We’re beyond excited to be tapping a keg of soon-to-be-open Saint Archer‘s IPA tomorrow at the White Labs Tasting Room at noon. I conducted the following Q&A with brewmaster Ray Astamendi (formerly of Mission Brewery, Left Coast Brewing Co., and Maui Brewing Co.) via e-mail:
Q I know a lot of people, myself included, are eagerly anticipating you guys opening your doors to the public. Could you talk a little bit about your plans for launch? (initial offerings, bottles/cans?)
A: Our 30-bbl brewhouse, manufactured by Premier Stainless, is scheduled for delivery in January. We’re planning to have all our fermenters filled and in full production mode by early February. Initially, we will offer a kolsch-style ale, a hoppy pale ale, and of course an India Pale Ale – all of which will be available in 6-packs, 22oz. bottles, as well as 1/6 & ½ barrel kegs. We are anticipating additional fermenters in March/April which will permit us to launch our Double-IPA, as well as some other beers that Kim Lutz and I are working on now.
Q: The branding and design component of St Archer is so on point and really seems to distinguish you guys from other breweries. Can you talk a bit about the company as a purveyor of lifestyle in addition to great brewing?
A: The two go hand-in-hand. Brewing is a form of creative expression, balancing both art and science. The lifestyle element behind Saint Archer is deeply rooted in creativity, passion, and commitment. There is definitely a correlation between the two, and everyone behind Saint Archer sees that. Having grown up in Southern California at a critical time in the development of modern surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding, I was immediately hooked when approached for this project. Afterall, I started brewing in the mid-90’s when I moved to Lake Tahoe – snowboarding and beer go hand in hand! It was beers like Anchor, Sierra Nevada, and Red Nectar that inspired me to make my own.
Q: What are your favorite styles to brew? How much variation can we expect to see in the St. Archer line (ie. experimental one-offs, collaborations, variants, barrel-aged versions of beers, etc)?
A: I definitely lean towards the sessionable beers. I’ve always loved traditional German beers such as Kölsch, Altbier, Helles, Maibock. On the other hand, a solid IPA is hard to beat. I really believe that there is a time and a place for every beer. Our lineup will be continuously expanding – tanks permitting. Kim and I are working on the direction we intend to take our product line. Having worked with Kim in the past, I’m excited to be able to work with her again, and to collaborate with her so we can offer the widest variety of beers to satisfy the increasingly diversified palette of today’s craft beer enthusiast.
Q: You guys brewed a test IPA here at White Labs, trying out different strains in the process of dialing in the recipe. What do you look for in a yeast strain? What are some of your favorites/top performers?
A: Having brewed with many different White Labs yeast strains over the years, I definitely lean towards certain strains – especially when it comes to specific styles. I love WLP051 for Pales and IPA’s. The ester profile lends itself really well to compliment the hop character of those styles. For my Kölsch, WLP029 is the obvious choice – although I’m really interested in trying other similar strains to see how they perform side-by-side. Maybe we brew that one with you guys next?
Q: What’s the best thing about San Diego’s beer scene?
A: The diversity and proliferation of great beer! We are so lucky to live and brew in such a vibrant, talent-rich community. This truly is America’s Finest City.
Big thanks to Ray for taking the time to answer my questions. Check out this fantastic short film that offers insight into the St. Archer aesthetic and be sure to stop by the Tasting Room tomorrow!