The Coast News Group
Mike Stevenson, left, and Ben Fairweather hope to have their brewery and tasting room up and running by late summer or early fall. Photo by Ellen Wright
Mike Stevenson, left, and Ben Fairweather hope to have their brewery and tasting room up and running by late summer or early fall. Photo by Ellen Wright
Carlsbad Community Community News

Palomar Brewing Company aims to fill Carlsbad need

CARLSBAD — North County has long been a big supplier of quality craft beer, with one of the biggest craft-breweries in the nation, Stone Brewing Co., calling Escondido home.

Vista is home to more craft breweries per capita than any other city in the nation.

Yet neighboring Carlsbad is home to just four breweries, Pizza Port making up two of them.

Two Carlsbad residents are hoping to change that with the opening of Palomar Brewing Company, on Loker Avenue West.

Ben Fairweather and Mike Stevenson are hoping to open a tasting room to cater to the surrounding businesses and hotels.

They see Carlsbad as a good opportunity because of the amount of residents that go to surrounding cities to eat and drink.

“There is a leakage to other coastal communities,” Stevenson said.

They both agreed that the interest has already been high. Fairweather said people in the nearby business community pop in, almost daily, to check the progress and find out when they can taste the beers.

The project has always been a goal for the two Cal State San Marcos graduates.

While it sounds like a plot point out of a TV sitcom, they finalized their business relationship at the Coachella Music Festival last year.

“It all happened at the popsicle stick house,” Stevenson joked.

Stevenson is the head brewer and has been home-brewing with his dad since he was a kid.

He went to Germany to intern at a brewery and learn more about traditional brewing.

“It helped me get a job locally,” Stevenson said.

He spent two years at Twisted Manzanita Brewing Company and learned how to brew on a bigger system.

Once the brewery is up and running, he plans to focus on lagers, and other styles that aren’t brewed as heavily in the nearby area, like sour beers.

“Lagers are making a full-circle and sour beers are coming around,” Stevenson said.

Fairweather stressed the importance of having unique offerings in a market that’s heavily saturated with IPAs.
“We’ll definitely have a few IPAs,” said Fairweather. “We understand also that if we keep doing the same thing everybody else is doing, why would we expect a different outcome?”

Instead of having a traditional American blonde ale, they’ll have a Belgium style blonde.

In the beginning, they’ll let the demand dictate what they brew.

They have a 10-barrel system and will be able to produce about 1,000 to 1,500 barrels a year.

Since they’re such a new company, they will be heavily reliant on the popularity of the tasting room.

People will be able to fill up growlers at the tasting room, assuming City Council approves it.

They received approval from the Planning Commission last week, although some commissioners expressed concerns over parking and the proximity to a gun range.

Officials from the Police Department said there were no safety concerns with it being near Gunther Guns.

Fairweather also said they’re in the process of reaching out to nearby businesses to enter into a parking agreement.

They hope to open the tasting room during inverse hours that nearby businesses are operating.

The project is within walking distance to the recently opened Holiday Inn Carlsbad, which Fairweather hopes will be good for tourism.

“We’re a small fish in the sea right now, but who knows, it could bring some money to Carlsbad,” said Fairweather.

Their City Council hearing for the tasting room is going to be scheduled in late June or early July and they’re already approved as a brewery.

They hope to be up and running by September.