Indian Joe Brewing Company

There is no finer city in California that displays such community-wide support for craft breweries than in San Diego. The bf and I promised to visit SD at least once every 1-2 months. And every time we have not been disappointed with what this microbrewery capital has to offer. Of course we started off at Stone (FYI: they just released a new collaboration beer between Will Wheaton, Greg Koch, and Drew Curtis called Farking Wheaton W00tstout-it’s the most scrumptious stout I’ve tasted, but more on that later.) We then delved into the artisan beers at Belching Beaver, Hess, Latitude 33, Mother Earth, Iron Fist, Rip Current, Lost Abbey, White Labs, Rough Draft, AleSmith, Aztec, and Indian Joe Brewing. Now keep in mind all of these breweries have such fine products that it was very difficult to pick from the bunch which one was my favorite. But after much deliberation I found that Indian Joe Brewing created a masterpiece of a company that not only crafted such original beer recipes but also offered a familiar environment that its customers could just relax and enjoy a cold one.

1. Beer

        My absolute favorite is their Apricot/Peach Hefeweizen-which won a silver medal at the San Diego County Fair International Award. But be warned that this beer does run out FAST! Indian Joe’s is currently in a one barrel production state, which is why they offer such a variety of beers. When we were there last, they had a Blueberry Hefeweizen, Blueberry IPA, Strawberry Hefeweizen, Honey Wheat, Orange Wheat, Red Raspberry Wheat, Milk Stout, American Indian IPA, Irish Red Ale, Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee Stout, Pumpkin Ale, Russian Imperial Stout, American Indian Red Ale, White Sage IPA, and a Chocolate Hazelnut Porter. This brewing company definitely has a DEMAND for their beers. I found out from the bartender that they are currently looking into leasing a bigger facility to move towards a 30 barrel production system and that they plan to keep the current site as a tasting room.

2. Place

          The brewery is located off La Mirada Drive in Vista. Keep a lookout for a sign that will direct you towards the brewery. There’s PLENTY of parking available. When I first walked in, I didn’t know what to expect. They have an entrance room that has the brewery’s backdrop for guests that want to take pictures, like this one here…

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I then walked down the hallway and BAM, I’m greeted by a spacious room with plenty of tables. Most tasting rooms offer very little seating so I was ecstatic that there was a place to kick back and enjoy my beer after a day of brewery hopping. The marble top tables and seats are very nice and comfortable. Plus I got to sit next to this guy.

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They have a pretty standard bar size. There is an attached table at the end of the bar where you grab a marker and placemat, and choose which taster you want. The tasters are $2 and pints are $5. Just give them to the bartender and they will deliver it to your table. Every table has a list of numbered beers so you know which taster is what.

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They also have this neat barrel (aka: fireplace) that keeps you warm if the beer isn’t already doing so. There are also signs for their wifi and password if you feel the need to return to the web world. And of course there’s a water station you can help yourself to.

3. Service

          This is a family-run establishment so everyone seems to know each other here. The bf and I were talking to the bartenders (who happen to be husband and wife) and they were the nicest, down to earth people I’ve met. It’s such a relaxing atmosphere and everyone is just so chill here. It felt like I was at a friend’s house just sipping and enjoying my beer. Also the owner, Max, works on floor and is easily approachable. The first time we were at Indian Joe’s, my friends and I just had to compliment him on his beers. The beers were just so smooth and had such unique aromas and flavors. We found out that Max learned and perfected his craft by studying at Belgium. If you go on their website you can read up on his story here. But don’t be shy. Just drop by and say hello and you will realize what exactly I’ve been talking about.  This brewery is doing something right here.

4. Extras

          On the wall next to the water station there’s a food truck schedule. We happened to be there when it was One Oak BBQ day. Their tri tip sandwich is so damn moist and tender. You’re basically basking in the aromas of smoked meat while drinking nice cold beers.

Entertainment wise, the brewery offers live music on some nights. They also have a Bingo Night, which would explain why my favorite peach/apricot hefeweizen was gone. Also the brewery rescheduled their Chili Competition so keep a lookout for sign-up day.

Cap Management

I’ve made my fair share of melomels and have noticed that some of my batches have a strong fruity taste while others are lacking in that department. At first I did not know why since I strictly adhered to the recipes. It wasn’t until I did my research and learned that I NEEDED to punch down the “cap”-the layer of fruit in the primary of a melomel. Below the cap, your must’s temperature can range between 104-106 degrees F. This level of temperature kills the yeast, interrupting the fermentation process. Flavors will be lacking and instead you will get off flavors with your batch. Punching down the cap also allows the fruit to thoroughly mix within the must and thus leading to the vibrant colors, fruity aromas, and fruity flavors that characterize a melomel. The yeast will also be more evenly distributed since the highest concentration of yeast is directly below the cap.

