Black Market Brewing Company in Temecula
On the outskirts of the San Diego microbrew market lies a viable competitor to the powerhouses of both Stone and Karl Strauss. The Temecula-based company isn’t as big as either of the local standard bearers. Yet.
Black Market Brewing Company occupies an unassuming business park, similar in spirit to Oceanside Ale Works. The tasting room is in the same open space as the brewing operation, making customers feel like part of the whole works. The tasting room, an integral part of the operation, allows the staff gains customer feedback on the spot.
Inspired by a photograph of Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing, using a paddle to stir his brew in a keg, Andrew Marshall decided to take his love of beer to the next level. He admits that in his former life in the 1990s, he was a Coors guy. However, that changed with a single drink. “When I tasted a draft of Sierra Nevada, I was blown away,” he said. “If Grossman can make beer that good with a paddle, I can do at least as well.”
At 37 years old, Marshall has a respectable education of brewing. He has attended both the Doemens Academy in Germany and the Siebel Institute in Chicago. However, he immediately notes there is more to making craft beer than attending school and having a recipe. “It’s a good start, but that’s it.”
Marshall has Napoleonic confidence in Black Market’s brewing. “When we set out to make a beer, we always make good beer.” And, with just as much poise, he states that he is willing to share the recipe with other brewers because, “knowing the ingredients is only a small fraction of what goes into making a great beer.” The flavor, aroma and texture of the three available beers on tap back up the talk.
Sporting the smoothness of a lager with the flavor of ale, the Brown Ale successfully bridges the two beer camps. A pint of the Brown is a perfect social beer and pairs well with meats. The taste stands up to a burger and the delicate texture encourages a second round.
The Black Market Hefeweizen blend has a hint of lemon. The overtone of parched weeds is gone. It acknowledges the classic wheat character of a Hefeweizen without the texture of whole grain bread.
Black Market’s Rye Indian Pale Ale (IPA) disposes of the typical IPA finish. It leaves your palate smoothly, rather than hatcheting your tongue with bitterness. Instead, the rendition is easily drinkable without what Marshall refers to as, “the baby diaper and horse piss approach of some IPAs.” For a small operation, Black Market sends a flare up to beer drinkers in Temecula’s wine country.
However, there is no animosity between the beer and wine lovers in Temecula Valley. Josh Hembree of Black Market jovially relates that Temecula wineries Lioness, Wien and Cougar all have taps pouring Black Market. And, those locations are a dribble in the wide distribution of the company’s product. “We have over 100 accounts and are currently expanding,” he said. La Jolla Brew House, Pizza Port, and Adams Avenue Grill are only a splash of froth compared to the availability of Black Market beers in San Diego.
The company is a purely Temecula product. It was important to Marshall to establish an operation in the city of Temecula rather than the surrounding cities. During Prohibition, Temecula was a wet town where beer was flowed, illegal boxing ruled and adult ventures thrived. The boldness of the company’s name nods to the sheriff’s turning a blind eye to the more interesting aspects of life under the Eighteenth Amendment.
Marshall said not every mix produces award winners but that’s not to say there are no wins. This comparatively small Temecula brewery won, in its first year, a 2010 gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for its Rye IPA. And there are other awards, too. Two gold medals. Four silver medals. A first place finish. All this during the Great Recession.
While restaurant favorites falter and the economy continues to stumble along, Marshall’s crew wields their micro sledge hammer. With not just doubling, but quadrupling, business from January to April 2011, Marshall and his crew have tangible proof that they are on target. If that isn’t enough success, consider this throwback to the dot com fantasy era. Black Market expects to quadruple its production volume again by mid-summer. To prove the point, look next door to the brewery. “We just rented the adjacent space, tripling our square footage.”
Giving back to the community is a proud hallmark of Black Market Brewing. In the latest act of keeping its heart and soul in Temecula, Black Market gave back through Habitat for Humanity at the Penchanga Brew Festival. “We want to keep it real and in the community,” said Marshall.
- City: Temecula
- Name: Black Market Brewing Company