Culture Brewing Co. Set to Open Tasting Room in Ocean Beach

by on October 30, 2014 · 10 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach

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An exterior view of Culture Brewing Co. in Solana Beach. (All photos by Matthew Wood)

Newport Ave Storefront to Be Similar to Solana Beach Brewery

By Matthew Wood

The Ocean Beach craft beer scene is about to get a bit sudsier, as Solana Beach’s Culture Brewing Co. builds a new tasting room on Newport Avenue.

Construction is already under way on the storefront, which is just west of OB Warehouse. Co-owner Steve Ragan said he hopes to have the place open by November 8, in time for San Diego Beer Week.

He said the place will be similar to the Solana Beach brewery, except all the beer will be brought in from there and none made at the OB location.

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Kegs are stacked along the walls and used as chairs at the Solana Beach location.

It will be a rather bare-bones operation: No food, no TVs, no other booze. Just 20 or so taps serving nothing but their beer. Ragan said:

“That’s not to say that we’ll have 20 beers. We’ll have the ability to get to that point.”

He said his goal is to help people learn about and appreciate their beer.

“For us, the way we present the product, it becomes educational,” he said. “There are so many hop varieties out there. I want you to be able to differentiate.”

An interior décor has not been decided yet, but it will definitely feature work from local artists.

“Instead of having a blank wall we canvas with random stuff, we can showcase an artist that goes with the design of the place,” Ragan said. “It creates a social community.”

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Bartender Jennifer Morgan plans to be working at the OB location when it opens.

They are leaning toward not even have any chairs or tables – the Solana Beach location has just a few barrels where a few people can sit and set their drinks, but nothing fancy. Ragan said a sparse interior is meant to inspire conversation within and between parties who come in.

“You have groups who converse because there’s nothing better to do. Then others join in,” he said.

He said most pints will cost just $5 – a nice break from many local bars who offer up craft beer at a significantly higher price. They also offer smaller tasting portions as well as growlers to go.

They haven’t decided a closing time yet, but Ragan said the Solana location closes at 10 p.m. Their website says it will close at 11 p.m. each night, but that has yet to be confirmed.

“We’re preparing for definitely no later than midnight,” Ragan said. “Nothing good happens late.”

Being an intrepid reporter, I decided to make the trek up to North County and check out the original spot in Solana Beach. It is an airy and inviting space, with full-length windows opening out front and huge barrels in the back.

A view of the vats inside and kegs stacked on the roof.

The space is similar to what they have in OB, although it will be interesting to see if they open up the back like in Solana. Having the light and open air in the back really gave the place some charm. Not sure if they will be able to duplicate that in the former consignment shop on Newport.

On my visit, they were serving up about a dozen different brews, including their signature Session Amarillo IPA, Mosaic IPA and Keyhole IPA – which was the base Mosaic infused with grapefruit juice.

Pouring beers was bartender Jennifer Morgan, who says she will be in OB for at least a month when the place opens.

One rather similarity about the original: It is located on one end of a shopping district on Cedros Avenue. Here in OB, they will be in the middle of the antique store area on Newport – more of a female-oriented spot. That might serendipitous.

“Women are our target audience,” Ragan said. “Unless you want a room full of dudes, you gotta make beer that women want.”

He said education is the key.

“You start to come back for your favorite, but then you discover something new. It allows you to venture. That’s the most exciting thing is having people come to the realization that they like beer.”

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie October 30, 2014 at 9:35 am

I’m awfully glad to see that Matt had a good reason to go drink beer outside OB.

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Matthew Wood OB Wood October 30, 2014 at 10:55 am

Anything for quality journalism!

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bodysurferbob bodysurferbob October 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm

well, just how many did you have ol matt, and which ones? c’mon, tell the truth – what are the good brews we should be looking forward to …

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Bearded OBcean October 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Culture makes a nice black IPA. I attended a fundraiser where these guys were pouring a couple of the beers. The brewer’s a nice guy. Interestingly, they told me that they had no plans nor interest in naming any of their beers other than the style.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie October 30, 2014 at 5:21 pm

A black IPA, hmmm, we’ll have to have one together bearded obcean and hash out our differences.

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Bearded OBcean October 31, 2014 at 9:08 am

Indeed.

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Christo October 31, 2014 at 9:32 am

They make some tasty beers AND they allow fills on Growlers that they did not sell you (I love my Hydroflask Growler- Stainless Steel and well insulated). It pisses me off that the other guys have stupid policies that essentially make you own “their” growler. Who has the space to own a dozen growlers and only be able to fill 1 at a particular place?

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The Great Pumpkin October 31, 2014 at 6:35 pm

fo sho!

“we reserve the right to refuse service”

..and we have the right to go elsewhere ;-)>

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Bearded OBcean November 3, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Christo, it’s not the brewers that held the rule, it was the ABC that wouldn’t permit it, until recently. Apparently, as long as your growler does not have the name of another brewery distinctly portrayed, then they should fill it up. I’ve heard that covering the name with duct tape does the job and gets you past the legal gatekeeper.

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Christo November 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

That would be correct- as far as the law goes. However- Pizza Port, Stone and Ballast Point have company policies that prevent it.

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