By Chris Morrison, Lead Ambassador for LoSoCal
Many people know San Diego as the craft beer capital of the world and the craft brew industry has an economic impact of 1.2 Billion on the region! You could spend years writing about all the beers and breweries here, and many people have done just that! I wanted to profile a very special brewery and new music venue that I discovered while out with some coworkers a couple months back. Thorn Street Brewing is a community oriented brewery that operates out of three locations in San Diego; North Park, Barrio Logan, and Mission Hills. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Tom Kiely, the general manager of the Barrio Logan location, to discuss their beer and mission.
Tom is a great guy with a thick New England accent. After offering me a beer and pouring one for himself (I went with the delicious Barrio Lager), Tom talked about his passion for beer and how Thorn Brewing started.
“Thorn Street started in North Park, on Thorn Street itself. Dennis O'Connor owned the building on Thorn Street and was moving his office upstairs. Down below was a home brew and hydroponics shop. The owner started to get sick of homebrewing. Eric O’Connor and Dan Carraco were shopping at home brew and were friendly with Dennis and when Dennis mentioned he wanted to open a brewery downstairs, they asked if he was looking for partners. The rest is history. Those three started Thorn and are still the owners”
One of the things that I like so much about Thorn, and why I wanted to write about them for LoSoCal is how they involve the community in what they do and how they give back to their local neighborhoods. The North Park location is heavily involved with the schools in the area and often helps with fundraisers. I asked Tom what it means to be a neighborhood brewery and he said; “So we are in Barrio Logan now. Here for instance we have 5 days a week we have tacos from Dos Tierras which is a local barrio logan shop. We have our tasting room manager here Ernie is a local Barrio guy, and we really try to hire in the neighborhood. All the art on the exterior of the building is by local street artists. We have taken over the lot next door and are throwing some ragers over there with the whole neighborhood. Its gonna be sick man. Part of the proceeds will be going to local barrio charities for each party. We try and bring the neighborhood in on fun stuff.
As Tom mentioned above, the Barrio Logan location has opened a live music and party venue next to the brewery. The awesome outdoor space is a great way to feature local artists and involve the community in the brewery. They kicked off the “ragers” by celebrating Mexican Independence day earlier in September. This mini music festival featured local Mexican artists, dancing, and of course lots of awesome food and beer. Keep an eye out for their next party!
I had a great time speaking with Tom and I highly recommend checking out one of Thorn Streets three locations. They have a beer for everyone and their tasting rooms are an awesome place to hang out. I am excited to see what they do with the new space in Barrio Logan and I cant wait to catch some great live music there. Read the rest of my interview with Tom below, and feel free to comment with your favorite brewery in San Diego!
Chris: So, how did you get involved with Thorn? How long have you been working here?
Tom: "I just hit 5 years about a month ago. I worked for a beer distributor in Boston called El Knife and Sun and then I quit to move to Cali for a change of pace. The distribution company asked if I wanted to start an operation in San Fran and I said sure. Simultaneously they were opening up a San Diego operation and just as I got to California they asked me to run that.
Sounds like a fun gig!
“Yea I did that for about 6 months. A year later I started with Thorn working in distribution. I had reached out to a bunch of breweries and Thorn was the first to reply!”
That seems to have worked out well?
(Laughing) “Yes it was a great example of being at the right place at the right time. People often ask me how to get a job in the beer industry and it is hard. A lot of people want to work in "beer" so as a brewery it's easy to find a warm body. So what do you have to offer? There is room for any career in beer, you just have to be good.”
Speaking of distribution, where do you guys distribute your products? Just SD?
"We distribute to all of So Cal up to Santa Barbra and over to Palm Springs. We also just launched Japan and soft launched Mexico. We also sell a little beer in Belgium."
“Yea why not? In America the craft beer business is expanding and the number of breweries is growing. Because of that it is difficult for a brewery to expand outside of its home market due to competition and because beer is now hyper local.”
Yea everyone wants to drink local beer.
“Yea exactly. We thought that instead of competing with local breweries in the state why don't we sell San Diego style IPAs into regions that don't have it. We knew we didn't have to commit as many bodies or money to open these new international markets. This gave us a great opportunity to learn more about exporting.”
So what is the story behind the logo? Why a racoon on a bike?
"So what makes Thorn, Thorn is that we are a neighborhood brewery. If you got to the North Park location we are in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. We care about making good beer but we don't wanna be stiff about it. It is a little bit more about fun than it is about analyzing and educating about beer. This ties into the logo in a couple ways.
