It’s getting harder to find San Diego communities without breweries. Given San Diego State students’ notoriety for keggers and beer consumption, it’s ironic the College Area is one of them, but that will change if entrepreneur Robert Morey has his way. He is currently securing financial backers to move forward on Brewer’s Landing, a brewpub project that would give the College Area its first-ever locally produced suds.
Last year, an associate of his asked for input on a property he was looking to gain possession of—a former nightclub off El Cajon Boulevard—stating he wanted to install something for the community; a space for local meetings, events and showing off artwork from local artists. Morey has witnessed the rise of the craft-beer culture and number of operating breweries in San Diego County, and suggested a multi-faceted brewery and restaurant as the ideal concept for accomplishing all his colleague wanted and more, especially given the fact there isn’t a brewery to be found within a five-mile radius of the project site.
That space is 8,500 square feet with 2,125 square feet planned for brewing operations. According to Morey, the landlord for the industrial park the project would be located in has embraced beer-production and is open to housing several brewery operations down the road. For Brewer’s Landing, Morey envisions it as a business that mirrors downtown’s The Local Eatery and Watering Hole and its sister-business Resident Brewing, where there are two operations working together but separately under one roof. On the beer front, Morey wants to provide their eventual brewer to control vision and direction, though he understands the necessity for a quality IPA. Food-wise, comfort will be the name of the game, but exactly what form that takes has yet to be fully determined. Other amenities he hopes to include are a large stage for live entertainment, a selection of cigars, TVs to air sporting events, a pool table and darts. But the slate is still relatively blank for what may emerge as the College Area’s inaugural brewery.
SD TapRoom celebrated its tenth anniversary in February. The bar and restaurant was one of the first businesses to champion the charge of craft beer in its home community of Pacific Beach. That area has a big reputation as a party-town fueled by happy hours and discount brews, so trying to adapt mostly young, non-affluent locals and college-age visitors to the glories of a higher-priced but abundantly superior artisan ales was challenging, but fraternal owners Kevin and Kyle Conover stuck with it and gained the respect of the brewing community and the drinkers it caters to in the process. Now, that duo is ready to take things a step further via a new project: TapRoom Beer Company.
Equipped with a seven-barrel brewhouse and 50 taps, this brewpub will be located at 2000 El Cajon Boulevard, on the corner of El Cajon and Florida Street in University Heights. The Conovers have wanted to get into brewing for some time. It took a year to select and secure the spot they have. It was important that they find a location that was right for a brewpub as they were not interested in running a production brewery. The Conovers aim to keep this business true to the spirit of their flagship, citing a focus on community as an attribute that will carry over from PB.
But what about the beer? That will be the charge of local brewing-industry veteran Bill Batten. Batten resigned from his post as head brewer at Miramar’s Mikkeller Brewing San Diego in March. He opened that operation after transitioning over from AleSmith Brewing Company, the interest he worked for from 2002 to 2016. AleSmith owners Peter and Vicky Zien hold a minority ownership stake in Mikkeller SD, so entrusting that business’ brewing operations to Batten was a logical step, making it all the more surprising that he would voluntarily walk away after 15 years of loyalty.
Batten cited creative differences with majority owner Mikkel Borg Bjergsø when announcing his departure, but the likelihood of encountering those at TapRoom Beer seems slim. The Conovers say they are looking forward to Batten unleashing his skill and creativity, and are excited to see the direction he takes their brewpub. According to the team, the venue’s beers will run the gamut from a style standpoint. Classic English-style extra special bitters to San Diego-style hop-bombs and a variety of experimental beers will all be explored, but creating a mix of traditional and innovative ales and lagers is the goal.
Key features of the two-story project include a beer-cellar that will be located on a top-level mezzanine that is visible to customers. Half of the total space’s 5,000 total square feet is outdoors, providing opportunities to enjoy San Diego beer in tandem with its amicable trademark weather. Beers will primarily be available on draft, with occasional releases of bottles and/or cans. TapRoom Brewing is slated for a December 2017 or January 2018 opening.
Those who’ve sampled beer within its friendly confines know that Home Brewing Company (2911 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park) has a lot going for it. Simple in its construct and easygoing in mood, it effectively accomplishes its mission—exposing Home’s clientele to a plethora of exploratory beer styles and, in the best of cases, sparking an interest in taking up brewing. The latter is a bonus and, while converting imbibers to recreational fermentationists certainly benefits owner George Thornton—Home Brewing is connected to next-door parent business, The Homebrewer—the brewery and tasting room are a product of passion versus capitalist aspirations. And the space feels that way, but Thornton has wanted to change it for some time and that day is drawing nigh.
Come June, construction is scheduled to start on an expansion of the tasting room that’s been in the works for three years. (A lack of funds kept it from happening sooner (so maybe Thornton would benefit from employing a little more capitalism.) The goal of the project is to make Home even more homey, opening up the space and make it evocative of a living room or reading room. Bookshelves stocked with accessible written materials and framed photos will be installed to convey that, but rather than make things too domestic, Thornton will balance out those design elements with the bar and what’s positioned behind it.
Jet-black quartz counter-tops will be installed over the existing bar, and give way to a “shrine-like” tap-wall with a bronze, tinted mirror behind it. The goal is to create a sense of transition between production space, a shrine to process and a living area, all within Home Brewing’s humble, 500-square-foot space. Adding a patio area with a fold-up door opening onto El Cajon Boulevard will expand the space by 150 square feet and free up interior space. With any luck, the project will be completed before summer is up.
Many were the evenings I spent watching basketball, sucking down beers and challenging my resistance to capsaicin devouring hot wings at Mira Mesa’s Callahan’s Pub. Opened in 1989, it was a favorite hang for me and my beer-buds long before there was anywhere near the number of spots geared toward the ale-enamored that now exist throughout San Diego. The owners of Callahan’s were among the first local restaurateurs to see the value of hand-crafted beer. So all-in was their belief that, four years after opening Callahan’s, they went on to build their own fermentation operation, San Diego Brewing Company. That company celebrated the opening of a satellite brewery and tasting room in North Park in January, but that new arrival brings forth the end for Callahan’s 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.