The rumors of Indian Joe’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Such is the case in a realm as prone to rumors as San Diego’s craft beer industry. Despite asserting Indian Joe Brewing Company would be back even before they closed the doors to their Vista brewery and tasting room this February, owners Max Moran and Geri Lawson heard many first- and second-hand misinformation that their business was dead. But like the ringing of a bell by a mistakenly buried but plenty lively individual, the couple has proof of life in the form of a banner proclaiming Indian Joe’s return on the façade of its new building at Vista’s Industrial Court business park.
Two stories and coming in at 18,000 square feet, Moran’s and Lawson’s new spot is far larger than its predecessor. This will allow for the installation of a 15-barrel brewing system from Premier Stainless, another component that’s much bigger than what came before. Back at Indian Joe’s old spot on La Mirada Drive, Moran was brewing several times a day, seven days a week on a meager 20-gallon system. When opening the business he thought it would be sufficient, remembering a similar setup he saw at Mother Earth Brew Co., but soon discovered it wasn’t sustainable. The problem was, the La Mirada facility wasn’t big enough to house a system and cellar of significant size. In spite of that, they were determined to stay in their building until they found a new home, but a series of contentious dealings with their landlord led to them having to vacate quickly and unexpectedly, leading to the rumors that Indian Joe had gone out of business despite having a strong following of loyalists and interest from outside investors wanting to take the brand to the next level.
To their former regulars, Moran and Lawson emphatically promise to recreate the very same fun, relaxed, inviting and entertaining experience they were able to establish at their old digs. Best of all, they’ll have a lot more room in which to provide that type of ambiance. Upon entering the building, visitors will find themselves on the bottom floor of a two-story tasting room measuring around 4,000 total square feet. Two-thirds of that area is downstairs where a long bar running the length of the south wall is being constructed to include more than 20 taps. A gift shop is being built to the left of that, and a 190-inch (not a typo) Samsung big-screen will be mounted on the wall between the retail and bar areas. Two staircases (and eventually a lift for handicapped patrons) lead upstairs to an area that will have a separate bar and get outfitted in cushy furniture providing a homey feel.
The entire north side of the upstairs level is outfitted with windows looking out onto State Route 78. The best part of that, for Moran and Lawson, is that just as that east-west thoroughfare is visible to them, Indian Joe will be easy to see off the freeway. That was a big part of the appeal of the building. Moran reports that a total of 480,000 vehicles pass by their new home per day. Other positives include the fact that the entire building is air-conditioned, solar equipment is installed to assist with utility efficiency, there is a large upstairs room they will be able to convert to private event space, there is plenty of parking and the City of Vista will allow them to construct outdoor seating just beyond the front entrance which will be serviceable by mobile food vendors.
On the industrial side, Moran intends to hire a head brewer to help fill 60- and 30-barrel fermenters. With the ability to brew much more beer, Moran will work to secure distribution, and bottle and can Indian Joe beers for the first time. Having more beer will also allow for a simple but important first—filling growlers. Back when he was producing a single keg at a time, Moran was unable to sell beer-to-go for fear of running out too quickly and leaving his tasting room taps dry. Beers that will be produced when Indian Joe reopens will be a mixture of to-style brews and more outlandish creations. So it’ll be same as it ever was come Indian Joe’s second coming.