Just in time for opening-day races, Del Mar's first craft brewery has opened to the public. Viewpoint Brewing Company sits directly south of the Del Mar racetrack and fairgrounds, just across the San Dieguito Lagoon.
The view of the lagoon contributes to the brewpub's name, and the 7000-square-foot space opens up to a shaded patio overlooking the lagoon, offering long community table seating, fire table booths, and a smattering of bar-friendly games ranging from cornhole to skeeball.
2201 San Dieguito Drive, Del Mar
Opening the high-rent city's first brewery didn't happen without effort, and owner Charles Koll spent nearly two years making it happen, including several visits to Del Mar city hall to convince officials and concerned residents that his business was legit.
"Del Mar's tough," Koll says with a laugh, "I was accused of wanting to open up a strip club at one point, and a motorcycle gang hangout!"
While some members of the community had reservations, Ko credits other Del Mar residents with helping Viewpoint make it through the city's vetting process.
"My neighbors," he explains, "I live just up the street from the brewery, and my neighbors actually banded together and showed up." When the city held the public hearing, he says, "One after another they came up to the podium and spoke, and expressed their interest in the brewery, and their support of me."
An avid homebrewer, Koll previously worked professionally as a chef, including in the kitchen of Rancho Santa Fe's upscale restaurant Mille Fleurs. There he met Gunnar Planter, who signed on as Viewpoint's executive chef, serving creative small plates and elevated pub fare, such as pretzel bao buns and pink peppercorn steak frites.
Given his culinary background, Koll suggests the quality of food at Viewpoint is as important to him as the beer. "There is no distinction between, we're a restaurant that brews beer, or we're that brewery that produces food," he says. "It takes the same knowledge and technique to put out a great dish as it takes to produce a great beer."
To wit, brewer Moe Katomski also comes from a culinary background. Katomski has homebrewed with Koll for years, while cooking in notable restaurants such as Solana Beach's Pamplemousse Grille, and Truluck's in La Jolla.
Katomski says he and Koll work on beer recipes together, and that the two regularly meet with Planter to discuss both beer and food menus: "We have a meeting at least once a week about how the food and beer are going to play together."
While the 15-barrel brewpub opened with just five house beers on tap, its 20 tap handles are filled out by regional guest beers. Katomski expects that to continue as he and Koll work to add more of their own drinkable, food-friendly styles to the lineup. The brewhouse is set up to add up to 240 barrels of fermenting capacity to its current 60.
Viewpoint was originally to be known as Vigilante Brewing, but Koll encountered a naming conflict with a brewery in Montana. He points out the Viewpoint logo is an ambigram: it retains meaning when viewed from a different perspective. In this case, when upside down it reads: "Good Beer."