Last October, Finest Made Ales announced a shift in its business model, telling fans via social media that the Santee-based interest would no longer operate a tasting room at its brewery. Owner Rey Knight added that Finest Made Ales would continue to produce beer to serve his interest’s distribution channels. Meanwhile, word on the street was that he was in search of a buyer. It would appear that pursuit was fruitless, as Fischer Auction Company is currently shopping the company’s assets via auction.
The auction is taking place online through March 13, with bidding closing at 10 a.m. local time. Items up for bid include everything from Finest Made’s seven-barrel brewhouse and pair of 15-barrel fermenters to numerous Premier Stainless Systems products, including 30-barrel hot- and cold-liquor tanks, fermenters, a whirlpool, auger, mill and grist case. Cold boxes, pallet racking, chillers, valves, hoses, sinks and a deli case round things out and display the wide-ranging breadth and full-sale nature of the auction.
Fischer is including a bulk-sale option that would include additional options, such as acquisition of the company’s brand, recipes and a distribution agreement. The bulk-sale price for the business is $250,000 (or best offer). Finest Made’s 5,000-square-foot facility at 9962 Prospect Avenue, Suite E is also up for lease at a price of $4,500 per month. Those interested can participate in the auction by clicking here.
Finest Made Ales started out as Butcher’s Brewing in 2011 when Knight opened the business, contract brewing his recipes and building a client base large enough to validate taking over the brewery vacated by Manzanita Brewing Company (which went on to rebrand as Twisted Manzanita Ales before going out of business in 2016) in 2013. In 2016, Knight rebranded the business as Finest Made Ales, with the plan to expand into other beverage lines that would also operate under the “Finest Made” handle.
On Memorial Day weekend of 2016, downtown Julian’s The Bailey Wood-Fired BBQ closed its doors. That move shut down its on-site fermentation component, Julian Brewing Company. The business was taken over and converted into a brewpub in 2012 by San Diego brewing veterans Vince Marsaglia and Tom Nickel. The latter is the owner of O’Brien’s Pub and West Coast BBQ & Brew, and sold off his stake later that year, going on to open his own brewery, Nickel Beer Co., just down the street. Marsaglia, co-founder of Pizza Port, Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey, soldiered on but struggled to make a success of the operation. After exploring the option of selling The Bailey, he made the decision to close it and revamp it almost in its entirely. Soon, it will reopen with a new identity that will make it unique from a beermaking perspective, not only within Julian, but throughout San Diego entire county. Read more »
Those with less examining eyes might think little has changed with San Diego Brewing Company over its 23-year history…but those people would be wrong. On the more obvious side, the Mission Valley brewpub completed an overhaul of a redesign in 2013, the same year it brought aboard head brewer Jeff Drum to replace longtime headman Dean Rouleau (who departed to open his current venture, Prodigy Brewing Company). These were important on-the-surface changes, but on a subdermal level, Drum has added numerous new beers to the company’s offerings, including barrel-aged sours. The company also produced the winning entry in the hotly contested India pale ale category at this year’s San Diego International Beer Festival competition for its San Diego IPA (a name it has smartly trademarked). It’s no wonder SDBC’s Lee Doxtader feels they’re making the best beer they ever had.
The above items have SDBC poised for even more, and that’s why ownership has decided to take the county’s second longest tenured brewing operation to the next level. Doxtader and company have signed on as the third and final tenant of upcoming CRAFT by Brewery Igniter, a trio of brewery-tasting room facilities in North Park near the intersection of El Cajon Boulevard and 30th Street. Billed as the only place in San Diego where beer-fans will be able to visit three breweries under one roof, the project (which is scheduled to open to the public in a matter of a month or two) will also be home to J&L Eppig Brewing and Pariah Brewing Co. All three interests will brew using identical 10-barrel Premier Stainless brewing systems and feature their own aesthetically customized tasting room.
Doxtader says to expect the same relaxing, easygoing atmosphere he and his team have worked to build at the original brewpub, and looks forward to reaching new people. It’s one of the biggest reasons he’s wanted to increase production for quite some time—something signing on with Brewery Igniter (a program from local developer H.G. Fenton) will allow SDBC to do. In his words, he wants to “get outside the pubisphere” and check out the demand for SDBC’s beers beyond their birthplace. Doxtader expects SDBC’s North Park offshoot to debut in the next two or three months. Meanwhile, it will be business as usual at the Mission Valley brewpub.
