Few San Diego County breweries have enjoyed the breakout success that North Park-based Eppig Brewing has achieved in its first three years in business. Demand for its lager- and IPA-driven portfolio have risen steadily over that span, driving increased production. It’s a simple formula complicated by the constraints of the North Park lease-to-brew Brewery Igniter suite the company has operated out of since its inception in 2016.
Due to limited square-footage and the size of its brewhouse, Eppig has enlisted larger local breweries to contract brew for them. Ownership has also been forced to rent multiple off-site storage facilities to house its beer. This has created logistical nightmares that, when tacked on to operational headaches such as clearing out furniture to keg in its tasting room and having to wheel a forklift down a railed ADA-compliant entry ramp for keg loading, has made growing all the more difficult for the team. But all of that is changing and changing fast thanks to Eppig’s acquisition of a new headquarters in the westernmost reaches of Vista.
Located at 1347 Keystone Way, the newly constructed building offers Eppig 16,000 square feet to use as they wish. Having spent the past three years making do with just 1,850 square feet of pre-designed space (that was altered following selection of the suite, split into two levels with stairs separating the brewery and cellar from the cold box and a tasting-room entrance not directly accessible from the parking lot), Eppig’s ownership team was ecstatic to design an optimal, efficient layout that would serve the company now and into the future.
Eppig’s new-used 30-barrel Deutsche brewhouse is already producing beer, feeding it into a cellar consisting of three 60-barrel and four 30-barrel fermenters plus a pair of bright tanks. That setup will allow the company to brew 3,000-3,500 barrels of beer this year. That equates to nearly triple the 1,200 barrels brewers and co-owners Clayton LeBlanc and Nathan Stephens produced in North Park in 2018. But it’s just the start. With a 30-foot ceiling, the space can hold 120-barrel fermentation tanks. And having poured flooring for double the cellar currently in place, the duo could eventually produce 10,000 barrels annually at their new digs.
The immediate (and future) increase in production capabilities eliminates Eppig’s need to maintain contract-brewing agreements, while the Vista facility’s 1,500-square-foot cold box—which can hold 600-800 kegs—will allow the company to withdraw from its smattering of rented refrigerated storage spaces. The only outside services employed moving forward will be those of Mobile West Canning, which will be able to easily set up in the non-occupied half of the cellar when packaging.
Brewery and cellar operations are fully visible via glass windows running the majority of the north wall of one of two tasting rooms. A full quarter of the building is devoted to public space via a main tasting room, bier hall and outdoor biergarten. For all three components, co-owners Stephanie Eppig and Todd Warshaw worked to pay homage to the company’s roots, not only spanning back to North Park, but the original iteration of J&L Eppig Brewing that operated in Brooklyn, New York, from 1866 to 1920.
A ceiling paneled in reclaimed wood flanked by metal grates giving way to soft LED lighting harken to circa-1990 Brooklyn, while various Edison-bulb-equipped fixtures, corrugated metal panels and wooden planks brought over from Eppig’s North Park tasting room reinforce the motif. An L-shaped, lacquered-stone, waterfall-style bar gives way to 24 taps and the view of the production area, while a variety of seating options abound, ranging from high communal tables to lounge furnishings and a banquette enclave.
The entire west wall of the tasting room opens onto the 1,200-square-foot biergarten, but will be closed on sunny days as the interior is air-conditioned. Outdoor seating options will include long, beer-hall-style tables shaded by umbrellas, as well as chairs situated around a fire pit. That feature was originally slated for the outdoor patio at Eppig’s Waterfront Biergarten in Point Loma, but will come to fruition in North County. Planters stocked with succulents and outfitted in corrugated metal serve as literal cornerstone to the outdoor fence.
Back inside, a hallway leading past a set of public restrooms will transport guests from the tasting room to the bier hall. Coming in at the same area as the tasting room (1,500 square feet with an 80-person capacity), this space features vaulted ceilings from which will hang a trio of round, wrought-iron chandeliers. Not an everyday space, the bier hall will be open on busy weekends and during specific events, with a mobile bar being rolled in on such occasions.
Construction of the tasting room and bier hall are still underway, but if all goes to plan, the former will open to the public this Friday, October 11. The bier hall will require more work and, hopefully, make its debut at the end of the month or in time for grand-opening festivities, which will take place the weekend of November 16 (coincidentally, the same weekend Eppig celebrated its grand opening in North Park three years ago). Soft-open hours of operation will be 3 to 8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 3 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, 1 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 7 p.m. on Sundays.,
Meanwhile, Eppig’s Brewery Igniter tasting room will remain open through December 1. Eppig and Warshaw say they hope that the many regulars and customers who helped the company get to where it is now are able to join them over their final weekend for one last beer at their original spot.