Sometimes brewery leads come from the most unexpected sources. I was at a white-linen restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe recently, when a young chef emerged from the kitchen to explain a complex and delicious clam and pork belly appetizer to me. After doing so, he said he knew I wrote about beer and thought I should talk to a friend of his who was in the midst of opening a brewery in Del Mar. I asked him if he was referring to Viewpoint Brewing Company. He replied in the affirmative and, a few days later, the three of us were chatting about this work-in-progress brewpub over a few beers.
Viewpoint is a chef-driven brainchild of Charles Koll, who went to culinary school in Colorado and cooked in San Francisco, before returning home to San Diego, where he worked at Mille Fleurs and Prepkitchen. It was at Mille Fleurs that he took up the hobby of homebrewing and befriended co-worker Gunnar Planter, the toque-slash-informant I met over clams and pork-belly. But Planter’s no longer at the restaurant where we met. He resigned shortly after to become executive chef at Viewpoint, where he’ll work with Koll to come up with a menu of seasonally driven dishes that are casual in composition yet exhibit culinary skill.
Viewpoint has been in the works for more than two years, but is on-track to open this spring. Those who follow San Diego’s beer scene may recognize the operation under its original handle, Vigilante Brewing Company. Located at 2201 San Dieguito Drive along the San Dieguito Lagoon just south of Jimmy Durante Boulevard, it will be Del Mar’s first brewery. The space’s interior space comes in at 4,500 square feet with an additional 2,500 square feet of exterior area that will be outfitted with various seating options, including fire-pit tables.
One-third of the facility will be devoted to beer-manufacturing. Viewpoint is equipped with a 15-barrel brewing system, four 15-barrel fermenters and a pair of 15-barrel bright-beer tanks. Koll will be focused on brewing and intends to strive for drinkability above all else. His core line-up will include both a Kölsch and saison, and he intends to add indigenous edible plants during the brewing process to develop a terroir of sorts. Flights of the beers will be available in tandem with flights of paired bites, creating a unique feature among local brewpubs.
Koll says the building he took over left a lot to be desire. In his words, he’s working to convert an eyesore into something useful and cool. To that end, he is installing bocce ball courts, trellises lined with hop-bines, porch swings and other family-friendly elements. The current estimate for Viewpoint’s debut is April 1. (No foolin’!)