The Lost Abbey is more than a name to one of its co-founders. Even before the San Marcos-based brewing company’s 2006 debut, director of brewery operations Tomme Arthur foresaw a time when its physical embodiment would be an actual monastic-style abbey set within a rural expanse. Site selection for such a project would be a challenge in over-developed San Diego County, but last year Arthur and company found a spot perfectly suited for its religion-steeped brand and spent roughly a year negotiating on it. Now, that site is all theirs and goes by the internal project name “The Church”.
Located in downtown’s East Village, The Church will be a satellite tasting room installed in a Mexican Presbyterian church that dates to 1906 and boasts historical status. The 1,200-square-foot building was renovated and relocated to its current location at the corner of J and 13th Streets by the team responsible for the Alexan ALX Apartment complex with which The Church shares a city block. As part of the relocation, the church gained a 1,200-square-foot basement and roughly 3,200 square feet of exterior patio space. Also, the landlord permitted the building for restaurant use, which will allow The Lost Abbey to build a cooking facility on the patio. The current culinary concept being considered is tacos themed to the opponent appearing at nearby Petco Park. For instance, if the Philadelphia Phillies are in town, The Church might serve Philly cheesesteak tacos.
When asked what it will mean for The Lost Abbey—one of the most prominent producers of barrel-aged, sour and Belgian-style beers in the U.S.—to finally have a presence in San Diego proper after nearly 14 years of operating solely out of North County, Arthur jokes that he and his team will likely attend more Padres games before striking a more serious tone.
“We have talked about how tough it is to be a San Diego County brewing company without a presence in the greater City of San Diego, so trying to bridge the 35-mile gap between the brewhouse and San Diego proper has been on our mind for some time. Obviously, when a church becomes available in an up-and-coming area, you should probably take a good, long, hard look at it,” says Arthur. “The guts of the building have been defined and the exterior space fully renovated. We’re essentially staring at an interior shell that needs to be finished.”
Design work for the project has been completed with the assistance of local firm, Hauck Architecture, and Arthur hopes to break ground in June. The company estimates it will hire 15 to 20 new employees, given the relatively small size of the project. Once open, The Church will serve beers of The Lost Abbey and its sister brands Port Brewing, The Hop Concept and Tiny Bubbles. The latter is a new line of sour ales set to hit shelves in four packs of 12-ounce cans within a matter of months.
“Tiny Bubbles shares a Lost Abbey heritage and we will use our knowledge of all things sour to bring these beers into the world in a shared-synergies sort of way,” says Arthur. “As a nod to the Old World, we’re going to produce the original ‘brut’ version without fruit and finish the beers with Brettanomyces prior to packaging. As of now, we also have an orange-guava, rosé and lime version.”
The Church (which may go by a different official business name once realized) is located at 341 13th Street, and is currently estimated to debut in the fall. Back at The Lost Abbey’s home municipality of San Marcos, private-event spaces are being added at both its headquarters on Mata Way and its recently opened tasting room in San Elijo.