Saturday walked out of here with a special 4th Anniversary t-shirt commemorating our previously detailed woes. You’ll know they were at the party when you see a beer enthusiast walking by with a giant blue and white A on the back of their tshirts. Our employees got a kick out of their new work shirts as well. The whole health department saga came to end last week on Thursday with the published article in the North County Times.

    On Wednesday, I was interviewed by a miss Morgan Cook about the tasting room incident. On Thursday I took Sydney to school. On the way to school, we stopped to play a game “Let’s find daddy’s picture in the newspaper today.” It didn’t take her long as daddy’s mean mug ( I couldn’t smile for the camera man) was on the front page of the paper (above the fold no less). She smiled and I giggled about how funny I looked. She kept saying “Daddy where’s Duck Duck Gooze?” (Which by the way is her favorite artwork we have).

    So we’re back to work this week at the brewery with normal business operations. Four batches of Hop 15, two Judgment Day, three Mongos and a batch of Red Barn all will hit the tanks this week. We’re also sampling Older Viscosity for blending next week. I have a pretty light schedule for the rest of the week. But this weekend, it’s back to party mode. You see, we’re celebrating Syd the kids 4th birthday this weekend on Saturday. I know Maureen never forgets it but sometimes I do. We launched a family and a brewery 10 days apart 4 years ago. So I get to celebrate two of the best things in the world each May. This Saturday, there won’t be much beer in the park. However, there will be Margaritas back at the house when it’s over. They will taste so very good.

    You know what else is going to taste good? I think those new batches of Witch’s Wit and that Helles in our fermenter will taste pretty damn good this summer. There, I said it. We’re making a lager for easy drinking Saturdays at the brewery. And the Wit, well people have been waiting far too long for it to come back around. Things are always in a state of movement out here in San Marcos- thankfully so.

  10. Blogging Day and Collaborative Beers

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    Session #39

    The Session #39 - Collaborations

    It’s been a while since I sat down and worked on a post for Blogging Day. Given that today’s topic is near and dear to my heart, I thought I would weigh in. Thanks to Mario over at Hop Press for hosting.

    Last weekend, I attended the 20th Southern California Homebrewers Festival and gave a presentation on Collaborative Brewing as part of the festivities. As I was writing my presentation, I began to understand that there are, in my estimation, about 5 reasons why collaborative beers come to fruition. For the talk, I tried to key in on how each of these elements drives different beers and the partnerships that come out of them.

    1) Marketing – All Collaborative beers have some form of marketability about them as you’re bringing two (or more brewers) together to create a newly imagined beer. As such, the new beer has the potential to reach two sets of craft beer fans. However, this is probably the biggest slippery slope of the 5 Collaborative reasons in my mind. Why is that? Well, I believe the entire Collaborative brewing process needs to have roots in sustainability. The more gimicky these projects get then the less interesting they become to the consumer. When Run DMC and Aerosmith collaborated on “Walk This Way,” it wasn’t the 15th time some rockers got with a rappers. Nope, it was fresh.

    I was lucky enough last fall to have been part of a Marketing based Collaborative Brewing Project that was put together by the Wetherspoon Pub Group in the UK. I detailed my experiences in a previous blog post. Needless to say, I believe this approach to Collaborative Brewing is heavily rooted in marketability yet there is value for the brewers involved. I was lucky enough to travel to Kent and brew in England’s oldest brewery. That didn’t suck.

    My fear is that Marketing-based Collaborative beers will fall into a black hole where things are no longer imagined but rather engineered by the guys sitting in strategic meetings with notebooks on what the public wants next.

    Imagine if you will a large room with a conference call between two large formerly domestic brewers. One Executive “Yes, we think it’s crazy too. You take our Lime infused lager and combine it with your Tomato infused Malt Liquor and BLAMMO you have Cuban Street Juice-something totally new…”

    Just Shoot me if this happens…

    But I do fear the day when Collaborative beers are less about imagination and more about SKU’s and push pull scenarios. It will happen on some level. This much is true.

