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San Diego’s satellite tasting room projects

Apr 19

The future home of Little Miss Brewing’s tasting room in OB (three doors down from Culture Brewing’s satellite)

Breweries make the best margin by far when selling their beer in their taprooms. With a county expansive as San Diego, getting customers to a single location can be a challenge, but the satellite tasting room model—one where a brewery opens a non-brewing sampling space in a geographically removed community—has proven quite successful in helping brewing companies reach new customers, move inventory and generate additional revenue. Many satellites have been sent into orbit throughout the county in recent years, and quite a few are in different states of planning at present. Here is a breakdown of such projects by the neighborhoods they may someday call home.

Bay Park: As announced earlier this week, Grantville-based Benchmark Brewing Company has signed a lease on a space. The family-run business had been exploring the prospect of opening a satellite in Oceanside, but ultimately decided to stay within the City of San Diego.

Carlsbad: A collective of artisans will someday share space with crops of produce, wine grapes and hops at the North 40 development. Numerous tenants have been reeled in over the past two years (and many have walked away), but Miramar’s AleSmith Brewing Company and Carmel Mountain’s Second Chance Beer Company are signed up, with the former hoping to sell house-made cheese with its beer.

Chula Vista: Fresh off the high of moving into Twisted Manzanita Ales’ former production brewery (and distillery) in Santee, Groundswell Brewing Company is working to open a sampling space on downtown Chula Vista’s main drag, Third Avenue…right across the street from soon-to-debut Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing Company.

Encinitas: Though a community that’s openly resisted brewery-owned venues, this beachy berg has two breweries slogging against the tide for space on Coast Highway 101: Point Loma’s Modern Times Beer Company (across from La Paloma Theatre) and Solana Beach’s Culture Brewing Company (next to Bier Garden of Encinitas).

Marina District: Developers have spent the better part of the past year curating a list of breweries to share space at The Headquarters at Seaport Village. Planned as a central courtyard surrounded by six identical yet uniquely appointed brewery tasting rooms, it has proven challenging for a variety of reasons, but would create a concept unique to San Diego.

Normal Heights: Longtime craft-beer champion Blind Lady Ale House will soon have some sudsy company in their ‘hood care of Miramar-based Little Miss Brewing, which is hard at work on two fun-and-games equipped tasting rooms within San Diego proper.

North Park: Another interest with two satellites in the works is Second Chance, who recently revealed plans to open a tasting room on 30th Street in North Park, across the street from popular beer-bar Toronado and doors down from the site of Ritual Kitchen, which announced last week that it will soon shut its doors after 10 years in business.

Ocean Beach: Little Miss Brewing’s other upcoming satellite will join the county’s most tasting room-dense community, on the same block as Belching Beaver Brewery, Culture, Helm’s Brewing Company and Kilowatt Brewing Company; and a short walk from OB Brewery and Pizza Port OB; and a quick drive from Mike Hess Brewing Company’s sampler.

Pacific Beach: Downtown’s Mission Brewery is geared to cash in on partygoers’ thirst for beer, installing a tasting room on Garnet Avenue where it intersects with Gresham Street. PB is currently without a brewery satellite after Twisted Manzanita’s closed down when the company folded last year.

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Kilowatt West opening in Ocean Beach

Jan 24

Kilowatt Beer Co.’s Ocean Beach tasting room on Cable Street

Though a last bastion of quirk versus a hotbed of commerce, Ocean Beach now rivals most San Diego communities when it comes to craft-beer. The out-there community is now home to two brewing facilities, satellite tasting rooms owned by five local brewing companies, and a restaurant sporting a tasting room supplied by an out-of-town brewery (Santa Clara’s Golden State Brewery). That’s a lot of beer, especially for such a small neighborhood. Four of those satellite operations are situated on one block (and it’ll be five once Little Miss Brewing goes live later this year). But of them all, the space best-suited for its OB environs is the one that officially opens to the public this Friday, January 27Kilowatt Beer Company (1875 Cable Street, Ocean Beach).

In bringing the second-coming of his Kearny Mesa-based interest to Ocean Beach, owners Steve Kozyk and Rachel Fischer aimed to celebrate the community’s artistic side in tandem with their own. Kozyk is a lighting aficionado and black-light artist whose mastery of illumination transformed his original tasting room into as much a feast for the visual senses as a place to grab a cold one. That was his MO when pondering a second-location, and taking over a 1,800-square-foot motorcycle-repair shop a half-block off Newport Avenue provided him a large—and rather perfect—canvass with which to work.

