Originally published 10/10/12: Ryan went to Ballast Point.
This week my family and I are on a staycation in the best city in the world, San Diego. I know the word staycation is lame and you want to smack someone when they say it, but when you live in San Diego, you get a pass primarily because it truely is a vacation destination. Now when people in Omaha say they are on a stay-cation, I think they are just too lazy to go somewhere.
That is not the case with San Diego for all the obvious reasons, the beach, the weather (which by the way only gets better in the early fall after the tourists leave), the amusements like Seaworld, Zoo, and Wild Animal Park. I know it is now called the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, but come on, I still call Qualcomm stadium Jack Murphy, or because I am his buddy, "the Murph," so the it's the Wild Animal Park.
Now that I have convinced you not to pistol whip me, I wanted to note that San Diego also has great craft beer. Didn't know that, well aren't you glad you kept reading?! So I stopped by Ballast Point the other day to grab a growler that I was going to drink during the Charger game (don't bring it up) and happened to be there just as a brewery tour started (every day at 2pm and 5 pm). Imagine, after all this time and the number of trips to Ballast Point, I haven't ever been on the tour.
The guide was Josh Neff, a mellow dude with long hair and sporting some board shorts with his backwards hat. Very knowledgeable and very friendly. He definitely knew his shit and represented the brand well. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. For those of you who can't make it in person, here you go:
Back in 1992, Jack White started the Home Brew Mart to fill a void that homebrewers in the area had identified which was that it was difficult to get the ingredients necessary to make great beer at home. The website describes it as "a home brewer’s nirvana filled with the supplies, ingredients, and conversation every home brewer needed to make better beer at home." Later, White was joined by Yuseff, a fellow home brewer, and Ballast Point was born in 1996.
By 2004, Ballast Point had outgrown its back room location at the Home Brew Mart and was going to have to move to keep up with demand. The pictures below are of that, not so new anymore, location. Now Ballast Point is on pace to brew 60 thousand barrels, 30% of which is currently bottled, in 2012 and hope to get to 120 thousand by opening another brewery location. Based on what Josh said, the new bottling system will be able to handle 400-600 bottles a day.
Watch out world, Ballast Point is coming! As of today, 65% of their beer is distributed locally and the rest is distributed within the states, Japan, Australia, Netherlands, and Phillipines.
We spent a lot of time learning about the distillery at this location and the future spirits expiation after the new brewery opens. From their website, Jack and Yuseff, "after attending classes on distillation and some great conferences in Kentucky, put on by Bill Owens and the American Distilling Institute, it was official, Ballast Point Spirits was born." This made them the first distillery in San Diego.
I am very excited to see what comes of their new operations because I love whiskey can't wait to try some of the stuff they are experimenting with. Today, you can try Old Grove Gin, Three Sheets Rum, or Fugu Vodka. You'll have to wait a few more years for the Devil's Share which is apparently going to be awesome! Make sure to spot by Ballast Point and take a tour if you are in San Diego on vacation or just a stay cation.
|Entering the brewery. Fermenters on the right, |
bottling line center, and distillery on the left.
|Distillery, yum. Apparently the fence is mandated by law.|
Why? Comment if you know.
|This is the used grain. They ship this stuff off to a local farmer who mixes it into |
his cow feed. We saw 20 squirrels in the area. Best fed squirrels in the world.
|Outside fermenters. I can't believe that the sun doesn't impact the fermentation |
process. I know it's insulated, but still hard to believe.
|Cold room. I know where I'm going if shit hits the fan.|
|Distiallery. What a badass logo.|
|Obligatory awards toot of the horn.|
|Their website had better pictures than I had of the stills.|