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Modern Times Flavordome

3000 Upas Street #102, North Park

Belching Beaver North Park

4223 30th Street, North Park

The Lost Abbey

155 Mata Way #104, San Marcos

To meander through downtown Sonoma and stop in at a winery tasting room or two feels natural. One is in the middle of wine country, after all. Why wouldn’t a winemaker looking to increase the exposure of their product install a satellite sampling facility in the commercial heart of the region rather than solely rely on revenue from customers willing to travel to their manufacturing site or seek out their bottles via retail outlets? It’s a sensible model, especially for a smaller operation far-removed from a region’s epicenter, and one that’s being adopted more and more by San Diego breweries.

It’s almost surprising that it’s taken so long for what seems like such a natural progression to take hold, but the satellite tasting room model is coming on strong across the county. Modern Times Beer recently opened such a space in the new North Parker commercial development in its namesake community. Doing so, gives the Point Loma-based business greater access to beer enthusiasts in the urban core. Meanwhile, San Marcos’ Rip Current Brewing Company is working with Sublime Ale House on a combination tasting room and eatery in North Park, following the footsteps of Vista’s Belching Beaver Brewery, which opened such a space in early 2013.

Down south, Otay Mesa-based Border X Brewing Company, the county’s southernmost brewery, recently opened a satellite tasting room in Barrio Logan. That move has upped the visibility of a business that, frankly, few San Diegans even knew existed. But they won’t be alone in that fast-developing community for long. Barring any setbacks, Vista’s Iron Fist Brewing Company will sign a lease on a Barrio Logan property that will save the thirsty and curious a trip to North County.

Giving beer fans an alternative to a lengthy haul on the 5 or 15 was the goal of the first local company to open tasting rooms far from its Escondido home base. Stone Brewing Co.’s non-brewing venues came in the form of company stores located in South Park, Oceanside, and Little Italy, followed by a tap room bordering Petco Park in the East Village. The first of those venues came in 2011, quickly spawning those that followed as well as a company store in Pasadena and other non-brewing outlets inside Petco Park and at San Diego International Airport.

And now, the pair of companies that operates out of Stone’s original brewery facility, Port Brewing Company and The Lost Abbey, are looking to open a tasting room in Cardiff Town Center at 2007 San Elijo Avenue. All that stands in the way is the City of Encinitas Planning Commission, which is holding a hearing in the near future to authorize the businesses’ entrance into the community. It may seem a no-brainer, but this is the entity that kept the highly anticipated Bagby Beer Co. brewpub and wildly popular Bottlecraft bottle shop concepts from setting up shop in Encinitas.

From zero to potentially ten off-site tasting rooms in the span of less than four years—such rapid proliferation signals more than just a trend. The satellite tasting room is here to stay, and likely something that will eventually be imitated beyond San Diego County.

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