Two breweries to top your beer bucket list for 2018


Breweries open here at such a rapid clip, news of yet one more is often greeted with a yawn. Two newcomers, though, are raising eyebrows and expectations.

They are, in order:

1. Wild Barrel, hosting a grand opening party on Saturday, is the wild child of craft beer stalwart — or shall I say “legend”? — “Dr.” Bill Sysak and brewer Bill Sobieski.

The Barrel’s soft opening began in mid-2017, so this g.o. was a long time coming. It will feature a new beer, Murky Minds Drink Alike, a New England-style IPA made with Vista’s Burgeon Beer. (Four-packs will go on sale for $18 at 11 a.m.) Also, check out the beer-and-chocolate event led by Sysak.

A former Army medic, Sysak was one of the most prominent figures in Southern California craft beer. His parties were the stuff of, well, legend, and as Stone’s beer ambassador he shepherded epic evenings of beer and whatever took his fancy (chocolate, cheese, cigars, vegan dishes, the tears shed by joyful unicorns).

Sobieski is also a craft celeb. Another Stone veteran and homebrew star, he is the former brewer at Anaheim’s Hoparazzi, where his stunning fruit-centric beers won an impassioned following.

Wild Barrel Brewing: 692 Rancheros Drive, San Marcos,

2. On Jan. 22, the downtown spot once occupied by The Beer Company will re-open as the Bell Marker. The 200-seat brewery restaurant has a complicated back story, but the tale is front-loaded with the return of a top brewer, Noah Regnery.

Now, that tangled back story: Bell Marker is part of Tony Yanow’s Los Angeles-based Artisanal Brewers Collective. Yanow and Meg Gill founded Golden Road Brewing in 2011, then sold it to AB InBev in 2015. Since then, Yanow and his collective have bought numerous Southern California taverns and restaurants, planning to make beer at each site.

“But this is the first place to actively brew,” said Regnery, the collective’s director of brewing. “We want to be Pizza Port-esque, with all sorts of beer styles. And since we’re in San Diego, they’ll obviously be hop-heavy.”

Bell Marker: 602 Broadway, downtown,