There is also a CO2 buildup directly below the cap, minimizing the amount of oxygen that the yeast is receiving. This deprivation of oxygen (which is an important yeast nutrient) will weaken the yeast’s cell membrane. The yeast will therefore not be performing at its highest capability and fermentation will be stressed. There is also a sanitary reason to punching down the cap layer. Microorganisms can live on top of the dry cap and completely spoil your mead.

You want to use a metal masher rather than a wooden one since bacteria can live in the porous structure of wood. It is recommended to punch the cap about 3 times a day during active fermentation. I personally punch the cap less frequently just cause I’m worried about introducing bacteria everytime I open the carboy. During the process the temperature of your must should be about 60-65 degrees F. Also don’t forget to sanitize the instrument you are using to punch down the cap.


Cap Management in Melomels

Making Melomels

The Benefits of Punching Down the Cap

What Is Cap?

The Magnificent Life of Yeast

There are 4 growth phases in a yeast’s life cycle. There is no specific time period for each phase, rather each phase may overlap one another.

1. Lag Phase

In order for any of us to get things done we must have energy. And where do we get that energy from? Food. Maslow did know a thing or two about human needs. Well the same thing goes for yeast. In order for yeast to begin working, it must have energy. And yeast obtains their energy through their stored glycogen that is broken down into glucose. Now that the yeast has energy, the cell can begin reproduction.  If the yeast has a low glycogen storage then the fermentation process will be longer. Glycogen serves as the yeast’s primary source of energy until its membrane becomes permeable to the sugars in the wort. During this stage the pH will be low because there is low level of oxygen and phosphate. The oxygen levels will be lowered since  the yeast utilizes oxygen to make sterols and unsaturated fatty acids (both are important growth factors). These growth factors support the yeast’s cell membrane and its ability to adapt to its environment.

2. Growth Phase

Because the yeast prepared itself  during the lag phase, it can finally begin rapidly multiplying its cells and begin consuming the sugars in the wort. The yeast reproduces asexually by forming a daughter cell that is the exact genetic copy of itself. The yeast uses the oxygen in the wort to oxidize acidic compounds. The wort will have a foamy layer due to the expulsion of carbon dioxide. The pH will also drop due to oxidization.

3. Fermentation Phase

This phase occurs once all the oxygen in the wort has been depleted. Carbon dioxide, ethanol, and beer flavors are produced during this stage. The yeast is in suspension and will remain in suspension for 3-7 days. The carbon dioxide bubbles you see are oxygen escaping the wort.

4. Sedimentation Phase

Yeast in this phase flocculates (clumps together) and settles to the bottom of the fermenter when fermentation ends. Since there is no more sugar and nitrogen in the wort, the yeast will begin to produce glycogen to prepare itself for “hibernation” as the glycogen will serve as its energy source in the lag phase.


  1. The Life Cycle of Yeast
  2. What Is Yeast?
  3. Yeast Growth and the Cell Cycle
  4. Yeast Life Cycle

Homebrewing Tips

Collection of tips I found helpful and would like to share with other homebrewers…

  • Take notes on everything! Nothing sucks more than brewing a really delicious batch of beer only to find out you lost the recipe. As you brew more batches you will find yourself tweaking recipes and wanting to reproduce the same quality of beer for the next batch. So take detailed notes. Click here for a list of brewing notes.
  • Form a strong relationship with other homebrewers and your homebrew supply shop. They know what they’re doing so they can quickly troubleshoot any problems you may run into.
  • Keep your leftover grains in ziploc bags. I like to take the stickers off the bags that contains the name of the grain, then I write down the date the bag was opened.


  • Use painters tape as a label for your fermenters. I include the name and style of beer/mead, date brewed, SG, and OG. Leave some extra room so you can add the dates you rerack.


  • Lucky for us we have a very deep kitchen sink. So I make sure to clean it very well and rinse the grit off. I then plug the sink with a stopper and then run the water. Add the StarSan and BAM you’ve got a bath of sanitizer, perfect to leave your airlocks, stoppers, funnel, and other brewing equipment in.
  • Close your windows to minimize dust and airborne contaminates from getting into your sanitized beer equipment and homebrews.
  • When using PBW to clean your carboy or keg, don’t forget to dissolve it first in warm water before dumping it into your carboy/keg. Otherwise it will leave powder behind.
  • When using wooden brewing utensils look for cracks and nicks on it. Bacteria can easily grow there and it will be difficult to thoroughly sanitize it. It will be easier to just purchase a new one.
  • Fill a spray bottle with Star San diluted with water. Keep it nearby while brewing so you can quickly sanitize anything that has been compromised. Also it is great in sanitizing tap lines.