Upon approach from any direction, patrons will spy multiple artistic touches, the most prominent of which is a host of murals from multiple artists painted on the exterior walls. Out front, Kilowatt’s light-bulb logo casts a rainbow array of beams onto a motorcycle rider, an iconic holdover that has graced the wall bordering the business’ front patio for years. Kozyk and Fischer kept it as a nod to neighbors who begged them to not to paint over it. Meandering down the alley on the building’s south-side, one is treated to murals of a titanic wave, flora sprouting ingredients used in the brewing of Kilowatt’s beers (e.g., hops and cacao pods), and UFOs scouring the earth for hops to fuel the powers of mythical goddess “Kohatu the Hop Abductor”. (Check with Kozyk for the full-story on that mysterious character.)

Like a number of the artistic touches at “Kilowatt West”, the ingredient mural is a nod to famed black-light artist, Clint Cary, AKA: The Space Man of Ocean Beach. In addition to being a progenitor in his area of artistic specialization, Cary, an OB resident, was famous for his claiming to have been abducted by aliens in the mid-‘40s. Kozyk has scored some of Cary’s original pieces on lease from his estate, and plans to have them locked up but in full view in the main sampling space in the near-future. That area consists of an L-shaped bar with 24 taps arranged in a wavy pattern against a steel sheet engineered to change colors on command. Bright green, orange and teal are painted on walls which will soon showcase a regularly changing assortment of art. Kozyk initiated such an art program at his original brewery, but found it challenging. Given the number of local artists who call OB home, he is confident it will be easier to curate sufficient creative stock there. That goes for contracting local graffiti-artists to have their creative way with Kilowatt West’s bathrooms, and securing pieces to grace a black-light lounge in the back-portion of the venue. That area will include a “life-size” Lite-Brite setup that’s six-feet-by-five-feet and uses plastic water-bottles filled with colored H2O as pegs and a design painted in clear black-light paint running the length of the back hallway.

The front of the building will soon sport a large bulb-lit carnival-meets-old-Vegas metal Kilowatt sign Kozyk has outfitted with LED technology. Even without that component, the front-patio is well-branded thanks to fencing plasma-cut to show-off elaborate Kilowatt-artwork hand-drawn by Kozyk’s mother, an artist in her own right. Taped lighting will allow that sign to shine brightly in an array of hues. That same color-control will extend to the Kilowatt sign and the lighting on the patio itself.

And for those who’ve frequented Kilowatt’s original tasting-room and missed the presence of a VW bug coated in Kilowatt-themed paintings (another product of Mother Kozyk’s creativity), it figures to find a home in OB. Could there be a more fitting mascot of sorts? Kozyk says it’s another example of something he and Fischer felt was of the utmost importance in coming to OB—“bringing something vastly unique to a vastly unique community.”

Additional reporting by Katie Conner

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Best Beer Futures: Expansions

Oct 26
A rendering of Karl Strauss' proposed Santee complex

A rendering of Karl Strauss’ proposed Santee complex

For years, I’ve named the most promising work-in-progress brewing companies on a bi-annual basis. The scene is always changing and new projects are always coming onboard, requiring a twice-per-year check-in. Earlier this month, I examined the most intriguing new breweries being chiseled into reality in the north and south regions of San Diego County. In this third of a three-part series, I’m taking a look at new venues being opened by existing local brewing operations.

Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Santee: Karl Strauss is San Diego’s longest-running post-Prohibition brewing interest and the reigning Champion Medium-Sized Brewing Company after big wins at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. Those wins came courtesy this 27-year-old stalwart exhibiting greater innovation than at any time in its history, extending to the magnificent design of its recently opened Anaheim brewpub. It figures this train of high-quality will keep chugging along when Karl’s crew comes to Santee to build its biggest project to-date, an expansive facility at Town Center Parkway and Cuyamaca Street that will serve as its new headquarters. Like many East County brewery-owned projects, it’s faced more than its fair share of governmental and public scrutiny, but is still high on Karl Strauss’ project list if not a bit far off, time-wise.

Mason Ale Works, San Marcos: The Urge Gastropub chain will add another link next year when Urge Common House opens as one of the anchor businesses of San Marcos’ upcoming North City development. Designed to appeal to nearly every demographic with a full-scale restaurant, multiple bars, bowling lanes and bocce ball courts, it will also include a second brewery for the business’ brewing arm, Mason Ale Works. That brand has done well since debuting its beers early this year, creating the need for increased brewing capacity to support distribution demand.

San Diego Brewing CompanyNorth Park: It only took this business 23 years to grow out of its Grantville brewpub. The vehicle for them to do so is H.G. Fenton‘s Brewery Igniter model, wherein business owners takeover ready-to-brew combo breweries and tasting rooms, installing their own concept. It will be interesting to see what the SDBC team does with increased production from an independent 10-barrel system and extra cellar capacity and how their beers fare on the open market, now that they will be distributed versus exclusively available at the original location.

