Here’s where San Diego brewers are expanding downtown and in the county
From a family-run nano-brewery to a speakeasy to a tasting room in a downtown church, there are more than two dozen new brewery and brewing-company expansion projects in the works.
An uncertain marketplace, assorted delays, and the rising cost of goods and building materials have been hallmarks of the pandemic. While these hurdles are significant—and often costly—to contend with, entrepreneurs within the local brewing industry seem largely undeterred.
There are currently more than two dozen new brewery and brewing-company expansion projects in the works across the county. They range from a family-run nano-brewery and smaller neighborhood spots, to a tribal-owned brewery satellite, a tasting room built in a downtown church, and even a speakeasy dealing exclusively in hard seltzer.
DOWNTOWN & METRO AREA
The Lost Abbey — The Church (East Village): After taking over a century-old church at the corner of J and 13th, multi-faceted San Marcos operation The Lost Abbey is converting it into a tasting room that will match the company’s Catholic, heaven-and-hell theme. In addition to the historic 2,400-square-foot building (split evenly between the ground floor and basement), the project will include 3,200 square feet of outdoor patio space with a bar serving The Lost Abbey’s largely Belgian-ale lineup as well as hoppy, fruity and innovative offerings from sister brands Port Brewing, The Hop Concept, Tiny Bubbles and Khárisma Hard Teas. An on-site kitchen will serve tacos, including specialty versions inspired by Padres opponents during baseball season (e.g., cheesesteak tacos for the Philadelphia Phillies, Cubano tacos for the Miami Marlins).
It’s a big step for The Lost Abbey, a world-renowned operation that has won awards and acclaim nationally and internationally for impeccable quality across styles, from the aforementioned Belgian-style farmhouse and trappiest ales (dubbels, tripels, quadrupels), plus sour and strong ales aged for years in assorted spirit barrels, many of which are considered some of the best produced by any American brewery. Its familial operations’ IPAs enjoy similarly stellar reputations. At the heart of the operation, from the brewhouse to the barrel room, is co-founder Tomme Arthur, who started his career at Pizza Port’s original brewpub in Solana Beach before teaming with that venture’s owners to open The Lost Abbey in 2006. Though the company has expanded, opening a pair of tasting rooms in Cardiff-by-the-Sea and San Marcos’ San Elijo community, this will be its first venue in San Diego proper, something they — and their fans— have long dreamt of. Current ETA: Mid-September
East Village Brewing (East Village): Building on a shared passion and professional pasts, a pair of brewers who oversaw fermentation at one of the country’s largest breweries, Miramar-based Ballast Point, gave up their lofty positions earlier this year to start their own business. They are now at work building a quaint neighborhood brewery on Park Boulevard across from Petco Park, where they will produce hoppy beers, easy-drinking lagers and barrel-aged sours on a 10-barrel system that’s far more intimate than the 300-barrel brewhouse they operated at BP. Current ETA: December
WestBrew — Gaslamp (Downtown): Though only a year old, Vista-based WestBrew has come on strong with quality IPAs from former Pizza Port brewer Cody Gagnon. The same month the business launched it opened a second location in Del Mar and secured the site for this project at the base of a 100-year-old brick building at Island and 7th. Pandemic construction has been slow-going, but soon downtown denizens and Padres fans will have an indoor-outdoor space equipped with a 20-tap bar and a kitchen serving beer-friendly fare in oceanic southwest-meets-Bohemia environs. Current ETA: Early August
The Ocotillo at Harland (South Park): Scripps Ranch-based Harland Brewing has taken over the 2,400-square-foot Grants Market and Coffee Room on Beech Street with plans to convert it into a restaurant space. A built-in kitchen will pump out creative breakfast menu items plus lunch and dinner options, while a bar addition will feature taps stocked with the company’s hoppy, stout and lager offerings. A lasting commitment to coffee and beer-and-food-pairing will be focuses of the business as will creating a family-friendly environment that matches the neighborhood. Current ETA: November
Rouleur Brewing (North Park): This spring, cyclist-themed Rouleur Brewing secured a 1,700-square-foot, patio-equipped corner space abutting popular live-music venue The Observatory on University Avenue. In addition to the Carlsbad-based company’s various IPAs, lagers and occasional Belgian ales, a direct-trade coffee program is being instituted by accomplished java pro Nikki Peterson, along with a tapas menu developed by local chef Tyson Blake (O’Brien’s Pub, West Coast Tap & Smokehouse). Current ETA: Late August
Pure Project Brewing (North Park): The county’s fastest-growing brewery took over the sprawling former HQ of defunct Iron Fist Brewing in Vista earlier this year, simultaneously breaking ground on this project, which will be its fifth and highest-profile tasting room. Stationed in a former 2,000-square-foot auto-repair shop on El Cajon Boulevard, its bay doors will now give way to a 5,000-square-foot patio decked out with cushy furniture, trees and flora matching the maker of murky IPAs, sours and stouts’ nature motif. ETA: October
Attitude Brewing — Brewery Igniter (North Park): The owner of a Barrio Logan brewpub is increasing production capabilities by taking over a lease-to-brew suite previously operated by Scripps Ranch-based Juneshine at local developer H.G. Fenton’s Brewery Igniter facility on El Cajon Boulevard. There, he will keep Junshine’s hard kombucha on tap and have a next-door neighbor in fellow tenant Pariah Brewing. ETA: August
Belching Beaver Brewery — Hard Seltzer Speakeasy (North Park): North County’s Belching Beaver Brewery was one of the first local companies to embrace the satellite tasting room model, building a sampling space on 30th Street in 2012. Now, the company is adding a unique venue in the suite abutting that spot: a discreet speakeasy serving its all-natural hard seltzers, including smoothie and cocktail-inspired varieties mimicking Margaritas, Moscow Mules and more. ETA: This month
Other North Park Projects: After a false-start at a former mattress store on El Cajon Boulevard (next to the Pure Project site), Oceanside’s Black Plague Brewing is back in the hunt for a spot to launch a satellite in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, the founder of Seresa Filipino Kitchen is working to get Paradise Hills Brewing off the ground care of contract brewing, something he was poised to do in 2020 before being derailed by the pandemic.
