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Not all San Diego beer tasting rooms look alike

Six spots that go beyond reclaimed wood

Comfortable seats for a beer tasting at Acoustic Ales
Comfortable seats for a beer tasting at Acoustic Ales

They may range in size and scope, but most of the nearly 150 breweries and tasting rooms pouring across greater San Diego have at least one thing in common — their looks. Since the majority operate out of warehouses and business park suites, their brewing equipment prominently featured, there's really only one cost-effective design option: go industrial. And why not? All the restaurants are doing it.

Fresh beer is the number one reason to visit a tasting room, so customers rarely care which color paint a brewery has slapped on their drywall to liven things up. But for those who like a little atmosphere to go with their tasting notes, here are a few spots that have made an effort to go above and beyond the patchworks of reclaimed wood and other contemporary industrial tropes.

Half Door Brewing Co.
The fact Half Door set up its brewpub in a century-old house gave it a decorative head start. From the outside, the Petco Park–adjacent house seems like something out of the American South, each of its two stories fronted by wide, railed porches. Inside, the dark and polished wood bar gives it the warmth of an Irish pub, finished by parquet floors, floral wallpaper, and vintage photographs.

Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment
Though both occupy red brick buildings built in the early 20th Century, there's no connection between the current Mission Brewery of East Village, and the pre-Prohibition beermaker that lent its name to Mission Brewery Plaza, at the foot of Mission Hills. Acoustic Ales is the only brewery working out of the Plaza these days, where it offers the most comfortable tasting room in the county. Overstuffed leather sofas and chairs invite you to sink in and drink beer in the sort of den-like setting one might expect to take a snifter of brandy.

The wall decor at the Border X tasting room goes a different direction than most.

North Park Beer Co.
With almost 9000 square feet of warehouse to fill, North Park could easily have looked the part of just another urban reclamation project and nobody would have minded. Instead, the brewery enlisted one of the city's most acclaimed restaurant designers, Paul Basile, to craft an elegant space that somehow invokes both Irish pub and 19th-century street corner.

Border X Brewing
A couple blocks off Chicano Park in Barrio Logan, Border X exemplifies the expressive spirit of its neighborhood. From tin ceiling medallions to checkered floor tiles, it does its own thing from top to bottom, with walls split between rotating art shows and a quirky collage of cartoonish white on black illustrations.

Modern Times Beer
The Lomaland Fermentorium and North Park's Flavordome each embody the design savvy that's helped Modern Times create international demand for its beer (and merchandise). The Point Loma brewhouse forces attention away from its nuts and bolts with comic-book-pages-as-wallpaper and a post-it note mural of Michael Jackson holding his chimp. The North Park satellite may be summed up in two words: lampshade ceiling.

Kilowatt Brewing Company
This Kearny Mesa brewery can't entirely shake its industrial setting, but when the black lights go on it's an altogether otherworldly experience. Rotating blacklight art sets a unique tone, bolstered by a color-shifting LED bar top reminiscent of a Star Trek drinking venue. This distinctive vision promises to be further embellished when Kilowatt opens a satellite tasting room in Ocean Beach.

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Comfortable seats for a beer tasting at Acoustic Ales
Comfortable seats for a beer tasting at Acoustic Ales

They may range in size and scope, but most of the nearly 150 breweries and tasting rooms pouring across greater San Diego have at least one thing in common — their looks. Since the majority operate out of warehouses and business park suites, their brewing equipment prominently featured, there's really only one cost-effective design option: go industrial. And why not? All the restaurants are doing it.

Fresh beer is the number one reason to visit a tasting room, so customers rarely care which color paint a brewery has slapped on their drywall to liven things up. But for those who like a little atmosphere to go with their tasting notes, here are a few spots that have made an effort to go above and beyond the patchworks of reclaimed wood and other contemporary industrial tropes.

Half Door Brewing Co.
The fact Half Door set up its brewpub in a century-old house gave it a decorative head start. From the outside, the Petco Park–adjacent house seems like something out of the American South, each of its two stories fronted by wide, railed porches. Inside, the dark and polished wood bar gives it the warmth of an Irish pub, finished by parquet floors, floral wallpaper, and vintage photographs.

Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment
Though both occupy red brick buildings built in the early 20th Century, there's no connection between the current Mission Brewery of East Village, and the pre-Prohibition beermaker that lent its name to Mission Brewery Plaza, at the foot of Mission Hills. Acoustic Ales is the only brewery working out of the Plaza these days, where it offers the most comfortable tasting room in the county. Overstuffed leather sofas and chairs invite you to sink in and drink beer in the sort of den-like setting one might expect to take a snifter of brandy.

The wall decor at the Border X tasting room goes a different direction than most.

North Park Beer Co.
With almost 9000 square feet of warehouse to fill, North Park could easily have looked the part of just another urban reclamation project and nobody would have minded. Instead, the brewery enlisted one of the city's most acclaimed restaurant designers, Paul Basile, to craft an elegant space that somehow invokes both Irish pub and 19th-century street corner.

Border X Brewing
A couple blocks off Chicano Park in Barrio Logan, Border X exemplifies the expressive spirit of its neighborhood. From tin ceiling medallions to checkered floor tiles, it does its own thing from top to bottom, with walls split between rotating art shows and a quirky collage of cartoonish white on black illustrations.

Modern Times Beer
The Lomaland Fermentorium and North Park's Flavordome each embody the design savvy that's helped Modern Times create international demand for its beer (and merchandise). The Point Loma brewhouse forces attention away from its nuts and bolts with comic-book-pages-as-wallpaper and a post-it note mural of Michael Jackson holding his chimp. The North Park satellite may be summed up in two words: lampshade ceiling.

Kilowatt Brewing Company
This Kearny Mesa brewery can't entirely shake its industrial setting, but when the black lights go on it's an altogether otherworldly experience. Rotating blacklight art sets a unique tone, bolstered by a color-shifting LED bar top reminiscent of a Star Trek drinking venue. This distinctive vision promises to be further embellished when Kilowatt opens a satellite tasting room in Ocean Beach.

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Comments
1

Thanks for this. I've had it up to my thick foamy head with the steel-and-reclaimed-wood look.

Nov. 29, 2016

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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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