Groundswell Brewing Company, Santee: Due to the small size of the brewing system and cellar at its Grantville brewery, Groundswell explored contract-brewing options, having some of its beers brewed for them by Twisted Manzanita Ales. The latter business folded in March, putting its combo brewery, distillery and tasting room up for sale. Bolstered by increased beer-quality from a new brewmaster, Groundswell’s going all-in, snatching up that East County real-estate for its own use…and even making plans to begin distilling in the not-too-distant future.

Thorn St. Brewery, Barrio Logan: Many have touted the rebirth of Barrio Logan for years, and it has far more to offer than it did when it was less hospitable and, in many peoples’ eyes, a dangerous place to found one’s self after dark. With each new business that takes a chance on the neighborhood, the better it gets. Two breweries (Border X Brewing and Iron Fist Brewing) have done that, but Thorn St. will be the first to bring in brewing equipment with a small system that will service its tasting room and retail operation.

Other Exciting Projects

Barrel Harbor Brewing Company, Miramar: The owner of this Vista-based brewery is teaming with a Miramar gaming spot to open the first-ever brewery tasting room with table-top/role-playing amenities.

Bear Roots Brewing Company, TBA: It remains to be seen how this breakaway hit nano-brewery will expand, but with quality beers and two viable plans, it will be a storyline worth following.

Kilowatt Beer Co., Ocean Beach: OB has two brewpubs and four tasting-rooms, but there’s room for this Kearny Mesa’s western satellite, which will be black-lit, artistic and wholly original.

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Kilowatt Beer building OB tasting room

Sep 13

kilowatt_westKnown as much for its clever lighting design as its avant-garde beers, Kearny Mesa-based Kilowatt Beer is looking to bring both to the popular seaside community of Ocean Beach with a satellite tasting room being constructed under the internal project-name, Kilowatt West (1875 Cable Street, Ocean Beach). Intended to be inviting to all, including children and pets, the space is scheduled to open in early-2017.

The 1,800-square-foot building was built in the 1950s and previously occupied by a motorcycle repair shop. Two glass roll-up doors will be installed in the front of the building, but that’s where Kilowatt West’s adherence to the common tasting-room model will cut off. The back area, where repair bays were once located, will be converted into a lounge area with both permanent and rotating black-light installments. Co-owner Steve Kozyk envisions it as “black-light basement meets psychedelic art gallery.” The lounge area will be curated by a trio from The Ancient Gallery art-collective. Kozyk, a veteran of the illumination trade, will install the black-lights and some of his own kinetic art.

As far as design goes, the Kilowatt team will stay true to the original architecture and feel of the building to avoid being too much like the rapidly growing number of tasting-only brewery venues in the county. While the back-end will be purposely dark to allow the art to shine, the front area will be made bright thanks to natural light. That said, it will feature a number of interesting light fixtures courtesy of Kozyk. The tasting room will be outfitted with 20 taps, with the ability to add more should demand dictate a line expansion.

Located near the intersection of Newport Avenue and Cable Street, it will be very near existing offshoot sampling spaces for Culture Brewing Company and Helm’s Brewing Company. And just down the street is the newly opened OB Brewery and Pizza Port’s six-year-old OB brewpub. Kozyk is aware of the recent tasting-room boom in OB (which includes an existing venue from Mike Hess Brewing and a soon-to-debut spot from Belching Beaver Brewery), but says he actually chose this quirky community because it suits Kilowatt’s personality. It would seem black-lights and kinetic art will go well with neighbors like Stuff 2 Puff, tattoo parlors and certain “medicinal” outlets.

To help with construction and design of the tasting room, Kilowatt is launching a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo, which can be viewed here.

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San Diego Beer Week 2015: Publisher’s Picks

Nov 6

sandiegobeerweek2015-1


Each year, San Diego Beer Week arrives and rains down a myriad of events. Like a Vegas buffet, planning and strategy are key. Otherwise, you’ll end up asleep somewhere and missing out on the fun.

This list is subjective. I focused on events that have uncommon beers and especially beers from out of San Diego. I also really want to check out some of the newest beers/breweries/spots in town. In other words, I’m fixing to learn what’s up on the cutting edge of San Diego beer and tasting the best that America’s Finest Beer City/County can produce. I’m also trying to not die in the process, so this list is biased towards central-San Diego as that’s where my bed is. My sources: our WC online beer event calendar at westcoastersd.com, Beer Week’s official website SDBW.org and our generous advertisers (make sure to check out the ads in this issue, for there are plenty of amazing happenings in there).

