Planning Commission unanimously OKs tasting room

ENCINITAS — A proposed beer tasting room along Coast Highway 101 received the unanimous approval of the Encinitas Planning Commission.

The commission voted 4-0 in favor of the proposed Culture Brewing Beer Tasting Room, which would be in the former Cork & Keg Bottle and Gift Shop building near Coast Highway 101 and E Street.

The Solana Beach-based brewer currently operates tasting rooms in Solana Beach and Ocean Beach.

While residents have been concerned over the years about the rowdy bar scene that has emerged in downtown, the commission agreed with the majority of residents that spoke at the meeting in favor of the tasting room — this business wouldn’t be a problem.

“We are seeing a business that is a responsible business and a well-run business where alcohol doesn’t necessarily have to be bad,” Commissioner Greg Drakos said.

Commissioner Tony Brandenburg said he doesn’t drink, but has visited tasting rooms with his family in the past, and said the clientele is vastly different from the patrons you see at bars.

“It is generally an upscale group of men and women there to just enjoy a couple of beers and go home,” Brandenburg said. “I personally think it would be a great addition to our community.”

Culture Brewing Beer would sell beer for both on-site drinking — such as pints and sample size tastings of its various brews — as well as growler fills that can be taken to-go. According to the Culture Brewing Co. website, the company brews 44 varieties of beers.

The tasting room’s proposed hours would be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

In addition to the business owners, a number of supporters of the business in Solana Beach and some residents gave numerous testimonials in support of the proposal.

“I would gladly take Culture over an empty storefront,” said Tom Cozens, an Encinitas resident who owns commercial property in downtown.

Some residents, however, decried adding another alcohol-serving business in the downtown area.

“It’s a sad situation and only getting worse in Encinitas,” said Pat Crilly, who lives in the downtown area. “We need to strategically think about what do we want in our town.”

Before the hearing, a representative of Culture Brewing told The Coast News that while he was concerned about the brewery’s ability to get a fair hearing in Encinitas given the anti-alcohol rhetoric, he felt that the tasting room wouldn’t cause the problems associated with bars and other establishments that have led to growing concerns in town.

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