9045 Carroll Way, Miramar
Between droves of beer fans driving in for a first look and an army’s worth of delivery trucks pulling up to have their trailers filled with palettes of fresh Sculpin IPA and Pale Ale, Carroll Way had likely never been more densely populated with vehicles as it was yesterday afternoon when Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits (9045 Carroll Way, Miramar), opened its new, 125,000 square foot Miramar facility to the public for the first time. It was an impromptu debut springing from sudden approvals from the City of San Diego, but that didn’t keep the tasting room component from becoming packed to capacity. Such was the anticipation for the debut of the company’s new and largest site to date.
In a few months, a large and rather sleek, indoor-outdoor restaurant component will open, serving food that’s in keeping with the culinary stylings of executive chef Colin MacLaggan but more geared toward large plates (steak frites, for example). But for now, the visitor experience in the 18,000 square feet set aside for hospitality is all about the tasting room, which is stylish in its own right. Furnished with a variety of tables — communal, high and round four-tops, and smaller sit-downs — the space has a standard bar layout replete with the components that bring in Ballast Point’s nautical theme without hitting guests over the head with a fishing rod or floundering marlin. Light-colored woods and ropes intermingle with shiny, neutral-colored tiles, while soft blue and purple lighting creates a subdued mood and brings all of the elements together nicely.
In short, it’s a stunning venue, and the fact it’s outfitted with 78 taps, all of which exclusively pour Ballast Point’s core and specialty selections from groups helpfully categorized on the menu (Crisp & Bright, Hops & More Hops, Bold & Barreled) brings in plenty of substance on the suds front. Best of all, the entire tap system is stainless steel with a water system that, in addition to providing an endless supply of cold, filtered water, also pulls out moisture (quite the expense and labor of love to construct), ensuring cleanliness and pristine flavor. Thirty-seven additional taps will be operative once the outdoor bar opens, and a growler-fill area is also pending.
While taking in sips of Ballast Point’s ales and lagers, guests can gaze upon two 100%-copper kettles imported from defunct German brewery, Lohr Brewery, and watch brewers at work through a floor-to-ceiling window looking out onto the brewery floor. It’s a small peek at an expansive production, packaging, storage, and distribution facility that will continue to grow at a rapid clip for months and years to come with the addition of two 750-barrel fermentation tanks each month as well as other pieces to the manufacturing puzzle. Last year, Ballast Point sold enough beer to become the 38th largest craft brewing company in the country. The beer produced at the Miramar brewery will add a large amount of barrelage to BP’s total production, ensuring they shoot up to a much higher placing in 2014.