San Diego Beer Column: A look at Ballast Point three years after its sale
We revisit Ballast Point, a couple years after it was purchased by then-Illinois-based Kings & Convicts. Here’s what we found
Strange. After an absence of several years, I revisited Ballast Point’s 107,000-square-foot headquarters in Miramar a month before Halloween. Despite a decorative skeleton or two, the place didn’t seem haunted.
“We’re having fun again,” said Jeff Lozano, the brewery’s brand ambassador. “Kings & Convicts has been able to embrace our culture.”
For Ballast Point, this has been a long, strange — and sometimes spooky — trip.
1996: Opens. Wins fans and acclaim with beers like Yellowtail, Calico Copper and — notably — Sculpin.
2015: Becomes a craft beer pariah when owners sell to New York’s Constellation Brands for $1 billion. Purists are scandalized (and envious). Sales plummet.
2019: Illinois’ Kings & Convicts, so named because of the owners’ British and Australian roots, buys Ballast Point for an undisclosed amount. K&C moves its HQ to SD.
2020: Poised to win back craft beer fans, Ballast Point — and the world — is sidelined by COVID. Tasting rooms in Linda Vista, Little Italy, Anaheim and Long Beach, plus the restaurant in its flagship Miramar brewery, close.
2022: Inflation. Supply chain woes. Fun!
Ballast Point may owe its resurgence — if that’s what we are seeing; the company does not release sales figures — to its dedicated staff. Many key players, hired before Constellation and scarred by their peers’ scorn, are still here.
“Everybody that works here now is an O.G.,” Lozano said. “These guys are world-class.
Another plus: Kings & Convicts has invested in a faster canning line, sophisticated equipment for the quality control lab, and new beers — hazy Sculpin and Speedboat, a blonde ale with lime. And expect to see a Ballast Point tap room in San Francisco by year’s end.
“We’re pushing boundaries,” Lozano said. “With this new ownership, we are able to take risks again.”
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