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Happy 100th "beer"thday, Balboa Park

Local brewers celebrate iconic centennial with 100-IBU IPA

Karl Strauss Brewing Co. brewmaster Paul Segura (left) and Lee Chase of Automatic Brewing Co. on brew day for Centennial IPA, a double India pale ale brewed to celebrate Balboa Park's 100th birthday (photo by Tim Stahl)
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Co. brewmaster Paul Segura (left) and Lee Chase of Automatic Brewing Co. on brew day for Centennial IPA, a double India pale ale brewed to celebrate Balboa Park's 100th birthday (photo by Tim Stahl)

Panama 66

1450 Plaza de Panama, Balboa Park

Tiger! Tiger!

3025 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park

Blind Lady Ale House

3416 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights

Karl Strauss Brewing Company

1157 Columbia Street, Downtown San Diego

The 100th anniversary of Balboa Park is a pretty cool thing. You know what would make it even cooler? A beer brewed to commemorate that milestone. But not just any beer. How about a San Diego-style double India pale ale crafted to hit 100 on the international bittering unit (IBU) scale using only Centennial hops? This is how Balboa Park ended up with Centennial IPA, a celebratory beer fitting the aforementioned description and stemming from an impromptu brainstorming session between Automatic Brewing Co. owner and brewmaster Lee Chase and Karl Strauss Brewing Company brewmaster Paul Segura.

Both are well known for the brewing prowess they’ve exhibited for nearly two decades. But in addition to logging all of their pro brewing years in San Diego County, they are also native San Diegans. They get how important Balboa Park is as a local landmark. Segura fondly remembers visits to museums and the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages as a kid, and last year Chase opened a restaurant abutting the park’s sculpture garden called Panama 66. As such, they feel a sense of civic pride strong enough to mark the occasion. The duo has actually wanted to collaborate on a beer for many years, but it took something this significant to finally get them in the same brewhouse, namely Karl Strauss’ Columbia Street brewery (which opened when Balboa Park was a spritely 75 years young).

The goal with Centennial IPA was to keep the beer as pale and dry as possible in order to allow the floral, citrus-like, spicy flavors of the hops to shine through. Centennial hops were added during the mash, in four increments during the boil, and twice post-fermentation. The original gravity was 19.15 degrees Plato (Balboa Park opened during 1915 Panama-California Exposition, after all) and the beer finished around 10% alcohol-by-volume. Hey, if you can’t go big for 100 years, when can you? Those looking to raise a pint to the park can find the beer at Panama 66, Blind Lady Ale House, Tiger! Tiger! Tavern, and Karl Strauss’ downtown brewery-restaurant or Pacific Beach brewery tasting room.

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