Breweries make the best margin by far when selling their beer in their taprooms. With a county expansive as San Diego, getting customers to a single location can be a challenge, but the satellite tasting room model—one where a brewery opens a non-brewing sampling space in a geographically removed community—has proven quite successful in helping brewing companies reach new customers, move inventory and generate additional revenue. Many satellites have been sent into orbit throughout the county in recent years, and quite a few are in different states of planning at present. Here is a breakdown of such projects by the neighborhoods they may someday call home.
Bay Park: As announced earlier this week, Grantville-based Benchmark Brewing Company has signed a lease on a space. The family-run business had been exploring the prospect of opening a satellite in Oceanside, but ultimately decided to stay within the City of San Diego.
Carlsbad: A collective of artisans will someday share space with crops of produce, wine grapes and hops at the North 40 development. Numerous tenants have been reeled in over the past two years (and many have walked away), but Miramar’s AleSmith Brewing Company and Carmel Mountain’s Second Chance Beer Company are signed up, with the former hoping to sell house-made cheese with its beer.
Chula Vista: Fresh off the high of moving into Twisted Manzanita Ales’ former production brewery (and distillery) in Santee, Groundswell Brewing Company is working to open a sampling space on downtown Chula Vista’s main drag, Third Avenue…right across the street from soon-to-debut Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing Company.
Encinitas: Though a community that’s openly resisted brewery-owned venues, this beachy berg has two breweries slogging against the tide for space on Coast Highway 101: Point Loma’s Modern Times Beer Company (across from La Paloma Theatre) and Solana Beach’s Culture Brewing Company (next to Bier Garden of Encinitas).
Marina District: Developers have spent the better part of the past year curating a list of breweries to share space at The Headquarters at Seaport Village. Planned as a central courtyard surrounded by six identical yet uniquely appointed brewery tasting rooms, it has proven challenging for a variety of reasons, but would create a concept unique to San Diego.
Normal Heights: Longtime craft-beer champion Blind Lady Ale House will soon have some sudsy company in their ‘hood care of Miramar-based Little Miss Brewing, which is hard at work on two fun-and-games equipped tasting rooms within San Diego proper.
North Park: Another interest with two satellites in the works is Second Chance, who recently revealed plans to open a tasting room on 30th Street in North Park, across the street from popular beer-bar Toronado and doors down from the site of Ritual Kitchen, which announced last week that it will soon shut its doors after 10 years in business.
Ocean Beach: Little Miss Brewing’s other upcoming satellite will join the county’s most tasting room-dense community, on the same block as Belching Beaver Brewery, Culture, Helm’s Brewing Company and Kilowatt Brewing Company; and a short walk from OB Brewery and Pizza Port OB; and a quick drive from Mike Hess Brewing Company’s sampler.
Pacific Beach: Downtown’s Mission Brewery is geared to cash in on partygoers’ thirst for beer, installing a tasting room on Garnet Avenue where it intersects with Gresham Street. PB is currently without a brewery satellite after Twisted Manzanita’s closed down when the company folded last year.
Veteran brewer Marty Mendiola’s Carmel Mountain-based Second Chance Beer Company will open a satellite tasting room in North Park later this year. Coming in at 1,820 square feet with 24 taps, capacity for roughly 100 people and an outdoor patio, the venue will be located at 4045 30th Street, steps north and across the street from iconic beer bar, Toronado San Diego.
Mendiola and company are excited to be a part of one of San Diego’s most vibrant and beer-centric communities. When asked about the potential challenges of competing in a neighborhood that’s home to ten breweries and brewpubs (Barn Brewery, Eppig Brewing, Fall Brewing, Home Brewing, Mike Hess Brewing, North Park Beer, Pariah Brewing, Poor House Brewing, San Diego Brewing, Thorn St. Brewery), and four tasting room-only facilities (Belching Beaver Brewing, ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, Modern Times Beer and Rip Current Brewing), they respond with a list of counter-balancing advantages.
