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Craft Beer

Coming to Escondido: a one-stop shop for craft beer, spirits, mead and Mexican street food

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Nick Corona, seen in 2017 when he was named California State Homebrewer of the Year.
(Tim Stahl)

Another new brewery? Haven’t we seen this before?

Not quite. While Five Suits Brewing will specialize in craft beer, the 14,000-square-foot building in Escondido will also house a boutique distillery and meadery, plus a kitchen serving tacos and Mexican street food.

“It just so happened that everything came together perfectly,” said Nick Corona, the award-winning home brewer heading up the project.

Five Suits will be the commercial brewing debut of Corona, but the San Marcos resident’s beers are well-known in brewing circles. He’s been named the top home brewer in the nation (2016), in the state (2017) and in San Diego County (2017). He and his wife, Kandy Corona, brewed a Bavarian-style weissbier that won “best in show” at a 2017 national competition, the Masters Championship of Amateur Brewing.

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Thinking about turning pro, the Coronas had their eyes on a large building in downtown Escondido. But was it too large?

“There’s ton of square footage downstairs,” he said. “What were we going to do with it?”

Here’s what: use the spacious basement as a production area for the brewery, as well as house Stoke Distilling, a two-year-old venture best known for its Pier View Gin, and newcomer Good Omen Mead. The ground floor would be reserved for a tasting room with separate counters for spirits, mead and beer.

“We’re pretty sure this is the first time these three manufacturers have been able to come together under one roof and have a common tasting area,” Corona said.

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Also planned: food from Brian and Julie Gruber, owners of Notorious Burgers in Carlsbad. In Escondido, the restaurateurs will focus on Mexican street food, including “craft tacos” made with local, sustainable ingredients.

“We knew we didn’t want to just focus on alcohol,” Corona said. “We wanted this to have more of a community feeling.”

Another benefit, said Stoke Distilling’s co-founder Jordan Kohn, was the variety of offerings. “Combining the space with those other entities allows us to appeal to everybody,” he said. “It’s the perfect opportunity to bring people together.”

Five Suits is a family venture — Nick and Kandy Corona are partners with his parents, Joe and Leslie Corona, and his brother, Shane Smith — and the name reflects the co-founders’ past. Nick is a former casino manager and Kandy is a former Las Vegas performer. Five Suits refers to the four suits in a deck of playing cards, plus a fifth suit created by the family, a crown.

Corona is “crown” in Spanish and there was some thought to bestowing the family name on the brewery. Corona beer? Sounds familiar — perhaps, the brewer thought, too familiar.

“We decided that was probably not a good choice for a brewery,” Corona said.


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