I’m a native San Diegan, but if you really drill down, you’ll find I was born a Chula Vistan. Back then I was far too young to drink and the word “microbrew” hadn’t been coined (much less “craft beer” or “indie beer” or whatever you want to call everything that’s not macro-owned “Big Beer”), so I didn’t notice the lack of a local brewery. But as the number of breweries in San Diego County grows like Jack’s famous beanstalk, many have taken notice of southern municipalities’ slowness to embrace craft beer compared to central and northern communities. Neither Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove nor National City have any breweries or brewpubs. And, though my city of origin recently welcomed the reincarnation of The Brew House at Eastlake in the form of Bay Bridge Brewing Company, it’s named after the Coronado Bay Bridge and is in Otay, away from Chula Vista’s downtown area, which lacks a brewing business. But not for long.
Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing Company has signed a 10-year lease at 259 Third Avenue in Chula Vista’s historic downtown. If the name of this operation sounds familiar, it’s because they’re not new to the San Diego brew scene. Since December of last year, they’ve rented time on the brewing system at Butcher’s Brewing Company in Santee, trickling beer out to select bars and restaurants in small quantities. Now, brewers John Marshall and Kevin Lewis, and partner Steve Garcia are poised to make a go of it in their own digs. Garcia is a native Chula Vistan and proud to give the city ultra-local beer in the shell of The Highlander, a historic landmark that was once an upscale store selling men’s apparel. The building is 5,400 square feet and Thr3e Punk Ales’ 10-barrel brewhouse (which will be used to produce between 600 and 800 barrels of beer in 2016) will be installed in the cellar to allow more room for patrons on the ground level. A hole will be cut in the floor to expose five 20-barrel fermentation tanks.
The tasting room will seat nearly 50, with additional seating available on an outdoor patio. In addition to on-premise offerings, beer will be sold to-go in growlers and crowlers. That’s pretty standard, but what’s not is a series of quarterly live concerts they are looking into offering. Seems pretty natural for a business that’s forged off the love for beer, rock and roll to go this route. Throw in the fact they have some connections with acts such as Sprung Monkey, the local band they recently collaborated with to create Sprung 4 Life IPA, and those events could make for a big draw. (Sprung 4 Life officially debuts at a Sprung Monkey show at Brick By Brick on February 26.) Through beer, a welcoming environment and quality added amenities, the Thr3e Punk Ales crew hopes to help the South Bay become a craft-beer destination.