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The Bolt that won't bolt on you

East County beer meets the waterfront in Little Italy

No sign to speak of yet, but rest assured, there's beer in there.
No sign to speak of yet, but rest assured, there's beer in there.

August 21st marked the opening of Little Italy's latest beer-tasting room, as La Mesa–based Bolt Brewery began serving beer at the corner of India and Grape streets, in what used to be the North End Lounge. Since Bolt's production maxes out at 30 barrels per week and its distribution is limited, this will be the first opportunity for locals to try its roster of beers without traveling to East County.

Place

Bolt Brewing

8179 Center Street, La Mesa

Place

Bolt Brewery

1971 India, San Diego

Though less than a year old, Bolt has a long history. Back in 1987, a 19-year-old Clint Stromberg became the youngest professional brewer in the U.S. when he and a friend started the original Bolt Brewery in Fallbrook, the first in San Diego County since the Prohibition era. But the craft-beer landscape 28 years ago proved tougher from a business standpoint.

“They went to expand and they just lost financing in the middle of the way through," says Molly Rust, who cofounded the new Bolt Brewery with Stromberg and Tony Calafato. "Since they were both so young they just threw their hands up.”

This time around, crowd-funding, a greater sense of business acumen, and additional decades of experience have helped the group open two retail locations in less than a year.

"We’ve had this lease since the day before we opened in La Mesa,” Rust says. That venue opened in late autumn 2014, following more than a year navigating city ordinances to set up a production brewery and beer garden. In Little Italy, Rust says the only real holdup was building a kitchen that will serve pizza and salads.

"This is a different Bolt experience than the La Mesa location," Rust says. Rather than live music, food trucks, and open air, the new shop features clean, simple decor, including a wall-sized photo of Bolt's quonset hut brewhouse. Though large roll-up windows and several small patio tables overlook the bustling urban neighborhood around the tasting room and restaurant, Rust says, “Our goal is always a relaxing environment. Come in, grab a beer, grab a pizza…. We’re not a party place. We’re a come-and-have-a-beer place.… That’s the kind of people we are, we’re just more mellow than that.”

Of course, given the collection of mounted HDTVs and the Bolt name association with a certain local football team, this could also prove a good spot to watch Chargers games — at least during the upcoming season. Rust says that even if the Chargers leave town, the brewery will keep the name, promising, “We’ll be the Bolt that’ll never bolt on you.”

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No sign to speak of yet, but rest assured, there's beer in there.
No sign to speak of yet, but rest assured, there's beer in there.

August 21st marked the opening of Little Italy's latest beer-tasting room, as La Mesa–based Bolt Brewery began serving beer at the corner of India and Grape streets, in what used to be the North End Lounge. Since Bolt's production maxes out at 30 barrels per week and its distribution is limited, this will be the first opportunity for locals to try its roster of beers without traveling to East County.

Place

Bolt Brewing

8179 Center Street, La Mesa

Place

Bolt Brewery

1971 India, San Diego

Though less than a year old, Bolt has a long history. Back in 1987, a 19-year-old Clint Stromberg became the youngest professional brewer in the U.S. when he and a friend started the original Bolt Brewery in Fallbrook, the first in San Diego County since the Prohibition era. But the craft-beer landscape 28 years ago proved tougher from a business standpoint.

“They went to expand and they just lost financing in the middle of the way through," says Molly Rust, who cofounded the new Bolt Brewery with Stromberg and Tony Calafato. "Since they were both so young they just threw their hands up.”

This time around, crowd-funding, a greater sense of business acumen, and additional decades of experience have helped the group open two retail locations in less than a year.

"We’ve had this lease since the day before we opened in La Mesa,” Rust says. That venue opened in late autumn 2014, following more than a year navigating city ordinances to set up a production brewery and beer garden. In Little Italy, Rust says the only real holdup was building a kitchen that will serve pizza and salads.

"This is a different Bolt experience than the La Mesa location," Rust says. Rather than live music, food trucks, and open air, the new shop features clean, simple decor, including a wall-sized photo of Bolt's quonset hut brewhouse. Though large roll-up windows and several small patio tables overlook the bustling urban neighborhood around the tasting room and restaurant, Rust says, “Our goal is always a relaxing environment. Come in, grab a beer, grab a pizza…. We’re not a party place. We’re a come-and-have-a-beer place.… That’s the kind of people we are, we’re just more mellow than that.”

Of course, given the collection of mounted HDTVs and the Bolt name association with a certain local football team, this could also prove a good spot to watch Chargers games — at least during the upcoming season. Rust says that even if the Chargers leave town, the brewery will keep the name, promising, “We’ll be the Bolt that’ll never bolt on you.”

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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