The Racoon is commonly found in North Park because of the proximity to Balboa park. They are kinda a frisky animal but relatively harmless. Its kinda like fun. So the North Park location is right on the border of north park and south park locations. South Park has some iconic bike racks shaped like the old penny farthing bikes. So the racoon and the penny farthing represent north and south park. It is a well done clean logo and we love it. But at the end of the day it's a raccoon riding a bike so we don't take it too seriously."
Is there a beer that you are best known for? What is the flagship?
"The Relay IPA and the Barrio Lager are the best selling. Try those two if you want to get to know us. We have also won a world cup medal for our Imperial Red Ale."
So what is next for Thorn Street?
"We just opened the tasting room in mission hills on July 19th. Come check it out, we are super proud. We are also making a keto-friendly gluten reduced IPA. We were trying to focus on for the past 2 years is just aiming a shit load of IPAs. Its what we like. But now we have a million ipas so now we are asking how do we offer like a beverage for every situation and every occasion. Part of being a neighborhood brewery is offering something to everyone in the neighborhood, so we want to expand our selection. We are dabbling in some small batch hard seltzers and teas. You should be able to bring everyone here and they will find something that they like. Us at our best is when we are including everyone."
Thanks for stopping by friends of LoSoCal. Please like this post or add a comment below about your favorite local Southern California brewery!
I have had the pleasure of writing off and and on for LoSoCal over the last couple of years and I love showcasing local artists, music, and the SoCal lifestyle. I was born and raised in Oceanside and then moved down to San Diego last year. I love living in SoCal for the music, the ocean, and of course the beer! I run my own marketing consulting business and love coaching small business owners so that they can improve their brand. I am looking forward to sharing more about socal!
The purpose of LoSoCal is to build community in Southern California around the practice of buying local and supporting our local small business owners and artists. I chose to be an advocate with this deeper message over four years ago when I created the brand and blog and it stems from my lifelong exposure to the lifestyle of small business owners and artists. It also stems from the pure love that I have for this part of the world. I love the vibrant oceans and colorful sunsets of the California coastline. I love the wildlife and the landscapes of the mountains. I love the climate! I genuinely appreciate the richness and variety of much of our soil and the organic food we grow here. I love the people and the culture of this region!!! Of course, most importantly, I LOVE the spirit of SoCal. It is no wonder that when I finally decided to pursue the greatest goal of my lifetime with creating LoSoCal, it manifested around Southern California and my life here. For me, this blog is not about "being in the limelight" or "making it big," but rather about being of service in some way to my home and the people who live here.
I have lived in Southern California for decades. My parents moved to this area years ago in 1981 and they are both entrepreneurs, though my father is now retired. He was a mechanical engineer who held upper level management positions at several small businesses in North San Diego County in the area of quality control, until he later opened his own shop in Escondido back in the nineties. He owned his shop for many years, but eventually he lost his business during the recession period of the 2000s. My mother has made additional income as a fine artist and crafter as well, for as long as I can remember. She has had her most recent online company for 16 years.
I had a great deal of exposure to the lifestyle of an entrepreneur due to my dad and mom and their business endeavors. Both of my parents are very innovative and ambitious people, and since I was very young, I have been extremely aware that Southern California has a specific “creative energy.” Even as a young person, I was drawn toward appreciating California and have always firmly believed that this "energy" stems from the exquisite climate and land itself AND from its local lovers, the residents. Oh, the great love affair between nature and our species!!!
From what I have experienced in SoCal, the vast majority of young to middle aged residents are quite outdoorsy, active and motivated. Even many of the long-time residents and elders in Southern California are out and about... living life to the fullest. The healthy lifestyle that has become so popular in this area is something that many Southern Californians invest a great deal of time into mastering and perfecting. Similar to my parents, many people among these Southern California cities and even local villages are also the "go-getter" types who have steadily embarked on building their careers and family legacies in SoCal. Over the years it has evolved into a land of possibility and it seems to resonate with not only the professional type, but also the local entrepreneur or artist, which explains why there are so many here.
I’ve traveled a bit in my day and experienced the variety that goes with living an extremely full life. I haven't spent my life living on the sidelines. I have been a great many places and explored many things! I strongly believe that this area of our planet is more progressive than most others, and for that reason it attracts a lot of people from around the world. It attracts tourists for its beauty, of course, but what I am focusing on here in this article... is much deeper than that. I am talking about the elevated, creative energy of SoCal which inspires so many artists and entrepreneurs and essentially, inspired me to create LoSoCal.
Thanks for reading, friends and don’t forget to check out LoSoCal on Facebook and Instagram!
By Elise Wark, LoSoCal Guest Blogger
If you look up the word vitality in the dictionary, you’ll see the following definition: the state of being strong & active, having energy, life, vibrancy, passion and drive. Sounds like something we could all use more of in life, right?
