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Blue Fire Brewing in San Marcos. Images are courtesy of @Blue_Fire_Brew
Blue Fire Brewing in San Marcos. Image courtesy of @Blue_Fire_Brew
ColumnsFood & WineI Like BeerSan Marcos

Cheers! North County: In the moment with Blue Fire Brewing

San Marcos has a new brewery. Brothers Tommy and Charlie Gordon recently opened Blue Fire Brewing off Santa Fe Avenue. I reached out to the fraternal co-owners, who share in the duties of running their brewery and tasting room, to learn more about how they got here and where they are going.

Cheers!: You just passed your one-month anniversary since the grand opening in late September. What has the first month been like for you and the team?

The Gordons: Things have been going well. So far the response from customers has been really positive, which is awesome. We’ve met a lot of great folks who are very supportive of what we’re doing. We are learning a lot and look forward to continuing the process of improvement.

Cheers!: Blue Fire Brewing is a family business. How did you get your start in beer, and what is it like to work with family?

The Gordons: The start was drinking craft beer! We are fortunate to have grown up in the microcosm of craft brews that is North County San Diego. Both Charlie and I started homebrewing in college. As any homebrewer knows, the hobby can take over your life, and we fully embraced it.

We soaked up as much knowledge as we could through books and online blogs, educational sessions from White Labs, and when the opportunity arose to take a structured course aimed at training SD residents for a career in brewery/cellar work, we jumped on it.

Mira Costa TCI’s Craft Brewing Technician is the program, taught by Mike Stevenson of Culver Beer. The class was excellent and I wholeheartedly recommend it for those interested in getting into the brewing industry.

As far as working with family, being just two of us for the majority of brewery tasks, it helps having the connection that Charlie and I have. We certainly don’t agree on everything, but we both have the same goal of making and serving quality fermented beverages.

The outdoor patio at Blue Fire Brewing in San Marcos. Photo courtesy of @Blue_Fire_Brew
The outdoor patio at Blue Fire Brewing in San Marcos. Photo courtesy of @Blue_Fire_Brew

Cheers!: How long have you been working towards opening, and how did the pandemic impact your plans over the past 18 months?

The Gordons: Though the idea was hatched many years ago, we finally decided to purchase equipment and start the work of opening a brewery in 2018. Our brewhouse, cellar tanks and miscellaneous parts were purchased from Chuck McLaughlin of the former Fallbrook Brewing Company.

Purchasing locally whenever possible was top of mind throughout the build-out process, and we knew from the start we wanted to be on a Premier Stainless System. We were happy to find quality equipment close to home that we could give a second life to.

With a lot of help from family and friends, we were able to oversee and/or perform everything from the design of the architectural plans all the way to the end of construction. That was a huge learning process for us. Not only did we learn useful skills, but we now know the integral parts of our brewery.

The pandemic certainly created difficulties, but our plan never changed. At first (think March 2020), the uncertainty of the situation led to a period of inaction in construction, which soon gave way to a flurry of home improvement projects taking up the time of local tradespeople.

Without a design [or] build firm or general contractor to bring in specific trades, it was left up to us to find someone or do it ourselves. I would like to mention Damon and Chris of Kellogg Plumbing for sticking with us during the entirety of our project. They did a great job on many items of construction that we weren’t qualified for.

The same goes for Todd Davis Electric. Our friends at the soon-to-be brewery and kitchen in San Clemente, Los Molinos Beer Co, were instrumental in the concrete excavation and re-pour in our back brewing space. Thanks, y’all.

The pandemic also led to a strain on supply chains, meaning certain items became unavailable or exponentially more expensive. This definitely made it hard to put the final touches on our build-out, but overall we are grateful for where we are and happy to be moving forward within a wonderful community.

Cheers!: Your current tap list spans the gamut of styles from IPA to Brown Ales. Which style best represents Blue Fire Brewing and why?

The Gordons: That’s a tough one because we really do appreciate so many different beer styles. I’d say that we are, first and foremost, a brewery for the people. So to answer that question we need to know what the people who come into our brewery want to drink. If you come to our tasting room and don’t see the style you want to drink, please let us know!

If you twist my arm, I’ll say the Session Dark because it’s a beer for hardworking folks. It’s not a beer that any brewery marketing team would suggest. It is a beer that you could drink two or three imperial pints of and feel fine the next day.

Cheers!: If someone could only drink one Blue Fire beer, which one would you suggest and why?

The Gordons: Hmm that’s a toss-up between our Session Dark and our newest West Coast IPA. The Session Dark because it’s not a beer you will find anywhere else. Pours a rich mahogany color with a cream-colored head; slightly roasty upfront on the palate, and then dries out into a nice crisp and hoppy finish. At only 4% ABV, this is the beer I reach for before the day is done, but water just won’t cut it [laughs].

Electric Blues is an IPA we are releasing tomorrow (10/29). Classic C hops create a citrusy and resinous IPA that I am stoked on right now, [and is] 7.5% ABV.

Cheers!: Do you have any new beer coming in the near future that you are particularly excited about?

The Gordons: Yes, we just released Electric Blues IPA and we are quite stoked about it! Aromas of grapefruit citrus and dank pine lead to a light but sturdy mouthfeel and a crisp, resinous finish. We used Chinook and Cascade in the whirlpool as well as dry hops, with CTZ for bittering in this drinkable 7.5% West Coast IPA.

Cheers!: Is there anything else we should know about Blue Fire Brewing right now or you have planned for the future.

The Gordons: Blue Fire is open every day for fresh beer pours in taster (4.5oz), half-pint (9.2oz), 3/4 (13.5oz) or full pint sizes (19.3oz). You can also purchase a crowler or growler of beer to-go.

Cheers!: What is the best way for customers to support a new brewery?

The Gordons: Of course, the most direct way is to visit our tasting room to purchase beers and merchandise. We have shirts and hats, disc golf discs and growlers in stock now, and will be bringing in more merch soon. This upcoming holiday season, I encourage everyone to purchase gifts locally. Jeff Bezos doesn’t need your business, but many small businesses do!

If you do visit and appreciate what we have created, please tell your friends! We love to hear from new people coming in that a friend referred them. Perhaps more importantly, if you feel there are areas for us to improve, don’t hesitate to provide feedback. We are new to this whole thing and aren’t too proud to admit we could do better. We hope to consistently improve and make Blue Fire your favorite brewery!

Follow @Blue_Fire_Brew  on Instagram to see the latest small-batch beer releases. Don’t forget! The Roast! West Coast coffee podcast has returned for a third season. All new episodes are released on the Coast News Podcast page every Tuesday and Thursday.