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First Look: Viewpoint Brewing Company

Jul 11

Photo by William Perls

Back in March, we introduced you to key personnel from Viewpoint Brewing Company (2201 San Dieguito Drive, Del Mar), Charles Koll and Gunnar Plantar. The former conceptualized the business and brought on the latter to lead the kitchen, but both are chefs with white-linen backgrounds. Over the past four months, they’ve been busy putting finishing touches on their brewpub (Del Mar’s first-ever beer manufacturer), which included hiring a head brewer. Not surprisingly, that individual, Moe Katomski, amassed years of chef experience before transitioning to the fermentation industry via a job with Vista’s Bear Roots Brewing. As soon as next week, the general public will be able to see what this trio of toques has been working on when Viewpoint opens its doors.

Photo by William Perls

The opening has been a long time coming—more than three years, in fact. Having recently toured the space, that time was put to good use. Viewpoint is in a simultaneously great and not-ideal location. Located across the San Dieguito Lagoon from the Del Mar Fairgrounds, it is highly visible and should receive plenty of patronage, not only from San Diego County Fair and Del Mar Racetrack visitors, but Del Mar residents, in general, and walkers on the trail abutting Viewpoint’s shaded outdoor patio. The latter area is outfitted in a mixture of concrete and artificial turf, with live-edge, wooden communal tables and banquettes with tabletop fire features, as well as large, open, globe-shaped swings and corn-hole setups. These contemporary SoCal environs are particularly inviting and will surely inspire would-be exercisers to sit a spell and shift from calorie-burning to consumption.

Photo by William Perls

Those dropping in by car might find themselves a little less enamored rolling into a parking lot that, with Viewpoint’s industrial roots fully exposed (perhaps to too great an extent, aesthetically), doesn’t appear to house a restaurant. The front door is small and inauspicious, but upon stepping through it, guests figure to be glad they did. While not as luxurious as the patio, the main dining room is neatly situated and comfortable. A zig-zagging bar gives way to two high-top communal tables and additional bar-seating bordering Viewpoint’s fermenter tanks. Roll-up garage-style doors provide access to the outdoor area as well as a pair of Skee Ball tables, further increasing the family-friendly aspect.

Photo by William Perls

Viewpoint’s license allows for sale of guest beers to supplement a selection of house brews currently coming in at five. Katomski’s wares include a single-malt-and-single-hop (SMASH) beer made with Maris Otter and Chinook hops, a rye IPA with Red X malt that lends a chocolate-like character washed away by a dank finish, and a light-bodied Belgian-style saison that’s herbaceous and lemony with a hint of bubble gum. There is also a pair of pale ales. The first, Pleasant Surprise, was the initial beer run through Viewpoint’s 15-barrel system and didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but is not without its charms. Built on a Kölsch-recipe base with minimal infusion of Chinook hops for bittering, it may actually be a big hit with Del Martians. The second go at that beer is big on citrusy Mandarina Bavaria hops and a much more successful iteration in Katomski’s opinion. That recipe is now set in stone.

Photo by William Perls

Drinkability and approachability were strived for and achieved with Viewpoint’s first beers, but Katomski also plans to follow some suggestions from Plantar, who regularly turns him on to exotic ingredients from the culinary world. For now, he’s fighting the urge to get “too crazy” and that seems a good game-plan for a community that has yet to have much exposure to craft beer.

Photo by William Perls

With so many cooks in the kitchen, one might expect a for-chefs-by-chefs menu that’s overly extensive and out of control. Viewpoint’s is relatively brief but offers variety, including an assortment of appetizers that includes riffs on poutine and Jidori chicken wings served by the dozen with house sauces, charcuterie, salads, sandwiches, entrées (steak frites, salmon) and desserts. Beer and its ingredients make it into accoutrements such as a hop vinaigrette and milk stout demi-glace. Then there’s a rare first for the local beer scene, a beer-and-food flight wherein three of Viewpoint’s beers are served with a trio of pretzel bao buns stuffed with ingredients selected to match their liquid counterparts.

Following its debut, Viewpoint will be open seven days a week. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. it will operate as a tasting room offering light bites, before converting to a full-on restaurant from 4 to 11 p.m.

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September Events Sampler Flight

Sep 1

golfIt’s another big month of beer festivals, brewery and bar anniversaries. Though we’ve assembled some of the higher-profile, better bets, there are far too many quality goings-on to get them all into one sampler flight. Luckily, you can keep up on all of the beery happenings on a continual event via West Coaster’s Events Page.

