It’s no secret that San Diego a destination for high-quality craft beer. Local artisans have been working hard for three decades to create and maintain the county’s beer Mecca reputation. And while the San Diego Brewers Guild, San Diego Tourism Authority and a variety of media have helped to amplify #SDBeer’s message, bringing in a reported 35 million people interested in our ales and lagers on an annual basis, there is no brick-and-mortar locale for visitors to get a primer for our beer scene that isn’t skewed toward a singular brand. Well, not yet, anyway.
Entrepreneurs Anthony and Molly Ridenhour, Mike and Christine Kociela and Bruce Glassman aim to solve that by building the Museum of Beer in downtown San Diego. The quintet is considering several potential locations in the East Village neighborhood. In addition to being near many hotels and lodgings, plus attractions such as the San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park, the founders say that, while the critical mass of businesses and entertainment venues is coming together, East Village still offers some of the greatest potential for unique new concepts in San Diego proper. Regardless of where they negotiate a lease, the Museum of Beer is projected to come in at more than 12,000 square feet.
“San Diego has done a terrific job getting the word out about what a great beer city we are, but we still lack a central beer-information-and-experience hub in our downtown. Museum of Beer wants to address that need. We want to be San Diego’s beer welcome center, if you will,’” says Glassman, an author and writer who has reported on the local brewing scene for the better part of a decade. “It’s going to be that jumping-off place where everyone can come to begin their personal craft beer journey. It will seek to inspire hardcore beer fans and also educate those new to craft beer who have a thirst to learn more.”
The project team intends to service both the aforementioned factions by equipping the museum with an array of high-tech, hands-on exhibits providing insight on beer history, the brewing process and, of course, beer itself. Those exhibits will be split among an octet of categories:
- Science of Beer: A nano-sized brewing system will guide visitors through the beer-making process.
- Beer Universe: Info about beer styles and their appearance, aromas and flavors.
- America’s Hoppiest City: A historic journey through local beer history explaining why San Diego is so special. It will spotlight local organizations such as standout homebrew club QUAFF.
- Be the Brewer: A virtual-reality experience where guests see a brew day up close and personal.
- Getting Beer to You: Looking at canning, bottling, storage, proper glassware and the perfect pour.
- From the Canvas: Shining a light on the art gracing craft beer packaging.
- Sun, Surf & Beer: Video and drone footage will give newbies a look at beer festivals, tasting rooms and more.
- The 91X Film Set: A studio will be built for 91X to record and broadcast its Beer for Breakfast programming.
The brewing system in the Science of Beer exhibit won’t just be for show. It is envisioned as a mechanism for local brewers to produce beers to tap at the museum’s tasting room, where more than 65 taps of draft ales and lagers, plus bottled beers from San Diego breweries will be available for more “immersive” education. Food will also be available from an on-site pizza kitchen run by Firecracker Pizza’s Chip Schloss. He’s not the only founder with Missouri ties. Mike Kociela founded St. Louis’ National Blues Museum. Additionally, Anthony Ridenhour is executive director for the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.
It’s a large-scale project that is projected to open in 2020. Before that can happen, the Museum of Beer team will seek crowdfunding via the online platform Indiegogo. That campaign will have a goal of $150,000 to supplement initial private investment secured for the $2 million project. Perks associated with the campaign will include branded merchandise, special events, the chance to brew a beer at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, and more.