In a glass of their own

Rough Draft Brewing Company


8830 Rehco Rd., Ste. D, San Diego


3-8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays


(858) 453-7238 or

By Pat Sherman

Mayor Jerry Sanders was among those who stopped by Rough Draft Brewing Company’s tasting room during a soft opening March 9, pouring the brewery’s inaugural first beer and offering a toast to San Diego’s thriving craft brewing industry.

UC San Diego graduates Jeff Silver and Jon Stahley launched the new Miramar/Mira Mesa-area brewery this month, selling out their grand opening event on March 10.

The brewery’s tasting room (featuring a 50 foot-long tasting bar) is open to the public for limited hours Thursdays through Sundays, initially offering four beers, including the Eraser IPA and “What the Ale?” pale ale, as well as amber and Belgian-style blond ales.

“We’re going to have a lot of different, crazy beers here — and a lot of them will only be available in our tasting room until we see what people like,” said Jeff Silver, who began brewing beer out of his Del Mar apartment at age 22. “Once we have some clear winners, we’re going to get started on distribution.”

Business partner and La Jolla resident Jon Stahley handles the business side of the venture.

“Even back in college I was very much a kind of quality over quantity kind of person,” said Stahley, a financial planner who is partial to Rough Draft’s amber ale.

“Generally speaking, I gravitate toward the hoppier, bitter type ales that San Diego’s known for, but I think what is so special about the amber is the roasted caramelized taste on the finish,” he said. “I think most people overlook the finish, (which) is really what tells you most about the beer.”

Silver recalled the first few beers he ever brewed, including a honey ale which he said was “just terrible.”

“Even as a struggling kid just out of college, you couldn’t drink it, but we persevered,” he said, with a laugh.

Through the years, Silver got more serious, eventually purchasing a home in Carmel Valley where he expanded his home brew operation and began winning awards for his beers.

Today, Silver brews beer with his own milled barley and wheat, instead of extracts.

“There are sort of two camps,” Silver said. “I think that all-grain makes a far better beer.”

After the grain is milled, it is steeped in warm water, during which the sugars are leached from the barley.

“That’s the liquid that you move over to your kettle and boil for an hour and add hops to — your unfermented beer,” Silver said. “Once you add yeast to it, it becomes your fermented beer.”

Silver, who just turned 40, left his job as an insurance executive to concentrate on the brewery — something Stahley and other friends had been urging him to do for years.

“I said, ‘No, no. I have kids, I have bills to pay,” he recalled.

Running up against a shortage of quality beer for his own party helped to change Silver’s mind.

“I was getting too busy to make my own beer, so I started to call breweries,” he said. “I was struggling to find a keg of beer and I realized, something is going on here. That was the little spark or the seed that got planted. I know that I can make a good beer and I know there’s a demand for it right now.”

Stahley and Silver also plan to produce some barrel-aged beers, in the vein of those produced by Paso Robles-based Firestone Walker Brewing Company.

“It’s a mad scientist kind of concoction,” Stahley said. “I’m told they use six or seven types of beer, blend it together … and age it in bourbon barrels for a year. It’s a special occasion kind of beer. The flavors and the tastes are just out of this world.”

A fundraising event will be held at Rough Draft on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, benefiting Girls on the Run International, which encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running. The NCAA tournament will be shown on big screen TVs and gourmet snacks will be available from a food truck. Tickets are $20 and include a tasting of all four beers, plus a 64-ounce growler jug filled with your favorite Rough Draft brew to take home.