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any folks ask me, “Adam, you’re a good lookin’ young man with a super hot girlfriend and a dog that looks like Falcor from the Never Ending Story. So, why in Sam’s hell would you then choose to become a professional brewer?” The answer is simple folks: passion, or as I like to say, “Le pasión.” And I’m not alone. There’s a rich talent pool of young up-and-comers here in the San Diego brewing scene, and our beginnings couldn’t be further apart. I’ll start with three of my closest friends: Nolan Clark of Karl Strauss Brewing Co., Joe Lisica of Oggi’s and Ryan Pear- son of Green Flash Brewing Co. These guys are three talented young cats that are very deserving of becoming the next big names in brewing. “My life had become a patchouli-scented tie-dye cloud of uncertainty,” admits

To Live and Brew in SD M

By Adam Carbonell

Nolan Clark, who also drums in the international reggae super group Stranger. “Thanks to the band I had become a super star in Hawaii, but here I was aimless. Soon after cutting off my dreadlocks I found my path. I got a cellar gig at Strauss and there Adam taught me everything he knew about craft brewing. It wasn’t much, but I knew I had found my life’s passion and every day I wake up and thank Jah for this opportunity!” Now, one might think looking at Joe Lisica that he grew up plowing prairie grass in the rurals of eastern Pennsylvania, but you’d be wrong. Joe was born and raised in the historically rich community of Monterey, CA and just like Ricky Schroder in Silver Spoons he yearned to break free from his pampered existence and find himself through low wages and back-breaking labor. “So, I sold my Lexus, bought a beat up Range Rover Oxford Edition and headed down the coast,” says Joe. “Next thing you know, after endless hours of calls from my father, I’m cleaning gunk outta kegs and feeding mash to goats but I tell ya I’ve never looked back and I’ve never been happier.” To see the real Ryan Pearson one must venture beyond the veil of blindingly-

blonde, shoulder-length hair and a “go F yourself” fu Manchu reminiscent of late 1990s Hulk Hogan. Yes, behind the imposing façade lies a man whose first passion has and always will be the art of dance. That’s right, dance. In fact, Ryan’s ability to channel his inner passion through dance, mainly Jazz and Ballet, earned him county-wide recogni- tion in his hometown just outside of Stockton, CA, as well as a full scholarship to his neighborhood’s top university. It was during a grueling training session in the studio that Ryan, in mid-grand allegro, tore his MCL, thus ending his dance career forever. “I was like really upset and stuff but there was a magazine with a picture of Chuck Silva and figured I could probably grow a beard like that and if I could do that then maybe I could like brew beer and stuff too.” And that he did. Soon after hobbling of a bus to San Diego, Ryan landed his first gig at the prestigious Green Flash, and in his short tenure has become one of the county’s greatest unknown brewing sensations. Now I’m not saying a career in brewing is for everyone, but for a special few of us, when life got flipped upside down, our North Star of hope was found in a shared passion for beer. Sweet, sweet beer.

Fresh from the Oven By Ryan Lamb

n her previous kitchen space, local entrepreneur-by-day, interior design student-by-night Misty Birchall was able to bake two batches of her craft- beer inspired and infused PubCakes at a time. Now, the double-decker convec- tion oven looming in the corner of a new 700 square-foot shared storefront with Treehouse Coffee Co. can pump out ten batches of treats simultaneously. “I love my new oven. I can finally explore more flavors a bit,” she said while frosting yet another sweet temptation, this time the Irish Carbomb. This is Misty’s “gate- way cupcake,” the one that will get you hooked. “They really look their best freshly-frosted.” She wasn’t kidding – the Guinness Irish Cream frosting shone like a newly-polished trophy, accompa- nied by a chocolate whiskey ganache that promises to appease the cravings of any sweet-toothed beer lover. “I’m also working towards a Red


Velvet, but it’s proving a bit difficult. Normally I don’t start with a cupcake, I start with a beer.” In fact, four local beers act as catalysts for the six variet- ies she currently produces. Misty’s Top Ten Cake utilizes Karl Strauss’ Tower

Ten IPA, as well as cayenne caramel, cherry, and ancho chilies. Stoned Portz- illa employs Stone Smoked Porter with coffee ganache and caramelized coconut. Cup O’ Hefen is one of three “specialty cupcakes,” using Ballast Point’s Wahoo Wheat as a base alongside coriander and citrus buttercream. To round out the local brew-inspired offerings, Beer for Breakfast, another in the specialty list, is a must-try with bacon and maple cream cheese frosting; the beer: AleSmith’s Wee Heavy. For vegan customers, the Punkin’ Vegan is available, which has North Coast Brewery’s Old Stock Ale, pumpkin, and maple topping. All frosting is made from scratch, and Misty even revealed one of her secrets: the batter rises best the next day after refrigeration. The PubCakes/Treehouse Cof- fee Co. shared storefront is having their Grand Opening on Saturday, February 5th from 12-4pm, complete with beer garden in the lot next door. The spot is located at7229 El Cajon Blvd., tucked just south of the 8 freeway off the 70th Street exit. Purchase $3 worth of cupcakes or coffee and get a ticket for (3) 4oz tasters of local craft beer. 20% of all proceeds go to Hid-

We found at least fifty “altered” December covers at Toronado. Joe Lisica and Ryan Pearson, members of “The Hate Squad,” were the two main vandals.

Adam Carbonell is the President of the San Diego Brewers Guild. He has held

brewer positions all over town, including Back Street Brewery, three different Karl Strauss locations, and Ballast Point/Home Brew Mart.

Misty Birchall fills the Top Ten Cake, one of six varieties

den Treasures, a nonprofit thrift store that offers developmentally disabled adults an environment in which they build social and vocational skills.

As for how the shared storefront came to be, the answer wasn’t too surpris- ing. “Craigslist,” Misty declared. “I was looking to rent commercial kitchen space, and found Mandi’s (Treehouse Coffee Co. owner) listing. She had interviewed fifteen different businesses about sub- leasing the space, and when we met we just clicked.” The fact their names were both five letters and started with “M” was, well, icing on the cake. A big block

M perched on a cupboard as you walk in symbolizes the successful partnership. “In my previous job, I would always make the birthday cakes. Then I became the cupcake girl at Toronado when I brought in the first version of the Irish Carbomb for a friend’s birthday. Someone finally told me, ‘You gotta pursue this.’” While our dentists may disagree, we’re happy she did.

Contact PubCakes:, pub-, Cakes, 858.952.8523, 7229 El Cajon Blvd.


Guest Tap is a new column we are trying out. Think of it as an open mic with a filter. We’ve received interest in writing for West Coaster, so here’s your shot. Shoot us 500 words with art on a topic you are knowledgeable about related to the San Diego Craft Beer Community. Understand that it may be edited ruthlessly. Controversy welcome. -Ed (

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