San Diego

Restaurants Expand Into San Diego’s $870M Craft Beer Market

As San Diego County’s craft beer industry continues to expand into local cities, restaurant groups are looking to get into the multi-million-dollar scene.

A report last year from Cal State San Marcos and the San Diego Brewers Guild found that the craft beer industry generated about $870 million in revenue for the local economy. 

The Cohn Restaurant Group, which already operates several eateries in San Diego, will join that market when they open the Draft Republic Brewing Company in La Mesa. 

A 2-acre lot was purchased for $1.8 million for the restaurant-brewery concept that will feature their own craft brews, an open-air restaurant and a beer-centric miniature golf course. 

The concept is an expansion of the Cohn group's current Draft Republic brew houses in Carlsbad and La Jolla, which only feature other breweries' suds. 

Burger joint Hodad's and seafood spot The Brigantine will soon be crafting their own beers, too. 

The editor of a craft beer industry magazine, "West Coaster" said on top of providing jobs, these established restaurant groups can lead to an evolution in the industry as a whole. 

"I kind of like the idea of a group that’s served the public in a hospitality sense showing interest in brewing, because they can do it from a certain efficiency that we can all learn from," Brandon Hernandez said.

Smaller beer crafters are joining the multi-million dollar industry as well and two local cities -- National City and Lemon Grove -- will soon be getting their first breweries. 

The team behind SoCal Brew Shop will soon open Embarcadero Brewing in National City.

And, alumni from San Diego State University's Business of Craft Beer program are preparing to open a new brewery in Lemon Grove, 13 Point Brewing.

Craft beer is also expanding in Chula Vista. Novo Brazil will soon open a second facility in Eastlake's Otay Ranch Town Center in early 2019.

Hernandez said there is room for all of these breweries in the local market but it's important for new beer makers to distinguish themselves.

"Some businesses don't need bells and whistles. Sometimes the beer is that good," Hernandez said. "I think that some of the best breweries have just really put a lot into communicating who they are, why they do what they do and really have something behind it," Hernandez said. 

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