Council approves Palomar Brewing tasting room

Council approves Palomar Brewing tasting room
Palomar Brewing Founder Ben Fairweather tells the council about Carlsbad’s need for breweries. The city is currently home to four. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — The City Council approved a conditional use permit Tuesday night to allow a tasting room in Palomar Brewing, which is set to open on Loker Avenue West in September.

The brewery is allowed to operate in the planned industrial zone but a tasting room requires approval.

The council passed it unanimously although some expressed concerns about future standards for breweries.

Councilman Mark Packard said he thinks the council should look into density rules for breweries and tasting rooms.

“I think it would serve us well to be ahead of any issues rather than waiting until we have a problem and have to get reactive,” Packard said.

San Diego has gained international acclaim for the craft brewing industry. It’s home to more than 100 craft breweries.

Currently, there are four breweries in Carlsbad, with Pizza Port making up two of them.

Neighboring Vista has the most craft breweries per capita in the nation.

Founder of Palomar Brewing Ben Fairweather grew up in Carlsbad and hopes to operate a successful business in the area.

He sees a need in Carlsbad for breweries.

“Obviously there’s a demand for this product and what I want to emphasize is that I believe there is a lack of it in Carlsbad,” Fairweather said.

Mayor Matt Hall said he’s visited local breweries and seen the range in popularity.

“If (it’s) popular, there’s going to be a lot of people there,” Hall said.

The council raised concerns about parking issues.

According to city zoning rules, the site requires six allotted parking spaces.

The brewery meets those requirements and Project Planner Chris Garcia told the council he believes the brewery will get the most visitors during the inverse hours surrounding businesses are open.

Fairweather started a Twitter account documenting the industrial complex after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

Late Night Loker, as it’s called, shows a largely empty parking lot after 5 p.m.

The tasting room will be about 650 square feet and only the beers brewed on site will be served.

Since it’s a new brewery, it will be heavily reliant on the tasting room for business.

Head Brewer Mike Stevenson said it’s important to offer something different in a market that’s heavily saturated with I.P.A. style beers.

They are looking to brew unique lagers and sour beers alongside I.P.A.s.

The Fire Department has not yet determined the maximum capacity for the space but it’s only allowed to be 20 percent of the entire building.

Palomar Brewing will open next to Gunther Guns.

The Police Department said the proximity doesn’t present a safety issue although some in the Planning Commission didn’t agree.

Chairperson Victoria Scully voted to deny the permit in May.

The gun store was recently denied a permit to open a shooting range and Mayor Pro Tem Keith Blackburn said he doesn’t want the brewery to prevent a gun range in the future.

City staff is currently looking to amend city codes regarding gun ranges after unclear wording language led to the denial of a range at Gunther Guns.

City Planner Don Neu told the council that staff is hoping to have something ready to present to the city manager by July 20.

Fairweather hopes to have the brewery up and running by September.

If it’s a success, he said, they might relocate to Carlsbad Village in the future.

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