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BEER WEEK: Karl Strauss Turns 20

It was the Karl Strauss Brewing Company's 20th Anniversary Beer Dinner--butit felt more like a celebration of the craft brewing community in San Diego. Everyone was eager to promote other breweries almost as much as their own during this San Diego Beer Week event. About 30 people attended the dinner, heldat Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens in Sorrento Mesa.



Karl Strauss CEO Chris Cramer, brewer James Petti

and chef Corey Rapp.

Photo by Adam Ward



The food was designed to complement and contrast with the beers’ flavors. Chef Corey Rapp prepared the menu: seared salmon salad and Karl Strauss Amber Lager; IPA-steamed mussels, shrimp and bay scallops and Tower 10 IPA; Fullsuit Belgian Brown Ale-marinated pork chop and Fullsuit Belgian Brown Ale; and Beer ’n’ Bananas Foster paired with 20th Anniversary Bourbon Aged Trippel.

Rapp describes the process of creating the pairing of the Bananas Foster dessert and the trippel: "The trippel has some bourbon. … with sweetness from the malt. So we go to the caramel sauce that we used to make Beer ’n’ Bananas Foster. It is a sweet, island fruit flavored caramel sauce. We put as much of the beer taste into it as we could.”

Pairing food with beer “opens up more doors of what you can do with the food,” Rapp says. “With wines there are lines you can’t cross. The acidity of wine can ruin the pairings.”

Great food and beer was a fitting celebration, says Chris Cramer, CEO and co-founder of Karl Strauss Brewing Co. Besides reaching the 20 year mark, Cramer says the company has more to celebrate, including its plan to expand outside of its base in Southern California.



Big Barrel Double IPA.

Photo by Adam Ward



“We sell a tremendous amount of beer in a very small area,” Cramer says, adding that the company is the 39th largest U.S. craft brewer, according to the Brewers Association, despite historically not expanding geographically.

Cramer says people often ask him whether all the breweries in San Diego County are in competition.

“Since craft beer only makes up about 4 percent or so of the beer market, we are more interested in converting people to better beers,” Cramer says. “There is room for all of us to succeed.”

And San Diego Beer Week will raise Karl Strauss’ profile nationally and even here in our backyard, Cramer believes.

Brian Gaudette, 28, and wife Stacey Pereira-Gaudette, 27, came from Boston to attend San Diego Beer Week. The couple visited the San Diego area a couple of months ago, and they were eager to return to sample more local brews.

What's their favorite part of Beer Week, and San Diego in general? The sense of community.

“(Brewers) are not just promoting themselves,” Gaudette says. “It is about everyone else.”

San Diego local Gary Pietila has been coming to Karl Strauss for three years. His favorite beer is the IPA.

“It has the right amount of sharpness, unlike others that have too much bitterness,” Pietila says.

Originally Pietila started coming to Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens inSorrento Mesa, for convenience. Even though he no longer works in the area he is still a regular, whomany of the servers greet by name.

Details »
  • City: San Diego 92121-1761
  • Phone: (858) 587-2739
  • Name: Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens
  • Address: 9675 Scranton Rd