The Barrel Room now opens up to the drinking patio.
For most of its years in Sorrento Valley, New English brewing has epitomized the classic San Diego craft brewery experience. Its industrial park setting within the city’s tech hub made it a natural place for beer fans to meet for a beer after work, shoulder to shoulder with enthusiasts out to sample quality brews.
11545 Sorrento Valley Road #305, San Diego
We can only speculate whether socially distant 2020 will ultimately extinguish that aspect of local beer culture. But it’s for certain that New English has emerged from the pandemic as one terrific outdoor drinking destination.
Part of its move outdoors has been in response to evolving changes to covid restrictions. Part of it was the timely good fortune of a new landlord investing in improvements to the entire business campus New English calls home.
A couple years ago, Longfellow Real Estate Partners bought the property. In a bid to appeal to prospective biotech tenants, converted a section of parking lot into a lush outdoor gathering space, with the brewery as its hub.
Once a parking lot, now home to trees, grass, and outdoor drinking.
Among other things, Longfellow installed a shuffleboard court, planted trees, laid down turf, and refurbished campus exteriors to liven up their drab facades. That includes hiring a muralist to add vibrant color to the brewery’s entrance, now fronted by a 2000-square-foot drinking patio. “It feels good during this period of pandemic,” says New English co-owner Nina Lacey. “You can kick back and be safe and have a good time. It’s kind of cheerful.”
That’s just the drinking section of the wide open space created by campus park as a whole. Plus, thanks to another new upgrade, and the gradual return of indoor dining, New English will be able to make better use of its 2700-square-foot events space, the Barrel Room, creating more of an indoor-outdoor environment.
“The landlord put in big glass roll up doors,” says Lacey, “so we have lots of air flow.”
It’s not just a big change from the brewery as it was, but as it has been trying to cope with the times. Construction for all of this began before the pandemic hit, so the brewery has had to make do with building crews and equipment while trying to make up for lost sales with weekly home deliveries and six-packs to go.
“You just make it work,” says Lacey. “Everybody’s having a hard time, and everybody has their challenges, and you just have to keep adjusting all the time.”
Now that New English has become a pandemic-friendly place to drink, Lacey and partner/husband Simon have been glad to see regular customers return. “It’s really great to see people come back,” she says, “some people tell me, ‘This is the first time I’ve come out anywhere since March!’”