Around The Horn: Two Years & Two Golds

Updated: Jul 24


This Saturday, July 16, Around The Horn Brewing Company will celebrate its second anniversary from 10 am to 6 pm. As if surviving the first two years of operation during a pandemic wasn’t enough reason to celebrate, the brewery this week won two gold medals from the U.S. Open Beer Championship, a national competition, for their I’m Fine Everything’s Fine hazy pale ale and Gateway to Gold german kolsch.


Six special “collaboration” beers (NEW BREWS!) will be released on Saturday, along with the usual daily selection of original and tasty pilsners, ales, IPAs, sours, and more. The anniversary bash will be an ALL-DAY affair, beginning at 9:30 with Yoga on Tap with Nicole of BrightFire Wellness (FREE YOGA!), contests (PRIZES!), animals for the kids to learn about (GOATS!) from Wondernut Farm at 1 pm, and at 5 pm, the music of Dutch Carson live in The Corral.


We asked owners Rachel and Andrew Sabatine to fill us in on the party, the beers, the gold medals, and what’s made the two-year journey a success. Here’s what they said.


The theme of this party is “Around The Horn and Friends” so we’re really leaning into

the relationships we’ve built with other breweries and other businesses in our

community.

Around The Horn owner and brewmaster Andrew Sabatine (far right) with the Great Notion Brewing team.

We will be releasing six collaboration beers in honor of our second anniversary. Four were brewed on site at Around The Horn, and two were brewed at the

collaborating brewery’s location. “Collabs,” as we call them, are one of our favorite

parts of the beer industry. They allow us to mingle with other breweries and learn new

techniques from them. Collabs are basically recipes developed together by two (or more) breweries.


For our anniversary collabs this year, we’re releasing a hoppy lager, a Thiol-burst double IPA, a hazy double IPA, and a Pavlova dessert-inspired fruited sour. All four were brewed on site at Around The Horn. We’ll also be tapping kegs of two collabs we brewed at other breweries: a hazy double IPA and a breakfast-inspired sour.


We also have a fun program of events for the party. At 9:30 am, our friend Nicole Dickinson-Smith, owner of BrightFire Wellness, will be leading a free Yoga on Tap class in The Corral (our beer garden). Nicole has been hosting Yoga on Tap at Around The Horn for about eight months. It’s a bi-weekly yoga class for all abilities and experience levels. Each class normally costs $15, but the class during the anniversary party is FREE so we can encourage more people to experience it—low stakes!


At 1 pm, Matt Nolte and Eve Kelly of Wondernut Farm will be visiting along with a few of their furry charges. Wondernut Farm is just down the road from us. They collect our spent grain after each brew and use it to feed their goats (some of whom you’ll meet at the party.) In addition to selling amazingly tasty pork products from the pigs raised on their farm, the gang at Wondernut will share some exciting projects in store for the near future.


At 5 pm, musician Dutch Carson will be playing some tunes in The Corral. We first met Dutch Carson last year at Hurst Ranch and really enjoyed his sound, so we hope our guests will too!


Throughout the day we’ll have games and photo ops around the property, as well as some free celebratory treats from Lincoln’s Presidential Sweets (the awesome mother/daughter-owned baking business in Big Oak Flat).


Congratulations on your two gold medals from the US Open Beer Championship. How did that go down?


Thank you! We recently entered the US Open Beer Championship and won gold medals for both the beers we entered: “I’m Fine, Everything’s Fine” (our hazy pale ale) and “Gateway to Gold” (our German Kölsch-style ale). Oddly enough, we entered these beers on a whim and didn’t think much would come of it.


We had recently purchased our new Gosling canning line from Wild Goose and canned both of those beers as our “practice” run. Since it was our first time using the machine, we didn’t necessarily think the results were competition-worthy, but decided to enter anyway because it would be helpful to receive feedback on the entries. We were definitely shocked when we opened our email on Monday to see the results. It was a great early birthday present to Around The Horn!


Any new changes coming to the brewery and restaurant? Menu items? Crazy new

brews?

We recently updated the food menu with new summer items. We like to change some things up seasonally, paying respect to the produce and flavors of the season. Drea DuBois, who has been working with us in the kitchen since we opened in 2020, developed these new menu items and did a fantastic job. The vegan Caesar salad has been really popular (you really wouldn’t believe the dressing is 100% vegan…she’s using seaweed, nutritional yeast, and cashews!) and the Kimchi grilled cheese is probably the most exotic item we’ve had on the menu.



A few of the collab beers that will be released on Saturday are “crazy” for us, in a way.

They use new, experimental products (yeast strains and hop varietals) that we have not

tried before. After two years, the beer styles that Andrew is most interested in brewing these days are actually more traditional, less “hype” styles. For example, coming down the pike we might have an English IPA or Extra Special Bitter, in time for Guy Fawkes Day. I’m a Brit (says Rachel)…gotta honor my roots somehow!

As Andrew advances in his brewing career, he’s drawn to the challenge of creating beers that are delicate in flavor. Those are often the most difficult beers to perfect, because there is nothing to hide behind; if there is a flaw in the beer, it will be obvious. That’s part of the reason we were so thrilled to win a gold medal for “Gateway to Gold.” Kölsch is a clean, clear, and light beer, so imperfections are easy to detect.


We launched the Yoga on Tap program towards the end of 2021. Shortly we’ll be expanding our fitness empire. Nicole and Trinity Fields (also of BrightFire Wellness) will be hosting Hips and Hops, a dance fitness class. Think Zumba but possibly more

ridiculous and fun! Rumor has it there will be a preview of the class during the

anniversary party.


Finally, Andrew and I do have another exciting new addition brewing that will be joining the brewery in December (if you know, you know!) If you come to the anniversary party on Saturday you’ll find out more about that.


What initially drew you to open here?


My parents moved to Pine Mountain Lake in 2009 and I spent my college years visiting the area. Andrew is from Los Angeles, and his family spent their time vacationing in June Lake (just across the Tioga Pass). We both love the Sierra and found this area to be a relaxing escape from city life. We also saw the boom of the craft beer industry and recognized that the Big Oak Flat entrance of Yosemite was the only one of the four entrances without a craft brewery. Also—have you tasted the water? Hetch Hetchy water is world class for brewing!


How is the fit so far in the Big Oak Flat / Groveland community?


You’ll have to ask the community what they actually think of us, but the local folks we do see are amazing (and we see a lot of y’all!), so they either actually like us OR they’re really good at faking it. We try to pay attention to their likes and dislikes when we craft our beer board and food menu. For example, we never intended to brew Hetch Hetchy Haze as frequently as we do—but the people made it clear that they anted it!


Tell us about your beer club.

The Thirsty Miner Mug Club is a lot of fun and has really worked out for us because most of the members are frequent customers. Local Glassblower Maggie Bean is so talented; each member’s mug is a total work of art. I like to think they would visit us all the time anyway without a beautiful mug, but I’m sure it helps bring them back in.


We capped the club at fifty members for our first year, then added twenty-five more over the second year. In total, we have 75 members, though the mug numbers technically go up to 83. (If a member does not renew their membership, their number is retired.) We have a waiting list right now, and will probably look to add another fifteen or so members starting in October when the next round of membership renewals happen. To be honest, our bottleneck is shelf space for mugs!


Finally, what are some of the biggest “ah-ha’s” of the past two years?

  • No two days are alike.

  • Just because you like it, doesn’t mean the customer will—and vice versa!

  • If you think you’re going to open a business with a food component and not work in the kitchen, you’re wrong.

  • Embrace the chaos and be as nimble and agile as possible.


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