In 2015, Amplified Ale Works became the first established business to lease space in developer H.G. Fenton’s Brewery Igniter rent-to-brew industrial suites in Miramar. While those facilities were primarily envisioned as proof-of-concept vessels for start-up businesses, Amplified owner Alex Pierson saw it as a solution to limited brewing capabilities. Prior to the move, brewing had taken place solely at the company’s Pacific Beach brewpub, with barrel-aging sequestered to a small storage unit in the underground parking garage of the strip mall housing the business.
Making the move allowed for increased production and enough beer to supply the original location as well as Amplified’s subsequently opened venues: a tasting room in PB and East Village bar and restaurant. But Pierson always knew his Brewery Igniter location—which expanded to include two suites over the years—was only a temporary fix. Amplified’s beermaking capacity is currently constrained at 2,000 barrels per year, so it’s time to move on.
Pierson has secured a 5,000-square-foot building at 3308 Main Street in Lemon Grove. Located a citrus-fruit’s throw from the municipality’s iconic lemon statue at the high-traffic intersection of Broadway and Lemon Grove Avenue, it will allow Amplified space to grow and provide an indoor-outdoor experience similar to that of its PB venue, while helping to grow the city’s recently established brewing scene, which was born when 13 Point Brewing opened in January of last year.
When asked what he was looking for during the search for Amplified’s new digs, Pierson says, “The first two requirements for a potential site were that it offer unique design features and transportation accessibility. We believe this building tells a compelling story of the community while offering easy access from the Lemon Grove Avenue trolley stop and the access from the 94 freeway. Add to that the fact that it was previously used in a similar fashion as both production and retail, and located in an underserved community, and it just felt like the right opportunity.”
The project site was constructed in 1912 and expanded to its current configuration in 1961. It originally housed Lemon Grove’s general store and later a bakery. Its south-facing wall sports a mural featuring scenes from different spans of the community’s history. Pierson plans to utilize 4,000 square feet of the interior space for production, leaving 1,000 square feet for a tasting room supplemented by a 1,500-square-foot outdoor beer garden in what is currently the building’s parking lot. Like the music-themed interest’s other venues, it will be designed to host musical acts and other forms of entertainment.
“The layout is fairly conducive to our uses, so it’s really just about updating the space itself and making it our own, while also adding the necessary infrastructure to be able to grow in place as we expand production,” says Pierson, who notes 15-foot ceilings as the only potential inhibitor to such expansion. To solve for that, he intends to install a half-dozen fermenters (and a silo) along the north side of the building as Amplified scales up its production and estimates an annual production capacity of 10,000 barrels once that is complete. As far as near-term goals, Pierson says annual barrelage will jump from 2,000 to 4,500 barrels immediately following the move.
Packaging mechanisms figure to be added along with production apparatuses. Pierson intends to install a canning line following the renovation. “We’re excited to expand our wings and commit a bit more of our attention on packaged beers rather than the occasional mobile-canning run that, while convenient, also inhibits our production utilization due to our current brewery layout.”
It’s a large-scale, ambitious project. Enough that Amplified will launch a WeFundr campaign in support of it later this week. If all goes as planned, Pierson says brewmaster Jeff Campbell and company will be brewing beer in Lemon Grove in June. This would lead to the company vacating its suites at the Miramar Brewery Igniter campus the following month. And though he is hesitant to provide a hard debut timeframe given all of the project’s moving pieces, Pierson hopes to open the Lemon Grove tasting room as early as September.