Even locals with the slightest grasp of the craft beer movement can see how widespread it is within San Diego County. Breweries and brewpubs are opening up all over the place, pushing the geographic borders of suds saturation. Otay Mesa, Kearny Mesa, Ramona, Jamul, and Fallbrook have all welcomed new operations in the last two years. And now, it looks as though Valley Center may be the next first-timer to join the fold.
Three of the community’s residents are on pace to open Valley Center Brewery in the near future after receiving approvals from required governmental agencies. That trio consists of Robert Marek, a homebrewer with well over 100 brews under his belt, his son and assistant brewer Alex Marek, and retired aerospace defense software engineer John Mangan. Together, they’ve been working on their beer recipes, producing test batches on five-, ten-, 15-, 20-, and 30-gallon systems for nearly three years.
Once open, Valley Center Brewing will utilize a three-and-a-half-barrel brewhouse purchased from Stout Tanks and Kettles in Portland, Oregon. For now, that system is housed in a structure the trio built as an interim space while they search for a final space, which will include a tasting room, in a prominent Valley Center location. That spot will serve beers in kegs and, eventually, bottles.
Valley Center Brewing’s initial line-up figures to include a pale ale, India pale ale, some form of lager, and a “little ale” (think low-alcohol lager, though none of their beers will be over seven percent ABV). Funnily enough, it wasn’t that long ago that IPAs and other craft offerings were beyond Robert’s depth. But, a few years ago, he reached beyond his go-to Keystone Light, discovering the darker, richer world of porters and stouts. From there, it was on to pale ales and so on and so on until he eventually decided to retire from his previous vocation (like Mangan, he was an aerospace software engineer) to do something he loved—brewing.
The entrepreneurs consider it an honor to bring their hometown its first brewery. That has motivated them to spend significant time and energy trying to fine tune their beers to be something their neighbors can be proud to call their own.