  • If there is leftover residue in your carboy and you don’t have a carboy brush you can place 1/2 a handful of rice or more in it with some water. Shake vigorously and the scum should come off.
  • If you find yourself not having time to clean your fermenter or carboy immediately, fill it with water immediately so that the residue doesn’t dry thus making cleaning easier.
  • Try to use a larger boiling kettle, at least 6-7.5 gallon pot so you can boil a 5 gallon batch of beer for the full 60-90 min boil and thus producing better beer. Plus the extra space may be needed in case of boil-overs.
  • If your mead recipe calls for tons of fruits use a plastic fermenter bucket than a glass carboy because it’s easier to get the fruit out from a wide mouth fermenter than from a narrow mouth in a glass carboy.
  • Purchase a steel spoon for stirring. It is strong enough to stir through thick, heavy mashes. Plastic spoons are delicate and can melt while wooden spoons can easily become nicked and scratched, thus creating a habitat for microorganisms.
  • Don’t use thermometers with mercury. It can break and is very poisonous.
  • Invest in a propane burner. Boils much faster and you have greater control over your boiling temperature.
  • Use an egg timer or set an alarm on your cell to indicate when your 60 min boil is over.
  • For porters, fruit, wheat, and stouts use blow off tubes than airlocks. These style of beers tend to have a lot of blow off and airlocks can get easily clogged. Try to use a blow off tube of at least 1″ diameter so you can easily clean it out.
  • Refrigerate your hops as soon as you buy them or better yet freeze or vacuum pack them. An ABU of 5% will go down to 4% after 6 months of storage
  • Get feedback from as many people as you can. Enter competitions to get opinions from certified beer judges. Host beer tastings to see what the general consensus is amongst friends and families.
  • Use fresh, high quality ingredients. For extracts check the use-by date.  Use yeast, hops, crushed grains, and dry and liquid malts soon after buying them because they will oxidize over time.
  • Buy or make your own immersion wort cooler. You want to cool your beer quickly so that the majority of proteins and tannins fall out and will reduce the risk for infection.


  • Boil your wort for 60 minutes to sterilize it, vaporize undesirable compounds, release bittering oils from hops, and coagulate tannins and proteins from grains to fall out during cooling. If you are making a lighter style of beer boil for 90 minutes.
  • Make your own evaporated cooling method for your fermenters during the hot months of summer. This past summer we wet a couple of shirts and then put them over the fermenters. We placed the fermenters in a long rubbermaid container and filled that container with water. We then placed a fan in front of it.

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  • Check your OG (Original Gravity) before starting fermentation. OG is the same thing as SG (Starting Gravity). FG (Final Gravity) and TG (Terminal Gravity) are also the same thing.  To estimate alcohol content, subtract FG from OG and multiply by 0.129, which is the ABV (alcohol by volume). If you don’t multiply, you get the ABW (alcohol by weight).
  • When using a new hydrometer calibrate it by measuring distilled water (reading should be 1.000). Remember to spin the hydrometer before taking a reading to knock off clinging bubbles that cause your hydrometer to float too high.
  • Use vodka in your airlocks to kill microbes that try to contaminate your beer.


  • After you just transferred your beer into the fermenter, place the fermenter in a black garbage bag and leave it open around your fermenter. Keep the spray bottle of Star San next to it. Also have a second sanitized blow off tube or airlock close by. Better to be prepared for blow-off before it happens.
  • Add fruit to your secondary rather than primary because during primary fermentation the CO2 leaving the airlock will allow the flavor and aroma to escape as well.


5 Homebrewing Tips to Avoid the Dreaded Bottle Bomb

7 Tips for Using Your Homebrew Kit

10 Top Tips for Homebrewing Beer

30 Tips to Improve Homebrewing


Expanding your Homebrewery: Tips from the Pros

Starting a Homebrewing Club

Listen carefully. These are the most valuable instructions you will ever receive in your lifetime.

  • Call friends to come over. If they brew, ask them to bring over some samples.
  • Share the samples among the group (yes sharing is caring)
  • Critique each other’s work. Offer praise (or advice).
  • Repeat.

Bam. You’ve got a homebrewing club. Or if you’re just too lazy to invite people over or you find yourself absent friends, don’t fret cause there are other already established homebrewing clubs you can join. No, don’t go onto Craigslist to find a new buddy. Instead find a registered AHA homebrewing club here. Or go to your local homebrew supply shop and there are usually ads there for club meetings. But if you’ve got a bit of social anxiety well, there’s hope for you yet. There are a bunch of online forums you can join. Just make sure to join one where the last comment from a member was either today or yesterday (there’s no use waiting for someone to respond to your question if you’re the only active member there). Here are a couple of forums that just might be your glass of beer…

How to Host a Beer Tasting


Again pick what type of tasting you would like to host (horizontal, vertical, priceless, etc.)

