It’s hard to believe that, although two-and-a-half-years ago there had never been a brewery in Kearny Mesa, there will soon be five. It’s even more inconceivable that three of those share a strange, unplanned thematic thread. First there was Quantum Brewing, then work-in-progress Magnetic Brewing, and in a matter of a month or so, Kilowatt Brewing Company (7576 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa) will join the industrial neighborhood’s ranks. The latter is the product of a sextet of entrepreneurs who originally planned to operate under the name Illumination Brewing Company. Like many monikers in the liquor business, it was already taken. Still, they wanted something that conveyed a unique facet of the business — innovative lighting design — so Kilowatt was chosen.
Innovative lighting design? You were likely expecting something beer-related — "Kilowatt beer is electrifying!" But in all seriousness, non-conventional and aesthetically pleasing lighting will help to set Kilowatt’s tasting room apart from competition in and beyond Kearny Mesa thanks to co-owner Steve Kozyk, who has many years of experience designing and installing lighting for Southern California bars and restaurants. That said, the ownership team hopes the influence of co-owner and brewmaster Chris Calva will have just as much, if not more, impact on the tasting room’s visitors.
Calva is a long-time homebrewer who openly admits that he’s not addicted to humulus lupulis. Kilowatt will have an IPA and other hoppy beers, but his focus will be on producing styles that are different from most on the market in San Diego, or anywhere, really. When asked for a rundown of what patrons can expect when the business opens, he lists a mint chocolate porter, coconut porter, honey nut brown ale, goji berry mountain honey ale, chai beer, and a smoked stout that will be the first in a series of brews given smoldered character care of grains he smokes over applewood from his very own property. These are certainly not the contents of a typical beer board in San Diego.
Calva will produce the beers using a German 10-gallon system. Translation: this is a nanobrewery that will produce less beer than the majority of the county’s larger, more well-known players. Though small, they hope to make a significant splash, not just as an individual interest, but in association with the rest of San Diego’s small-production class via an in-progress local nanobrewery guild. Kilowatt is bringing this brainchild to life with fellow conceptualizers at Miramar’s Intergalactic Brewing Company. Together they will put together a website and events that help to promote the county’s growing number of nanobreweries, with a qualification that all member businesses produce beer in batches that are four barrels or less.
Originally, ownership had planned to open a brewery in Ontario, California, but after strategizing about how they could be most effective in pooling their collective energies, they decided to bring the business (and their Ontario-based brewmaster) to San Diego. Having a brewer on-site for visitors to speak to and learn from is particularly important for co-owner Rachel Fischer, who considers interaction with the people making the beer to be the best value-added of a small, local brewery. So, Calva will be as much a fixture as rotating artwork and the food trucks which Kilowatt plans to work with to produce beer-and-cuisine pairings.