Imagine a place in your neighborhood where you could go to the counter and order a taster, flight or even a pint of craft beer. A place where you could purchase a rare or limited edition beer in a 22oz bomber, a six-pack, or even a magnum. A wonderland that could fill their growlers or a growler from any brewery, or even sell you an entire keg! The place described above is not a bar or restaurant, liquor store or bottle shop, and not a brewery. No, this seemingly fantasy world is, in actuality, the reality of the newest trend sweeping San Diego: satellite tasting rooms.
What is a satellite tasting room? In simple terms, a satellite tasting room is an extension of a brewery where the final product, beer, is sold to the consumer in an environment far from the actual brewery itself. The intended usage of a satellite tasting room is to act as a retail location for a brewery where only their wares will be on display and for sale on draft, in bottles, growlers, or kegs. The benefits of satellite tasting rooms to the craft beer community are many. For example; a brewery that is in north county San Diego can have a tasting room in mid-city or south county thereby enabling them to reach an audience that might not have easy access to their brewery or beers otherwise.
The benefits of a tasting room to the community are the ease and convenience of having a local watering hole that can cater to their craft beer consumption needs. The measure of the benefits to the environment are also great: growler filling stations at tasting rooms make use of reusable containers, the emissions brought upon by distribution as well as travel to the brewery and its visitors may also be reduced.
How does a satellite tasting room come to be? West Coaster spoke with San Diego’s “Craft Beer Attorney” Candace Moon, Esq. about what enables breweries to have satellite tasting rooms. “There is a law that allows a Type 23 to have basically a “duplicate” of its license these duplicates allow for all the same rights as the main license with the exception of brewing.” According to Strike & Techel Alcoholic Beverage Law, a San Francisco based law firm that practices exclusively in the field of alcohol beverage law, California law “contains an exception for small brewers that allows them to also own up to six on-sale licenses.” An interesting note to make about tasting rooms is that they, for the most part, are south of Interstate 8, and west of The 805 freeway, save for Santee’s Twisted Manzanita which has a tasting room just north of I-8 in Pacific Beach. Vista based Belching Beaver has a tasting room in North Park as does Point Loma’s Modern Times Brewing company, and soon they will be joined by Rip Current which is opening up a concept on 30th St. Head south on 30th to Southpark and you will find the very first Stone brewing Company tasting room. West of Southpark, in Barrio Logan, is Border X Brewing Company’s satellite tasting room, which will soon be joined in the barrio by Iron Fist. Nearby Stone also has two additional tasting rooms in downtown San Diego.