Brew & Improved
Hospitality powerhouses venture into the brewing business
Posted on October 15, 2018
Beer is big business in San Diego. The latest proof comes courtesy of three highly successful local restaurant groups wading into the brewing industry. Those legends of hospitality range from burger barons to seafood savants to restaurant royalty, and each sees the benefits of embracing our number one export by making it themselves.
The first to get in on the fermentation game is the Brigantine family of restaurants, with Ketch Brewing. The nautically-inspired handle is one of four concepts from Brigantine going into the old Anthony’s Fish Grotto site on the bayfront (they are also installing a stand-alone on Shelter Island where Red Sails Inn used to be). The company has tapped former Fall Brewing staffer Sam Billheimer as head brewer. Thanks to him and the ten-barrel brewhouse and cellar at The Brigantine’s Kearny Mesa administrative HQ, it will no longer rely on contract-brewing for its Brig Blonde and will be able to branch out to other styles that so far include a Kölsch, Vienna lager, and India pale ale (IPA). Billheimer is currently working to keep up with demand across Brigantine, Miguel’s Cocina, and Ketch. Once that’s ramped up, Ketch beers may find distribution outside these familial outlets.
Located just over a mile from the Brig’s brewery is Hodad’s Brewing, the offshoot from the burger enterprise of the same name. World famous behind multiple showings on Food Network and millions of sated all-beef cravings, this institution hopes to add to its reputation behind beers from longtime GM and avid homebrewer Marlow Myrmo, who won over the heads of this family-run business with his recreational creations so much that they green-lit him to construct a ten-barrel brewery within a 3,000-square-foot spot in San Diego’s Murphy Canyon area. Myrmo will focus on American (think hop-forward) and Old World (English, German, and Belgian classics) beers, all of which will be distributed exclusively to the company’s OB and downtown restaurants as well as its locations inside Petco Park.
Last but certainly not least is the most ambitious hospitality group brewery project, Draft Republic Brewing Co. It is the brainchild of the Cohn Restaurant Group and represents their second foray into fermentation. Take one took place in the late ’90s with the Gaslamp’s Hang Ten Brewing, which launched the careers of two future brewmasters who went on to head Karl Strauss and Green Flash Brewing. This time around, CRG will have its pick of veteran brewers eager to head the 15-barrel brewery, which will be but one of the perks at this multi-faceted, 25,000-square-foot La Mesa venue. Others include an outdoor beer garden, children’s play area, and a mini-golf course. The beer will make its way from the brewpub to the group’s many restaurants (BO-beau, Coasterra, Corvette Diner, Draft Republic, Island Prime, and many more) starting late summer/early fall of next year.
With beer-making under their own roofs, one might expect an exodus of local craft beers from these groups’ taps, but that won’t be the case. All three will maintain loyalty to other local brewing companies, rather than trying to be all things to all people on their own. That savviness and respect for their contemporaries are but two of the many attributes they’re bringing to the San Diego suds scene. Brandon Hernández
Draft Republic Brewing Co.: Courtesy of Cohn Restaurant Group