At the time of this writing, I am keeping track of a whopping 42 brewing projects which are in the works within the boundaries of San Diego County. Of those, 35 are works-in-progress from new brewing companies. Some of them have been on my radar for a long time, so long that it’s looking as though they should probably be removed. Today’s column is devoted to entities that have put the word out that they are coming, but have yet to make good on that promise.
Typically, when I reach out to future brewing company owners, they are fairly responsive. That said, it’s not unheard-of for entrepreneurs to be tight-lipped or completely unresponsive. Not everybody’s ready to talk and I respect that. But after months or even years of unrequited communiqués, I begin investigating businesses on my own. When those fact-finding missions are fruitless, companies get the dreaded yellow highlight in my Excel spreadsheet, meaning there’s a high probability that the business was little more than a pipe dream that didn’t survive the transition to real life or wasn't a serious project in the first place.
Last August, a direct message from a mysterious, sci-fi-themed Twitter account informing me Orbit Brewing Company was coming to San Diego in late 2013. I messaged back and sent an email, but despite multiple outreach attempts, it would appear the pilots of the USS Brewery fell out of orbit. Despite coming on strong with images of tap handles, bottle caps, and apparel, they went radio silent from September on.
Similarly, Rule of Thumb Brewing Company sports some spiffy packaging designs on its Facebook page, but little else. They seem legit, and claim to be opening a small batch brewery in Encinitas (it would be the municipality’s first) in early 2014, but some would argue early 2014 is over, with the first quarter in the books. They wouldn’t be the first to suffer delays in reaching the finishing line, but Rule of Thumb has communicated little since asking followers on Facebook what their favorite Thanksgiving beers are last November.
Crow Brewing Company is like a hybrid of Orbit and Rule of Thumb. That business set up a personal-style Facebook page and posted a good-looking IPA bottle design in February of last year. For a long time, nothing happened. Then, on June 3, boom — not one but two designs. One was a logo, the other a pint glass sporting that logo. Then, a business Facebook page went up and it was discovered that Crow is based and brewing in Orange County. Still, the company claimed allegiance to San Diego. In the midst of this identity crisis, the Facebook page went dark in August.
Next up is Taproot Brewing Company, which appears to be an upcoming brewpub designed by a bunch of buddies up in San Marcos. Since they put up their website in 2010, three breweries have opened in San Marcos, with two other, much realer, works-in-progress coming closer than Taproot ever got. Their website goes so far as to list a half-dozen beers they produce, plus background on the owners, but the News section has never been populated, and they have yet to return a single inquiry. Add in the fact the company has zero social media presence and the writing is on the would-be brewpub wall.
Of all the maybe-to-nevers, the one that appears to have the greatest chance of happening is a brewery that was planned to go in across the street from Newport Pizza & Ale House in Ocean Beach. That business was reported to be looking into going into the local beer business it has fostered for so long. It’s certainly a cool idea, but not all concepts make it beyond that stage. And there’s not a bit of shame in it. Businesses are difficult to start, even if the crazily paced, constantly expanding San Diego brewing industry might fool some into thinking differently.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Owners of any of the above businesses, if you are alive and kicking, I’d love to know. Feel free to hit me up. I would appreciate the opportunity to make your acquaintance.