The Bell Marker brewpub opened in the Gaslamp Quarter late January, having polished up the brewhouse and restaurant space of defunct downtown brewery known as the Beer Company.
602 Broadway, Downtown San Diego
The Bell Marker is part of Artisanal Brewers Collective, a Los Angeles–based company with more than a dozen bars and breweries planned or pending throughout Southern California. Heading up Artisanal Brewers is Tony Yanow, the cofounder of Golden Road Brewing, which quickly became L.A.'s largest craft brewery prior to its acquisition by the world's largest beer company, AB InBev, in 2015.
Though owned by out-of-town interests, unlike nearby brewpub 10 Barrel — which opened to the chagrin of local brewers last year in East Village — the Bell Marker is not owned by AB InBev. And its 15-barrel brewhouse is being operated by a couple of local brewers, now returning to San Diego from stints elsewhere.
Years ago, Noah Regnery and Brandon Edwards each spent time making beer for Pizza Port under the tutelage of acclaimed local brewer Jeff Bagby. They became head brewers of Pizza Port's San Clemente and Solana Beach brewpub locations, respectively, before moving on to top positions. Regnery brewed at Hollister Brewing Company in Santa Barbara, while Edwards spent the last three-plus years at Columbus Brewing Company, in Ohio.
Head brewer Regnery, who also has a partnership stake in the business, says that, although Artisanal Brewers operates a number of brewery locations, each operates independently, and he and Edwards have carte blanche to produce the beers they see fit.
"That's the really cool thing about our concepts, is that unless there's a specific direction that we're going with a location, we can do what we want with it," Regnery says. Of course we'll have favorites that we'll repeat…but we're not going to be married to any specific styles."
The brewpub opened with a lineup of hoppy West Coast ales and English beer styles, including a cream ale and brown ale. However, both a Belgian blonde and Czech pilsner are forthcoming, and Regnery anticipates rotating through new styles and fine tuning recipes rather than fixing on a core lineup. "We want variety," he says, "we don't want it to be a machine. We want it to be a living, breathing thing."
He adds that customer feedback will likely influence the direction of the beers, as both brewers are prone to sitting at the bar between steps in the brewing process, talking beer with guests. As an example, he says, "We're happy with our cream ale. But, we're not a production brewery, so we get to play with it and make tweaks at least, if not make completely new beers every time."
Beer fans should not, however, expect to find any trendy hazy IPAs on tap at Bell Marker anytime soon. "It's not going to be one of our things," Regnery says. "That's not the way we're programmed to make beer.”