In February, I shared news of H.G. Fenton’s upcoming triad of leasable turn-key brewery-tasting room combos coming to the city of San Diego’s beeriest community, North Park. Now, that facility has a name—CRAFT by Brewery Igniter—and a new tenant. Joining previously reported operation Pariah Brewing Company will be J&L Eppig Brewing, a heritage interest dating back a century-and-a-half.
Originally founded in Brooklyn, New York by Bavarian immigrant Leonhard Eppig in 1866, the operation grew to a lager-beer empire of sorts comprising multiple breweries (Leonhard Eppig Germania and his brother’s biz, Joseph Eppig Brewery). The brewery survived the Prohibition Era. As rumor has it, that had something to do with noted gangster Dutch Schultz. After the repeal of Prohibition, business recommenced, but the brewery was sold in 1935 to the Ehret family. It’s believed gang influence was responsible for that development, as well.
The second-coming of the brand is being initiated by great granddaughter Stephanie Eppig, who is looking to produce German-style lagers inspired by the original brewery’s 19th century recipes while also exploring modern-day brewing trends and techniques. To help with the latter, she and her husband-slash-business partner, Todd Warshaw, have signed on two brewers hailing from Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits—Clayton LeBlanc and Nathan Stephens
LeBlanc is a co-founder of Eppig 2.0. He bartended at Karl Strauss Brewing Company for five years before embarking on a four-year career with Ballast Point that saw him starting out on the bottling-line at its Scripps Ranch facility before advancing to the point where he became a brewer who also assisted with grain-management and the training of new brewers. Stephens will serve as principal brewer for the new business, overseeing brewery operations, after three years serving as Ballast Point’s lead research-and-development brewer primarily working out of the company’s Little Italy brewpub.
Like others within the CRAFT campus, LeBlanc and Stephens will utilize a 10-barrel Premier Stainless brewhouse. That apparatus will be used to produce a varied line of beers ranging from IPAs to kettle-sours, barrel-aged high-gravity beers to the aforementioned lagers. Overall, Eppig says her brewery’s beers will be balanced and approachable. The company’s annual production goal for its first full year in business sits at approximately 1,000 barrels, but provided demand increases as they hope, yearly production is projected to rise to 2,500 barrels by 2019.
H.G. Fenton is currently in negotiations with its third and final CRAFT tenant. By year’s end, the campus should provide a rare craft-beer first for San Diego—a single building where people can visit three completely different breweries without ever leaving the premises. In addition to convenience, it also solves potential transportation problems for the brewery-hopping sect while allowing them to save on car-services (or make it easier on their gracious DDs).
The large number of local brewing companies opened by homebrewers over the past decade-plus has provided something for hobbyists getting into recreational fermentation to aspire to. When Anthony Tallman and Derek Van Leeuwen took up homebrewing eight years ago, they did so with the intention to someday open their very own commercial brewery. But it wasn’t until sharing a beer with friend Matthew Zirpolo at Culture Brewing Company three years back that the business-plan took shape. The trio has taken different paths to where they now stand—on the precipice of making their dream a reality—and all those roads led them to coastal North County, the future home of Burgeon Beer Company (6350 Yarrow Drive, Suite C, Carlsbad).
Located in an industrial park just west of Pizza Port’s Bressi Ranch brewpub and production facility, Burgeon is tentatively scheduled to commence brewing on a 15-barrel Premier Stainless rig in October, followed by a December tasting-room opening. In the meantime, Tallman will continue in his role as head brewer at Vista’s Back Street Brewery. He has held that position for more than two years after stints at Stone Brewing and Rough Draft Brewing Company. While with the latter, he helped earn a gold and silver medal at the 2013 L.A. International Beer Competition plus a bronze at the 2013 San Diego International Beer Festival. He will serve as head brewer at Burgeon and be assisted by Van Leeuwen.
The trio (who have known each other since high school) spent a year searching for locations, initially intending to site Burgeon in a retail location in downtown Vista or coastal Oceanside. They eventually selected their 10,000-square-foot Carlsbad facility after several buildings in the aforementioned regions fell through, deciding an industrial site was what they needed to get the business off the ground in the near future. The tasting-room will take up a fifth of the entire space and be built out of cedar slabs from a property in Julian belonging to one of Burgeon’s investors. In terms of beer, Tallman and company hope to produce a wide variety of styles, including pale ales, IPAs, hoppy and imperial pale lagers, a rye-infused amber, nut brown and Belgian-style ales (possibly including lesser-seen styles, grisette and singel). A barrel-aging program will also be instituted from the get-go.