To the unfamiliar, the craft beer subculture can be confusing. For instance, many are the customers at downtown San Diego’s Knotty Barrel (842 Market Street, East Village) figured the beer-centric bar and restaurant brewed its own suds. That’ isn’t the case, but soon it will be. Ownership is in the process of establishing a brewery component called Knotty Brewing that will operate
Knotty Barrel president Ken Lovi sees adding a brewhouse as the next logical step in Knotty Barrel’s evolution. To do it, he and his partners have taken over the space next-door formerly occupied by Valentines Mexican Food. A five-barrel system with three 10-barrel fermenters and an additional five-barrel fermenter by Tempe, Arizona-based Bru Gear has been installed there and will be visible through a nine-foot-tall glass wall connecting both spaces.
The search for a head brewer is still on, but Rich Haley will be coming over from sister business Ciro’s Pizza and Brewhouse to serve as assistant general manager and assistant brewer. Haley possesses background, not only in beer sales and purchasing, but also brewing, having served as a guest brewer at Southern California operations such as Mike Hess Brewing, Ironfire Brewing Company and Thorn St. Brewery.
In building Knotty Brewing, space has been left within a footprint that’s built for the business to expand as needed. For the most part, beers will be “straightforward and drinkable.” Lovi lists a British-style pale ale, German-style Pilsner, London Porter, Belgian-style witbier and Irish red ale among future core beers. No barrel-aged beers are planned out of the gate, however 400 square feet are reserved in the back of the facility for future barrel storage.
Knotty Brewing is currently set for an April grand opening. The production goal for Year One is 1,000 barrels of beer, with plans to eventually grow annual barrelage to 5,000. Lovi says many local breweries have been helpful as he and his team have worked to set up the brewery. He respects how many above-average breweries there are within San Diego County and thinks Knotty Brewing’s passion for British and other Old World European styles is what will help set them apart from the rest of the pack.