September 2-4 | Anniversaries Galore: You can get back to San Diego’s roots with The Roots at Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits’ 20th soiree at the Del Mar Racetrack, celebrate the first 12 months of RB brewery Second Chance Beer Company’s short-but-meaningful lifespan or hit up Toolbox Brewing Company in Vista and toast two years of fermentation with wild ales! | Various Locations, Dates & Times Vary

September 10 | Peter Reeves Memorial Sour Fest: As much as we want to remember loved ones who pass on, you can be sure they want such remembrance to be joyous rather than sorrowful. That’s the goal behind this annual event at Churchill’s Pub & Grille, which offers more than 50 sour beers in the name and memory of a dearly loved and missed friend. | Churchill’s Pub & Grille, 887 West San Marcos Boulevard, San Marcos, 11 a.m.

September 13-19 | 7th Anniversary Week: Full details are still being hammered out for Small Bar‘s seven-day celebration, but an Amplified Ale Works beer dinner featuring a playful menu stocked with ears both pig and frog will take place on the 13th as a lead-up to a 7th anniversary party that will be chock full of rare beers, including some stellar cellared sours. | Small Bar, 4628 Park Boulevard, University Heights, Times Vary

September 16 | San Diego Brewers Guild Golf Tournament: The guild representing San Diego’s long list of breweries does a great deal to advocate for them, and this is a fun way to help ensure the SDBG has the funds necessary to do the best job at that as possible. Spend a Friday on the greens drinking green (i.e., hoppy) beers and really regretting that whole calling-in-sick thing. | Rancho Bernardo Inn, 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, Rancho Bernardo, 10 a.m.

September 24 | Hop Heads & Dreads: Craft beer and reggae are coming together at Harrah’s Resort Southern California. The musical-stylings of Stick Figure and RDGLDGRN will be on display along with a plethora of beers. Hops are both related to and smell a lot like certain other little green buds, so perhaps this is an even more natural pairing than one might at first think. | Harrah’s Resort Southern California, 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center, 2 p.m.

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July Events Sampler Flight

Jul 1

sf0715July is a time to celebrate our independence, but the fun times shouldn’t be relegated to the first weekend of the month. Especially not in San Diego County where dozens of top-notch local beer events lay sprawled out over the course of the month. Check out some of these all-‘Murican brewhahas then refer to our full list of local beer events.

July 8 | Hop-Con 3.0, The w00tstout Festival: Celebrating the annual release of a massive wheat, pecan, oak and bourbon fortified imperial stout collaboratively brewed at Stone Brewing Co. with Wil Wheaton and Drew Curtis, this event will feature that duo plus a slew of specialty beers and an on-site arcade bringing together geeks of the beer and traditional ilk. | Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, 2816 Historic Decatur Road, Point Loma, 8 p.m.

July 11 | Heroes Brew Craft Beer Festival: Ever wanted the thrill of sharing a pale with Punisher, dark ale with Darth Vader or witbier with Wonder Woman. Holy barley wine, Batman, at this festival, these sudsy scenarios can jump straight from the pages of your favorite comic books and into the real world when costume-clad imbibers blend childhood heroes with adult beverages. | The Loma Club, 2960 Truxton Road, Point Loma, 3 p.m.

July 11 & 12 | 2nd Anniversary Party: Even if you’re not a fan of a made-up vernacular including terms like cockstaggering (at least make it a hyphenate), there’s bound to be a brew that jibes with your sensibilities at Modern Times Beer’s two-year, two-day fiesta, which will include tappings of new, rare and one-off creations as well as (unlimited servings of) cold-brewed coffee. | Modern Times Beer, 3725 Greenwood Street, Lomaland, Times Vary

July 25 | Mike Hess Fest: There’s nothing like a block party, especially when it’s thrown by a brewery with five years of fermentation fete experience. For one fun-filled day, Mike Hess Brewing Company will take over a full block in North Park, inviting over brewing industry friends not only from San Diego County, but Arizona as well to celebrate a half-decade in the beer biz. | Mike Hess Brewing Company, 3812 Grim Avenue, North Park, 12:30 p.m.

July 25 | San Diego Craft Beer Fest: Win, place, show, trifectas, quinellas…these can be complicated to grasp, but thanks to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s dedication to the local brewery scene, getting a grasp of ales and lagers from throughout San Diego County will be easy during this fest featuring more than 100 beers plus food trucks, DJs and, oh yeah, horses. | Del Mar Racetrack, 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, 2 p.m.

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