From the Beer Writer: Of the most recent entrants to the San Diego brewing industry, few have been so impressive from the get-go as Eppig Brewing. The first interest to open in North Park’s Craft by Brewery Igniter complex, it has a lot to offer. There are currently well over a dozen beers on-tap, but even when they had less than half of that available early on, that handful included some real winners. Tops among those first drafts was Eppig Natural Bridge Festbier. Much like Christmas ales or Lent beers, most brewers only produce this lager-style during a certain period, in this case Germany’s Oktoberfest season. But not at Eppig, where they smartly realize their Festbier’s quality is such that it should be a year-round offering. Bready yet light with bristly mineral notes, it’s a study in balance and elegance that comes in at 6% alcohol-by-volume. Behind this and the other members of Eppig’s Natural Bridge family of lagers (Baltic porter, hoppy Pilsner, schwarzbier, zwickelbier and, soon, a lightly oak-smoked Vienna lager), this young brewery belongs among the small number of breweries brewing top-notch lagers in ale-heavy San Diego. Read more »
They were the last to go into H.G. Fenton’s three-suite Brewery Igniter campus, but San Diego Brewing Company (3052 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park) became the second tenant to open last week. The veteran business’ 2,500-square-foot tasting room is open seven days a week and accepting all comers. The beer flowing from its 15 taps is a mix of longtime staples such as Blueberry Wheat, Old Town Nut Brown and Google-search darling San Diego IPA, as well as newer creations like Pale In Drop D session ale and Black Orchid imperial chocolate milk stout.
Head brewer Jeff Drum opened with one entirely new beer on-tap, a Scottish Ale called 80 Shilling (named for its alcohol-content per historic Scottish practices). He has another beer in development which he plans on debuting at the new space, an IPA called Shadow Fall. In addition to all that ale, San Diego Brewing’s satellite also serves house-made root beer and a pair of kombuchas, one of which is pumpkin pie-flavored and served on nitro.
The North Park facility is equipped with a 10-barrel brewing system Drum uses to double-batch into 20-barrel fermentation and conditioning tanks. The tasting room is open to the public from 4 to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 9 p.m. An official grand-opening event will take place from 12 to 4 p.m., Saturday, January 28 and feature brewery tours, a raffle and food from various mobile vendors. The space is kid- and dog-friendly with a large-screen TV to occupy the former…and their parents.
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.