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2 San Diego Uptown News | Feb. 3-17, 2011


Uptown becomes hotspot for homebrewers

By Erin Coe SDUN Columnist

f Kelsey McNair of North Park wants to grab a beer, he doesn’t have to walk very far. He knows a great place in the neighborhood that's open around the clock, has 14 beers on tap, from fruity Belgian ales to strong Russian imperial stouts to award- winning India Pale Ales.

I This place just so happens to be his house.

When the 32-year-old video- game maker for Sony Online En- tertainment made his first batch of golden ale with a Mr. Beer kit six years ago, a light bulb went off in his head—he could really get into homebrewing as a hobby, but it’s become much more than that. “It’s a sense of accomplishment to make something that, at the end of the day, is a great beer,” he said. McNair is part of a growing number of San Diegans who not only want to savor a beer for its taste but crave the satisfaction of knowing that it was made by their own two hands. Now, with San Diego County’s

emerging reputation as a beer hub with many renowned brew- eries producing craft beers that have won international acclaim, homebrewers could not ask for a better location to jumpstart their endeavor and drink in inspiration. More people across the U.S. have picked up the hobby as homebrew retailers saw national sales increase by 16 percent in

Kelsey McNair, 32, of North Park boasts an admirable homebrewing setup. Shown here is a snapshot of McNair's step-by-step process. (Erin Coe/SDUN)

2009, according to the most recent statistics by Boulder, Colo.-based American Homebrewers Associa- tion (AHA), which is planning to hold its national homebrew compe- tition in San Diego in June. Gary Glass, director of AHA, said making beer at home is ex- pected to continue to gain in popu- larity as the economy recovers. “The interest in homebrewing continues to grow and there is growth in the craft beer segment,” Glass said. “Those two things go hand-in-hand as people get exposed to quality craft beer. Several factors in San Diego County coincide to make it a breeding ground for homebrew- ers. The region boasts a burgeon-

ing number of prominent brewer- ies, including San Marcos-based Port Brewing Co., Vista-based Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego-based Ballast Point Brew- ing Co. and Escondido-based Stone Brewing Co.

Ballast Point was hailed as the top small brewing company by the Brewers Association World Beer Cup last year. Many local brewer- ies also took home gold medals for their beers from that competition, including San Diego-based Ale- Smith Brewing Co. for its AleSmith Wee Heavy, San Diego-based Karl Strauss Brewing Co. for its Red Trolley Ale and Alpine Beer Co. for its O’Brien’s IPA. “If you’re a beer lover, you’re spoiled in San Diego,” Larry Mo- nasakanian said, an assistant man- ager of Home Brew Mart, which opened Ballast Point in 1996. Homebrewing is closely linked with the appreciation of craft beer, and as more beer drinkers become thirsty for new styles and complex beers, such as IPAs or sour beers, that interest feeds into a desire to invent their own beers, Mona- sakanian said.

“When people have the op-

portunity to make beer at home, they become hungry to try more styles,” he said.

Monasakanian explained that the homebrew retailer’s business

see Homebrew, page 8

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