Anniversary ales abound

Alpine Beer, Societe Brewing pay sudsy homage to O'Brien's Pub

When assessing the San Diego craft beer scene, most people see two camps—breweries and the venues that deal their product. While these are two separate factions, there is more overlap then ever before between them. Numerous owners of brewing companies, bars and restaurants have struck up friendships that go far beyond the traditional buyer-seller model, developing heartfelt respect and admiration for what each side brings to the table. The result is relationships where brewers, and bar and restaurant owners go out of their way for each other.

For venues, this translates to brewery-specific tap takeovers, beer releases, beer dinners, and the like. In the case of brewers, this typically means reserving the best of their beer or providing presence at such events. But what’s fast becoming known as the ultimate show of brewer-to-account respect is the crafting of specialty beers specifically for individual venues.

One of the most active breweries in this regard has been Vista’s Mother Earth Brew Co. That business has brewed beers for Urge Gastropub and, most recently, Churchill’s Pub & Grille. Churchill’s has also had a long-standing relationship based on the donation of Jack Daniel's barrels from owner Ivan Derezin to Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey director of brewery operations Tomme Arthur, who has used those barrels, and some of his own stock, to produce imperial stouts dubbed Churchill’s Finest Hour and a sour ale called Churchill’s Finest Sour.

This month, two new anniversary ales from two different brewing companies—long-time cult fave Alpine Beer Co. and hot Kearny Mesa upstart Societe Brewing Company—will hit the scene. There’ll be a lot of commonality between the two. Each are hoppy ales, the name of both will incorporate the same two double-digit numbers, and, oh yeah, they’re both being brewed to honor the same place—O’Brien’s Pub (4646 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa). 2013 marks the popular watering hole’s nineteenth year in business, one of the longest tenures of any craft beer establishment in San Diego, as well as ten years since brewer Tom and Lindsey Nickel purchased the bar from original owner Jim O’Brien.

The first of the anniversary ales to be served at O’Brien’s, Societe 10/19 O’Brien’s Anniversary Ale, will be available no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 15. That beer is a 6%, 100% Chinook-hopped session IPA. The second commemorative brew, Alpine 19/10 O’Brien’s Anniversary IPA, will go on tap during lunch service on Friday, January 18. Columbus hops are the name of the game here. They make up 100% of the hop bill for this 7.4% India pale ale from Alpine brewer Shawn McIlhenney. Birthing beers to celebrate the longevity of the industry and its key players. It’s sudsy symbiosis at its best.

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