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Saint Archer alums are back with a new brewery and tasting room at One Paseo

Harland Brewing Co. CEO Josh Landan stands in a tasting room that is being built at the One Paseo d
Harland Brewing Co. CEO Josh Landan stands in a tasting room that is being built at the One Paseo development in Del Mar on Dec. 10, 2018.
K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune

With bankruptcies more common than successful exits, some might say San Diego’s craft beer scene is tapped out. It’s certainly not the right climate to launch an all-new beer brand with an expansive (and expensive) tasting room at Carmel Valley’s also all-new One Paseo development. Or is it?

Josh Landan, who was the first entrepreneur to sell a local brewery to an international corporation, will find out. He has emerged from beer retirement as the CEO of his riskiest venture yet: A trio of alcohol businesses under the umbrella of Ocotillo Holdings.

Backed by around $4 million from 47 investors, Ocotillo was founded by Saint Archer alums Landon, Jeff Hansson and Anthony Levas. It is one part Harland Brewing, one part Claxton Cellars and one part Scout, a regional beer and wine distributor. Altogether, it is the grownup reincarnation of Landan’s first beer go-round with Saint Archer Brewing, which he sold to MillerCoors in 2015.

“I look at Saint Archer as my undergrad and Masters degree all in one,” Landan said.

Harland Brewing, intended as a grittier brand than its action sports-themed predecessor, is the centerpiece of the Ocotillo business. Just weeks old, Harland is currently making a blonde ale, Mexican lager and IPA, with brews available on more than 40 tap handles at select bars and restaurants around town.

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Harland Brewing's first three beers are a blonde ale, Mexican lager and IPA.
Courtesy/Harland Brewing

For now, Harland’s beers are made on a contract basis at Bitter Brothers until its own space is ready. But come March of next year, Harland’s permanent home will be a 37,000 square-foot production facility and tasting room in Scripps Ranch. By May, the beer business will debut another tasting room in its own dedicated building at One Paseo’s upscale, in-development community off Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real. And, by next fall, a Harland brewery and restaurant will open in Landan’s hometown of Ventura.

It is, perhaps, the One Paseo location — a 3,709 square-foot space within the 96,000 square-foot retail component of the country-meets-coast development set to open in March — that will raise the most eyebrows.

“You’ve got to have some money behind you to pull that off,” said Miro Copic, a marketing professor at San Diego State University. “One Paseo is going to have … a high cost-per-square-foot for retail space. That’s a major statement.”

A worker paints at a new tasting room for Harland Brewing Co. (foreground) which is being built at t
A worker paints at a new tasting room for Harland Brewing, which sits adjacent to 608 luxury apartments at One Paseo in Carmel Valley.
K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune

Indeed. And Harland’s One Paseo outpost hopes to speak the same language as a diverse group of folks, including beer nerds, affluent suburbanites and even factory workers. Should Landan succeed, Harland will be perceived as both edgy and approachable.

“Harland is everything I grew up around,” Landan said. “It is a brand that embodies Ventura’s blue-collar work ethic and culture. … A lot of folks in San Diego are living that same life.”

Though for North County coastal types, it may just be the most convenient place to grab a craft-brewed beverage in a cool setting, given the dearth of breweries and tasting rooms in the vicinity. While trade publication West Coaster counts 158 operational brew houses in the county, most are concentrated in pockets that are inconvenient to get to for Del Mar denizens.

“One of the things missing in Del Mar and Carmel Valley is some degree of entertainment,” Copic said. “There is a void in the market for a tasting room.”

It also helps that One Paseo’s backyard is the front yard of 608 luxury apartments, each of which will get a welcome gift from Harland — a refillable, 24-ounce can that it’s calling a “Crowler.” Harland will surely get help drawing crowds from surrounding tenants, which are a mix of boutiques, restaurants and fitness concepts. Plus, in 2020, Harland can also corral an after-work crowd from the on-site, 280,000 square-foot office development, which is already 50 percent pre-leased.

Harland Brewing Co. CEO Josh Landan stands in a tasting room that is being built at the One Paseo d
Landan returns to the beer world with his biggest risk yet: A trio of alcohol businesses under the umbrella of Ocotillo Holdings.
K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune

“Harland is going to speak volumes to the community that surrounds this project,” said Brian Lewis, the retail executive charged with leasing the Kilroy development.

And community — albeit one of a different kind — was exactly what led Landan back to the beer business in the first place.

“I missed being in the beer community,” he said. “It’s as simple as going out to dinner with my wife and wanting to go to establishments that are pouring our beers.”

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jennifer.vangrove@sduniontribune.com (619) 293-1840 Twitter: @jbruin