Sometimes new breweries pop-up out of thin air, coming online within weeks of me finding out about them. Then, there are the operations that stay on my lead list for a lengthy period before being realized or, in some cases, being scrapped. After over a year of surveillance without much development, I had become concerned that one of my long leads was in danger of succumbing to the latter fate, but as it turns out, the business is very much alive, with the owners having just signed the lease for their facility. So now, with a site selected and the green lights that triggers, it’s time to introduce you to Urban Jungle Brewing Company (9909 Hibert Street, Suite F, Scripps Ranch).
Initially, this new business is on the smaller side. Owners James Lombard and Steve Kondratick are starting out with a three-barrel brewhouse, but have plans to expand to either a 10- or 15-barrel system once they get in a good rhythm and generate sales to support such increased production. At that point, they will also add a canning or bottling line. They're not certain which packaging option they’ll go with at this point, but it's too early to focus on that.
For now, it’s all about getting their applications in and approved, building out their space and perfecting their recipes. Lombard and Kondratick, both engineers by trade, have actually been working on their beers with the plan of selling them to the public for the past two years. The duo started homebrewing five years ago and earned good showings in competitions straight out of the gate. Over the past half-decade, they’ve brewed over 200 batches of beer and even expanded their collaborative craftsmanship to include meads, one of which won best of show honors in a competition a few years back.
Even though they are used to working together and feel good about their beers, Lombard and Kondratick say they may hire a brewmaster with professional experience down the road. But for now, they will go it alone…together. Urban Jungle’s initial line-up will consist of an India pale ale (IPA), an imperial IPA, milk stout, and a variety of other brews including seasonal offerings, fruit and wheat beers. Their intent is to bring new ideas to the local beer scene. In doing so, they’re tapping one of its well qualified resources, Skip Virgilio.
Virgilio founded AleSmith in the mid-nineties, putting out beers that were far ahead of their time, before selling the business to its current owner, Peter Zien. Despite being out of the professional brewing game for quite some time, Vigilio remains active in the brewing community and very well respected among brewers at all levels—commercial and recreational. Having him and his wide-ranging perspective can only help these entrepreneurs.
Urban Jungle’s estimated time of arrival is October of this year. In the meantime, I aim to use the company’s close proximity to my residence to document the build-out process and keep readers informed of what they can expect from this rookie operation. So, check back later for the next chapter of the Jungle book.