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Something flavorful is brewing in San Diego's lesbian scene

SAN DIEGO -- The local craft-beer scene has become a top destination for beer lovers and beer makers alike. With breweries popping up all over town, San Diego has become a craft-beer mecca, with all sorts of interesting people involved in brewing, selling and enjoying the local hops.

Kim Lutz is one of those people. Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, Lutz is a master brewer at St. Archer Brewery in the Miramar area of San Diego. She found herself in America's Finest City after moving around the country chasing opportunities to pursue her passion of brewing beer. Lutz has won bronze and silver medals in national and international beer competitions, and is now experimenting with new recipes at St. Archer Brewery.

Lutz speaks with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News about her passion for craft beers.

SDGLN: Where did you learn how to make beer?

KL: I pretty much taught myself while I was studying winemaking in college at Cal Poly. I started homebrewing in college and I really loved cooking, so brewing was the next step. I had worked at two wineries, J Lohr and Wild Horse, but then I had the chance to move to Hawaii. Maui Brewing Company had started a year before I moved there, so I started there from the ground up. I was trained to brew, and I was there for five years.

SDGLN: What was it like working for the Maui Brewing Company?

KL: For three years I was the lead brewer for the production facility, a 25-barrel system, and then I was named the brewer for the brew pub, which is a seven barrel system, and I did that for two years. It was really nice to be around two different types of systems. With the brew pub, I really got to experiment with my own recipes and brewed anywhere from 20 to 30 different styles of beer. It was more of a learning experience. I decided to move to San Diego because I needed a different perspective on how breweries should be run, and I think San Diego is the best place for beer right now.

SDGLN: At the Maui Brewing Company, what were some of the flavors you experimented with?

KL: Garret, the owner of Maui Brewing Company, really allows us to get creative. If I wanted to try something new, I would try it on a ten gallon system just to see how it is. I got to work with a bunch of different ingredients in Maui , like fruits and spices. I even brewed a beer with onions. It was like an English Mild with Maui sweet onions; it was pretty good. But, the La Peruse Light was my baby. It was something I homebrewed in Maui. I used local tangerines and coriander and did a Belgian Witbier style. I brought it to the pub, and right now it’s one of the mainstays at the pub.

A week before I won the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival, we decided to put it into production on a big scale and can it. That meant a lot to me because I brewed it at home and later at the pub. It won a silver medal when I brewed it at the pub, and it won a bronze at the World Beer Cup when I brewed it at production, so that felt really good.

SDGLN: Why did you decide to come to San Diego?

KL: I decided that I wanted to come to San Diego because I’m always looking to excel in my career. Being a brew-pub brewer in Maui is a dream job, but I didn't want to plateau in my career; I wanted to keep growing. I looked around, but I didn't want to leave if I didn't have a job offer. It took about a year for me to decide to move. There were a couple job offers that I was trying to decide on, but St. Archer was the best fit for me, the lifestyle and the owners and everyone involved. Plus, having the opportunity to start a brewery from scratch with our own recipes was really attractive to me.

SDGLN: What type of recipes are you really excited about? Do you have any real key things that you want to experiment with and bring to San Diego?

KL: I just want to make really consistent hoppy beers. I like the pale ales and sessionable IPAs. I’m looking to do more barrel aged beers, maybe some sours. I’m probably going to do a coffee stout, like Guinness, on nitro at 5% alcohol because you don’t see many coffee stouts below 6% alcohol. It’s going to be on nitro, so it will be really creamy, and we are using a local coffee roaster, so I think it’s the best combination.

SDGLN: Are there going to be more St. Archer tasting rooms around San Diego?

KL: This is probably going to be the main one. They were throwing around ideas about doing satellite tasting rooms, but this is going to be the main one for now. We just started brewing last month. We’re going to have our main three beers here, and we’re going to have specialties. Certain things that you can’t get at the bar, you can only get here.

Visit the St. Archer Brewery to learn more and keep an eye on what Lutz is brewing next.

Photo captions (credit: Nicole Grodesky)

Top left: Lutz adding hot water to break down the starches into smaller sugars.

Middle left: Lutz adding hops, which contribute to the bitterness in IPA.

Bottom left: Lutz standing next to three fermentation tanks.

Nicole Grodesky is a former professional surfer and has been a freelance writer for various publications covering women in action sports since 2005. She started writing and shooting women during her down time on the World Qualifying Series for surfing. Nicole’s photography has been shown at The Surf Indian Gallery in Pacific Beach, Gallery 104 in San Clemente, The Huntington Beach Surf Museum, The California Surf Museum and the Surfing Heritage Museum. Her photography and feature articles have been published in Surf Shot Magazine, Surfline.com, Surf Life for Women and SG Magazine. She is also a co-founder of www.dylamagazine.com, an online publication for women in action sports.