The Second Chance team selected North Park over other brewery-dense areas like Miramar because it’s a more attractive and user-friendly destination. In addition to beer producers and sampling spaces, there are multiple craft beer bars such as the aforementioned Toronado, and many restaurants that support local breweries. North Park’s walkability makes it easy for patrons to visit multiple spots. Perhaps the only thing Mendiola is worried about is fracturing solid relationships Second Chance has with bars and eateries who might view their sampling space as competition.
“We are very thankful to the pioneers who established craft beer-centered bars and restaurants in the area. We have always enjoyed frequenting them,” says Mendiola’s wife and Second Chance chief legal officer Virginia Morrison. “In fact, mine and Marty’s first date was at The Ritual. We will continue to recommend them and work to make our tap-room a complimentary addition to North Park.”
The opportunity to reach a large new group of potential customers skewing to wildly different demographics than those in Carmel Mountain is the prime motivation in joining the North Park fold. Serving their clientele at the source is a key part of Second Chance’s philosophy. They are currently awaiting progress on the North 40 project that will provide the company a third venue in Carlsbad. Delays in that collective farm-to-table initiative allowed Second Chance the opportunity to explore additional expansion options.
The North Park tasting room will likely open to the public in August or September. Like its Carmel Mountain predecessor, it will offer a second chance at glory to previously used, reclaimed materials. The company intends to retain the services of an interior designer to further ensure the new spot sports a look that will appeal to North Park’s mix of residents and visitors.
In the beverage-industry, they say it takes until March for beer-consumption to rebound to normal levels after the holidays. Good thing San Diego’s beer-slingers didn’t get that memo, because February is jam-packed with a broad array of fun events celebrating local ales and lagers. Check out these standout events, and see a full list on our events page.
February 4 | Sour Saturday & Fourth Anniversary: Squeeze into one of the smallest but coolest beer-bars in San Diego for the ale-equivalent of an acid-drop. Cast your line and reel in a variety of sour beers tapped in celebration of this pier-mounted saloon, eatery and bait-and-tackle shop. | Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle, 1776 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island, 10 a.m.
February 4 | National 2×4 Day: Wyoming-based Melvin Brewing is tapping its award-winning 2×4 imperial IPA (it’s taken top-honors at the World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival and multiple Alpha King Challenges) across the country, and Hamilton’s Tavern is where you can taste it and other Melvin hop-bombs. | Hamilton’s Tavern, 1521 30th Street, South Park, 12 p.m.
February 11 | Brewbies Festival: Brewers from throughout Southern California will not only show up in-force to help raise funds for the Keep A Breast Foundation, many of them will bring creatively crafted, pink-hued beers brewed especially for this fest, one of the best in our county each year. | Bagby Beer Company; 601 South Coast Highway; Oceanside; VIP: 12 p.m., General Admission: 1 p.m.
February 11 | Carnival of Caffeination: Like beer? Like coffee? Like beer and coffee infused into a buzzworthy beverage? Then head to this fest celebrating all you hold sacred via top-quality beers from breweries plucked from around the country, and watch as stimulants and depressants go head-to-head! | North Promenade; 2848 Dewey Road; Point Loma; VIP: 11 a.m., General Admission: 12 p.m.
February 18 | Winter Brew Fest: Because winter in San Diego is pretty much like every other season in San Diego from a weather standpoint, this night-time fest won’t center around brawny stouts and strong ales. Come expecting an array of all styles, including SD’s sun-ready IPAs. | San Diego Hall of Champions; 2131 Pan American Plaza; Balboa Park; VIP: 6 p.m., General Admission: 7 p.m.
February 25-26 | 10th Anniversary Beer Fest: For a decade, SD TapRoom has gone big in the bday department, throwing suds-soaked parties over multiple days. The big 1-0 will be no different thanks to 100 specialty beers, including Pliny the Younger and venue-exclusive Boxcar Speedway. | SD TapRoom, 1269 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach, Times Vary
Yeah, yeah, we can pretend we’re going to stick to all those healthful resolutions that sounded so good when we were way inebriated at midnight on December 31, or we can get real and start planning for some beer-inspired fun. If you, like me, are opting for the latter, check out these higher-profile events, then head to our Events Page for even more #SDBeer happenings.
