Photos by the author
Satellite tasting facilities are a trend on the rise throughout San Diego County. For the most part, brewing companies located in less central communities such as North County, East County and South Bay have gone this route to expose potential customers in the City of San Diego to their wares. But that’s not always the situation. Case in point: The Confessional, a taproom recently installed by three-tiered, San Marcos-based business, Port Brewing Company/The Lost Abbey/The Hop Concept.
Sequestered within a popular Cardiff strip mall that also houses Seaside Market, Zenbu Sushi and Rimel’s Rotisserie, rather than reach out to residents of San Diego’s urban core, The Confessional will mostly serve coastal denizens, tourists and, during the summer, visitors to the San Diego County Fair seeking pre- or post-event refreshments. When they arrive, they will find a sampling space that, despite being just over 1,100 square feet in area, sports as much, if not more, of the business’ artful, abbey-inspired character than its original North County tasting room.
A large, distressed steel sign sporting the tasting room’s name hangs above more than two-dozen taps dispensing beers from this three-headed operation. Those can be savored inside, under moodily dim lighting that matches earth-toned interiors punched up by various bottle art prints from local artist Sean Dominguez. Those include paintings for Judgment Day, Deliverance and the so-racy-they-had-to-make-alterations Framboise de Amarosa (see accompanying image), the latter of which is hung above one of a handful of banquettes with wooden, pew-like seating. The main bar and barrels-turned-belly bars provide additional imbibing options, as does a small outdoor area looking out onto a courtyard lined with a green patch of eco-friendly turf while offering a distant view of the Pacific Ocean.
Merchandise and growlers also help convey the company’s brand, leaning heavily toward its Belgian-inspired component. Even some bare faux tree trunks leftover from the venue’s previous life look good and relatively on-theme. (Though they will look even better once they are lined with snaking hop bines.) Much of the reason the design is so cohesive just a week into the tasting room’s lifespan is because the company had much more time than originally planned to work on it while it cleared hurdles for permitting through the City of Encinitas’ Planning Commission and other agencies.
Originally slated to debut in August, the project faced hurdles at every turn and took well over a year to complete. However, upon opening its doors on April 20, it was immediately flooded with patrons who had eagerly awaited its arrival, so despite delays, it’s off to a healthy start.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
More than 20 of our local craft breweries plan to brew a beer in support of lupus research and awareness in 2015, thanks to an initiative established by journalist Brandon Hernández.
On January 31, the Beer to the Rescue campaign kicks off at Benchmark Brewing with the release of Hildegard, a triple IPA.
“Most people have heard of lupus or know someone suffering from it, but few know anything beyond the name of this autoimmune disease — what it is, its effect on those who have it or the fact that it is severely under-researched. This needs to change,” says Hernández, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2014 after years of suffering. Proceeds from Beer to the Rescue benefit the Lupus Foundation of Southern California (LFSC).
In a press release, Hernández noted that in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside Counties alone, more than 20,000 people are suffering from lupus. That number is even considered a low estimate, because most people with lupus are never diagnosed with this autoimmune disease, which negatively impacts victims via myriad painful symptoms, causes irreparable damage to vital organs and can be fatal.
“The LFSC has been in operation for 20 years, and because no one really talks about lupus — even people who have lupus — it’s hard to get people involved with our organization,” says LFSC Executive Director Hollaine Hopkins. “The Beer to the Rescue campaign will tap into the very large and passionate craft beer fan base that already exists in San Diego and help raise awareness for lupus and our organization.”
In addition to the Benchmark beer mentioned above, other Beer to the Rescue brews include a Belgian-style quadrupel from Nickel Beer Co., a dry-hopped Belgian- style single brewed with rhubarb from Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery, an imperial milk stout infused with chocolate, orange and spicy chilies from Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, a sour ale brewed with blueberries and fermented using wild yeast from Toolbox Brewing Company, a black saison brewed with dried currants and orange peel from Lightning Brewery, and an experimentally dry-hopped wheat and passion fruit-infused Brett IPA from Green Flash Brewing Company.
More San Diego breweries plan to participate, although not all of them will be creating beers for the campaign. Some, due to brewing capacity restraints, will instead donate to the cause, host special events, and/or make LFSC a featured charity at their venues. Those breweries include 32 North, AleSmith, Amplified Ale Works, Aztec, Bagby Beer, Bolt, Coronado, Council, Intergalactic, Iron Fist, Mike Hess, Mother Earth, New English, Pizza Port Solana Beach, Port/The Lost Abbey/The Hop Concept, Rip Current, Societe, Stone (Escondido), Stone (Liberty Station), Toolbox, and URBN St.