Every six months, we take a look at the always-robust list of new breweries being constructed throughout San Diego County to suss out those with the most potential. This time around, we asked two veteran local bar owners to weigh in on the topic and their short lists are remarkably similar.
TapRoom Beer Co., 2000 El Cajon Boulevard, University Heights: Owners Kyle and Kevin Conover were kids when they started and are now veterans in the San Diego beer scene. They grew up in the start of the renaissance and helped hold it down at the beach before craft was king. They tapped [former AleSmith Brewing and Mikkeller Brewing San Diego brewer] Bill Batten and we all know Bill. He’s passionate, opinionated and a great brewer. All of those guys have done great things for well over a decade before small beer was fashionable. I know for a fact that the Conover’s care about the beer and Mr. Batten cares about the beer, so I think this is a slam dunk, an absolute no-brainer, and easily the one I’m most excited about for 2019.
My Yard Live, 288 Rancheros Drive, San Marcos: Who doesn’t love [veteran brewer] Pat Korn? Well, I mean…he’s mostly awesome and I’ve known him as long as anyone in the industry from my first days at Hamilton’s and I’d like him to win. I think My Yard Live has a fun concept that is contemporary with today’s newer hospitality models and has the potential to attract a very large and diverse array of consumers, and Pat makes awesome beer. I actually just tapped six collaboration beers Pat did with local breweries last Friday.
Gravity Heights, 9920 Pacific Heights Boulevard, Sorrento Mesa: Restaurant group and brewpub, always a dicey proposition when serial restaurateurs want to expand into the beer-making biz as another revenue generator for the group. That being said, they make great food and [former AleSmith owner and brewer] Skip Virgilio is more than qualified to execute beer designs that go with “simple, seasonal, scratch” cuisine. I think it will be a nice addition to that area and will look fantastic because they have bookoo bucks to do so. This might be the first of many to come.
Owner, The Project Bar & Grill
TapRoom Beer Co., 2000 El Cajon Boulevard, University Heights: Kevin & Kyle Conover have run one of the best beer bars in San Diego (SD TapRoom) for like 10 years. There’s no doubt that their collaboration with kick-ass-domination-creative brewer Bill Batten will be anything less than jaw-dropping.
Kairoa Brewing, 4601 Park Boulevard, University Heights: This sounds like it’s going to be radical. Run by a family of Kiwis from New Zealand, it will bring a nice twist to San Diego beer. Not to generalize—but I’m going to—people from New Zealand are always fun to be around. Plus, since my favorite hops come from New Zealand, and they’re focusing on smoked-style beers, which I’m trying to get into, you could say hearing about them gave me a “beemer.” Plus, they’re going to have a rooftop bar, which San Diego needs a lot more of.
Gravity Heights, 9920 Pacific Heights Boulevard, Sorrento Mesa: I’ve known owner Arturo Kassel for a few years, having recently been on the California Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors with him. I love the food at his other establishments, so having a new establishment that doesn’t just serve peanuts and pretzels will be refreshing. I’m not getting down on breweries that don’t serve food because, being a bar-owner myself, food is a pain in the ass, but their capabilities for food pairings will be super-duper. Plus their brewmaster is Skip Virgilio, who’s been involved with AleSmith…so their beer won’t suck.