Jim Crute has been drinking beer almost exclusively out of 22-ounce bombers for decades. Given that, it’s not surprising that, to-date, all of the beers produced at his Lightning Brewery (13200 Kirkham Road, Suite 105, Poway) have been packaged in 22s. But according to Crute, fans of his brews want it in greater quantity and doses that are easier to digest, namely six-packs. Rather than impose his will on the masses, he’s heeding their wishes and begun sending sixers to market.
Crute is ushering in this new chapter in Lightning’s packaging history by focusing on the company’s two best-selling beers. Those brews, Elemental Pilsner and Thunderweizen Ale, represent somewhat rare styles in San Diego County. While pilsners and hefeweizens are extremely popular throughout the US, much of the German influence that has permeated the rest of the country’s brewing culture has skipped over America’s Finest City (despite the fact many pre-Prohibition breweries and San Diego’s first post-Prohibition brewery still in operation, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, dealt mostly in German beer styles). These newly-available-in-12-ounce-bottle brews are regarded by many as the best version of their respected styles in the county.
This isn’t the first time Crute has massaged his business’ direction to appease his customer base. When he opened Lightning seven years ago, he vowed to never make an India pale ale. And, technically, he stayed true to that statement. But in 2012, he did introduce a double IPA called Double Strike India Pal Ale. He’s an opinionated guy, but not too obtuse to change things up in the name of his clientele.