The city's latest taproom-slash–bottle shop is in Bay Park. The Poseidon Project opened Thanksgiving week, transforming a onetime spin studio into a stylish eight-tap bar with a curated assortment of bottles and cans. The packaged beer, wine, and cider may be consumed in-house sans corkage fee and will be sold to go once the new shop's off-premises license is settled with the city.
Justin Lopez and Nate Ladendorf are the guys behind Poseidon Project. Ladendorf, a partner at Normal Heights' Black Anvil tattoo shop and Encinitas fashion boutique Home, is new to the beer business. Lopez previously helped open Mission Beach craft bar Draft while working with hospitality group Eat.Drink.Sleep.
A certified cicerone, Lopez describes himself as a "huge beer collector, and beer hoarder" and has been an active bottle trader, networking with friends and social media contacts in other states to acquire highly rated beers that don't distribute to San Diego.
"Beer mules in every city," he explains. "When there's a brewery-only release in St. Louis or Miami, or the Northeast, or in Oregon or Colorado — we've got a guy out there, he gets the beer for us and sends it to us."
In this way, Lopez has gotten familiar with microbreweries in other regions, a knowledge base he's bolstered with travel, including beer tours in the Northeast and Southwest. While Poseidon Project will consistently feature his and Ladendorf's favorite local breweries, Lopez says he's also looking for ways to capitalize on some of his regional contacts to bring hard-to-find beers to this part of the country.
"A lot of my friends that I went to high school and college with now have breweries, and I support them," Lopez insists, alluding to a Drink Local ethos that promotes loyalty to San Diego brands. However, he points out the name Poseidon is an homage to water, and water makes a good reason to explore out-of-state breweries.
"Here, everyone brews with municipal water," he says, noting that San Diego breweries treat and filter this water to clean out the impurities. However, he adds, other regions have access to naturally pure groundwater, which can give their beers a different dimension. "A lot of these really small artisan craft breweries are opening up on natural water sources," he says, recalling one he enjoyed in Texas.
"There's this brewery called Shannon Brewing, and they built on a spring," Lopez continues. "Their water is, like, perfection…. They're still super small, they still self-distribute, but I'm working on getting them out here"
Aside from Shannon, some of the breweries Lopez hopes to feature include Berkeley's Rare Barrel and Boston's Trillium Brewing. Also in the planning are regular food trucks, build-your-own six-pack shopping, cicerone-led tastings, and an off-menu cellar list featuring vintage selections.