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The Original 40 raises the brewpub game

In 2019 breweries don’t just pour beer; they create a hospitality experience

Sales, production, and the proliferation of satellite tasting rooms may be on the rise in San Diego, but at least one aspect of the local brewery industry has slowed down considerably: new brewery openings. We’re only a short time removed from a time when two dozen new breweries would launch each year. In the first half of 2019, there were two. And they don’t even remotely resemble the industrial park breweries of old.

Place

The Original 40 Brewing Company

3117 University Ave,, San Diego

The newest generation of brewery business models emphasize the overall customer experience, placing the focus on comfort, dining, and hospitality in addition to beer. In other words, they invest in atmosphere, creating memorable spaces rather than merely relying upon beer quality and alcohol consumption to give visitors a good time. Stone Brewing set this ball rolling nearly two decades ago when it opened is World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido (and later Liberty Station). But the trend has accelerated in recent years with the arrival of slickly designed beer hubs such as North Park Beer Co., Viewpoint Brewing, Gravity Heights, and, though their core liquids aren’t beer, Bivouac Ciderworks.

North Park’s newest brewery, The Original 40 Brewing Company, exemplifies this shift. The brewpub does feature stainless steel brewing vessels in its back corner to remind guests that, yes, the beer is brewed on site. But its interior design otherwise hews to the standards of contemporary urban hospitality. Though literally residing within arch-roofed warehouse space, its outfitted with marble bar tops, rattan lounger chairs, planters dripping with greenery, and tabletops polished to embellish their wood grains. A massive roll up window opens up countertop drinking facing the active University Avenue street life.

It's a far cry from the spartan warehouse taprooms San Diego’s beer scene grew up with. This is the kind of place one might go for brunch, and in fact the restaurant recently initiated brunch service. With regard to food, this new generation of brewpubs takes a step up. The Original 40 kitchen is headed by chef Luke Johnson, recruited from a career in fine dining, who has assembled a bar menu equipped with the likes of charcuterie, mussels, and aguachile in addition to burgers and traditional pub fare.

The emergence of this hospitality beer model could almost be seen to diminish the priority on beer, but this hasn’t been the case. The Original 40 invested in a veteran brewer, Chris Gillogily, whose career has included stops at Pizza Port Brewpub Carlsbad, Mikeller Brewing, and Green Flash Brewing. He brings GABF medal-winning stout and brown recipes with him to North Park to pour alongside the expected, San Diego quality IPAs. He employs water filtration system to great effect in a trio of true lagers: a pilsner, helles, and Mexican lager.

The result is a venue casual passersby will enjoy as ardently as hard core beer enthusiasts, and helps raise the bar on what San Diegans might expect from what few new beer businesses might open here.

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A flight of lager, kettle sour, and IPA at new North Park brewpub, The Original 40 Brewing.
A flight of lager, kettle sour, and IPA at new North Park brewpub, The Original 40 Brewing.

Sales, production, and the proliferation of satellite tasting rooms may be on the rise in San Diego, but at least one aspect of the local brewery industry has slowed down considerably: new brewery openings. We’re only a short time removed from a time when two dozen new breweries would launch each year. In the first half of 2019, there were two. And they don’t even remotely resemble the industrial park breweries of old.

Place

The Original 40 Brewing Company

3117 University Ave,, San Diego

The newest generation of brewery business models emphasize the overall customer experience, placing the focus on comfort, dining, and hospitality in addition to beer. In other words, they invest in atmosphere, creating memorable spaces rather than merely relying upon beer quality and alcohol consumption to give visitors a good time. Stone Brewing set this ball rolling nearly two decades ago when it opened is World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido (and later Liberty Station). But the trend has accelerated in recent years with the arrival of slickly designed beer hubs such as North Park Beer Co., Viewpoint Brewing, Gravity Heights, and, though their core liquids aren’t beer, Bivouac Ciderworks.

North Park’s newest brewery, The Original 40 Brewing Company, exemplifies this shift. The brewpub does feature stainless steel brewing vessels in its back corner to remind guests that, yes, the beer is brewed on site. But its interior design otherwise hews to the standards of contemporary urban hospitality. Though literally residing within arch-roofed warehouse space, its outfitted with marble bar tops, rattan lounger chairs, planters dripping with greenery, and tabletops polished to embellish their wood grains. A massive roll up window opens up countertop drinking facing the active University Avenue street life.

It's a far cry from the spartan warehouse taprooms San Diego’s beer scene grew up with. This is the kind of place one might go for brunch, and in fact the restaurant recently initiated brunch service. With regard to food, this new generation of brewpubs takes a step up. The Original 40 kitchen is headed by chef Luke Johnson, recruited from a career in fine dining, who has assembled a bar menu equipped with the likes of charcuterie, mussels, and aguachile in addition to burgers and traditional pub fare.

The emergence of this hospitality beer model could almost be seen to diminish the priority on beer, but this hasn’t been the case. The Original 40 invested in a veteran brewer, Chris Gillogily, whose career has included stops at Pizza Port Brewpub Carlsbad, Mikeller Brewing, and Green Flash Brewing. He brings GABF medal-winning stout and brown recipes with him to North Park to pour alongside the expected, San Diego quality IPAs. He employs water filtration system to great effect in a trio of true lagers: a pilsner, helles, and Mexican lager.

The result is a venue casual passersby will enjoy as ardently as hard core beer enthusiasts, and helps raise the bar on what San Diegans might expect from what few new beer businesses might open here.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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