As is traditional for these sorts of columns, here is a year-in-review piece to put 2019 in perspective and look ahead to how the North County craft beer sector is shaping up for 2020.
North County saw nine new craft beer locations open in 2019: four breweries and five satellite tasting rooms. Two breweries closed.
There are currently 67 craft beer locations in North County: 55 breweries plus 12 tasting rooms.
Compared to the 60 locations open a year ago, 2019’s net growth of seven locations represents an 11.7% increase.
The first brewery to open in North County in 2019 was Stave & Nail Brewing, in May. They take the doubly interesting approach of focusing on barrel-aged sours made from wort produced next door at Rip Current Brewing, and of only being open one weekend per month. It is a business model that, while unusual, seems to be working. They are busy whenever they are open.
My Yard Live opened its outdoorsy games-and-music “backyard” themed brewery/restaurant in July. The family-friendly nature of the place means it is regularly busy —another unusual business model that seems to have taken off.
The tasting rooms newly opened in North County in 2019 were:
- Guadalupe Brewing Tap House (Vista, April)
- Carlsbad Brewing Company (Carlsbad, May — the tasting room and kitchen are operating but the brewery is still being set up)
- Kilowatt Brewing Taproom and Provisions (Oceanside, July)
- Little Miss Brewing (Escondido, September)
- Lost Abbey The Sanctuary (San Elijo Hills, November).
The growth in the number of North County craft beer locations in 2019 is the same as in 2018, which saw five breweries and four tasting rooms open, and two breweries close. 2017 seems to have been the peak year, with 12 breweries and one tasting room opening that year — although five locations also closed down in 2017.
2020 looks to be very active year in North County craft beer again. In total, I’m aware of 17 locations planned for North County.
Among the 17, however, are five very non-specific (and therefore somewhat doubtful) plans: A Brewery Igniter with spaces for two breweries is set to open in Oceanside in 2020, provided that tenants are interested in occupying the almost-turnkey facilities. And a venture calling itself “Co-Lab” plans to open a single venue with three breweries, a winery and a restaurant in Vista.
Much more certain are the two tasting rooms planned for Del Mar’s new Skydeck development, from Northern Pine Brewing and Rough Draft Brewing.
Soonest to open are likely the Pure Project tasting room under construction in Carlsbad, Ebullition Brew Works’ tasting room and restaurant coming soon in Bressi Ranch, and Booze Brothers’ Oceanside tasting room.
Of course, not every plan comes to fruition. My guess is that just nine of the 17 projects in planning are strong bets. But there could be other, additional projects that are currently not public which manage to get open in the coming twelve months.
For a full run-down on all the craft beer openings and closings in San Diego County in 2019, see my blog, CraftBeerInSanDiego.com.
Bill Vanderburgh writes the Craft Beer in North County column for Coast News. He started his award-winning blog, CraftBeerInSanDiego.com, in 2016 and has since reviewed every brewery and tasting room in San Diego. He loves sailing almost as much as beer.