Karl Strauss Brewing Company
|Owner||Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner (private)|
Karl Strauss Brewing Company is a San Diego, California-based beer business with a brewery and a chain of brewpub restaurants. Besides being available at its own restaurants, the company’s beers are available on tap at many Southern California restaurants and bars, as well as being sold in bottles at retail stores. Karl Strauss is the oldest surviving brewery in San Diego County, having been founded in 1989, and is credited with launching the county's rise to prominence in the craft brewing industry. As of 2014 it is the third largest brewery in San Diego County and the 45th largest craft brewer in the United States, based on sales volume.
In 1988, Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner asked Cramer’s cousin, the late Karl Strauss, to help them develop a brewpub. Strauss was a former vice president of production at Pabst Brewing Company, reaching the title of Master Brewer. Strauss agreed, contributing his library of hundreds of beer recipes, helping to design brewing operations, and serving as the company's spokesman on radio advertisements and in public appearances until his death in 2006.
The company’s first brewery restaurant, Karl Strauss Old Columbia Brewery and Grille, located on Columbia Street in Downtown San Diego, opened in 1989. It was the first brewery of any type to operate in San Diego since 1953, and the first-ever brew pub in San Diego. At the time the craft brewing industry was in its infancy and the American standard for beer was light, mild and mass-produced, but Cramer felt that the country was ready for beers with more personality. He believed that “If we could get this style of beer into people’s mouths, we could create converts.”
The company's first distributing brewery began producing beer in late 1991. In 1996 the company’s distributing brewery operations were moved into a 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) home office and brewing building in Pacific Beach. In 1999, the company installed new brewery equipment, which more than tripled the brewing capacity. In 2009 they introduced a bottling line so that they could produce bottled beer as well as kegs in their local facility. Prior to that, all the bottling had been done by Stevens Point Brewery. The company projected it would produce 60,000 barrels of beer in 2013.
Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens restaurant in Sorrento Mesa opened in 1991. In 1996, the company opened Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurant in La Jolla. In 1999, the company opened a brewery restaurant in Carlsbad, California, and under a licensing agreement with Host Marriott opened a Karl Strauss Handcrafted Beers Bar at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Diego International Airport (SAN). In August 2000, the company opened a Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurant at Universal Citywalk in Los Angeles. In 2001 the newly opened Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim included a Karl Strauss "beer truck" in the Pacific Wharf area, selling six of the company's brews. A Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurant was established in 2002 in Costa Mesa, California. More recent additions to the company are brewpubs located in 4S Ranch, California, in San Diego's North County, which opened in August 2012, and in Temecula in Riverside County, which opened in 2013.
In 2009 the company made news by partnering with the Greenhouse alternative energy company in a program to convert its waste to ethanol for use as a fuel.
Annual events held at the microbrewery include the Beach to Brewery Beer & Music Fest in May and the Karlfest in October.
The January–February 2010 issue of Draft Magazine named a Karl Strauss brew, Endless Summer Light, as the best light craft beer in the nation. Also that year, the brewery's Red Trolley Ale received gold medals in the Irish red ale category at both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. Red Trolley Ale repeated its gold medal showing at the 2012 World Beer Cup; the brewery's Two Tortugas Belgian-style dark ale also won a silver medal at that event.
- "Local brewer heads above competition", San Diego Union -Tribune, September 29, 2009
- "Brewers Association Lists Top 50 Breweries of 2014". Brewers Association. March 31, 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
- Washburn, David (2005-05-03). "Spreading the Word" (REPRINT). San Diego Union-Tribune (San Diego, California). Retrieved 2008-08-05.
- "Karl Strauss, 94; master brewer for Pabst helped pioneer microbrew trend". Los Angeles Times. December 27, 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- Los Angeles Times, January 31, 1989
- Dickerman, Sara (May 25, 2012). "Beyond San Diego’s Surf and Sun: Suds". New York Times. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Karl Strauss Brewing Company moves up 5 places on Brewers Association top 50 list". Press Release (Karl Strauss Brewing Company). April 15, 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- San Diego Union-Tribune, November 7, 1996
- Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2001
- San Diego Union-Tribune, July 18, 2001
- Figueroa, Marc (August 30, 2012). "Karl Strauss brewery heads confidently into third decade". North County Times. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- Draft Magazine January-February 2010
- San Diego breweries score big at Great American Beer Festival, San Diego Union-Tribune, September 18, 2010
- "San Diego brewers holding heads high", San Diego Union-Tribune, April 12, 2010
- Rowe, Peter (May 6, 2012). "Local brewers take 16 medals in World Beer Cup". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 27 May 2012.