    2) Opportunity – I counted all of the projects that I have worked on over the last 7 years and a bunch of them fall into this category. My first Collaborative beer (with Peter Brouckaert of New Belgium) was Mo Betta Bretta which we brewed at Pizza Port in Solana Beach. For Peter, it was an opportunity to leave the big brewhouse and get back to his small brewing roots. For Pizza Port, it was the chance to work with a very imaginative brewer on a whacky brewing project. We ultimately settled on brewing a 100% Brettanomyces fermented beer. It may have been the first commercially All Brett Beer ever produced and sold in this country. Score one for Opportunity and the launching of other all Brett Beers (In your Best NASA like Voice repeat after me “This is one Giant Leap for all Brettmankind…”) To this day, Mo Betta Bretta remains one of my favorite Collaborations. Peter was so giddy in my brewhouse that day- like a kid in candy store that day.

    3) Friendship – If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that the bulk of Collaborative beers are made with this in mind. When friends sit down over pints of beer, stories flow and guards get let down. The funny thing about friendships and beer is how powerful they can be. If you look at the Stone Brewing Collaborations there seem to be an endless stream of possibilities. When Greg, Steve and Mitch sit down and list who they might want to work with, it’s a veritable who’s who of brewing.

    Hildegard Van Ostaden of Urthel

    In 2008, here at Port Brewing, we produced a batch of beer called Ne Goeien Saison. The recipe was written by Hiledgard van Ostaden who along with her husband Bas run the Urthel Brewery in Belgium.

    It was over a couple of beers during a judging session at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival that I invited her to come brew with us at Port Brewing. I’ve been brewing for over 14 years now but I had never actually brewed with a Belgian trained brewmaster. Working with Hildegard presented exactly this type of opportunity.

    4) Travel – Numerous Collaborative beers that I have been involved in have afforded me time to travel away from this brewery. And when I get away from the day to day grind that is brewing here at Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey, my imaginative powers start working in ways they just can’t around here. So, I like to look at Collaboration projects that involve travel. In 2007 I was afforded the opportunity to head to Belgium to work with Dirk Naudts at the De Proef Brewery on a new recipe for a beer called Signature Ale. Since the De Proef Brewery is essentially a contract brewing facility, they do not open their doors to most breweries and tourists. The possibility of getting to see one of the most technologically proficient small breweries in all of Europe presented itself, I jumped at the chance.

    5) Technique – Last February we produced the very first batch of Hot Rocks Lager. The recipe was written by Tonya Cornett of the Bend Brewing Company. (See the photo gallery.)

    Tonya Cornett, Bend Brewing Co.

    Tonya Cornett, Bend Brewing Co.

    What was great about working on this project was opening Tonya’s eyes to a process that she has now taken back to her brewery. Our use of the historical stein beer methodology (albeit an updated one) showcased flavors don’t always have to come from the four traditional brewing ingredients. At Bend Brewing Company the patrons now get to drink Roxie each year as she has brought the Stein Beer process back to her patrons.

    For me, these are the 5 driving forces behind all Collaborative Beers. I also happen to think that the best Collaborative Beer I ever worked on nailed these 5 elements to a “T.” Isabelle Proximus may go down as one of the most ambitious Collaborative projects imagined. You see, it’s the sort of beer that ties all 5 of these reasons together.

    Isabelle Proximus

    First it had amazing marketability – The five guys known as the Brett Pack getting together on one jam session. We mixed in a bit of opportunity in that we wanted to created a lasting story – a legacy piece if you will commemorating our epic trip to Belgium in 2006. The trip was rooted in our friendship and a desire to see old world Lambic producers and strike up friendships based on respect and admiration.

    Isabelle Proximus was born out of our travels to Belgium and the bonds of 5 American Brewers sharing a like minded approach to brewing. Perhaps the biggest achievement, for me, is how Isabelle transcended brewing borders. Isabelle Proximus is a ridiculously rewarding sour beer experience. Most assuredly it is an American Invention. Yet, the spirit of the beer is purely Burgundian.

    I am very proud of all the Collaborative projects I have been a part of. Yet, when they ask me which one I love the most, I don’t give a canned answer. I wax on philosophically about our baby Isabelle. She turns 4 this year and each year she keeps on evolving. Reminds me another 4 year old I know too.

    I’m looking forward to more great Collaborative Brewing Projects. I know of one that especially interests me and a couple of my California Brewing friends. It’s something we’re code naming Small, Medium and Large at this point. If all goes well, it will happen in the next year or so.