Jeff Silver has many fond memories of his time attending the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Though he’s 23 years removed from graduation day, he’s maintained ties with his alma mater via its alumni organization and work with the Graduate Student Association. His involvement with the latter formed the connection for a project involving his Mira Mesa-based business that came to fruition last month when the Rough Draft Brewing Company Pub debuted at UCSD’s new Mesa Nueva student-housing complex.
Silver remembers the intense hours of study he put in as a college student and how vital having a place to socialize and blow off steam was. His favorite haunt at the time was the Round Table Pizza at the centrally located Price Center. Mesa Nueva residents won’t even need to venture that far. Rough Draft’s bar is equipped with 12 taps and a small bar with indoor seating. A roll-up door gives way to an outdoor patio that includes a pool with two Jacuzzis. The latter are available for use by residents and beer may be consumed within them, however no glassware is allowed in the area.
Silver utilized one of Rough Draft’s duplicate Type 23 licenses, which required the blessing of regulatory agencies such as the local office of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). As one might expect, there were those who were skeptical about installing a venue serving alcoholic beverages on campus, but in the end UCSD elected to trust in the responsibility of its student body. But Rough Draft’s is not the only project of its kind happening on campus. Consortium Holdings is also in the process of renovating the former site of Porter’s Pub into an additional iteration of its popular bar-and-restaurant concept, Soda and Swine.
From the beginning, Jeff and Chris Silver put a great deal of effort into making the tasting room at their Rough Draft Brewing Company (8830 Recho Road, Mira Mesa) more than a cold, characterless afterthought. The duo crafted communal tables capable of being wheeled around to best fit the needs of the space and fashioned a lounge area with comfy couches back when many local breweries’ sampling spaces didn’t even have chairs. Still, something was missing for the Silvers—food. They were pleased with the comfort level and had mobile food vendors to help fill the gap, but they wanted to expand their amenities to include edibles produced on-site. The result is a simple but pleasing menu from a built-in kitchen that debuted this weekend and is available during most of the tasting room’s operating hours.
While the Silvers had relationships with multiple foodtrucks, they weren’t always able to count on those roving caterers’ services. It was imperative to them that visitors be able to rely on Rough Draft offering something to eat. The part food plays in enhancing the sensory experience of beer-tasting was also key in the decision. But installing a food component is easier said than done, and the couple knew that in order to do it correctly they would need to employ the services of a culinary professional with an understanding of craft beer. For that, they turned to Brandon Brooks, executive chef at downtown’s Quad AleHouse and veteran of numerous other suds-centric eateries and beer-and-food-pairing events.
Rough Draft’s Menu is not overly complicated. Approachable and marked by carefully selected ingredients chosen for their compatibility with the brewery’s beers, it’s designed to be complimentary without distracting from the fact that customers are at a brewery tasting room since ales are the name of the game for the Silvers. Meat and cheese boards feature venison and Berkshire pork salami from Carlsbad-based Angel Salumi, prosciutto aged for 24 months, Basque aged sheep’s milk cheese, Saint Andre triple cream, and Red Dragon Cheddar flavored with ale and mustard seeds. Grilled panini sandwiches and flatbreads topped with similarly gourmet charcuterie items and produce (bacon, honey and brie make their way between two pressed slices of bread while rolled dough is topped with smoked tomato jam, sopresatta, truffled salumi, white cheddar and mizuna greens dressed in aged balsamic vinegar). The Silvers hope to extend the kitchen’s hours to include lunch service in the near future.