Coastal craft brew enthusiasts, enjoying our embarrassment of riches, can sometimes forget to look eastward. On my recent venture to Escondido, I revisited Jacked Up Brewery.
Not only was I impressed by the lineup of beer (and seltzer) offerings, but the venue has grown into a destination spot offering much more than just award-winning beer.
Michael and Caroline Paulson opened Jacked Up in 2016, and each year has seen exponential growth. I sat down with the couple to learn more about their beers, their plans and their commitment to the community.
Cheers!: Thank you for having me! I am excited to hear the story of Jacked Up Brewery. But first, tell me about this beer we are drinking.
Michael: This is the Razz Sour. It started off as a cream ale. Then we allowed wild yeast to get into it and allow it to sour. It’s a true sour; we expose it to the air and let Mother Nature do her thing. And it’s not too sour, just a little tart on the tongue. Has that nice bite, but not overpowering. We introduce raspberry into it to give it that nice sweet kick.
Cheers!: It’s both light and jammy at the same time.
Michael: It’s refreshing, perfect for spring and summer. More tart than sour, really.
Michael: My journey in beer started in 1994 when I thought I could brew beer cheaper than buying it. Which is every homebrewer’s thought.
Caroline: It was before the internet. So we went down to Tacoma to a homebrew store, bought a book, bought the equipment, took it home and started making beer.
Cheers!: What was the first beer?
Caroline: An apricot hefeweizen!
Michael: When I retired from my construction company, I said to Caroline: let’s start a brewery.
Caroline: And we said, if we’re going to do this, let’s do it in San Diego. San Diego has great beer, and if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
Cheers!: When did you know it would work?
Caroline: When we started entering home brewing contests and winning medals, I knew we wouldn’t be looking back.
Cheers!: Speaking of awards, you’ve recently won a Gold Medal for your Dragon Fruit IPA.
Michael: That is our most popular beer here. It’s seasonal.
Caroline: When we have fresh dragon fruit, we brew it. All our dragon fruit is locally sourced.
Michael: The beer has an IPA base. We use 30 pounds of fruit per barrel. The whole idea for this beer came to us in 2017 when a local grower asked if I’ve ever brewed with dragon fruit. I said, “No.” He said, “Well, I have a whole bunch of it.” So we gave it a try.
Cheers!: This is the most unique IPA I’ve ever had from both a color and flavor perspective.
Michael: We went to the pink and red fruits to give it that deep red color. The color is based on the fruit. We make the beer, but God makes the fruit, so the color can vary from batch to batch. The sweetness of the fruit kills the bittering Warrior and Simcoe hops.
Caroline: Careful, this beer is dangerous. It’s a triple IPA. 11% ABV.
Cheers!: Wow! You’d never know that.
Michael: The dragon fruit hides the esters. We take the fruit, we flesh it out of the skin, we freeze it, and as it thaws, it self-purees. We introduce it into the beer at secondary fermentation, making it very drinkable.
Cheers!: Great beers, but Jacked Up isn’t just a brewery. It’s an event space.
Caroline: We wanted to feature live music. Michael plays guitar, So in our second year, we decided to add music. That’s been a journey in and of itself.
Cheers!: You have an impressive stage setup!
Caroline: We have a phenomenal stage with everything: stage lighting, monitors, and amps.
Michael: Full stage and a cabaret license. We are a licensed music venue. Light shows, the whole nine yards, you get a great experience with the beer and with the entertainment.
Cheers!: And food?
Michael: Yes, we have a full kitchen with great food.
Cheers!: It sounds like, in retirement, you’ve found a way to be busier than ever.
Michael: I love what I do. I don’t look at it as work. We love what we are doing here. We love making the beer, we love the process, and we love the community. And we love the smile on people’s faces after they taste our beer.
Jacked Up Brewery is located at 800 West Grand Avenue in Escondido. Jeff Spanier is a monthly columnist for The Coast News and the host of I Like Beer the Podcast. To hear the full interview, take a listen wherever you get podcasts. Follow Spanier’s adventures @ilikebeerthepodcast on Instagram.