Oceanside’s Black Plague Brewing (2550 Jason Court) released a new beer last weekend. It is an IPA. Neither of those things is especially unusual in San Diego. It comes with a celebrity endorsement. Even that isn’t so unusual: Escondido’s Stone Brewing and the band Metallica did a beer together earlier this year, for example.
What is unusual is that the celebrity is professional skateboarder and San Diego native Tony Hawk.
I grew up in Canada, where skateboarding isn’t so much of a thing (snowboarding, now we’re talking). But even I know the name Tony Hawk. He has been famous as a skateboarder and entrepreneur for almost four decades.
Hawk turned professional at age 14 and won his first pro skating contest a year later. It wasn’t beginner’s luck: he went on to win at least 63 pro skateboard competitions between 1983 and 2002, an unbelievably long career for such a physically demanding sport. Hawk has been the name behind — and sometimes the main character in — a series of 18 skateboarding video games since 1999. He has had amusement park rides named after him at Six Flags, and a waterpark ride. He has been in movies, television shows, and music videos. Hawk was the first skater to successfully land a 900-degree spin trick. He has even skated in the halls of the White House.
The fact that Hawk is friends with Black Plague president, fellow pro skater Jordan Hoffart, and is willing to attach himself to this beer project is a sign that he believes in the brewery and the beer. As Hoffart said in a press release, “Tony Hawk’s level of dedication to his craft is unmatched and that is something that unites us in our journey as well. The beer needed to be light and crushable after a skate session while also having enough heft to be your go-to when you are ready to party.”
Black Plague has had a skateboarding connection since it opened in 2017, and it has a stable of “brand ambassadors” from the skating world. The video on the Black Plague website landing page shows a character called Plague Doctor, dressed head-to-toe in black leather with a big hat and a beaked mask worn by some doctors who attempted to treat plague victims in the middle ages. The video hits a lot of themes connected to the brand, including skateboarding, motorcycling, tattoos, and music.
The tasting room at Black Plague’s brewery is large and open with plenty of seating. The long bar includes a copper strip down the middle that is cooled by glycol so you can keep your glass of beer cold. The space is kid- and dog-friendly, and they host a variety of events to draw in customers. There is live music on the weekends, plus Taco Tuesdays, Beer & Beats Wednesdays, and Trivia Thursdays every week. They also host sometimes host other one-off events, including skateboarding demonstrations and movie nights. If it sounds like Black Plague is working hard to earn your business, you are right.
One of the ways Black Plague tries to earn your business is that they have much more extensive opening hours than many other breweries. They are open every day, for one thing, whereas a lot of breweries close on Mondays and Tuesdays. And they are open later than most breweries, too: until 10 p.m. most nights, 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 p.m. on Sundays.
The most important way that Black Plague tries to earn your business is by making excellent beer. Black Plague won gold at the 2019 San Diego International Beer Competition for its Hazy Scandal Hazy IPA — an intensely competitive category. I’ve had eight or 10 different Black Plague beers since they opened a couple of years ago, and they have all been good to very good. I’m particularly a fan of their Samoa Cookie milk stout (brewed with coconut, cocoa nibs, maple syrup, and graham crackers), their Day Walker red ale, and their flagship 1347 IPA (crisp, citrusy, moderately bitter, and refreshing).
The new Tony Hawps IPA (I see what they did there!) is billed as “a unique IPA brewed with Simcoe and Amarillo hops for a resinous pine foundation, dry-hopped with a massive amount of Citra and Centennial hops for an outstanding aroma of orange citrus with hints of fresh grapefruit.” It is available now in cans and on draft at select bars and retail outlets in Southern California. And, naturally, at the brewery.
Top: Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk is the inspiration for Black Plague Brewing’s latest offering, the Tony Hawps IPA. Courtesy photo