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First Sip: Rip Current Brewing in San Marcos

Guy Shobe and Paul Sangster, those homebrewers turning pro with San Marcos' Rip Current?

 

I think they're on to something.

 

In fact, few rookie craft brewers seem more assured of success. Sangster won the 2011 Ninkasi Award, annually given to the person who wins the most medals in the National Homebrew Competition. His professional debut came in 2012, when Widmer bottled a spiced IPA he and Chris Stawney had created.

 

As for Shobe, the Encinitas resident is another veteran homebrewer whose background -- a degree from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, years spent with Rolls Royce's naval marine division -- gives him insight into the workings of large machines. (Think brewing systems.)

 

"His engineering skills have really come in handy," Sangster said.

 

I caught up with Sangster and Shobe recently at O'Brien's, where they were pouring four of Rip Current's beers. I had a pint of the Barrier Reef Nut Brown, an English-style brown ale that managed to be full of toffee-like malt flavors without being thick or sticky. With an alcohol content of 5 percent, it was perfect for session drinking -- ditto, the Paddling Out Pale (5.1 percent).

 

They're not averse to bigger beers, though. Their bestselling brew to date has been the Red Flag Double IPA, at 9.1 percent.

 

What they are reluctant to do is brew with untreated San Diego water, which is notoriously hard. Shobe, in particular, is a big believer in stripped minerals out of the water and then adding precisely what each beer requires.

 

This an unusual stance among San Diego brewers, Shobe noted, adding that Jeff Bagby -- one of the region's, and country's, most honored brewers -- never tinkers with the water.

 

"And his beers all turn out perfect!" Shobe exclaimed. "But Bagby, he's a magician."

 

Read Peter Rowe's full story and more on utsandiego.com

 

Pictured: Paul Sangster, brewing in his garage in 2011 — Charlie Neuman

 
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