Hello, friends! It’s been a while. Just over a year, actually! Believe me when I say that it was not for lack of trying. From the start, my goal was to brew with others as we travel across the country. Although many people have offered to host me for a brew day, they have never been near our travels. I have had a few prospects, but it never worked out for one reason or another. There are a lot of logistics involved which I just did not anticipate. I even (painfully) removed the keg system and all brewing paraphernalia from the RV while we were near our storage trailer in Michigan!
Fast forward to this year and I have hopefully come up with a solution. If you have been following our adventures on www.roadschoolnotoldschool.com then you know we have headed west once again for the winter. When we finally arrived back in sunny California this month, I started looking for a way to get back into brewing. One intriguing idea was to look for local homebrew clubs, hoping that I may visit them and learn a thing or two. Perhaps, I thought, if I write about several clubs, they may even learn from each other as well.
It just so happened that Mash Heads of San Diego (est. 2011) had a meeting coming up. I reached out to them and was warmly welcomed to attend. Bonus: they were meeting at AleSmith Brewing Company (think Speedway Stout) and were even getting a private tour of the facility! I eagerly joined them.
First off, let me tell you that AleSmith is much larger than anticipated. They are even on a street which is named after the brewery! Or was the brewery named after the street? When I asked the gentleman behind the counter about the club meeting, I was directed to a private meeting room. Big time stuff!
Everyone I talked to in the club seemed very friendly and inviting. They were all very passionate about our shared hobby and were talking like old friends. Not long after the the designated start time for the meeting, an AleSmith employee came to provide our tour.
The brewery itself was, as I said, quite large. It was also probably the cleanest brewery I have seen yet. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and answered everyone’s questions with ease, even though the audience was full of brewers with some pretty technical questions. As the tour progressed, I noticed that the brewery was laden with references to MLB great Tony Gwynn. I asked about the brewery’s relationship with the baseball player, and was told that would be answered when we got to the museum. Wait, MUSEUM?!
Yup, inside the brewery was a museum dedicated to Tony Gwynn! The short story is that Mr. Gwynn wanted to have a beer made especially for him, and was directed to AleSmith to make his dream come true. After a few attempts to make a beer exactly to his liking, San Diego Pale Ale .394 was born. Shortly after its release in 2014, Gwynn passed away. This untimely event brought his family and the brewery into a lasting relationship. One of Gwynn’s wishes was for his memorabilia to remain in San Diego, where its residents and visitors could enjoy them for free. Thus the museum was created! It is curated by the Gwynn family themselves. There is a whole lot more to this story and some really cool things to see, but I will leave that for you to discover when you visit!
After the tour, we reconvened in the meeting room and club business was addressed. It became quickly apparent that, although the club has under 50 members, those members are highly skilled in their craft. There was much discussion about recent awards received by members. They also had some open discussion in which they talked about problems they had had with recent brews, and they collectively discussed possible causes and solutions. One thing I really liked about their discussions was that they spoke about upcoming events, such as homebrew competitions and festivals. Part of that discussion included helping to arrange for members to attend and/or submit entries. This to me really showcased that they are truly passionate about homebrewing and want to make every effort to enhance the abilities and enjoyment of their fellow brewers. They also had some really nice nametags, which were apparently made by a member, and I thought that was a nice touch.
Overall, I was quite impressed with Mash Heads. If I lived in the area, I would not hesitate to join. They really seem to have a good assortment of brewers and have lots of room to grow. If you are a brewer and ever find yourself in the San Diego area, I hope you will try to attend a meeting. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know you will be visiting. There is a whole lot of knowledge to be gained from this group!