Something tasty is brewing in HillcrestFeature Story, Section 4A Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
This summer, the first ever “Out and Proud” LGBT microbrewery will open its doors in San Diego under the name of Hillcrest Brewing Company (HBC).
General manager and partner of Baja Betty’s, Stefan Chicote and Mo’s Universe family of restaurants (Urban Mo’s Bar and Grill, Baja Betty’s and Gossip Grill) owner, Chris Shaw, were looking for an establishment that would complement their existing businesses. They considered opening a breakfast or supper club when David White, now partner and head brewmaster of HBC, knocked on their door with a six-pack of well-tested beer recipes; the pieces came together and the plan of creating a microbrewery started. “He (White) went knocking on the door, had his business plan and went to Chris Shaw and said, ‘I believe in me, I want to expand, I want to grow, I’m looking for investors;’ and Chris called me out and said, ‘What do you think about a brewing company,’ and I said ‘Bingo! That’s the answer and that’s how it happened’” said Chicote.
Part of White’s motivation came after a job rejection from Stone Brewery, “They just have so many applicants for so few jobs that they just didn’t have any openings so I wrote up a business plan and built my own brewery,” he said.
Their first brew, Perle Necklace Pale Ale, has a rich grain profile, delicately balanced by a subtle mix of Perle and Hallertau hops. They will also have Crotch Rocket Red, and are working on Brain Lubricant -Strong Ale, Eighth Day an IPA and Lucy Ale which was created by White’s pet raccoon. “There’s a lot of different grains that go into making a beer; sort of different flavor profiles and different textures; so I took a little tiny sample of each specialty grain I could get and put them in an ice-cube tray and labeled them and gave them to her and let her pick out whatever grains she liked and, sure enough, she actually picked out a very sorted few and from that I formulated the recipe off of her grain choices. It’s fairly dark in color but light in texture and light in alcohol,” he said. He describes the process of making beer as an art form rather than a production. “One thing I’ve learned about you and the recipes; It’s like being a chef,” said Chicote to White.
The brewery will be starting with seven brew recipes but their goal is to have at least ten on tap including seasonal concoctions. Having a seven barrel system allows for new experimentations and discoveries. As White puts it, “[It] will be an evolution of flavor.” All together they will have 24 beers available, reserving the other taps for brews from local breweries. “It’s like wine tasting and tequila tasting. You start to develop a palette for it. You just have to come out and try it. That’s what’s so beautiful about having so many taps is that there will be something for everyone, everyone,” said Eddie Reynoso, marketing and public relations director for all the establishments under Mo’s Universe family of restaurants. They’re also negotiating with other bars to feature their beers on their taps. “Our goal is to be out there. We already have people that would like to carry our beer outside the community. I already have someone in L.A. who already wants it and wants to bring it in,” said Joey Arruda, HBC general manager and partner.
The brewing, bottling and kegging process will be open. “Everything will be exposed to everybody all the time as opposed to the other microbreweries who put the brewery itself behind glass; and you don’t really get a chance to talk to the brewers; to learn about the process. We’re breaking that wall down, by having an open ‘forum’, if you will. It’s all about upping your beer IQ,” said White. They will be brewing during business hours. Brewers and staff will be available to answer questions and clients will soon be able to take classes to find out more about beer making. “We want everyone to be part of the creation process,” added Chicote. Guests will also be able to purchase bombers, growlers and kegs to-go.
Beer enthusiasts will also be ecstatic to know that HBC will be pouring an honest pint and not chilling their glasses. “An honest pint is 16 full ounces, so now if you count for the size of the head which should be a good finger and a half or so in a 16 ounce glass then you’re really only getting maybe 13 or 14 ounces [of beer], so we’re getting slightly larger glasses so that you’re going to have a full 16 ounce pour and room for a couple of fingers worth of head,” said White. He said that the reason the glasses shouldn’t be chilled is because it will cause the beer to go flat much faster since it messes with the head retention; it will “bruise” the product to a certain degree because the condensation adds water to the beer.
Hillcrest Brewing Company is anticipating opening June 13. Aside from serving microbrews, they will also specialize in stone oven pizzas. The interior will feature an open ceiling with sealed concrete floors and a 15 feet chandelier made with 97 sustainable 22 ounce beer bottles that will hang within a 23 feet copula.
If you’d like to taste Perle Necklace Pale Ale before the opening, they are currently serving it at their other establishments.
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