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Harland Brewing Company co-founder and president Anthony Levas. Photo via Facebook
Harland Brewing Company co-founder and president Anthony Levas. Photo via Facebook
Cheers! North County Columns Food & Wine

Cheers! North County: Harland Brewing’s labor bears distinctive fruits

If you’re looking for a local brewery whose brewing team is pushing the envelope of flavor, look no further than Harland Brewing Company. In addition to the classic flavors of their core lineup, their research and development team is constantly pushing the boundaries — and doing it well.

They’re also doing a lot to expand the brand and the beer lineup. I reached out to Harland Brewing Company co-founder and president (and style icon) Anthony Levas to see what’s up with him, the brew team (and company) in the moment.

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Cheers! Hey Anthony, thanks for getting me up to speed with what’s going on at Harland Brewing. I want to share all the cool things you’re doing now, but first I want to check in on the emotional status of the team. The last year and a half have thrown innumerable challenges at breweries. How are you and your team feeling right now after 18 months in a pandemic, and how did the brewery adapt in response to COVID-19?

Anthony: The team at Harland, like everyone in our industry, had to make tough decisions through the pandemic. With the majority of our business in on-premise accounts at the start of the shutdown, we knew we needed to shift our focus quickly to increase can sales.

We reformatted our package releases from 12-ounce six-packs to 16-ounce four-packs and put our (brewing system) to work. We leaned on the creativity of the brew team and focused on specialty releases that were pushed out at our tasting rooms, as well as in the trade.

Harland was less than two years old at the time, and through all of this, we learned how to utilize all of our strengths efficiently and work together better than we had ever done before. We became very close through it all.

Cheers! For someone who isn’t familiar with the Harland brand, will you explain the theme or vibe, and what inspired you to pursue that style?

Anthony: The idea/theme behind the brand Harland is centered around the craft. “A Labor of Beer” is all over our cans and merchandise. We celebrate the spirit of rolling up your sleeves to get the job done, especially in beer, but in many creative outlets. We admire clean branding and can lock-ups that speak to a classic design.

Lately, with our special releases and collaborations, we have been exploring new designs, and that has been a lot of fun as well.

Harland Brewing puts its motto, "A Labor of Beer," on every can. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Harland Brewing puts its motto, “A Labor of Beer,” on every can. Photo by Ryan Woldt

Cheers! The first Harland Beer that really hit (If I remember right) was your Hazy IPA, which became a core beer right away, but it seems like you are dropping new beers almost weekly. What is the directive you’ve given your team as far as research and development, and will you be adding to your core list or establishing returning seasonals?

Anthony: We focus on creating a core lineup that has something for everyone: lager, West Coast IPAs and a Hazy IPA. We release a recurring single hop series that rotates between some of our favorite hops, as well as a rotating sour in both cans and draft.

Our specialty releases are led by the creativity of the brew staff. Nick Marron (director of brewing operations) and Ryan Alvarez (head brewer) lead the team. One of our most sought-after beers is Ube Milkshake IPA. The inspiration for this came when Nick was traveling in Guam with his wife, who is Chamorro. He had an ube donut and immediately sent a picture of it to Ryan with a note, “I don’t know how, but we have to make a beer like this.”

The idea for Ube Milkshake IPA was born, and it became a beer that put Harland on the map in a way that we had not experienced before.

Cheers! Harland has embraced creating unique collaboration beers. I’m thinking of beers like the Buko Pandan Milkshake IPA, your collaboration with Mostra Coffee inspired by a sweet Filipino dessert. What inspires your team to take on a challenge like that, and what makes for a successful collaboration beer?

Anthony: We like collaborating with our friends. Beer brings people together, and when we get a chance to work with those that we are close to, it makes it all the better. Our brewers, like our industry friends, come from many cultural backgrounds and we love to highlight and celebrate these through collaboration. For us, the success of a collaboration is in friendship building and brand building, not only in selling a release quickly.

Cheers! You’ve been growing with the three tasting rooms (Scripps Ranch, One Paseo, Bay Park) in three years. What’s next for Harland Brewing?

Anthony: We recently signed a lease in South Park, in the space of the former Grant’s Market: 2953 Beech Street, San Diego, 92102. This space has an existing kitchen that we will be upgrading and using. We will offer coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner along with beer and wine.

Cheers! A brand-new customer to Harland walks into the tasting room and only has time for one beer — what do you recommend and why?

Anthony: India Pale Whale: Cryo Mosaic, Chinook (and) Simcoe (hops), a West Coast IPA. It’s my daily drinker. I try to have one every day. This one is very aromatic, not overly bitter and has a very clean finish.

Cheers! What is the best way for North County residents to get their hands on some Harland beer?

Anthony: Stop by our tasting room in Del Mar on the One Paseo campus for a nice cold one or check out the beer finder on our website to find a store or restaurant near you.

Cheers! Anything else you want readers to know about Harland Brewing right now?

We will be participating in the Oktoberfest event on the One Paseo campus on Oct. 2. Hope to see you there!

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Be sure to follow Harland Brewing Company on Facebook and Instagram to stay on top of all their beer releases, and see more photos of Anthony in a jean jacket, or sign up for the newsletter at www.harlandbeer.com. Cheers everyone!

Don’t miss the return of the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast. All-new episodes begin dropping on Tuesday, Oct. 6, right here on the Coast News Podcast page.

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