After a brief “In the Moment…” hiatus to reexamine the top 10 Beer Happy Places, we’re back this week with an interview with Ryan Sather, the co-owner of BattleMage Brewing Company in Vista. BattleMage is a nano-brewery with a unique theme. I’ll let Ryan tell you all about it.
CHEERS!: Hey Ryan, thanks for catching me up on what’s going on at BattleMage. More than a year into this wild pandemic, what is the physical and emotional status of your company and team?
Ryan, Battlemage: A year into the pandemic, I would say our status is optimistic. We have weathered the storm and adapted our business to not only survive the shift in trends but actually be better positioned for the future. We have looked for the silver linings in this tumultuous last year, and I think the changes we made will benefit us for years to come.
I will touch on the changes in a bit more detail later, but overall, we are excited for a return to normalcy, and we are happy to be a bastion where friends can once again come together and share some human experiences.
CHEERS!: For someone who isn’t familiar with D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) or fantasy-style gaming, will you explain the theme or vibe of BattleMage, and how that translates into the beer?
Ryan: The theme of BattleMage is medieval modern. We pull from all genres of fantasy and pretty much anything nerdy. The other founder, Chris Barry, and I have been best friends since we were little kids, and we are total nerds. We wanted that passion to resonate with the experience at BattleMage.
We also wanted to create a community that shared like-minded interests bringing beer and fantasy together. When you walk into BattleMage, it’s like you are embarking on a beer adventure. We have a diverse selection of beers for pretty much every taste, so as long as you like beer you will love BattleMage.
The theme, friendly staff, and awesome community are just the icing on the cake. Come for a pint, stay for the experience.
CHEERS!: I have to ask, did you cast a protection spell over yourselves during Covid? Perhaps an Invulnerability spell during visits to the grocery store?
Ryan: We cast every protection spell in the old spell-book. My wife and I had our first kid in the middle of the pandemic, so we were being extra cautious as the events unfolded. The brewery definitely took every precaution and for several months we were just doing to-go stuff three days a week.
As things progressed, we introduced a patio space dubbed “The Battlements,” and—as cases fell and vaccinations rose—we have just recently lowered the drawbridge and allowed customers back inside. Our staff is fully vaccinated, so we feel protected for this transition back to normal.
CHEERS!: As much as anyone can plan after last year, what does the near future (2021) for Battlemage look like?
Ryan: The future looks bright for us at BattleMage. The silver lining of the pandemic was it forced us to get into canning to stay viable. This was something we always wanted to do down the line, but the nano canners that fit our size brewery didn’t actually exist until the pandemic.
We purchased a nano canner from American Canning Company that does about eight cans a minute and is named “Canthulu.”
Now we have a wide variety of 16oz cans with some amazing artwork and lore fitting of our brand. Each beer has a unique story on the side of the cans that describe that BattleMage’s latest adventures. We build on that by actually having a local author write more in-depth lore which can be found in the lore section of our website (See Author’s Note below).
Another change we made during the pandemic was a shift in staffing. Our first employee Maddy, who was absolutely amazing moved to Idaho, instead of replacing her with another tasting room member we decided to shift and bring on a sales rep.
Our new employee, Ryan Sutton, is out in the field expanding our empire beyond the walls of our castle.
This shift made sense since the tasting room was still closed several days a week, and distribution has been a big category for us in 2021. It also leaves us well-positioned to grow as things return to normal.
CHEERS!: Let’s talk beer. Is there anything coming out that your team is particularly excited about or proud of?
Ryan: We try to brew a lot of diverse beers so that we have something for everyone. As the seasons shift, we will have some fan favorites returning like Chocobo Hef. We just tapped a new batch of Copper Dragon, our ESB which has an amazing malt character of baked bread and layered caramel, balanced with a hint of earthy hops. We will also be bringing back Heroes Feast, our newest West Coast IPA.
We just recently brewed this one and it quickly became popular amongst our patrons. It has a more reserved bitterness than a traditional west coast IPA, and we cut out the crystal malt so that the hops can shine on a nice subtle bready-biscuity malt backbone. It’s 6.6%, so pretty crushable and is bursting with classic west coast hop character of citrus, pine and fruit.
We are also participating in the Homebrew Summer where we scale up a local home brewer’s recipes to brew commercially. We have selected Mana Potion, by Derek Springer, which will be a hop-forward pale ale with some unique color-changing properties. Look for this beer in early August. We will be doing a limited canning run, and have a release party for it.
CHEERS!: What is the best way for North County residents to get their hands on your beer?
Ryan: The best experience at BattleMage will be to come to visit our tasting room. Located at 2870 Scott Street, Suite #102 in Vista. It’s an experience that’s best enjoyed in person.
Outside of that, we have been expanding distribution quite a bit. We can ship cases across California now which can be ordered from our website. If you notice an ax tap handle wrapped with hop vines out on your adventures, that’s one of our beers, and there are about 100-or-so of those handles out around San Diego now.
Our cans are also marching into battle, and we have a couple of big accounts we hope to be on the shelves of soon. If there’s a specific account, you want to see us at email [email protected], and ask that account if they have BattleMage! He will ride in on Kegasus, our trusty steed with samples of our magical elixir, and we can bring BattleMage to your favorite location.
CHEERS!: Anything else you want readers to know about Battlemage right now?
Ryan: Currently we are open Thursday and Friday from 4-9, Saturday from 1-9, and Sunday from 1-6. Starting in early July we are hoping to expand our hours and open Tuesday and Wednesday also. As restrictions loosen, we will be resuming gaming events like DnD and Magic drafts that we have held in the past. It has been a crazy year, but we look forward to bringing people together once again to slay pints and create new friendships. Cheers!!
AUTHOR’S NOTE: When researching for this interview, I stumbled onto the ‘Lore’ section of the Battlemage website, and it is…incredible. If there is any part of you that has wanted to be truly entertained by the origin story of your local brewery do yourself a favor and check it out. Follow @battlemage_brewing on Instagram for the daily updates on beer releases, events and of course, any dragon sightings.
If you like craft beer, you probably also love a good cup of coffee. Pour a mug, and check out most recent episodes of the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast featuring interviews and coffee education with great local coffee professionals. Stream it now on The Coast News online or search for it on your favorite podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Thanks for listening, and for following Cheers! North County on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.