San Diego’s finest are also avid local beer fans and well aware of San Diego Beer Week. Don’t be a drunk driving dickhead, use your phone to talk to space and summon a Lyft or Uber. Uber lets you split fares now so you can break up the fare with the squad.

I only regret that I have but one liver to lose for my county
-Jerry Sanders

Friday, November 6th
VIP Guildfest
Verily, this event’s grown a bit since it’s cozy inception in 2013. That said, I’m expecting a state-of-the-union for how SD beer is tasting while enjoying a sunset on the water. Details are slim as to who is pouring what exactly, but there will be unlimited food, beer and access to local brewing community folks.

If you’re attending both days, I recommend hunting the whales during the VIP. See below for my tip on the 2nd day.

Amplified Ale Works 3-Year Anniversary
There’s a growing number of adults in Pacific Beach who choose local beer over vodka slushies and our resident brewery is Amplified. Cy Henley makes amazing beers out of his seaside brewhouse, the biergarten patio overlooks the ocean and the food is amazing. When people ask me why I moved from North/South Park to PB, I take them here (then Crushed, TapRoom and Iron Pig afterwards if it’s one of those nights).

Saturday, November 7th
San Diego Brewers Guild Festival
I will most likely be slightly woozy from the previous evening, but nothing will keep me from this festival. This is because this festival is awesome. While there won’t be unlimited food, there will be even more beer and friends present, and I can get a better view of the boats floating around the bay during the day. 

The general Saturday Guildfest session is a great time to check out just-opened breweries, as this is their first ever Guild Fest and they’re going to want to impress. As of late October, brand new breweries that opened this year are: Abnormal, Bay Bridge, Bay City, Division 23, Duck Foot, Guadalupe, Half Door, Helix, Home, Kilowatt, Magnetic, Novo Brazil, Pacific Islander, Prodigy, Second Chance and South Park. Be gentle with your Untappd ratings; remember all breweries were once baby breweries 🙂

Sunday, November 8th
Baja Beers @ Bottlecraft Little Italy
I was going to type some remark bemoaning the old Bottlecraft, but then I remembered the old location sucked compared to the new one. This will be the first Beer Week for Bottlecraft Little Italy 2.0, and Baja breweries are ON FIRE right now. While I couldn’t get a hold of the tap list for this event, based on the above facts I know Bottlecraft will put on a good event. Ballast Point Little Italy is a catty-corner away, and they have beer, too.

Epicurean Beer Geek Tours @ White Labs, Brothers Provisions, Stone Farms and Societe
A new face launching for SDBW, Epicurean San Diego is an outfit that promises beer, food and education while ferrying you to White Labs, Brothers Provisions, Stone Farms and Societe. I don’t get to visit White Labs, Brothers and Societe enough, and I’ve never actually had a beer at Stone Farms. The cost is $115, and if there’s food and beer involved that’s a pretty good price especially since it includes transportation and a meal. Great event for out-of-towners and if Sunday doesn’t work the same tour runs daily November 5th-8th & 12th-15th from 10:30AM-3:45PM

Monday, November 9th
Brews, Views & Chews @ Tom Ham’s Lighthouse
It’s not just about beer, folks. Beer Week brings a lot of stellar foodie events, and this is one of them. Tom Ham’s Lighthouse is an iconic San Diego landmark that underwent a significant remodel and has stepped up their beer program in 2015. This event features six breweries such as Ballast Point, New English and Belching Beaver paired with six plates from the chefs of Soda & Swine, Carnitas Snack Shack and The Little Lion Cafe. Live music and a killer view of my lovely hometown’s downtown seal the deal for me.

Abnormal Beer Co. / Cork & Craft Beer Pairing Dinner featuring Modern Times & Almanac
Another equally killer option is up north at Abnormal Beer Company / Cork & Craft. A proper sit-down beer dinner, this multi-course meal will have beers paired from Modern Times, Almanac and Abnormal paired with the skilled Cork & Craft Kitchen. While I don’t know the particulars of this event, I was lucky enough to attend an outstanding AleSmith beer dinner early in 2015. It’s a safe bet that with months worth of practice this will be worth every penny.

Tuesday, November 10th
The Full Table @ Benchmark Beer
Like any San Diegan, I dig my badass hoppy Single/Double/Triple/Quadruple IPAs. That said, as my palate evolves (and my liver ages), I find myself appreciating gentler, more subtle beers. Benchmark Brewing Company’s Table Beer is a fine example of what I’m talking about, and this night will feature 12 different variations of the slightly roasty belgian style ale. This event is a great way to tune your tastebuds. Grab a pint of regular Table for a control beer, and then taste the versions that have been barrel-aged and brettanomyces-brewed. Check out how slight changes in ingredients can create such dramatic differences. Within walking distance is the rest of the developing Grantville neighborhood beer cluster which includes Groundswell and San Diego Brewing Co.

