In 2010, an entrepreneur from north of San Diego County delivered a brewpub concept to downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter. Dubbed The Beer Co., it was a spin-off operation that failed to generate much of a reputation among San Diego’s craft-beer enthusiasts. Not even a gold medal from the 2012 Great American Beer Festival for its barrel-aged strong ale, The Manhattan Project, measured so much as a ripple in local waters. Still, it soldiered on for more than half-a-decade before closing down. Now, the space that housed it is ready to birth a second brewery-restaurant brought to San Diego by nearby out-of-towners, The Bell Marker (602 East Broadway, Downtown).
That business will debut on January 22, complete with a veteran, native San Diegan brewer at the helm. That individual, Noah Regnery hails from vaunted locally-based business, Pizza Port, where he worked at the chain’s San Clemente brewpub from 2007 to 2011 and contributed to its award-winning reputation before departing to become head brewer at Hollister Brewing in Goleta, California, a post he held until 2014 when he departed the industry altogether. His return should be highly anticipated, but as with so many developments in the suddenly complicated local suds scene, it comes with some drama. The Bell Marker is the first location south of Los Angeles for LA-based Artisanal Brewers Collective, a company established by Golden Road Brewing co-founder Tony Yanow. That in itself is not all that significant, but the fact Yanow and Golden Road partner Meg Gill sold the business to macrobeer conglomerate AB InBev in September of 2015 muddies things a bit for fans of independent craft brewers as well as members of the local industry.
Since Golden Road’s sale, Yanow (a bar owner before and throughout his tenure with Golden Road) and his ABC partners have been busy gobbling up hospitality venues throughout LA. The Bell Marker is the first to possess a brewing component and Yanow’s original venues—Mohawk Bend and Tony’s Darts Away—were craft-centric venues which were ahead of their time. Figuratively, this is not unfamiliar territory for this seemingly insatiable entrepreneur, even if it is from a geographic standpoint. How it will be received from a local population which vehemently eschewed last year’s arrival of AB InBev’s 10 Barrel Brewing brewpub in the East Village remains to be seen.
The Bell Marker houses a copper-clad, 15-barrel brewhouse that will be utilized to produce American, English, German, and Belgian beers. The opening-day line-up will include a cream ale, hefeweizen, brown ale, pale ale and IPA augmented by guest beers selected to fill in any stylistic gaps. There will also be a full cocktail program to appeal to non-beer fans. The 8,000-square-foot venue can seat 212 at a time and will be open seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
In each issue we publish a news-y section called “Brews in the News” where we talk about beer releases, event highlights and more. For the Dec/Jan issue (which hit the streets Dec. 1st), we discuss more tasting room space at two popular Miramar spots, Jeff Bagby leaving Pizza Port (+ updates), 11 businesses that made headlines in 2011, and some SDBW fallout. Enjoy:
MORE BAR IN MIRAMAR —
Who doesn’t like more bar space? Both AleSmith and Ballast Point are renovating their tasting rooms for your beer-drinking enjoyment. The AleSmith tasting room will begin its transformation in January, and will include a new, larger bar with a built-in beer engine, additional restroom, and a display area for both AleSmith awards and its growing barrel program. Stay tuned to their newsletter or West Coaster’s website for information regarding temporary tasting room closure, and look forward to the grand re-opening party in the first quarter of 2012. Some of the tasting room changes at Ballast Point are already underway, and upon completion will include more floor space, a new look, and more taps. The tasting room will tentatively be closed right after the New Year, giving you a bit of time to get over that hangover before jumping back in the saddle.
AND IN PIZZA PORT NEWS —
Jeff Bagby, Director of Brewpub Operations for Pizza Port and head brewer at Pizza Port Carlsbad, who led the Pizza Port family to thirteen medals at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, will be leaving the company at the end of the year to pursue his own venture. Stay tuned for more information as it comes via our website and future issues. Updates 12/7: follow-up coverage of this story is available on San Diego Beer Blog, TheFullPint.com, Brewery Rowe and BeerNews.org. According to a post by Jeff Hammett at San Diego Beer Blog, Bagby’s assistant at Pizza Port Carlsbad, Ignacio “Nacho” Cervantes will be continuing to brew as he and other members of the team fill most of Bagby’s duties. TheFullPint.com reports that the ideal location for Bagby’s new brewery will be in North County San Diego, but that nothing is set yet. A bit more commentary and quotes available at Brewery Rowe, too. Also, it looks like San Clemente head brewer Noah Regnery is on his way out as well. In other Pizza Port news, Barbara Henry at the North County Times then reported that Pizza Port has plans to build a new two-story, 37,050-square-foot facility in Carlsbad at Palomar Airport Rd and Gateway Rd that would serve as a production and distribution facility as well as Pizza Port’s fifth brewery restaurant location. Henry also reports that it will also house a canning facility. Pizza Port’s proposal goes before the Carlsbad’s Planning Commission tonight at 6 p.m. and a copy of the report to the Planning Commission can be seen here.