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Kensington Brewing, brewing in Kensington

Events prompt the neighborhood taproom to become a neighborhood brewpub

A mixed six pack of beers brewed and served at Kensington Brewing
A mixed six pack of beers brewed and served at Kensington Brewing

It took nearly eight years and the impact of a pandemic, but Kensington Brewing Company now officially brews beer in its namesake neighborhood.

Place

Kensington Brewing Company

4067 Adams Avenue, San Diego

Founded in 2012, the nanobrewery spent years quietly making beer in Grantville warehouses, distributing small to restaurants and shops in and around Kensington. By 2015, founders Zack Knipe and Andy Rogers built out a small tasting room to host customers in their Grantville brewery. Three years ago, finally met the promise of their beer company’s name by opening a neighborhood taproom at 4067 Adams Avenue, in the heart of the community.

Though they ultimately stopped serving beers in Grantville, brewing operations continued at that location. But that changed this spring, with the arrival of the novel coronavirus.

When the shutdown began in March, Kensington put all its beers in cans, and its founders found themselves planning for an uncertain future. “We really thought critically about the pandemic and its potential to last a long time,” says Knipe. “We made the decision, if we were going to shut down, we needed to get small.”

The timing was right for the change: Kensington’s Grantville lease expired in May. They applied to the ABC to license their taproom for brewing, and moved the three-barrel operation to the back of the shop.

That’s just about the time breweries were allowed to resume serving beer, provided they served food. In that, Kensington met fortunate timing. While many San Diego breweries have had to scramble to team up with restaurants and food trucks to satisfy this requirement, Kensington had already spent much of last year working to install a restaurant component in its taproom: Detroit-style pizza maker Angry Petes.

“We had already done the little kitchen build-out, the health department had approved,” says Knipe, “We were really lucky there that we were set up with [Petes] already.”

With a little help from the Adams Avenue Business Association, Kensington brewing has been able to add sidewalk seating out front, supported by pizza slices and whole pies. The reduced capacity means sales are down, and the venue now closes on Mondays and Tuesdays for Knipe’s cousin and head brewer, Jeremy Knipe, to brew and can beers.

While Kensington the community continues to show up for pizza and beer, Kensington the brewery is using its canning equipment more than ever, offering six-packs and mixed six-packs showcasing a wider breadth of beers than it did pre-pandemic. Now, in addition to its flagship Apricot Wheat, Kensington IPA, Sussex Stout, and Pale Ale; Kensington sells cans of its Biona Fide IPA, Black IPA, Witbeer, and Belgian Golden Ale.

In the future, Zack Knipe and Andy Rogers tentatively plan to look for another off-site brewing space, presuming pandemic restrictions someday end, and weekly sales can return to pre-covid levels. But however long that may take, Kensington’s first brewery isn’t likely going anywhere. Knipe says, “I definitely think that, right now, we could stay exactly as we are and be fine.”

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A mixed six pack of beers brewed and served at Kensington Brewing
A mixed six pack of beers brewed and served at Kensington Brewing

It took nearly eight years and the impact of a pandemic, but Kensington Brewing Company now officially brews beer in its namesake neighborhood.

Place

Kensington Brewing Company

4067 Adams Avenue, San Diego

Founded in 2012, the nanobrewery spent years quietly making beer in Grantville warehouses, distributing small to restaurants and shops in and around Kensington. By 2015, founders Zack Knipe and Andy Rogers built out a small tasting room to host customers in their Grantville brewery. Three years ago, finally met the promise of their beer company’s name by opening a neighborhood taproom at 4067 Adams Avenue, in the heart of the community.

Though they ultimately stopped serving beers in Grantville, brewing operations continued at that location. But that changed this spring, with the arrival of the novel coronavirus.

When the shutdown began in March, Kensington put all its beers in cans, and its founders found themselves planning for an uncertain future. “We really thought critically about the pandemic and its potential to last a long time,” says Knipe. “We made the decision, if we were going to shut down, we needed to get small.”

The timing was right for the change: Kensington’s Grantville lease expired in May. They applied to the ABC to license their taproom for brewing, and moved the three-barrel operation to the back of the shop.

That’s just about the time breweries were allowed to resume serving beer, provided they served food. In that, Kensington met fortunate timing. While many San Diego breweries have had to scramble to team up with restaurants and food trucks to satisfy this requirement, Kensington had already spent much of last year working to install a restaurant component in its taproom: Detroit-style pizza maker Angry Petes.

“We had already done the little kitchen build-out, the health department had approved,” says Knipe, “We were really lucky there that we were set up with [Petes] already.”

With a little help from the Adams Avenue Business Association, Kensington brewing has been able to add sidewalk seating out front, supported by pizza slices and whole pies. The reduced capacity means sales are down, and the venue now closes on Mondays and Tuesdays for Knipe’s cousin and head brewer, Jeremy Knipe, to brew and can beers.

While Kensington the community continues to show up for pizza and beer, Kensington the brewery is using its canning equipment more than ever, offering six-packs and mixed six-packs showcasing a wider breadth of beers than it did pre-pandemic. Now, in addition to its flagship Apricot Wheat, Kensington IPA, Sussex Stout, and Pale Ale; Kensington sells cans of its Biona Fide IPA, Black IPA, Witbeer, and Belgian Golden Ale.

In the future, Zack Knipe and Andy Rogers tentatively plan to look for another off-site brewing space, presuming pandemic restrictions someday end, and weekly sales can return to pre-covid levels. But however long that may take, Kensington’s first brewery isn’t likely going anywhere. Knipe says, “I definitely think that, right now, we could stay exactly as we are and be fine.”

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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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