Interview with our Brewer

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Daniel Drayne is Half Door’s co-owner and head brewer. We took a moment to sit down with him and talk about beer.

What got you into brewing?

I started back in high school, a friend of mine had a carboy and we tried a simple cider recipe. It was more to try it then anything serious, the results weren’t great but it was a fun experience. A few years after that I started brewing beer in a more serious fashion.

What was the first beer you brewed?

Living in San Diego my first extract and first all gain were both IPAs. I actually still have a couple bottles but I assume they are way past their prime.

Desert island beer?

Toss up between an IPA or an amazing Gueuze.

Best up and coming brewery/breweries?

Too many to count but just had some beers at Toolbox brewery and he knows how to use hops well. His stout with coconut and his flight of tart X with fruit were both delicious, all around solid beer.

What is your education/background in brewing?

I’ve been home brewing for around seven years now, I attended Siebel which is a brewing school based out of Chicago. Through the school I also spent time in Germany learning the craft. For the last four years I’ve worked at a production brewery where I have done everything from labeling bottles, cleaning kegs/tanks to recipe formulation and brewing.

What beers are you most excited for at Half Door?

I’m most excited to try different sour/brett beers. I am also looking forward to starting and maintaining a small sour program and to consistently produce a brett with a funky/fruit flavor.

We are too! Thank you Dan.

 

Now Hiring!

We are excited to announce the start of our hiring process. If interested please take a look at this Craigslist notice. http://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/fbh/4788840022.html

Beer History – Berliner Weisse

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Here at Half Door we are excited about the wide variety of beer styles and would like to share a brief history of some of our favorites. This should help you better understand the history and origins of our core beers that we will be brewing. For the first installment, we decided to go with a personal favorite, Berliner Weisse.

Napoleon is rumored to have called it the “Champagne of the North” Berliner Weisse is a sour, cloudy, tart, wheat ale known for its refreshing taste. Berliner Weisse has a low alcohol percentage making it a Schankbier or session beer, good for summer days and hotter climates. In Berlin it is taken with a syrup, either a green or red (woodruff or raspberry flavor) this adds a sweetness to the beer which hasn’t quite followed to the American market.

Berliner Weisse dates back to the 16th century where a Berlin brewer named Cord Broihan tried a variation in Hamburg and reproduced his own version called Halberstädter Broihan in Berlin. It grew in popularity with over 700 breweries producing Berliner Weisse in the 19th century.

Breweries today typically make Berliner Weisse with around 30% wheat, which would have been much greater historically, and use a secondary fermentation to create the sour taste. Lactobacillus is the bacteria often used in the second fermentation, replacing the traditional bottle fermentation.

We in San Diego have come to enjoy Berliner Weisse for the same reasons the Germans did on a hot day. Refreshing and lower in alcohol it is the perfect day time beer to watch the game or barbeque. Half Door is excited to put our own twist on this traditional German ale. We will pitch our lactobacillus until the desired sourness is reached then boil the wort cool and finally pitch yeast to ferment the beer. We love to see the beer evolve and at the same time keep its history and its past.

Cheers!

January!

We are excited to announce that the Half Door will be open for business in January 2015! We can not wait to start brewing beer and having you all over! More details to follow.

Contruction Update

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Hello everyone! Our new brewery equipment came in a few weeks ago and we couldn’t be happier! The system is a ten barrel direct fire from Premier Stainless, a local company that does great work. We also have received four Brite beer tanks and four fermenters, with the help of these we plan to produce the excellent beer that San Diego is known for. We are pleased with the progress and are dialing in recipes to start brewing in a few short months. Can’t wait to share a beer with you all!

 

Where West Coast meets Emerald Isle

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We have been experimenting with different beer styles at home and work, getting closer to an initial lineup of house beers for Half Door. Without a doubt the lineup will include IPAs, paying homage to what has made San Diego famous in the world of craft beer. And of course we’ll have some traditional Irish stouts and lagers, plus some session-able beers that will be a perfect pre-game refreshment before heading down the block to Petco Park to cheer on the Padres.

But we are approaching everything at Half Door with our Irish ancestry and brethren in mind – and that means we’ll have our own Old World twist on everything brewed or stewed at HDBC. From historical explorations of pre-Guinness brewing*, to modernized California-friendly adaptations of traditional Emerald Isle grub.

Check the blog often as we share some in-depth R&D as we develop the food & suds for Half Door!

* What came before Guinness?? Wasn’t the all to familiar stout something the Irish have brewed and drank since the dawn of fermented grain? Actually, no. Here’s the untold story.

The Untold Story of Irish Brewing

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Ireland has a long tradition of small scale brewing – it’s a heritage we’re proud of and inspired by. We think about that tradition each day as we build Half Door Brewing Co here in San Diego, the adopted city of our family after moving from Ireland 20 years ago.

But this tradition had a hiccup during the past century – a pretty big one at that! A single brewery dominated the entire brewing industry in Ireland for much of the last half century. With incredible vigor and effectiveness, this early macro-brewery-which-will-remain-unnamed stamped out the competition, both big and small, creating a homogenous landscape of beer in Dublin and all across our homeland for far too long.*

Can you guess who we’re talking about?

While we love a pint of the black stuff from the macro-brewery-which-will-remain-unnamed just as much as anybody, we’re happy to say small-scale traditional Irish brewing is making a comeback. It’s slowly bubbling back up in Dublin and other corners of Ireland, and it’s coming to San Diego at Half Door Brewing Co! Even the New York Times got a taste.

Our vision for the experience at Half Door Brewing Company is directly influence by the kind of diverse and localized brewing that our Irish forefathers once practiced in small brewpubs in every town and village from Cork to Belfast. We are building HDBC as a beacon of traditional small batch brewing and the kind of warm & inviting Irish hospitality that permeates the land of our ancestry.

Make sure to check the blog in the coming months for build-out updates as we turn a charming early 1900s house in San Diego’s East Village into a pub and brewery!

* For more depth, check out Ronald Pattison’s exhaustive history of Irish Breweries

Before you brew…

Before you brew you need a system, maybe it’s a 5 gallon pot in your kitchen or a 4 vessel 120 bbl Rolec brewhouse. For us it has been a few keggles and a igloo.

Well the other day we went to Premier Stainless to enquirer about a 10bbl brew house. It was exciting to see where and how these beasts were made.  Mostly we talked about size, square footage and number of tanks.  To save space Alan recommended stacking the bright tanks, which not only saves space but will look bad ass.

All in all a great trip too bad on the way home we could not stop at White Labs, but luckily it will be there tomorrow.