Whenever the opening date for a new brewery approaches, there’s always a fair amount of anticipation from curious folks who want to see and taste the products that will eventually pour out of its taps. While many breweries open with an owner or head brewer who has gained accolades in the home brewing community, it’s not often that you have a true rock star in the craft beer world opening his first operation after more than a decade of making waves by brewing beer at host facilities around the world, but that’s exactly what happened when Mikkeller opened its San Diego brewery on Saturday.
When it was first announced that Mikkel Borg Bjergsø would partner up with AleSmith Brewing Company to transform the former headquarters of the Miramar stalwart into Mikkeller’s first official brewery, it remained to be seen what the results would be. To help ensure a smooth transition between operations, AleSmith Senior Brewer Bill Batten stayed around to help Mikkeller take advantage of his years of experience with the Cabot Drive 30-barrel brewhouse. If the offerings of the opening weekend are any indication, the partnership should be fruitful.
The tap list for opening weekend contained variants of the Beer Geek Breakfast/Brunch series that has been a hallmark of the working relationship between Mikkeller and AleSmith. On the hoppy side of things, a series of India pale ales with names like Waves and Spells joined an American pale ale called Sparks to deliver the flavors that have become synonymous with San Diego. A hoppy pilsner called California Dream was available in both regular and blood orange varieties, and there were some Belgian-influenced brews like SD Saison, a trippel and a blonde ale.
As far as the transformation of the space goes, it’s impossible to miss the giant Mikkeller-style mural that adorns the wall of the Cabot Drive tasting room. Gone is the wall of barrels that occupied a fair amount of floor space in the old setup, which helps create a more open feel. They’ve also traded the old high-top tables in for longer communal-style models that are perfect for large groups or getting to know your fellow craft beer drinkers.
Saturday’s grand opening kicked off with a running festival with beers back at the brewery, and the party continued into the night with VIP sessions that included guest brews from prestigious breweries from all over the United States. Sunday morning saw a Beer Geek Breakfast session with food and pairings guided by Bjergsø before the brewery opened for day two with food trucks in the back loading dock area. Moving forward, the brewery will be open daily at noon until 9 p.m. with later hours on Friday and Saturday nights.