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.
When Rawley Macias spoke with me about what he planned to produce at his work-in-progress brewery, he said he’d be going for a style-defying portfolio of beers. After visiting his now soft-opened Rouleur Brewing (5840 El Camino Real, Suite #101, Carlsbad) last week, it would appear he’s backed off of that a bit in favor of proving the versatility of Belgian yeast. Personally, I consider this a concept upgrade. While Belgian beer-styles have risen in popularity over the past decade, few are the operations that specialize in them in San Diego County. And no other company is trying to do as much with Belgian yeast strains as Macias.
Rouleur’s opening septet of beers all utilize Bastogne strain with the exception of a golden strong ale, and all will be available at the business’ official grand opening, an indoor-outdoor affair that will take place starting at noon on Saturday, April 8 (the same day as next-door neighbors, Wiseguy Brewing) and include live music and food trucks. That beer features big flavors candied lemon peel and peach commonly found in imperial IPAs, plus added fruit notes from the Belgian-yeast esters. Aside from being slightly sweet—which is pretty common in double IPAs—it really works.
Rouleur’s single IPA, The Clydesdale, isn’t as successful a foray into the merging of the Old and New Worlds. The beer is brewed with Centennial, Cascade and Amarillo hops, yet the beer is seriously lacking in aroma. Still, the beer is grassy and earthy, showing potential that may be realized soon. Macias’ Carlsbad contemporaries from Burgeon Beer Company have offered up some friendly advice about dry-hopping techniques. Rouleur’s owner happily accepted it. While he’s homebrewed prolifically for a dozen years, the seven beers available at Rouleur represent the first seven times he’s brewed on a professional system, a fact that makes the quality of his other beers that much more impressive.
The Domestique, a 5.6% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) blonde is nice and light, allowing the floral and citrus character of the yeast to shine through. It was my favorite beer of the bunch. A Belgian pale ale called The Puncheur is balanced, as is Macias’ golden-child, a golden strong ale dubbed The Soloist (because it utilizes one grain and one hop) that comes in at 8.8% ABV but doesn’t taste overly alcoholic and has an almost champagne-like effervescence and dryness. All three of these beers feature varying degrees of an orange-like flavor from the yeast, which works with all three. On the darker side, a red ale came across dry with a touch of spice, but a tad flat on the palate, while a 6.7% dark ale had a big roasty nose followed by prune, plum and anise character on the taste buds.
Aside from offering a respectable lineup of beers out of the gate, Rouleur has a lot of good things going on from an interior design prospective. Macias’ other passion, biking, is on full display care of a collage of vibrant modern and vintage photos (some dating back to the 1930s)—including some on the west wall that can be purchased if they catch your fancy—plus shots of Rouleur’s beers in yet-to-be-manufactured bottles leading to the brewery. an impressive bike-wheel sculpture of sorts Macias engineered on his own, and a rare 100% steel Masi Gran Criterium bicycle with Rouleur’s logo hand-painted on by legendary frame-painter Jim Allen. Rouleur’s space came as a blank white canvas in the third of developer H.G. Fenton’s Brewery Igniter complexes and Macias has gone to a great deal of work to deliver a complete concept from the get-go. That should help him pull ahead of the pack.
Additional reporting by Katie Conner
In celebration of 30 years in business, the Pizza Port chain of Southern California brewpubs will be canning and releasing some of the most popular creations from its quintet of pubs throughout 2017. The first offering from the “Pub Release Series” was the award-winning imperial coffee porter, Bacon and Eggs, which debuted on March 4 at its brewpub of origin in Ocean Beach.
Nine more beers are slated for release as part of this series. The schedule as it stands at present is as follows. Brewpubs or origin for each beer are listed in parentheses.
Each of the beers listed above will be put up for sale at all of the brewpubs on their corresponding release dates. The next four beers will be released on their respective brewpub’s specific anniversary date, starting with Solana Beach, which will celebrate 30 years in operation with two days of festivities this Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and 26.
