In homage to Ken Video (former occupants of 4067 Adams Ave.) Kensington Brewing founder Zack Knipe keeps one of their signs hanging (right, background).
Five years after it quietly launched in Grantville, Kensington Brewing Company has a tasting-room presence in the neighborhood it's named for. In October, the nanobrewery began serving beer within the former site of Kensington Video, which closed earlier this year after three decades in business. As history would have it, the neighborhood's eponymous video rental shop was what first brought the eponymous brewery founder, Zack Knipe, to the area.
4067 Adams Avenue, San Diego
"When I was a student at USD," Knipe recalls, "I took a Spanish cinema class, and most of the movies I had to watch were at Ken Video…. That's how I found the neighborhood, approximately 16 years ago."
He liked the place so much that, eight years later, Knipe and his wife spent the better part of a year searching for a home to buy in the neighborhood. Knipe spent even longer waiting to find a location suitable to his beer business, holding out to find something centrally located within Kensington's small business district on Adams Avenue.
Once a gift shop, later a video shop, and now a taproom.
Though sorry to see the family-owned video shop go, Knipe knew the place was a good fit for his own family business: his father manages the new tasting room while his cousin helps with much of the brewing.
With two young children at home, the Knipes knew firsthand the community would benefit from having a family-friendly gathering spot, so in the back of the tasting room, a children's play area features a large chalkboard and magnets to play with. "We have a two-year-old and a four-year-old," Knipe says. "We know how much it helps to have something for them to do."
The taproom opens at 3 p.m. on weekdays, and on a recent Friday afternoon it was starting to fill up by 3:30. With 20 taps, including 3 nitro handles, the new space can offer a wider range of beers and higher occupancy than Kensington could serve at its previous tasting room, located at its Grantville brewery.
A historical photo on the wall at Kensington Brewing shows the neighborhood pre-development and the tract office that would soon change that.
That taproom closed temporarily while Knipe works on upgrading brewing capacity to meet the rising demand at his new neighborhood hangout. "We can have a lot more people than we could in Grantville. I’m surprised, even on a Tuesday night, how many people are in here, either studying or just hanging out or having a meeting."
Decoratively, the new tasting room pays tribute to the neighborhood's history. A video-rental sign hangs in the back of the room while other walls feature blow-ups of photographs from Kensington's early days. One shows what a nearby canyon looked like before it became the location of Interstate 15. Another depicts the tasting room's storefront long before its video-shop days, when the sign read Kensington Gift Shop.