2005 | REGIONAL | WEST COAST
Silly Season In San Diego : Many Changes On Tap
By Rich Link
170 Orange Ave.
Coronado, CA 92118
Green Flash Brewing Co.
1430 Vantage Ct., #104-A
Vista, CA 92803
Left Coast Brewing Co.
1245 Puerto del Sol
San Clemente, CA 92673
Oggi’s Pizza &
10155 Rancho Carmel Dr.
San Diego, CA 92128
When you walk into a baseball stadium, you are greeted by
vendors yelling the famous line “You can’t tell
the players without a program.” Well, it’s gotten
to be like that around San Diego’s brewing community.
Brewers have been moving around, breweries have changed names,
and others have closed. In this issue we’ll try to get
you up to date on what’s going on around here.
Starting off with personnel changes, Joe Cuozzo, who has
worked at more San Diego breweries than any other person,
has moved on to a new job: brewer at Coronado Brewing
Company. I wrote about Joe’s success at CJ’s
Grill (formerly Sports City) in the October 2004 issue of
the Celebrator. Joe then went on to win a silver medal in
the Coffee-Flavored Beer category at the Great American Beer
Festival. He is bringing his lengthy résumé
to Coronado with the intention of “taking the beers
to the next level.” While Coronado’s beers have
always been good, they were never really assertive.
I visited Joe at the brewpub recently and can attest that
he has taken the first steps to make Coronado’s beers
noteworthy. In addition to six or seven brewpub standards,
Joe has added a double IPA and a barley wine. By the time
you read this, all of the beers will have been revamped. This
includes the bottled beers brewed at the atrociously ill-equipped
Mission Brewery, where the bulk of Coronado’s bottled
and kegged beers are brewed. I’ll report back in a few
months to let you know how the changes are progressing.
Another big move has Chuck Silva brewing at Green
Flash Brewing Company in Vista. Chuck formerly brewed
at Karl Strauss, On Tap, Hops! and Hang Ten. Chuck takes over
for John Stewart, who had been Green Flash’s brewer
since the brewery opened in 2002. The brewery makes the Green
Flash line of beers as well as the Reaper Ales. The two brands
are one and the same brewery — just different marketing
strategies and recipes.
Chuck’s initiation at Green Flash consisted of brewing
about 30 batches of beer in the first two months. The brewery
has expanded by adding additional cold storage and fermenting
capacity. In addition, the Green Flash beers have gone through
some changes. The beers now have more body, more hoppiness
and a more assertive character. Look for the Green Flash and
Reaper brands to make some big steps this year.
San Diego brewers have been moving around,
breweries have changed names and others have closed.
Left Coast Brewing Company, the microbrewery
that supplies much of the beer for the Oggi’s pizza
locations, has a new head brewer. John Wilson, who has brewed
at Oggi’s locations in Mission Viejo and San Diego’s
Mission Valley, has replaced Tom Nickel. Wilson’s beers
have won numerous awards in the past, and I would expect more
will come in the future. Nickel, proprietor of O’Brien’s
Pub, one of the top pubs in Southern California, has not ruled
out a return to brewing, but not right away. Anyone who has
been to O’Brien’s knows that Tom puts in a pretty
hard day. If I were in his shoes, I think I’d sit back
and have a few beers before jumping back into the brewing
game. He’s worked very hard over the past few years.
Speaking of Oggi’s, Jeff Bagby, the
brewer at the Vista location, has now taken on the brewing
duties at the Carmel Mountain Ranch location. Jeff is currently
pulling double duty at both locations. He brings his world-class
ability and passion for brewing to a location that has had
some ups and downs over the past couple of years.
CJ’s Grill, which replaced Sports
City last year with great hopes from a big cash infusion,
new equipment and new management, has bit the dust. I have
no official word on the closing, but it appears that there
was not enough cash to cover the needs of the business. Just
when it looked like the biggest disappointment on San Diego’s
brew scene was turning around, it has crashed and burned.
On Tap! Bistro & Brewery has closed.
New owners will be taking over, and by the time you read this,
a brewpub with a new name should be opened. Let’s hope
the new ownership can deal with what must be staggeringly
high rent without pricing themselves out of the market.
Rich Link is an associate editor of
the Celebrator Beer News. He lives in Santee, Calif., and
has been brewing beer at home since 1980. He can also be reached