Mikkeller brewmaster Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (left) and AleSmith brewmaster Peter Zien toast their upcoming collaboartive partnership
While other regions are finding out what it’s like for a San Diego brewing company to expand into their backyards (Green Flash Brewing Company and Stone Brewing Co. are both constructing East Coast breweries in Virginia, with the latter also building a facility in Berlin, Germany), no established brewing interests from outside San Diego have expanded into our fair county…until now.
9990 Alesmith Court, San Diego
Earlier this week, AleSmith Brewing Company owner and brewmaster Peter Zien announced that he is entering into a collaborative partnership with international gypsy brewing superstar Mikkel Borg Bjergsø to provide a U.S. presence and full-time brewing facility for his company, Mikkeller, in San Diego.
AleSmith is in the process of moving out of its 20,000-square-foot campus in Miramar and into a 105,500-square-foot facility two blocks away that will allow the company to increase production ten-fold before reaching capacity.
Upon finalizing the deal on the larger venue, Zien set out to sell his existing brewery, tasting room, and warehouse space as a turnkey facility. He received interest from well-known brewing companies throughout the country, but ended up tapping Bjergsø, a longtime friend. It was as simple as floating the basic idea out via email.
Bjergsø, who has made a career by brewing his beers exclusively at breweries around the world, had been contemplating the idea of building a place to call his own but hadn’t made any serious movement on that aim until Zien posed the idea for the partnership.
Though still in the negotiation phases, essentially, both Bjergsø and Zien will hold interest in the former AleSmith campus, which will be under the charge of Bjergsø and used to brew Mikkeller beers. There is no plan for what those beers will be or whether Mikkeller will establish a line of core, year-round beers, but the potential will exist under this structure.
What is a surety is that Bjergsø will invite many brewing contemporaries to San Diego to craft an interesting array of collaboration beers, all of which will be available in a tasting room that will be revamped to reflect a style consistent with Mikkeller’s bars, which are scattered across the globe in locales such as Bangkok, Stockholm, and San Francisco.
Bjergsø is also in the process of opening a brewpub called WarPigs in his native Copenhagen, Denmark, a collaboration with Indiana-based 3 Floyds Brewing Co. that will also feature a small yeast-production laboratory run by San Diego–based White Labs.
Bjergsø plans to split time between San Diego, Copenhagen, and gypsy brewing abroad. He also plans on opening additional non-brewing venues throughout California. This is what makes sharing this interest with Zien so crucial: Bjergsø will be able to tap Zien to ensure he and his eventual staff harness the most they can as fast as possible from the old AleSmith brewery. Like others, Bjergsø knows the world-class beer AleSmith has produced over the past 20 years and, thus, knows that he stands an excellent chance of replicating that quality. That probability is raised significantly by embarking on this venture with the brewer who oversaw the facility’s operations since purchasing the business in 2002.
This yet-to-be-named interest is scheduled to start producing beer in July, one month after AleSmith’s new facility is estimated to be open and fully operational. The proximity of both businesses will make for easy interaction between Bjergsø and Zien, who plan on working together on AleSmith-Mikkeller collaboration beers.