Del Mar Times | April 2017
Bottlecraft Beer Shop and Tasting Room is now pouring in Solana Beach. Inside the craft beer boutique beer-lovers will find everything from sours to stouts and barrel-aged to blondes, available by the taste or by the bottle.
Owner Brian Jensen said Bottlecraft is different than a normal bar and more than just a retail shop — a perfect fusion of the two.
This will be Bottlecraft’s fourth San Diego location to go along with Little Italy, North Park and Liberty Station shops; Jensen has had North County on his radar for a long time and when the beachy space opened up nearby to where the South Park resident surfs, he snapped up the opportunity.
Bottlecraft took over the former Beerworks space in the Beach Walk Shopping Center off Highway 101.
While Jensen will look to do some things different and new, he kept the entire Beerworks team for their knowledge and passion of the craft. After a quick switchover, the shop reopened in March and will celebrate its grand opening on April 1.
“We have been getting a lot of the regulars coming back and they’re happy to see the familiar faces behind the bar,” Jensen said. “People are excited about the bottle selection and the different approach to the draft offerings.”
There is also a lot of excitement around the kitchen — since taking over, Jensen has completed a kitchen remodel and is bringing in Big Front Door (bfd) a gourmet sandwich shop that will also serve up cheese boards and wings to pair with the brews.
The bfd pairing is similar to the partnership he has with Venissimo Cheese in his North Park shop — he teams up with someone who specializes in food while he handles the beer.
Jensen has worked in nearly every aspect of the food and beverage industry, including cooking, wine sales, brewing and restaurant management. He attended college in San Diego at Point Loma Nazarene before heading to New York City to study at the French Culinary Institute. Although he was studying wine and sharpening his palate, he discovered that there was a lot to learn about craft beer.
“Beer I found was just as complex and interesting, if not more so, than wine,” Jensen said.
His inspiration for his future ventures came from the wine shop he worked at in Brooklyn — he wanted to offer something similar for beer aficionados. He shopped for unique bottles in city bodegas and never felt it was the same experience as visiting a wine shop, where there was a nice presentation of products and a staff who knew how to talk about it.
Back in San Diego, he kept his idea in mind of the direction he wanted to go; it took him a few years but he eventually opened his first Bottlecraft in Little Italy in 2011. The second location followed in North Park in 2013 and then the third in foodie-emporium Liberty Public Market in March 2016.
In taking over the Beerworks location, Jensen has made some minor tweaks. The retail section has been improved and expanded and he may add on to the 20-taps behind the bar. The brick walls are bare for now but he is working to bring in local artists’ pieces — he is also working with the Coastal Commission on opening up the front windows.
“We’re taking it slowly but surely, but obviously the main focus is the beer and making sure that we have the best, that’s our goal,” Jensen said.
At least 50 percent of the beers are from California, 35 percent domestic and the rest international labels, broken up by easy-to-peruse labels. Jensen said they will always have what’s next and what’s new.
“The retail section fluctuates so that every time you come in there’s something new, that’s the fun of it,” Jensen said.
In addition to pouring beer, they will also serve five wines by the glass and are also working some more wine bottles into the retail mix.
“I’m trying to offer really interesting wines that are hard to find in San Diego,” Jensen said. “We’re super-geeky about the beer we carry, wouldn’t be in line for us to carry just basic wine.”
Like all Bottlecraft locations, the Solana Beach shop will do special events and collaborations with local breweries. Bottlecraft is currently in the midst of a collaboration with Pure Project Brewing and Mother Earth Brew Company, set to release on Earth Day on April 22.
The beer, called Three Sisters, is inspired by the waterfall and trail in Descanso and a portion of the proceeds will go to the San Diego River Park Foundation.
Stay updated on upcoming events and weekly staff beer picks at bottlecraftbeer.com. Bottlecraft is located at 437 S. Highway 101, Solana Beach, and is open Monday through Thursday from 3-11 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.