Big brews, big flavors, big business

Diego Luna | Business Editor | The USD Vista | @diegotothemoon

Ballast Point Home brew mart and tasting room on Linda Vista Rd. Diego Luna/The USD Vista

Ballast Point Home brew mart and tasting room on Linda Vista Rd. Diego Luna/The USD Vista

Many food critics seem to think that San Diego is the ultimate beer destination. However, some students at University of San Diego have mixed emotions about the rising popularity of craft breweries.

The craft beer scene in San Diego is by far the largest in the western United States. In fact, Men’s Journal has dubbed San Diego as the top beer town in America. With over 100 craft breweries in the greater San Diego county, it’s no wonder Men’s Journal agrees that the  brewers are the reason San Diego continues to the most innovative beer town in America.

Every Tuesday of September there was a Barley and Hops event hosted by O’Tooles, USD’s on-campus restaurant. This free event featured local San Diego breweries such as Stone Brewery and Ballast Point Brewery, with locations from Escondido to Little Italy.

The featured brewery would sample their beers and pair them with O’Tooles’ appetizers. The breweries provided colorful brochures with a handful of information about their featured beers that would thrill the palate of any craft beer aficionado. [Note:Students are always asked for a valid ID upon entering O’Tooles.]

Doug Duffield, the creator of Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, was in attendance at O’Tooles on Sep. 29. When asked about the Ballast Point brewing culture, Doug Duffield asserted their presence in the San Diego community. Ballast Point has locations all throughout San Diego county, from laboratories specializing in research and development to enormous tasting rooms with over 40 different beers.

“It’s great that our beer is now available here at USD,” Duffield said. “I created Sculpin IPA [India Pale Ale] as a testament to creativity. When Ballast Point started in 1996 you only had a choice of three beers: Miller, Coors, or Bud, [so] we wanted to create something different.”

Thus the Sculpin was born. Sculpin IPA now accounts for 70 percent of Ballast Point’s total sales and has won over 25 awards worldwide.

As a result, Doug’s dream came true. Ballast Point was able to diversify and O’Tooles now carries two Ballast Point beers, the award-winning Sculpin IPA available in cans and the Longfin Lager on draft.

As the lead specialty brewer for Ballast Point, Duffield went on to share his advice for students on completing goals, including how to inspire others, and making yourself stand out in a competitive market.

“Now in San Diego craft beer is everywhere, but we were able to differ because we’ve been on the market longer than most breweries,” Duffield said. “If you want to do something different, whatever it might be, be sure to master your craft. In my case, I believe the art of brewing is the act of mastering my own craft.”

The Brewers Association of America has recognized Ballast Point Brewery as one of the leading craft breweries in United States. The brewing industry in San Diego yields over $300 million in revenue for the tourism industry.

Senior Mark Dobson agrees that San Diego is the best place to find great tasting beer. Dobson is a fan of Ballast Point beer and says he’s thrilled that they’re now available at O’Tooles.

“I’ve been to Portland and my dad’s hometown of Milwaukee, both are brewing machines,” Dobson said. “But only in San Diego you’ll find the wackiest but most delicious beers. I’ve had beers that range from ice cream ales all the way to organic acai berry wheat ales.”

Dobson believes USD does a great job at supporting local establishments.

“I think it’s great that O’Tooles carries local craft beer; it shows USD’s support to the local community,” Dobson said.

However, senior  Jonathan Garcia does not agree that the craft beer scene is as glorious as many think it is.

“Craft beer in San Diego is gaining too much publicity,” Garcia said .“It’s simply losing it’s charm. The fact that you can find San Diego beer in any supermarket makes it lose its exclusivity.”

Boston native Christopher Musco and Travis Wolfe are restaurant visionaries for one of San Diego’s premier hotels. Musco, Wolfe, and company have used the San Diego brewing industry to directly contribute to the community. They’ve created a unique honeycomb harvest honey cream ale that is exclusive to San Diegans.

“I’ve been working in the food and beverage industry for some time now and I believe San Diego is doing everything right in the brewing industry,” Musco said. “Back in Boston, the craft beer has simply not been as innovative as San Diego, our local craft beer in Boston is now the local mainstream beer for the world.

Travis Wolfe is the mastermind behind the honey cream ale. He explains his interest in community involvement and local sustainability. Wolfe plans to apply to USD’s MBA program for entrepreneurship in the upcoming year.

“This is a project rooted in low cost mutually beneficial partnership, urban beekeeping, and recolonization to reduce our carbon footprint,” Wolfe said. “USD is highly regarded as a top school for entrepreneurship, I’d love to continue to a person of impact within the USD community as well as establishing the world class education that this university offers.”

USD’s full time MBA program offers connections to industry professionals, such as brewing industry.

Companies such as Ballast Point and Stone Brewing company are actively involved in USD’s academics. Many of their staff, executive team, and brewers come to USD as guest speakers and give a real world insight for many entrepreneurs.

It’s not clear what the future for San Diego’s brewing culture will be.

However, the truth is that USD has shown support for local businesses, whether it be carrying Ballast Point products at O’Tooles or selling local goods at Tu Mercado. Rest assured, USD has goods for all ages. Cheers!