Increasing your vitality in life may be the secret to living a more connected, successful and meaningful life. Yet how do you get there? Where do you even start? Building a life full of vitality doesn’t have to add to your stress or overwhelm, interrupt your already busy schedule, take hours out of your day or even require you to necessarily DO more!
Today, I’m sharing 5 simple, yet effective, tips that you can begin implementing into your life TODAY to increase your own vitality. Because you DO already possess the innate ability to heal yourself, you DESERVE to live a life full of vitality and you CAN start today!
Tip #1: Get grounded
We live in sunny SoCal where the vitamin D flows free and the beach is our backyard. So get outside! Take a few moments to your shoes off and place your bare feet in the grass and feel the sensations within your body: you’ll probably notice an immediate shift from stress to relaxation. This concept is called grounding and is now scientifically proven to shift your nervous system into a relaxed state simply by sharing the Earth’s energetic vibrations!
Tip #2: Move your joints
Your joints are the foundation of your entire body, where bones, muscles & tissue connect & where all movement is initiated. Your joints are what allow you to walk, run, sit, jump, bend over, stand up, lie down, get up out of bed; ANYTHING you do requires a (healthy) joint to initiate that movement. When you have healthy, strong joints, you live in less physical pain, you’re able to get out of bed in the morning with no pain or stiffness, you are able to sit at your desk all day with less discomfort. You get an almost instant boost in your physical vitality simply by improving your joint health!
Tip #3: Learn how to breathe
Have you ever watched your breath throughout the day? Most of the day, especially when you’re stressed & overwhelmed, you’ll notice that your breath is caught in your chest through short, sharp inhales & exhales. For an instant release, press the breath down into the belly, allowing only the belly to expand on an inhale and fall on your exhale. You’ll notice an instant calming effect because you’re getting more oxygen in with each breath. For a deeper experience, keep the breath in the belly and count to 3 on an inhale (belly expands) and extend to a 6 count on the exhale (belly falls). This will instantly reboot the nervous system out of fight or flight mode and into it’s resting state.
Tip #4: Relax Your Nervous System
Your nervous system is the communication highway that connects your body and mind and carries signals back and forth. Because we live in world full of stress, work, obligations, responsibilities, etc our nervous system is constantly on overdrive. In order for your body and mind to heal, the nervous system must be in a resting state (parasympathetic mode). Here are a couple simple ways to reset your nervous system: get grounded and breathe (see above examples), go for a walk & focus on the sensations within your body instead of the thoughts in your mind. Or finally, practice mindfulness throughout your day (perhaps on your walk or just sitting silently). Take a moment to simply observe the thoughts that are coming up; try not to judge them or analyze them. Instead ask yourself “are these thoughts serving me? Can they be released?” Once you step outside of your thoughts, you can then replenish your mind with spaciousness, deeper intellect, creativity and even peace.
Tip #5: Lean into your emotions
Emotions are simply energy in motion and always show up to serve a purpose. Emotions are created by thoughts and just want to be tended to and acknowledged. When an emotion gets suppressed or ignored, it gets stored in the body and at some point (whether immediately or over time) will manifest itself physically, whether through pain, tension or tight muscles, illness or simply by an overreaction. So the next time, you get a flood of feeling or sensation in your body, chest or stomach (as an emotion is coming up), I challenge you to actually lean into the emotion (instead of turning away from it). Ask the emotion why it’s there, allow it to flow through your body, observe it, make friends with it even. You may be surprised at how quickly that emotion dissipates once it’s acknowledged or even what it’s there to teach you.
Cheers to your vitality, friends!
For more information on these vitality practices, email Elise directly at email@example.com or sign up for her free 5-day online course (www.illuminatemovement.com).
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Owner, Lead Blogger
Hello, my name is Karen Vazquez. I have lived in Southern California for over thirty years. I realized about four years ago that it was time for me to give back to this wonderful community by supporting local SoCal businesses, performers, restaurants, spas, boutiques, fitness studios, farmers markets and more. My support shines through here by highlighting these fabulous local SoCal spots. You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, PInterest and LinkedIn. I will be featuring many local destinations in the area that have been my personal favorites for years and am currently recruiting guest bloggers to expand the voice of LoSoCal. I have had guest bloggers in the past, but aim to incorporate local SoCal bloggers on a regular basis as a fun, creative and collaborative way to connect with the community here. Essentially, LoSoCal is a community blog, and it is meant to be resource to locals in this area and visitors from around the world. Please like or follow LoSoCal on the social media business pages and tell your contacts about the blog. Thanks for stopping by...
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