Last year, personal differences led to long-time friends and Pacific Brewing Company co-founders Andrew Heino and Chris Chalmers shutting down their business and heading their separate ways. At that time, Heino shared his interest in picking up the pieces and building a new brewery. It wasn’t long before he set out on that mission and, now, his Align Brewing Company is an estimated month or two away from making its debut at Pacific’s former home in Miramar. We summoned him from the construction-site long enough to ask about his phoenix-from-the-ashes interest.
West Coaster: What motivated you to start work on Align so soon after closing Pacific Brewing?
Andrew Heino: I’ve been trying to open a brewery since 2008. All four of my first attempts were with brewer-partners. The fact that Pacific opened was only because I had learned so much from the first three tries and never gave up. Unfortunately, it was short lived, but I still view Pacific as a success and huge learning experience. Partnerships are very difficult especially as time goes by and people change. It’s not uncommon for partnerships to end poorly. But I picked myself up, held my head high, directed all my focus on a fifth brewery attempt and here we are now, close to opening Align. I could not have done it without the support of my wife, family and friends. And if brewery number five doesn’t work out, I’ll probably try to open another one.
WC: Tell me about the team behind Align.
AH: I’ve been working in the brewing industry and homebrewing non-stop for 10 years. I started out as a volunteer at Oceanside Ale Works, then got hired on at Stone Brewing as, I believe, their first assistant brewer. I worked in various positions there, learning every day and becoming more and more knowledgeable. I decided to start my own brewery about eight years ago and I’ve never looked back. I am mainly doing everything myself at Align, and am extremely fortunate and very grateful for having some amazingly talented and generous people in my life who have helped me in many ways throughout the rebuilding process; from making my logo-art, to some plumbing and electrical, and a number of other areas.
WC: How will Align differ from Pacific Brewing?
AH: Since it’s just me now, I can make whatever I want whenever I want. I have total creative freedom and I’m excited to try making some exceptional beers…and maybe a few weird and wacky beers. You’ll be seeing a lot of experimental beers as well as seasonal recipes, and we are planning to do a lot of collaborations with other brewers. More emphasis will be focused on expansion of the company and distributing these amazing beers to more people. On the brewery-side, every piece been changed and upgraded to a seven-barrel system. The brewhouse kettle is a new, innovative system that no one else in San Diego has. The only parts of that location that are the same are the cold-box and the bar-top that I built in 2013. Everything else has been revamped for the better.
WC: What styles of beer will Align offer?
AH: Our year-round core beers will be well-rounded to accommodate all tastes, and will most likely include a cerveza-style Pilsner, stout, pale ale and many IPAs. The seasonal brews will be the higher-ABV styles and weird-addition types. Because we’re not a niche or specialty brewery, we are not going to be focusing mainly on one style. That said, we are true hop-heads and consider IPA to be the pinnacle of beer in many ways. So, we will certainly be offering many new and unique IPAs and hop-forward beers over time.
WC: What will the tasting room be like and when will it open to the public?
AH: The tasting room will feature sacred geometry, interesting lighting, local art, ocean, stars and comfortable chairs. It will be very clean and streamlined, and feel more like a brewery than a restaurant. We’re currently waiting on the final government OK to start brewing, then we’ll brew nonstop for about three weeks until we have our core-beers. Provided all goes well, the soft-opening will be followed by our grand-opening. It’s hard to say a specific date, but I think April is a good possibility.
Last Friday, West Coaster broke the news that Miramar-based Pacific Brewing Company had closed its doors for good. After communicating with both of the company’s founders, Chris Chalmers and Andrew Heino, the shuttering comes after a number of difference between the two ranging from company identity to day-to-day operations to growth and production goals. In the end, those differences and a lack of profitability led to a parting of ways and the decision to shut down.
Both Chalmers and Heino voiced regret and even “heartbreak” over this development. The former has moved on, while the latter has three years remaining on the lease for Pacific Brewing’s Miralani Drive facility. Heino says he is planning on opening a new brewery operation and associated tasting-room, he is not ready to disclose details of that operation.
But visitors to the small business-park Pacific Brewing called home won’t want for beer. 2Kids Brewing Company, a husband-wife venture that opened around the same time as Pacific Brewing, remains as the lone brewery tenant…for now. Protector Brewery, an all-organic brewing operation headed by Navy SEALs, is in the works in the same park, which will also welcome Setting Sun Sake Brewing Company later this year. And right across the street is the long-awaited Thunderhawk Alements, which is facing delays but hopes to begin brewing in a matter of weeks.
“To all our loyal customers and enthusiasts, it is with great regret that we must announce that Pacific Brewing is permanently closing its doors,” says Chalmers. “We have enjoyed some fantastic years due to your patronage and we are thankful to have the honor and pleasure of your company and continued presence with us as we developed our beers as well as our commitment to deliver an outstanding product. We are forever indebted to all of the goodwill, support and appreciation from all who have joined us in the PBC family. Cheers to beers and much thanks from the bottom of our hearts!”