January 7 | San Diego Brew Fest: Don’t be a quitter. Get right back into the sudsy swing of things a mere seven daze after swearing off alcohol. You know you want to and, with plenty of breweries converging on the festival-ready grounds of Liberty Station, why fight what is clearly a fermented form of fate. Say good-bye to better judgment and hello to a good time. | NTC Park, 2455 Cushing Road, Point Loma, 12 p.m.
January 14 | Two-Year Anniversary: Last month, Rip Current Brewing celebrated its fourth year in business at its San Marcos brewery. Fast-forward several weeks and it’s time to celebrate the not-so-terrible twos at its North Park satellite tasting room. Expect a tap-list chock full of specialties, including a boat-load of barrel-aged beers, plus some discount special deals. | Rip Current Brewing Company, 4101 30th Street, North Park, 12 p.m.
January 22 | Family Dinner: Much like brewers, chefs like to hang with other chefs. So when Bitter Brothers Brewing’s veteran chef owner invites culinary contemporaries over to cook a beer-paired dinner with him at his brewery, he has plenty of willing participants to choose from, all of which are top-notch kitchen practitioners who enjoy beer as much as the people they’re serving. | Bitter Brothers Brewing Company, 4170 Morena Boulevard, Bay Ho, 5 p.m.
January 28 | Changing of the Barrels: Each year, Karl Strauss Brewing holds a suds-filled soiree at its PB headquarters where it unveils a barrel-aged beer that’s been aged for a year, serving it alongside a long list of staples and specialties. It’s the greatest single-night of beer-sampling one can experience at San Diego’s longest-running post-Prohibition era brewing interest. | Karl Strauss Brewing Company; 5985 Santa Fe Street; Pacific Beach; 4 p.m. (VIP), 5 p.m. (General Admission)
Those with less examining eyes might think little has changed with San Diego Brewing Company over its 23-year history…but those people would be wrong. On the more obvious side, the Mission Valley brewpub completed an overhaul of a redesign in 2013, the same year it brought aboard head brewer Jeff Drum to replace longtime headman Dean Rouleau (who departed to open his current venture, Prodigy Brewing Company). These were important on-the-surface changes, but on a subdermal level, Drum has added numerous new beers to the company’s offerings, including barrel-aged sours. The company also produced the winning entry in the hotly contested India pale ale category at this year’s San Diego International Beer Festival competition for its San Diego IPA (a name it has smartly trademarked). It’s no wonder SDBC’s Lee Doxtader feels they’re making the best beer they ever had.
The above items have SDBC poised for even more, and that’s why ownership has decided to take the county’s second longest tenured brewing operation to the next level. Doxtader and company have signed on as the third and final tenant of upcoming CRAFT by Brewery Igniter, a trio of brewery-tasting room facilities in North Park near the intersection of El Cajon Boulevard and 30th Street. Billed as the only place in San Diego where beer-fans will be able to visit three breweries under one roof, the project (which is scheduled to open to the public in a matter of a month or two) will also be home to J&L Eppig Brewing and Pariah Brewing Co. All three interests will brew using identical 10-barrel Premier Stainless brewing systems and feature their own aesthetically customized tasting room.
Doxtader says to expect the same relaxing, easygoing atmosphere he and his team have worked to build at the original brewpub, and looks forward to reaching new people. It’s one of the biggest reasons he’s wanted to increase production for quite some time—something signing on with Brewery Igniter (a program from local developer H.G. Fenton) will allow SDBC to do. In his words, he wants to “get outside the pubisphere” and check out the demand for SDBC’s beers beyond their birthplace. Doxtader expects SDBC’s North Park offshoot to debut in the next two or three months. Meanwhile, it will be business as usual at the Mission Valley brewpub.