Back in June, the Reader reported a new nanobrewery, Circle 9 Brewing, had debuted its first beer at a fighting float festival in Japan. As of August 19th, the Kearny Mesa craft brewer is officially open to the public.
7292 Opportunity Road, Suite C, Kearny Mesa
Founders and brewers Darren Baker and Andrew Campbell bring a combined decades' worth of homebrewing experience to the self-funded operation. While the Japanese rice lager they served abroad wasn't served at the opening, an Americanized version of the beer, dubbed Limbo, was. The eight-week lagered beer led a lineup of six clean, balanced beers produced on a 3.5-barrel system.
"We want to refine some of these," says Campbell.
"We're definitely happy with hem as a first run," adds Baker, "but we're perfectionists. We're always trying to improve them."
Nevertheless, Limbo moved fast, reflecting popularity of lager styles in San Diego's beer community this summer. Campbell and Baker even decided not to serve the refreshing beer in full pints in hopes they could keep it available longer, as they wait for the next batch to finish.
Limbo represents the first circle of hell, as depicted by Italian poet Dante in the Inferno section of his medieval magnum opus The Divine Comedy. Dante's nine circles of hell are the inspiration behind Circle 9's name, and the Limbo lager stands as the brewery's first core beer. For now, the perfectionist brewers will continue to brew new beers and refine their recipes each month until they deem their successive pale ales, IPAs, Belgian styles, and stouts ready to earn the names of other circles: lust, gluttony, and avarice, for starters.
Baker and Campbell have been working to open Circle 9 for three years, virtually since they met. Campbell, who works in construction, had originally planned to start a brewery with friend and former coworker Zach Knipe. However, when Knipe moved to another company, their schedules no longer matched up well, and Knipe went on to quietly start Kensington Brewing Company on his own.
Meanwhile, software engineer Baker started attending the Business of Beer program at SDSU, en route to starting a brewery with a friend; that partner introduced Baker and Campbell and subsequently dropped out of the business, leaving the two new acquaintances to figure out both how to launch a business and brew together.
"I haven't known Andy that long, but we have a lot in common," says Baker. He acknowledges that finding a balance between their styles has been a challenge, but judging by their output, it seems to be working.
"Between the two of us, we're pretty savvy," notes Campbell, adding that they both tend to "take a st ton of measurements" throughout the brewing process, to ensure a quality product.
The small brewery joins a growing community of breweries in Kearny Mesa, where it sits within two blocks of the city's pioneering craft-beer tavern, O'Brien's Pub.