Collaborations are nothing new in the local beer scene, and they’re not limited to brewery-to-brewery interactions. With the popularity of craft-beer venues at an all-time high, non-brewing interests are partnering with ale-and-lager producers. Local examples include the tasting room-equipped gaming center in Miramar established by At Ease Games in conjunction with Vista-based Barrel Harbor Brewing. Beer pairs well with many forms of entertainment from gaming to sports, movies to music. The latter is the basis of The Echo Room, a new venture in Oceanside from Midnight Jack Brewing and Craft Sounds.
The Echo Room is a live-performance venue constructed within Midnight Jack’s tasting room, mere feet from the brewhouse. It is equipped with a 16-foot-by-16-foot stage, professional lighting and full-time sound management. Those elements were introduced by Craft Sounds owner Tim Sams, a 23-year veteran of the San Francisco and San Diego indie-music scene who, feeling there were too few music venues capable of luring quality talent, conceived The Echo Room as a solution.
Midnight Jack’s owners, John and Katherine Scheri saw it as a solution on their end as well. “With the brewery landscape expanding so rapidly, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and offer customers a really great experience that includes not only unique, hand-crafted beer, but good food and regular live entertainment,” says Katherine. “Adding a regular schedule of specifically curated, local music is something that we really want to provide our customers, and make Midnight Jack a go-to music venue in North County San Diego.”
The Scheris appreciate that Sams brings more than just audio-visual knowhow to the table. He also has a wealth of connections within the local music scene and is at work scheduling The Echo Room’s initial wave of performers. The March calendar is as follows:
Last year, beer fans started noticing vehicle signage and a “golden IPA” from an unknown entity throughout San Diego County. They inquired to me directly and questioned the masses via social media: “Anybody know anything about this Beach Grease Beer Co. I’ve been seeing around?”
This went on for most of 2018 until last November when I was able to get the background on what turned out to be a local operation from owner James Banuelos. A fan of beach culture and classic automobiles, he had a spot on Scott Street in Vista that served as his headquarters. The only problem—it lacks brewing equipment.
Until now, Banuelos has gotten around that by having his beer contract brewed by Mission Brewery. Additionally, Banuelos has assisted that East Village interest by helping out with marketing duties. All the while, he maintained a search for a facility of his own, and he found it in the brewery-equipped space recently shut down by the owners of Vista’s SpecHops Brewing.
Located at 1280 Activity Drive, the 6,500-square-foot industrial-park suite is part of a cluster of Vista ale-and-lager interests that includes Latitude 33 Brewing, Toolbox Brewing, Belching Beaver Brewery’s Pub980, Barrel Harbor Brewing and Booze Brothers Brewing. Its 15-barrel brewing system was lightly used in the 10 or so months SpecHops was open to the public before shutting down at the end of the year.
Banuelos is pleased to now have a base of operations that will allow him to get his beers to market. Those will include various IPAs as well as a hoppy pilsner called Piston Palm. He is currently in search of a brewer and reports a great deal of interest on that front.
In addition to brewing capabilities, Beach Grease’s new home offers a tasting room with an L-shaped bar and a spacious interior area on the building’s south side that was previously furnished with sofas and picnic tables. The manufacturing area is completely visible and separated from public space by a rail bar. There is no immediate timetable for its debut under the Beach Grease flag.