Plan to serve between 6-12 different beers at about 3oz per tasting. Prior guests’ arrivals store your beer upright in the refrigerator.

You can break serving temperatures into three general levels: 55ºF-60ºF (strong beers, like barleywines, dark ales), 50ºF-55ºF (standard ales, like bitters, IPAs, dobbelbocks, abbey ales, lambics, stouts, etc.) and 45ºF-50ºF (lighter beers, like lagers, pilsners, wheat beers, milds, etc.). Usually the higher the alcohol, the higher the temperature and the lower the alcohol, the lower the temperature.

Have a pitcher of water nearby. Beer must be swallowed to taste the hops bitterness at the back of the tongue but you may want to rinse out your taster glass between each beer and empty it into a bucket.

Beer should be tasted from the lightest flavor, body and alcohol content to the highest.

Offer a pen and paper for note taking.

I decided to host a beer tasting party for my birthday. Pinterest had a ton of inspirations for decor and food. Here are a few pics from the night.

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The Menu:


Bread and a variety of olive oils. (Make sure to get fresh baked bread the morning of the party. Also there are a ton of oils for a good price at Target and Marshalls)

Side Dish:

Mediterranean Cucumber Salad (I omitted the olives. Don’t quite fancy the taste).

Main Dish:

Smoky Chipotle Cheddar Mac  (This was a BIG hit at the party. I included a whole can of chipotle adobo peppers.)

Beef Short Ribs marinated in Pear & Apple KBBQ sauce (I bought the marinade at Zion Market)


Pineapple Raspberry Jello Bites

Frozen Yogurt Blueberry Kabobs

Philadelphia Mini Cheesecake


Raspberry Beer Lemonade (This ran out so fast! Definitely going to make this again!)

Fruit Infused Water (Very important to stay hydrated throughout the night)


BeerAdvocate How to Host a Beer Tasting Party

How to Host a Beer Tasting

Mendocino Brewing How to Host a Beer Tasting

How to Host a Mead Tasting Party


First you must choose the type of tasting you would like to host.

  • Vertical Tasting: Tasting one specific type of wine/mead from the same producer but different years. Ex: Tasting Chaucer’s Traditional   Mead from 2007, 2009, and 2011.
  • Horizontal Tasting: Select one type of wine/mead from a specific year but different producers. Ex: Select a 2006 Cabernet from 4 different wineries.
  • Old World vs New World Tasting: Select one type of wine/mead from the Old World (Europe-France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, and Portugal) vs the New World (North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
  • Wine and Cheese Tasting (Click here for a specific pairing guide between wine and cheese)
  • Wine and Chocolate Tasting (Click here for a specific pairing guide for wine and chocolate)
  • “Priceless” Tasting: Withhold the price to prevent taste bias
  • “Price-Point” Tasting: Used to establish a baseline price to compare ‘apples to apples’ in a given flight of drinks
  • Big Eight Wine Tasting: Offer the world’s most popular and influential wines in the market. The Red Wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Syrah/Shiraz. The White Wines include Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio.
  • Blind Tasting: Number the specific bottles and allow guests to write their own notes about each drink based on their senses.

Determine your guest list and send out invitations at least 2 weeks in advance. I prefer to use evites since they’re free. Also when deciding a number of guests remember that one 750ml bottle can serve up to 12 people if using the 2oz tasting rule.

Pick a place where there is enough table room and chairs to comfortably seat your guests and the flights of wines/meads/beer. Decide whether you want the tasters to bring their own glasses or not. Don’t rinse the glass between servings because a single drop of water can dilute your wine/mead.

Design a Tasting Card that specifies the type of drink, the year, and brief description. Allow room for guests to record the drink’s distinct appearance, aroma, flavor, etc. Make sure you bring a sufficient amount of pens/pencils.

Print out a small handout on how to properly taste wine/mead/beer.

Provide relaxing, smooth music to create a blissful ambiance.

Some general rules for tastings:

  • Whites before Reds
  • Dry before Sweet
  • Older before Younger

Provide plain bread and water for guests to cleanse their palates between tastings. Hold off eating till later because spicy aromatic foods can influence the tasting.



How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

How to Host a Wine Tasting

Liquor and Wine Outlet How to Host a Wine Tasting

Real Simple How to Host a Wine Tasting 

The Nest How to Host a Wine Tasting Party