Photo courtesy Burgeon Beer.
Burgeon Beer Company added an outdoor drinking location: the former site of Escondido Brewing Company, now dubbed The Oasis.
Sorrento Valley barrel-aged sour beer-maker California Wild Ales announced last week it will be opening a taproom in Ocean Beach. Actually, it’s taking over the same Newport Avenue taproom originally opened by Helm’s Brewing, and eventually purchased by cannabis beer brand, Two Roots Brewing Co.
4896 Newport Avenue, San Diego
Wild Ales co-founder Bill DeWitt, who lives in Ocean Beach, took note when Two Roots closed its taproom last month, and reached out to its ownership to inquire about the space. He says, “We feel that our style of beer will fit right in with the vibe of Ocean Beach, San Diego’s funkiest neighborhood.”
Co-founder Zack Brager notes they wasted no time locking down the venue, “Our leasing agent is in the same building as the property manager so it worked out perfectly,” he says, “We were able to start talks and scheduled a walkthrough before the space even hit the market.”
Turns out, one beer company moving in to take over another’s former taproom space has not been uncommon in 2020. In fact, the same thing just happened a hundred yards away. A half-block up Newport, the OB taproom of Solana Beach-based Culture Brewing Co. closed in April, only to reopen in October as Nova Easy Kombucha.
4845 Newport Avenue, San Diego
Nova Easy is the kombucha brand launched by Chula Vista beermaker Novo Brazil Brewing. Novo brought the location a vibrant, Brazilian-inspired paint job and added coolers to sell its canned product to go. Though the venue takes the name of Novo’s hard and soft kombucha lines, it serves everything under the Novo brand, from beer to hard seltzer.
Both Two Roots and Culture will continue on as beer companies, just not with a presence in Ocean Beach. The fact their beer businesses are being replaced by beer businesses suggests location wasn’t so much the problem, as the arrival of covid-19.
That said, the pandemic’s impact on the local beer industry has not been uniform. While several breweries have been forced to close or make cutbacks, others have successfully managed to pivot their businesses toward pandemic-friendly models, whether increasing canned distribution, adding food service, expanding outdoor drinking options, or, in some cases, all three.
6350 Yarrow Drive, Carlsbad
Burgeon Beer Company, for example. In a constant state of growth since its inception in 2016, Burgeon hasn’t stopped for 2020. It’s expanded the footprint of its Carlsbad brewery, taking over additional warehouse and parking lot space to keep up on-premise service, while enlisting on-site food vendors to remain compliant with current county regulations.
And, in late November, it took over the former home of Escondido Brewing Company. One of San Diego’s tiniest breweries, Escondido Brewing closed permanently early in the pandemic. Burgeon has adopted Escondido’s mostly outdoor drinking venue and rebranded it as The Oasis beer garden, serving fifteen taps of Burgeon Beer, including limited amounts brewed on a small pilot system.
649 Rock Springs Road, Escondido
"The opportunity to open a tasting room in the previous Escondido Brewing facility came from an existing friendship with the owners,” says co-founder Matthew Zirpolo. “We are honored to carry on their legacy by bringing high-quality craft beer to the people of Escondido."
4112 Napier Street, San Diego
In another case of taproom swaps, the former Bay Park home of Benchmark Brewing will become a new outpost of Scripps Ranch-based Harland Brewing Co. While Benchmark never had a chance to invest in its beer garden vision for the venue, the well-capitalized Harland is in a position to wring the most out of the space, during the pandemic and beyond.
With new shutdowns of drinking establishments likely happening through the end of the year, at least, it’s too early to say the local beer industry has survived this pandemic mostly intact. But, so far, it doesn’t look as though we’re going to lose too many physical beer drinking locations.