The company goes by a silly name, but beer is serious business at Belching Beaver Brewery. What started in North County as a small, industrial-park brewery three years ago has grown into a four-part empire with a North Park tasting room, large
production brewery and a new brewery-equipped restaurant in
's downtown village area. Yes, Ward, the Beav' sure is growing up fast, so we took a second to catch up with one of the guys behind this rapid expansion
and well-diversified venue portfolio.
PacificSD: What led you to believe it was time to expand in such a big way?
TOM VOGEL: We did expect to open a new facility when our original location became way too small for production. Some early planning went our way,
allowing us the needed funds for the expansion. But, in reality, if you look at [other local brewing companies like] Modern Times Beer and Saint Archer Brewery, they both started much larger than we are, so we are just catching up. We are still just a little company trying to make our way, working hard, making great beer and always trying to make it better.
What will the brewing load be like at the new spots in Oceanside and Vista Village?
Our core brands will be produced at Oceanside. We will finally launch six-packs of 12-ounce bottles of our mainstays: Peanut Butter Milk Stout, Hop Highway IPA and Me So Honey, followed by Great Lei IPA, Dammed Double IPA and a nitro milk stout. At the Vista brewpub, we'll have a pale ale, Helles lager, malt liquor IPA and others - basically, whatever our brewer, Thomas Peters, wants to come up with. It's his deal.
Opening a restaurant is a departure for you. How has it turned out?
We have two patios, one in the front for dining, and a very large one in the back with five fire-pits. It feels like you are at a beach bonfire. We did the same setup at our original location and we absolutely love it. There's also a 30-foot fireplace, a 17-foot-by-17-foot walk-in vault - the building used to be a bank - that will become a temperature-controlled wine and barrel-aged beer tasting room. There's a 40-foot bar with 70 unique taps inside, as well as a separate bar outside, wine on-tap and the contents of all our taps displayed on 11 TV screens.
Do you think Vista Village, which has three breweries in a single block, is oversaturated?
Not at all. If you look at our [original brewery] in Vista, new breweries came in right after us - Indian Joe, Booze Brothers, Barrel Harbor - yet we just get
busier. In North Park, some really great breweries came in after us, too - Rip Current, Fall, Modern Times - and we keep getting busier. Also, Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill is unique for downtown Vista. We are a different animal... craft beer, wine, drinks and dining. During [the restaurant's] buildout, we have been hanging out at Mother Earth Brew Co. and Wavelength Brewing. [Wavelength owner] Hans Haas is also helping us with some buildout items. I think we came in at just the right time, and I believe more breweries are coming. It will be a destination.