On Memorial Day weekend of 2016, downtown Julian’s The Bailey Wood-Fired BBQ closed its doors. That move shut down its on-site fermentation component, Julian Brewing Company. The business was taken over and converted into a brewpub in 2012 by San Diego brewing veterans Vince Marsaglia and Tom Nickel. The latter is the owner of O’Brien’s Pub and West Coast BBQ & Brew, and sold off his stake later that year, going on to open his own brewery, Nickel Beer Co., just down the street. Marsaglia, co-founder of Pizza Port, Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey, soldiered on but struggled to make a success of the operation. After exploring the option of selling The Bailey, he made the decision to close it and revamp it almost in its entirely. Soon, it will reopen with a new identity that will make it unique from a beermaking perspective, not only within Julian, but throughout San Diego entire county.
The new Julian Brewing Company will utilize an over-sized five-barrel system from local business, Premier Stainless Systems. Marsaglia is going even more ultra-local with the beer program, taking advantage of two acres of fertile land and JBC’s country environs to turn the property into a farmhouse brewery operating under the tenets of archetypal rural fermentation plots throughout Belgium and France. Historically, those locales produced beers for consumption by the farm’s occupants using ingredients produced on-site and airborne yeast and microorganisms. While JBC’s farmhouse ales will most likely be fermented using local yeast of the White Labs variety, numerous fruits, vegetables and herbs from the in-house garden will be added to create a sense of indigenousness and terroir.
Marsaglia says JBC will be a house of innovation where experimentation will be a daily part of the game plan. He has many ideas, some of which have yet to be fleshed out, and is excited to see what they tackle. Brewer Matt Pittman will resume his role as head of JBC’s production, but Marsaglia also intends to play a key role. Saisons and lambics produced using locally grown and foraged ingredients will be the main focus, but no style will be off limits. Marsaglia also foresees numerous collaboratively composed beers coming out of the brewhouse.
Marsaglia says revamping JBC has been a family affair, and that he, his sons and Pittman have all had saws, shovels and hammers in their hands. It’s apt since much of this project is inspired by family history and tradition. Marsaglia’s grandfather was a farmer, as well as a hunter, butcher and bee-keeper. His brother was a barbecue maven who towed a ‘cue rig on a trailer. Marsaglia used to pick vegetables from his field and help make charcuterie from such wild-caught beasts as elk. In addition to homespun beers, JBC will offer a food menu comprising house-smoked meats. The old-school smokehouse will be hand-stoked with local oak and apple wood, and the proteins it produces will make their way onto flatbreads and sandwiches. Fermentation will also be key to JBC’s edible offerings, from pizza dough to an assortment of pickled items. Additionally, house beers will be key components of condiments. The restaurant’s aesthetic will be “country casual” and aim to make anyone who walks in the door feel instantly at home.
JBC is located at 2315 Main Street. Beer is currently being brewed there, but it is unclear when the brewpub will open to the public. Marsaglia says he hopes to be open for business within the next two months.