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We Try Ballast Point’s Two Newest Beers: Big Gus and Wee Gus

Tune in to Episode 218 of the Happy Half Hour podcast

By Noah Harrel

Welcome back to Happy Half Hour! This episode was sponsored by Ballast Point, and two special guests from the brewing company joined us this week: Aaron Justus, director of R&D and specialty brewing, and Jeff Lozano, specialty brewer and manager. This year, the company is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a pioneer in the craft beer industry, and Aaron and Jeff debuted and tasted Ballast Point’s two newest beers, Wee Gus and Big Gus.

Aaron was a meteorologist for 13 years before he ended up at Ballast Point. He said he realized being a weather anchor wouldn’t be his forever job, so at age 35 he packed up everything and moved to California to join the craft beer scene. Jeff, a Calexico and Mexicali native, also took a more roundabout way in his journey to brewing. After graduating from nursing school, Jeff decided he wanted to get a taste of what the brewing industry had to offer before locking in his career as a nurse. Jeff started working nights as a janitor at Ballast Point, and after rising through the ranks for a few years, he earned the brewer’s title.

Aaron and Jeff’s most recent creations are Wee Gus, a hoppy lager, and Big Gus, which they’re marketing as a “clear hazy IPA.” With an ABV of 4.2 percent, the Wee Gus has all the characteristics of a traditional lager with a nice note of hops at the end. This beer was designed to be bone dry but with aromatics, so it has both the refreshing effect of sparkling water and the delicate floral flavor of a lager. It also has only 95 calories. The Big Gus is packed full of hops, which gives it body, acidity, and astringency that make you want more. Troy’s first words after trying it were “That’s delicious!” The beer still has that hoppy flavor without the accompanying hangover David said he experiences after drinking a few hazy beers. Aaron and Jeff said they challenged themselves to create a beer that smells and tastes differently than it looks. Their taste testers have reported a successful experiment, saying the Big Gus has the appearance of a light lager but the smell and taste of IPA. Because of its low calorie count and mere 6.5 percent ABV, Big Gus still maintains the lightness and drinkability of its wee counterpart.

In Hot Plates, The Monsaraz Hotel is opening on Rosecrans Street in Point Loma, and will feature a new restaurant, Westerly Public House, which will have an Australian-influenced menu along with Aussie wines. Chef Brad Wise will open a second location of Rare Society, his high-end University Heights steak house, in Solana Beach’s Cedros Design District. A local Girl Scout inspired Feeding San Diego’s new donation program, Give a Meal, where guests at participating restaurants can add $15 to their order to send a meal from that restaurant to someone in need. Participants include George’s at the Cove in La Jolla, Terra American Bistro in La Mesa, and Little Lion in Ocean Beach. Be Well + Live Well with Lisa is a new cooking show that was recently filmed at a private location in Rancho Santa Fe. It airs March 17 on Taste on TV, a Roku channel devoted to featuring people of color. Host Lisa Holmes, founder of LA-based The Honey and Company, will share her journey in living a healthy lifestyle while preparing a three-course meal.

In Two People for Takeout / Two People for $50, Aaron’s choice was Wet Stone Wine Bar in Bankers Hill for a few glasses of wine and light dishes in their happy hour special. Jeff’s go-to place for takeout is Bahn Thai in University Heights, where he recommends the fish and yellow curry, as well as the drunken noodles paired with some top-shelf craft beers. Troy’s quest to find the best po’ boy in San Diego took him to Pete’s Seafood and Sandwich in North Park for their shrimp po’ boy topped with a remoulade blended with chili relish. Pop Pie Co.’s classic veggie pot pie, known for its crust and unique mix of veggies, is David’s pick this week.

Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a recommendation for takeout? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you’re too shy, you can email us at [email protected]. See you next week!

Wee Gus Hoppy Lager

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