Category Archives: Beer Wisdom, Debate & Commentary

The Science Behind ZēLUS Beer

Back in July we introduced our new beer company, ZēLUS (pronounced zee-luhs). We talked a lot about our approach to the beer industry and our involvement in running and sporting events. This time we want to focus on how we craft beer for the active lifestyle by maximizing flavor and refreshment in beer with less than 5% ABV. The brewing process and ingredients are what makes each beer unique. Historically, new beer styles came out of what are now known as some of the classic…

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Mad Hops – Craft Beer Flavor from a Bottle

Mad Hops – How to turn “College Beer” into craft.  Well not quite, but it does greatly improve a bad or ordinary beer and turn it into something enjoyable. Remember those days when beer was fun? When this product arrived at my doorstep I was skeptical.  We get a lot of products to review at Sommbeer and not all of them are good. Some of them frankly are scary. When I heard about the beer flavorings, I really wondered if flavor extracts added to beer…

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How to fill your bar with customers

How to fill your bar with customers? Having a bar filled with customers is not the mission impossible, but it requires constant improvement because one of the most common things every successful bar has in common is great quality. It doesn’t matter if I am talking about the service, the menu, the interior or the entertainment, every aspect of your bar has to be the best. A satisfied customer can easily become the regular customer. If you want to improve your business, keep an eye…

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(Almost) Every San Diego Craft Brewery, Reviewed

One of San Diego’s 14 GABF2017 medal winners.

It has been a year since I launched my blog,, where I chronicle my quest to visit every craft brewery and tasting room in San Diego County. I had originally hoped to get them all done in a year, but the ongoing craft beer boom in San Diego has meant that I have missed that goal. Oh, darn, I have to keep drinking great beer.

When I started out in October of 2016, there were 130+ locations on my list. Now, there are 180+. That’s quite a lot of new places in just a year! That net increase is despite several brewery sales and closures. Don’t let anyone tell you that the craft beer boom is over, at least not in San Diego.

Karl Strauss helped launch the San Diego craft beer scene.

According to information I can find, there are 27 breweries and taprooms in development in San Diego right now, 19 of which are projected to open before the end of 2018. (Check out my monthly updates on the state of beer in San Diego.)
All of which is to say, I haven’t been everywhere yet. But I have been to 153 places already, and that feels like quite an achievement. At least I can say I surpassed my original plan to go to 130+ places in a year. It is just that the goalposts have moved since I started.

A big part of San Diego craft beer success has been the awesome White Labs.

It is probably going to take me an extra 10-15 weeks to finish the rest. (Though in that time additional places are likely to open up!). I made the strategic error of hitting all the places close to my house first. So now just about everything I have left to visit is in North County, quite a drive from my house. I’ve been relying on my girlfriend’s goodwill to drive me out there and be my DD on the way home, but there are limits even to her generosity and patience, so we’ve “only” been doing two or three places per week lately. (Thanks, Sarah! You are awesome!)

There’s a sense in which this quest will never end. No doubt there will be a constant flux in the San Diego beer scene, so new openings are likely to continue at a steady pace (though people keep saying the pace is bound to slow down). I’m good with that: I enjoy going to new breweries.

But I am looking forward to drinking pints instead of tasters all the time, and being able to establish a “local,” somewhere I go regularly. I’ve tried a lot of beer this year, but I’ve missed out on building community at a regular spot, which is an important part of the craft beer scene. I’m also planning to eventually transition to reviewing craft beer bars in addition to breweries. There are a lot of those in San Diego, too, but I’m not going to turn it into another completion quest.

Beer art.

Would I recommend that someone else try this quest? Maybe not. It takes a lot of time, not to mention money. Without accounting for gas, just buying flights at 150 places has cost me in the neighborhood of $1,800 this year. I spend at least three hours per review on average, including driving, drinking, writing, and editing.  750 hours in a year is close to a third of a full time job, even if it is one that requires beer drinking. Then there is all the time I spend on social media trying to draw traffic.

For the average craft beer lover, it might be a better plan to explore the offerings in a single neighborhood near home. There is plenty of beer variety in just about any area of San Diego, so you can get almost all of the experience of a beer quest in a smaller geographical area. Not to mention the fact that most breweries seem to offer 10-20 different beers at any one time. (And they usually rotate their offerings frequently, too.) For folks who just want to say they went to all the breweries, well, go for it. Just take your time–your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

Why I stopped Going to the Bar

My first job out of college was brutal. I was a corporate trainer and had to support 16 plant locations all over the USA. My home was the airport, hotel and bar. My bar time, wasn’t all about drinking my home sickness away.  Nope, I gravitated to the bar or “bar area” in restaurants when travelling because of a little secret I learned from extensive travel. You get the best service when you sit at the bar. Sure it meant eating a steak with it…

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Community minded craft breweries

What’s Crafting A Cure? Five years ago my wife and I started a fundraiser in Cornwall Ontario. You see, between us we have four kids, and two of those have Type 1 Diabetes. One night my wife and I were sitting in the living room watching hockey and enjoying some local craft beer. I remember it was Lug Tread from Beau’s All Natural Brewing. We all had a “gateway beer” and that one was mine. That smooth, crisp lagerred ale with so much flavour changed…

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#FOMO and the Instagram IPAs

# FOMO and the Instagram IPAs by Anthony Gladman Just a thought, but is there such a thing as too many beers? I know, I know, it sounds heretical. Beer is good so more beer must be better, right? But lately I’ve wondered… Don’t get me wrong, I love a short-run seasonal beer as much as the next beardy white guy. Just look at my Instagram and you’ll see plenty of them on parade. Only lately I’ve started to ask myself whether certain breweries aren’t…

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Beer Cloning

How to make a clone of your favorite beer right in your kitchen. By Luke Henslick, Renegade Brewing Supplies in Turlock, California At Sommbeer we of course love craft beer, and enjoy exploring new beer styles and breweries that may be popping up in our local areas.  We may even wish to travel to breweries we enjoy, but have you ever thought, “Gee, I can clone my favorite beer style right in my kitchen?” The hobby of homebrewing has exploded in the last 20 years, and has…

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Beer and an Active Lifestyle

BEER AND AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE COMBINE The enjoyment of beer and an active lifestyle are combining like they never have before. Americans are increasingly spending their time competing in 5ks, 10ks, marathons, triathlons, mud runs and obstacle courses. Equally, after these races there are more and more opportunities to drink a refreshing malt beverage. In the United States the growth trend in the number of breweries has mirrored that of running participation. In 1990 there were 284 breweries (Source: Brewers Association) and 5 million runners…

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What I Learned Teaching Beginners About Beer

What I learned Teaching Beginners About Beer By David Nilsen It’s been my privilege to lead a monthly beer class and tasting program called the Craft Beer Education Series in my small Ohio town. I started the class a year ago without really knowing what to expect. Would anyone sign up? Would newcomers be too intimidated to participate? The response has been nothing but positive, and I’ve learned a lot during the last year of leading this class. The things my attendees have taught me…

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