Back in 2013, Reader Beer News reported that a planned local brewery, Absolution Brewing Company, had made the decision to join the unsaturated Los Angeles beer scene, rather than San Diego. Having thrived in its four-year-old brewery in Torrance, Absolution has now found a home in San Diego after all.
7536 Fay Avenue, La Jolla
On Friday, the beer company soft-opened its Absolution by the Sea restaurant, taking over the recently vacated brewpub of La Jolla Brewing Company (7536 Fay Avenue, La Jolla).
As it turns out, this venue was among the first locations targeted by cofounder Steve Farguson when he decided to open Absolution. "We tried to buy this seven years ago," he recalls. The San Diegan has familial ties to La Jolla and knew the property well. "I had a desire to have this place for a long time. I used to come here in its heyday when they were making really good beer."
Ownership at the brewpub location has changed hands since then, as it has several times over the past 20 years, during which it's operated both under the name La Jolla Brewery and La Jolla Brew House. Its most recent incarnation quietly closed this fall after, according to Farguson, the latest owners defaulted on a debt.
"We did not deal with the prior owners," he clarifies. "We had a relationship with the debt holder and they approached us."
In taking over the property, Absolution refurbished the restaurant, revamped the draft system, and cleaned up the brewhouse. While the Absolution beers served through the soft-open phase were made in Torrance, Farguson expects brewing to begin onsite within the next couple weeks so that house beers may be served for a grand opening timed to coincide with Absolution's fourth anniversary in March.
With a deep roster of IPAs, plus experimental beers including a double-fermented strawberry saison and a Belgian-dubbel-inspired recipe made with sweet Maui onions (which, Farguson notes, actually contain more fermentable sugars than the more conventionally used Belgian Candi sugar), Absolution has grown into a 15-barrel brewhouse in Torrance, distributing bottles and kegs throughout southern and central California, and doing a lot of business in Texas. The 10-barrel brewery it's inheriting in La Jolla will help Absolution serve an existing deal with University of San Diego and support future local plans for the brand.
"This obviously is a key location in a key destination point that we're really excited about," Farguson says of the La Jolla brewpub. "It won't be the only one we have in San Diego." He says Absolution is already on the lookout for a second San Diego property. In addition, an adjoining La Jolla address has already been permitted for distillery operations, so later this year the business looks to expand into craft spirits.
Farguson, a longtime homebrewer and Coronado resident, has kept up with friends in the local beverage communities and says he looks forward to Absolution becoming active members of the San Diego Brewers Guild and San Diego Distillers Guild.
"The most exciting thing for me," he says with a laugh, "is the opportunity to reduce my commute from two and a half hours to 20 minutes."