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I heard a rumor there was an art class going on in Scripps Ranch. As a writer, I like to fancy myself some fringe type of artist. All the same, despite appreciating Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and their talents, for me, news of a painting tutorial falls flat as beer poured from a bottle left open overnight.

So, what was I doing driving down Carroll Canyon Road at 7 p.m. on a weeknight, searching for an elusive art studio called Paint N Vineyard (10035 Carroll Canyon Road, Suite G)? If you guessed, by the name, that it was the promise of wine that had me prowling the streets of suburbia…what a shallow assumption.

They had beer.

The night’s lesson was one even a painting novice like me could appreciate. I heard local artist, Sean Dominguez, was making a guest appearance at Paint N Vineyard, where artists would be recreating the bottle label art he designed for The Lost Abbey beer, Red Barn Ale. Fans of San Marcos brewery The Lost Abbey know Dominguez as the artist responsible for designing all of the label artwork for the company’s beers.

Since Pizza Port’s European-inspired commercial brewery opened, Dominguez—a long-time Pizza Port regular—has been commissioned to produce full-scale original art pieces, which The Lost Abbey has scaled down to fit their standard label format.

A walk through the company’s storage facility turns up beautiful portraits of everything from a still-life of bread and fruit to cartoonish portraits of ducks and frogs to paintings of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and Beelzebub operating a conveyor belt carrying lost souls through the flames of Hell. You know—your standard private collection.

The guy is talented, and I’ve always enjoyed our conversations. So, I was psyched to see him. Only problem—I was having a devil of a time finding Paint N Vineyard. As this is a place aspiring (and even some experienced) artists will enjoy finding, let me help you out. After exiting the I-15 onto Carroll Canyon, head east, roll past Business Park (turning a deaf ear to the alluring siren’s lure of nearby Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits), and turn right into the second driveway.

From there, go all the way down the row of industrial park suites that looks deserted and keep going to the very end of the line. You’ll look and feel like you’re going to meet your “guy” for some covert purchase, but just when you’re sure you’ve gone the wrong way, there it is.

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I was relieved to walk in and see, not only a studio, but Dominguez, The Lost Abbey director of brewery operations Tomme Arthur, and…holiest of holies…a tub of iced down Red Barn Ale. I’d arrived, I was in the right place, and there was beer. Mission accomplished. However, for the other 25-plus people in the room, their mission had just begun.

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They were there to get schooled on how to recreate the artwork on the label for Red Barn. A canvas painting of the label art was on an easel in the front of the room, right beside a blank canvas that Paint N Vineyard instructor Jeff Remmer would soon use when walking the assembly of artistes step-by-step through the process of painting the night’s subject.

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For the most part, it’s an art class—but it’s one where you get to drink beer! This evening was special in that the beer was supplied, but the cool thing about Paint N Vineyard is that: 1) it’s always BYOB, so you can enjoy any adult beverage you like, and 2) a little imbibing makes for an environment where the pressure’s off and people can really feel comfortable trying their hand at painting.

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Remmer says easily 90% of the attendees at his classes are first-timers. If I was going to paint, this would for sure be the place where I did it. As it was, I didn’t wield a brush. I was busy snapping photos, writing this blog post, plying Arthur for inside information, and watching Dominguez work up a night-time version of Red Barn that, previous to tonight, didn’t exist. He did it in 39 minutes! Show off, much?

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All kidding aside, it was a really fun two hours, and one of the most enjoyable fly-on-the-wall experiences I’ve had in awhile. Typical Paint N Vineyard sessions involve non-alcohol-based subjects—vases of flowers, sunsets, and the like. But, given the success of this event, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dominguez make a repeat appearance.

Already, Arthur was discussing the possibility of an event during San Diego Beer Week in November. Any chance they’d dare hire some models to recreate the visual debauchery for their raspberry sour, Framboise de Amarosa, the label of which had to be repainted to appease censors because of all the nudity? Hey, might as well put that remote, out-of-the-public-eye location to work!

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