In case anyone has wondered how many years a small brewery can operate in San Diego without garnering any press, the answer is three.
I first encountered beer made by Kensington Brewing Company in late 2015. Unable to find much information about it online, I mistook the company for new. When I learned the business was about to open a new tasting room at its Grantville brewhouse, it only reinforced the misperception.
"Actually we've been around since late 2012," says Zack Knipe, lead brewer and co-founder. "We just kind of stayed super local." Since 2014, Kensington has even been quietly distributing kegs and bottles to a handful of businesses within a small radius of the Kensington area, including Clem's Bottle House and The Haven Pizzeria.
Any time news outlets have inquired about the business, Knipe avoided the publicity. "I kinda just told folks we're going to stay on the down low a little while," he says. "Our operation's still just been a one barrel pilot set up, so we didn't want to not be able to meet demand."
Knipe says he homebrewed for eight years on that system, working out of his Kensington garage before starting up commercially with close friend and fellow USD alum Andy Rogers. In 2013 they started brewing in a Grantville warehouse shared with local coffee roaster The WestBean.
However, something did happen in 2015 to attract notice. Kensington moved into its own space in the same business park, and upgraded to a three barrel system. While still small, the increased capacity allowed distribution to grow a bit, with beers appearing at Quad Ale House, Brew Project, and Rubicon Deli.
It also allowed enough space to set up a tasting room, which will open Saturday January 23, with regular hours Thursdays through Saturdays afterward. The tasting room will feature the two beers Kensington started out with — an "old world" IPA with balanced malts and hops, and a lightly fruited Apricot Wheat. Leading up to its opening, Knipe says the small company will also debut two imperial stouts, one a coffee version using Ethiopian beans provided by The WestBean.
Currently, web searches for Kensington Brewing result mostly in references to a brewery in Toronto. Information on the San Diego-based brewery can mostly be found on the Kensington Brewing Company Facebook page.