Homegrown brewery adds to San Juan Capistrano’s culture

  • Joe Wilshire, left, co-owner of Docent Brewing, serves a customer in the brewery’s “public house.”

    Joe Wilshire, left, co-owner of Docent Brewing, serves a customer in the brewery’s “public house.”

  • San Juan Capistrano Mayor Kerry Ferguson, right, presides over a Docent Brewing ribbon-cutting with brewery co-owners, from left, Scott Cortellessa, Joe Wilshire and Brian Hendon.

    San Juan Capistrano Mayor Kerry Ferguson, right, presides over a Docent Brewing ribbon-cutting with brewery co-owners, from left, Scott Cortellessa, Joe Wilshire and Brian Hendon.

  • Docent Brewing’s public house serves food and brews in a social setting.

    Docent Brewing’s public house serves food and brews in a social setting.

  • The chalk board reminds patrons, among other things, that beers are available to go in quart-sized cans.

    The chalk board reminds patrons, among other things, that beers are available to go in quart-sized cans.

  • Victor Geesink, left, and Alex Dehesa play foosball against a backdrop of Docent Brewing kegs.

    Victor Geesink, left, and Alex Dehesa play foosball against a backdrop of Docent Brewing kegs.

  • The San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce hosted a business mixer at Docent Brewing that doubled as a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the business on May 11.

    The San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce hosted a business mixer at Docent Brewing that doubled as a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the business on May 11.

  • Brewer Bryan Giesen, foreground, is flanked by Docent Brewing co-owners, from left, Joe Wilshire, Scott Cortellessa and Brian Hendon

    Brewer Bryan Giesen, foreground, is flanked by Docent Brewing co-owners, from left, Joe Wilshire, Scott Cortellessa and Brian Hendon

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San Juan Capistrano is known for its historic Spanish mission, for its migratory birds called swallows, for its indigenous people the Acjachemen, for its equestrian heritage and maybe, now, for its beers?

Joe Wilshire, Brian Hendon and Scott Cortellessa, owners of the town’s first brewery, say they are encouraged by the reception they’ve received since they opened for business on March 27 at 33049 Calle Aviador, in an industrial district bordering San Juan Creek.

Docent Brewing creates craft beers on site and operates “San Juan Capistrano’s Public House,” serving food and a variety of brews in a social setting. Hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 7 Sundays.

We asked Wilshire about the enterprise:

How did you come up with the name?

Over the last five years we attempted to get clearance on many different names with no success. Once we connected with our brewer, Bryan Giesen, he had a beer named Docent. As we developed our business philosophy and mission, we realized that Docent was a perfect match for what we wanted to do in the beer industry – guide people through the process of discovering new locally crafted beer.

Why San Juan Capistrano?

We are local guys. Brian Hendon and myself live right across the creek from the brewery. Scott lives in Laguna Beach, right down the road. San Juan Capistrano is a city full of great history and charm. It was always our goal to be San Juan’s first brewery and we made it!

How are things going?

Things have gone as we had hoped. People are embracing the “Public House” vibe we are going for, and we are meeting our neighbors and making new friends every day.

What kind of beers do you do?

Everything except sours. At least for now. We really want to have something for everyone that is willing to explore our beers. That means we hopefully will get people that are making Docent their first brewery experience. For those guests, we offer our “Canteen,” “Self Titled” and maybe our delicious pale ale “Peel Top.” But we also want to have offerings for the seasoned beer connoisseur. Our brewer along with the rest of us Docents are ready to take on that challenge.

How many beers do you plan to do?

We will have a lineup of about 8-10 beers that will remain regulars on our wall, But the great thing about being a small craft brewery is the ability to experiment with different recipes and styles and give our guests the opportunity to explore those tasty creations alongside us. We currently have the equipment necessary to do about 2,500 barrels per year. That may take a little time to hit our max production.

Are your beers available outside the brewery?

Currently our beers are available at several local restaurants and tap rooms that focus on local crafted beer.

What in the founders’ backgrounds led you all to start a brewery?

Brian Hendon has been exploring the craft beer scene since the mid 90s. Brian and Scott are brother in laws, married to sisters. Scott and I have kids the same age that have grown up together. All of our experiences hanging out together, traveling together and enjoying each other’s company always revolved around craft beer. We thought we had some good ideas about creating a local brewery that the community would embrace as a public house — a place to meet your friends and make new ones. So far, so good.

In brief, list five things the community should know about Docent Brewing.

1. Our brewer, Bryan Giesen, is a local. Born and raised in Dana Point. He developed all of his recipes home brewing over the last 10 years.

2. Brian, Scott and myself worked on this project for about five years before we actually got the doors opened.

3. We have a kitchen. Check out our menu online at Docentbrewing.com

4. Kids and dogs are welcome.

5. If you are stopping in for the first time or the 100th time, say hello. We look forward to meeting all of our guests. Cheers!