Co-Lab Vista (Vista): Construction is live on a sprawling two-story, 11,500-square-foot collective where its tenants’ beer, wine and food will be available in a shared dining room and out-front patio. Going by the name Co-Lab and conceived as a proof-of-concept for a replicable model its brewery tenants will include Oceanside-based Breakwater Brewing, Barrel & Stave Brewing (which will be headed by standout homebrewer Chris Banker) and OC transplant Laguna Beach Beer Co. ETA: September
Oceanside Ale Works (Oceanside): After a three-year hiatus, the founder of Oceanside’s first-ever craft brewery is reviving the business, picking up where he left off at his brewery and tasting room on Ord Way with the beers that built the brand — Buccaneer Blonde, Pier View Pale, San Luis Rey Red — while adding new styles, including the aptly named Phoenix IPA. ETA: Opens Saturday.
Shootz Beer (Oceanside): Pro surfer Cheyne Magnuson is teaming with Wrench & Rodent Seagastropub’s chef-owner and a brewery construction manager to install a poke concept inside local bottle-shop chain Bottlecraft’s location at the upcoming Tremont Collective. Dubbed Shootz (a Hawaiian surf slang term), its menu will feature house beers (including non-alcoholic offerings) developed in concert with Miramar’s AleSmith Brewing. ETA: August
The Tipping Pint Brewing (Oceanside): Former Pizza Port Solana Beach head brewer Adam Jester is building a brewery of his own in a leased 1,300-square-foot space at Carruth Cellars’ reimagined production facility, The Hangar. From there he’ll produce multiple IPAs, lagers, sour beers and stouts, all of which will be able to be enjoyed on a 3,000-square-foot patio the brewery will share with the winery. ETA: Late August
Ten-75 Brewing (San Marcos): A pair of brothers who originally secured an industrial suite off San Marcos Boulevard to open a kombucha company are falling back on their homebrewing roots after the probiotic beverage business fizzled. They are currently renovating the space and using their two-barrel system to craft recipes for IPAs and lighter, lower-alcohol styles. ETA: December
Other North County Projects: Abnormal Beer Co.’s former head brewer recently resigned to work on a startup he calls Pivovar West Brewing, which will feature traditional Czech- and German-style beers and be built to grow to include multiple Old World brewery-restaurants. Meanwhile, the owner of San Marcos cult-favorite Stave & Nail Brewing is aiming to open a second location with a kitchen and cocktail program in North County.
COASTAL & SOUTH BAY
Chula Vista Brewery (Eastlake): Chula Vista’s namesake, veteran-owned brewery boasts a pair of accomplished head brewers. Longtime Pizza Port standout Ignacio Cervantes came on last year to lead construction on a 10-barrel brewery at the company’s second location, which occupies the former home of The Brew House at Eastlake. Coming in at 6,450 square feet, it will allow CVB to greatly increase production while offering guests finger-licking fare from culinary partner Oak & Anchor BBQ. ETA: August
Rincon Reservation Road Brewery (Ocean Beach): After Belching Beaver Brewery vacated its 3,200-square-foot tasting room in OB last year, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians took it over to expand the reach of its brewing arm, Rincon Reservation Road Brewery. To date, experiencing “3-R Brewery” has required a trip to Harrah’s Southern California in Valley Center, but now that operation’s blonde, red and IPAs will be available on Newport Avenue along with Native American appetizers from former Marine Room chef Ron Oliver. ETA: October
Other South Bay Projects: Local institution Pizza Port is in the process of adding another brewpub in San Diego County — its fifth — in Imperial Beach. The aforementioned Attitude Brewing is in the process of converting a 3,500-square-foot space on Chula Vista’s Third Avenue into a tasting room with food from San Diego Sliders Co. And after aging beers in spirit barrels for nearly two years, Miramar-based Invoak Brewing & Blending hopes to hold some small-batch draft releases at the tasting room of sister business Kové Hard Yerba Mate in Barrio Logan later this summer.
Brandon Hernández is founder of San Diego Beer News (www.sandiegobeer.news), a site providing daily coverage of the county’s brewing industry, a beat he’s covered for 14 years. He has authored multiple guides to San Diego breweries and worked for local breweries from 2012-2019. Follow him @sdbeernews or contact him at: email@example.com
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