Amid a glut of new brewery openings, a beer interest of more than six years quietly shuttered recently. That business is Carlsbad’s On-The-Tracks Brewery. The family-run business had soldiered on within a business park that later welcomed two other breweries—Arcana Brewing Company (opened as Fezziwig’s Brewing Company in 2012) and Guadalupe Brewery (installed inside Carlsbad Brew Supply in 2015).
This development comes on the heels of news that two San Diego County brewery owners are selling their businesses. As reported in December, Jim Crute, the owner and brewmaster at Poway’s Lightning Brewery, is actively searching for an entrepreneur interested in a turnkey-brewery opportunity. Meanwhile, the owners of San Marcos’ Stumblefoot Brewing Company have sold their six-year-old brand. The last local brewery to sell was Kearny Mesa’s Quantum Brewing, which changed hands last summer.
Some might see these news items as signs of bad times to come for local craft breweries, but I see it as a coming of age. This industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade, consistently blowing beyond all estimates. No boom is eternal. At some point, every manufacturing-based industry must come down to Earth. And that’s where San Diego craft beer is. Some businesses will thrive and some will work desperately to eke out an existence. Some will fail and go out of business, and they will be replaced by new businesses or handed over to new owners. Companies shutting their doors or selling their operations is not cause for alarm. It’s simply how business is done.
From the Beer Writer: When I first heard Pizza Port was about to hit the big three-oh(-where-did-all-the-time-go?), I could hardly believe it. Though brewing operations began at the family-owned SoCal chain’s flagship Solana Beach brewpub in 1992, it’s been slinging pies and Beer Buddies since 1987. Through it all, the concept has stayed true to the humble vision of brother-and-sister team Vince and Gina Marsaglia: provide a dependably fun and inviting place for people to enjoy themselves over pizza and house-made beers. Simple pleasure is the theme of the organization, which has grown to include a formidable quintet of “Port Holes” reaching from Ocean Beach to San Clemente, including a large-scale, production facility-equipped brewpub in Carlsbad’s Bressi Ranch community. Along the way, a boatload of awards have been lavished on the multifaceted interest’s beers, and numerous members of its brewing team have gone on to starring roles at breweries across Southern California. Its an impressive evolution that, from a beer-perspective, all started with a hoppy offering that was far ahead of its time and helped define San Diego’s lupulin-driven brewing style: Pizza Port Shark Bite Red Ale. When it came time to can a beer in celebration of Pizza Port’s 30th anniversary, this mainstay of its extensive and impressive canon was a no-brainer. Piney in its hop profundity (especially for the time-frame in which it debuted) and nicely bolstered by a toffee-like yet dry malt-body, this beer is a piece of San Diego brewing history that has endured based on the tenets of good taste and craftsmanship. Each of the company’s brewpubs will hold release parties for Shark Bite on Tuesday, January 17, where six-packs of the beer will be available for purchase. Additionally, Pizza Port will hold festivities (details to be announced) to celebrate 30 years in business at its Solana Beach location the last weekend of March, shortly after its official anniversary on March 23.
From the Brewer: “Shark Bite Red was the first beer we made. I wanted to do a red instead of an amber, probably because I had a red ale at Callahan’s Pub and I liked it more than amber ales. It has more crystal-malt flavor. Before making that first batch, I was so excited about the our seven-barrel system, that I decided to go inside the brew-kettle and have a couple of beers. I ended up just sitting there and falling asleep, then waking up and not knowing where I was. We actually had to throw away the first batch of Shark Bite we brewed. Somebody hooked up the thermocouple backwards and we didn’t know, so it cooled the yeast down and the beer didn’t ferment. It tasted like motor oil. Other than that, there aren’t many weird or funny stories. I just made beer and people drank it. There were no guidelines, but even if there were, we didn’t read them. We were just making beer…beer we liked.”—Vince Marsaglia, Co-owner/Brewmaster, Pizza Port