Wednesday, November 11th
Sour Tap Takeover @ Rip Current North Park
Unlike most non-brewing satellite tasting rooms, 2015 Great American Beer Festival Very Small Brewery of the Year Rip Current’s North Park location serves guest taps in addition to the beer brewed in the San Marcos production facility. Rip Current has deep connections with local homebrewing club QUAFF (Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity). Thus, the staff is pretty enthusiastic about quality brews – even if they don’t brew it themselves. Guest taps will be pouring a tart selection from Almanac, Toolbox, Council, DogFish Head & more starting at 3PM.

Thursday, November 12th
7th Fling w/ Green Flash @ Hamilton’s
Like the Hajj, all San Diego beer faithful should attend this event once in their lifetime. The morning starts at Morley Field with a brunch. While you munch, Hamilton’s proprietor Scot Blair and his staff are busy matching up players to create even teams of four. After a brief talk regarding rules, the shotgun disk golf tournament starts. Disk golf is the de-facto sport of San Diego Beer, and expect several brewers to be in attendance. While all skill levels are welcome and the fun level is high, there is stiff competition. Comradery and silliness are expected by all attending. Winners get to tap the cask at the afterparty which takes place at Hamilton’s. The afterparty is closed to non-Flingers, boasts lunch and a hosted bar until 3PM (when Hamilton’s normally opens).

Craft Beer + Bites @ SILO
Maker’s Quarter is a slick venue located right off where the 94 freeway ends. $35-$40 ticket gets you unlimited tastings of beer from 15 breweries, with food, craft cocktails and wine available for purchase. Proceeds benefit the San Diego Brewers Guild, and this event is also a graduation celebration for the recent batch of students from the San Diego State Business of Craft Beer Program. Across the street is Monkey Paw and both Half Door and Mission are within walking distance (along with the rest of downtown).

Friday, November 13th
Beer Without Borders @ Machete Beer House
As I mentioned, the Mexican craft brewers are doing some great stuff. It’s much easier to get to National City than Tijuana, and Machete is one of the bright stars of the growing South Bay beer scene. All 30 taps will be taken over by breweries such as Insurgente, Agua Mala, Border Psycho and Wendlandt. For those lucky enough to have a designated driver, don’t forget to check out La Bella Pizza, Manhattan Bar and Third Street Ale House while you’re in the area to understand #SouthBayUprising.

Battle of the Guilds @ Toronado
This event ruled last year. Try beer from the greater Los Angeles and San Francisco first. Breweries that will be included from LA: Three Weavers, Beachwood, Ladyface, Monkish, Phantom Carriage + more. From the Bay Area: Magnolia, Cellarmaker, Thirsty Bear + more. Last year had lots of brewers in attendance from San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco; this is a good event to mingle! Stop in early if you’re looking for the rarer beers, or pop in while roaming 30th. Don’t forget to cast your vote for San Diego!

Saturday, November 14th
Three Amigos @ O’Brien’s Pub
Former Pizza Port brewers Tom Nickel, Jeff Bagby and Tomme Arthur have each staked their own claims at Nickel Brewing Co., Bagby Beer Co., and Lost Abbey, respectively. An event with these three dudes present is a treat. If you wanted a chance to hang out with the best of the business while tasting some insane beer, this is it. Early afternoon is probably the best time to hit this event up. O’Brien’s is within the Kearny Mesa brewery cluster, which means Societe, Council, Kilowatt and Helm’s are all within striking distance. For food, across the street are two cool new beer pubs Common Theory and Dumpling Inn.

Sunday, November 15th
The Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines
Located on the grounds of the 5-star Lodge at Torrey Pines, the endpiece event of San Diego Beer Week is not to be missed. Gaze upon the majesty of the Torrey Pines golf course and the Pacific Ocean while stuffing your unmajestic, Beer-Week weary maw with unlimited, expertly matched food & beer pairings. This last official San Diego Brewers Guild event of the year explains to all senses why San Diego is awesome.

As this article was written late October for our November 2015 issue, numerous events have surfaced. West Coaster Editor Ryan Lamb has worked very hard to compile the best list of events in existence, so check that out along with SDBW.org and choose your own adventure!

San Diego Beer Week 2010 was when our first edition of West Coaster was published. It’s our fifth anniversary month this November. From all of us at WC: Thank you for reading!

 

 

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