After 20 years of incredibly solid craft brewing, AleSmith Brewing Company deserves adulatory recognition for being one of San Diego's original homegrown beer pioneers.
From its Speedway Stout (think binging on dark chocolate at midnight, alternating swallows with an exquisitely roasted cup of coffee) to the Halloween favorite Evil Dead Red (an appropriately wicked 6.66 percent ABV), it has proven itself to be not just trailblazers of the local craft brewing industry, but undoubtedly the industry as a whole.
"We're going to stay a small, tight-knit company," says AleSmith marketing specialist Alexander Barbiere. "All of our growth since '95 has been organic...and we're going to continue down that path."
These confident words assuaged my fears about their expansion-in-progress and upcoming partnership with world-famous gypsy brewing outfit Mikkeller Brewing. Meanwhile, there are a whole slew of outstanding things coming up for the rest of its 20th anniversary year. Here are a few of the highlights:
New Digs: AleSmith's long-awaited new tasting room that was slated to open earlier this summer is on track to start pouring by the end of this month. This will allow Mikkeller to move into the current 9366 Cabot Drive location in October, where a flood of collaboration beers is promised to follow.
Cheese, Please: For what seems to be an eternity, CEO and owner Peter Zien has been promising rabid fans Cheesesmith, AleSmith's foray into the cheese-making world. While there's still no launch date set, if Cheesesmith stands up to AleSmith's current caliber, we can expect delectable treats that just happen to pair nicely with beer.
More Beer: By quintupling their space to 100,000 square feet, AleSmith estimates it will jump from producing 25,000 barrels to 40,000 next year. With that much more beer flowing, it is also planning to expand its six-pack collections from its current sole offering of .394 San Diego Pale Ale, as well as promising more Speedway varieties to satiate the rabid masses.
Grand Opening: While there's no firm date set for the new location's "official" grand opening, beer nerds should keep December open; rumor has it the grand opening extravaganza will coincide with the penultimate 20th anniversary party to wrap up the year.
AleSmith has a lot up its sleeve for its 20th anniversary. It has conquered an array of styles, increased its output by over 2,000 percent, helped pave the way for San Diego to claim its rightful place as the country's best beer city, and AleSmith has done it all without needing the help of investments from Big Beer.
In a time when most craft breweries can count their number of years in business on one hand, to hit a decade of award-winning beer is rare. To hit 20 years and still maintain a quality of beer that consistently sells out in seconds is a remarkable feat and a testament to its expertise, skill and dedication to staying local.