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Signature sauces by Huntington Beach teen with autism a big hit at Pacific City restaurant

  • From right, Julen Ucar and Executive Chef Danny Allen pose for a photograph at Ways and Means Oyster House in Huntington Beach on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

    From right, Julen Ucar and Executive Chef Danny Allen pose for a photograph at Ways and Means Oyster House in Huntington Beach on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Julen Ucar combines various ingredients in a mixing bowl to create Julen’s Non-Verbal Herbal Ausome Sauce at Ways and Means Oyster House in Huntington Beach on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

    Julen Ucar combines various ingredients in a mixing bowl to create Julen’s Non-Verbal Herbal Ausome Sauce at Ways and Means Oyster House in Huntington Beach on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Julen Ucar combines various ingredients in a mixing bowl to create Julen’s Non-Verbal Herbal Ausome Sauce at Ways and Means Oyster House in Huntington Beach on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

    Julen Ucar combines various ingredients in a mixing bowl to create Julen’s Non-Verbal Herbal Ausome Sauce at Ways and Means Oyster House in Huntington Beach on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • From left, Julen Ucar and Executive Chef Danny Allen pose for a photograph at Ways and Means Oyster House in Huntington Beach on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

    From left, Julen Ucar and Executive Chef Danny Allen pose for a photograph at Ways and Means Oyster House in Huntington Beach on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

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HUNTINGTON BEACH Julen Ucar carefully measures the ingredients for his special “Non-verbal Herbal” marinade in the cozy confines of the Ways & Means Oyster House at Pacific City. The sauce, with just the right proportions of extra virgin olive oil, two kinds of vinegar, basil and other spices, has become a popular complement to the restaurant’s steak, fingerling potatoes and spinach dish.

After finishing the first sauce, he starts combining soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and enough red chili flakes to give it a little zing. At the restaurant, the sauce, called “Off the Charts,” is paired with an in-house aioli to flavor a tricolor cauliflower entree.

The 18-year-old Fountain Valley High senior with autism created two flavors of “Julen’s Ausome Sauces” that have been featured on the restaurant’s menu for the past year.

Ucar comes to the restaurant on Wednesday mornings to prepare his sauces for the day. During the rest of the week, the prep cooks prepare the sauces from recipes in a book they call “the bible.”

Executive Chef Danny Allen said when Ucar and his mother, Michelle, first brought in samples of their sauces for the restaurant to consider about a year ago, he realized they would pair nicely with the food.

“I’d put it up against anything that’s on the market,” Allen said of the marinades.

According to Allen, many cooks and chefs incorporate too many flavors into their creations. Ucar’s sauces hit just the right note.

“They’re simple, but they’re unique. It’s amazing,” Allen said.

The Wednesday morning visits, made before the restaurant opens, are clearly a highlight for the soft-spoke teen. Dressed in a T-shirt that reads “This is what ausome looks like,” he seems at home in the prep area, surrounded by jars of black pepper, paprika, minced onion and cumin.

Ucar says he likes the friendly atmosphere in the kitchen, particularly when the prep cooks crank up the music.

For years, Ucar and his sister, Isabel, have helped their mother prepare meals at home. Michelle Ucar said her son often liked to add ingredients to the salad dressing prepared for the family meal.

“We started watching him and he was really good a making sauces,” she said.

That’s when the idea of “Julen’s Ausome Sauces” began to percolate.

“We were looking forward and making a sustainable future for him,” his mother said.

After experimenting with different tastes, the Ucars, who live in Huntington Beach, winnowed their sauces to three versions of each of two sauces and held a taste-testing party for friends. They refined the selections and in February 2014 had the final recipes.

After they got Food and Drug Administration approval, the first batch was commercially bottled in October 2014 by a company hired by the Ucars.

Michelle Ucar said a chance meeting with the owners of Ways & Means led to a chance to have the sauces taste-tested at the restaurant and added to the menu.

Since then, the Ucars have produced three batches of 85 cases each of Non-verbal Herbal and Off the Charts. 

Although the sauces haven’t made the family any money yet, Michelle Ucar said she is looking to widen distribution beyond a few smaller stores in her home state of Ohio and to peddle the marinades at special events and fairs.

The sauce is also available online at ausomesauces.org.

Ways & Means donates $1 from each of its meals sold with Ucar’s sauces to New Vista School in Laguna Hills, for children with autism spectrum disorder. Ucar was a student there before transferring to Fountain Valley High.

“For us, it’s great to give back and give Julen a chance to do what he loves,” said Barbara Holder, general manager of the restaurant.

Michelle Ucar said when her son was an infant he hit all the normal benchmarks for a healthy baby. It wasn’t until he was 3 years old and in preschool that teachers said he had a speech delay. That was when others began to put labels and limitations on him, his mother said.

But Michelle Ucar has a different vision.

“This journey became not about what he cannot do, but about what he can do and finding a way to make that happen,” she said.

She said the family’s goals are to strengthen the brand and possibly expand the offerings.

Until then, she says her faith makes her believe in her son’s future.

Julen Ucar is now taking culinary arts classes at Fountain Valley and says he gets “Iike Bs and As,” in his classes.

He said he plans to study culinary art at Orange Coast College next semester.

It’s likely he will be the only one in his class with his own signature sauces.

Read more about Signature sauces by Huntington Beach teen with autism a big hit at Pacific City restaurant This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

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