The grand opening for Oceanside's newest brewery is slated for Saturday, June 10, but it has already sold out its first batch of beer, thanks to racking up 122 different bar and restaurant accounts.
2550 Jason Court, Oceanside
That's has a lot to do with to its ownership. The investor roll of Black Plague Brewing reads like a top ten list of professional skateboarders. Among the A-list talent investing in the brand is the sport's reigning superstar, Nyjah Huston, and a skateboarding icon, the first person to land a 900, San Diego native Tony Hawk.
Tony Hawk lands the first-ever 900
ESPN X Games
Having more than a dozen pro skaters on board has given Black Plague a massive marketing platform. "We have, collectively, over ten million in our social media network," says Media Director Jared Lucas. "It definitely helps to get the word out."
World Record Longest Ollie?
Jordan Hoffart's 16'6" jump
Lucas also hails from the skating business, as videographer and team manager for the long popular Bones brand, which sponsors many of the skaters involved with Black Plague. That includes Jordan Hoffart — record holder for the world's longest documented ollie. The Vista resident is a founding and managing partner along with Lucas, CEO Jarred Doss, and COO Terry Little — already known to the San Diego beer community as owner and brewer of Bear Roots, a brewery and homebrewing supply shop in Vista, where he's been brewing one barrel at a time.
With Black Plague he's making beer on a considerably larger scale. The 13,000-square-foot brewery features a 20-barrel brewhouse and 180-barrel cellar. The partners built out much of the 1500-square-foot tasting room themselves, incorporating repurposed skate obstacles to build their bar. A stage set up to support live music doubles as a skateboarding trick apparatus.
If the pro athlete investor model sounds familiar, it's because Miramar's Saint Archer Brewing similarly launched with a lineup of social-media savvy, action-sport athletes behind it in 2013. While Saint Archer's investors cashed out to big beer two years later, the Black Plague team insists that's not the plan here.
Hoffart points out this brewery's been in the works for years, intended to establish a second career. "I was getting old," he says frankly, "I've got a couple kids now, and in skateboarding you travel a lot. I wanted something a little closer to home, more sustainable. This is long term."
Aside from skater cachet, a second reason for Black Plague's instant demand is an affiliation with San Diego's oldest craft brewer. It's the first outside brewery Karl Strauss has recruited to its well-established distribution network.
With kegs moving quickly, Black Plague already plans to expand brewing capacity and release beer in cans, including 1347, a citra and simco IPA that takes its name from the year the bubonic plague hit Europe.
"They believed at the time that drinking beer would help stave off the plague," says Lucas, explaining the rationale behind the brand's name, and logo: a plague doctor, wearing the signature bird-beak mask, packed with aromatic herbs meant to prevent infection.
Depicted clinking glasses with the grim reaper in a tasting room mural painted by Doss, it's easy to see how this heroic yet menacing figure fits the skating's skull and crossbones culture.