3 p.m., Dec. 13
Belching Beaver migrating south
Belching Beaver Brewery using tasting rooms, bottles to reach consumers
Despite my best efforts to be clear in my communications, the messages in my articles get misconstrued from time to time. Of everything I’ve written concerning local beer, perhaps none of my opinions have been as misunderstood as those concerning North County’s Belching Beaver Brewery (980 Park Center Drive, Suite A, Vista). With the exception of noting some thinness on their imperial stout and that their saison could be a bit more dynamic, everything I’ve reported regarding the quality of their beers has been positive. They make several IPAs, and I enjoy both their deliciousness and diversity. The India red ale is good stuff. Their milk stout is fantastic.
Yet, some readers seem to think I have it out for them or dislike Belching Beaver simply because I dare to state that I find the name of the company and its beers unappetizing. Let me say it once and for all—this is a good operation with beers better than many of the nearly 20 brewing companies that have opened in the past 15 months. Case closed. Misinterpret that and it’s all you. With that sorted out, let’s move on to some cool developments for the company.
During last week’s San Diego Brewers Guild meeting, I had a chance to speak with Belching Beaver owner Tom Vogel. We discussed the company’s plans to get their beer to market beyond the 70 draft accounts they’ve amassed in their first few months in business. They are in the process of purchasing a bottling operation, which should significantly increase their reach. That’s pretty standard in the industry, but what’s really exciting and forward-thinking is Belching Beaver’s plan to open a tasting room in North Park. The company is close to debuting that space, which will be located at 4223 30th Street, a stone’s throw from popular craft beer bar eatery Tiger! Tiger! Tavern. They will not brew any beer there. The venue is strictly for offering up tastes of their product. Vogel likes the model because it eliminates a northerly trek for those wanting to taste Belching Beaver beers, while allowing he and his employees the ability to maintain the quality of their beer firsthand as it makes its from their brewery to the consumer.
It’s a similar model to that of Stone Brewing Co., which made its beers and some of the ambiance of its large-scale brewery, restaurant, merchandise outlet, and event-ready garden facility in Escondido available to citizens of San Diego proper with the installation of its Stone Company Store in the South Park neighborhood in 2011. Each of those non-brewery outlets offers customers the opportunity to purchase specialty offerings from the brewery aren't available in bottles or via most San Diego bars and restaurants. It’s proven a successful way to expose beer fans to a bigger sip of what Stone has to offer (enough so that the company has since opened stores in Oceanside and Pasadena), and figures to be a good move for Belching Beaver as well, especially with such a well selected location. I've often wondered why others haven't long ago adopted this model, and think it speaks volumes to the Vogel and company that they are utilizing it. Golly Ward, looks like the Beav’s growing up.
Note: In addition to his work writing for The San Diego Reader, Brandon Hernández is employed by Stone Brewing Co.