Julian's oldest operating brewery will be without a tasting room for a few months. Pizza Port and Port Brewing/Lost Abbey founders Vince and Gina Marsaglia have closed the Bailey BBQ, the mountain town's longtime pit-barbecue restaurant that served primarily as an outlet for beers of Julian Brewing Company, itself housed in an adjacent building. While the three-barrel brewery continues to produce beer, the restaurant will be shut down for remodeling and rebranding; it's due to reopen in the fall as Julian Brewing Company.
The Marsaglias purchased the restaurant and established the brewery in an adjacent building five years ago in partnership with acclaimed Pizza Port brewer Tom Nickel and his wife Lindsey. The Reader thoroughly documented the subsequent up and down history of Julian Brewing, including the 2012 split that saw the Marsaglias take full ownership of the dual business, while the Nickels moved on to start Nickel Beer Company.
The net result was that Julian Brewing continued crafting beer with different brewing talent, most recently head brewer Matthew Pittman. However, the restaurant ended up reducing hours to just three days per week, serving food and beer Friday through Sunday only.
Julian's location 60 miles from San Diego's city center makes the small town primarily a weekend destination, and Vince Marsaglia says operating the 30-year-old restaurant's kitchen was not economically viable.
"Lots of times during the week up here it's pretty slow," he says, "and the way we had the kitchen set up…it was too labor-intensive for the amount of business we were doing."
The brewery and restaurant occupy three structures. Currently, the brewing equipment is set up inside the historic Bailey House, which dates to 1869 and was home to Drue Bailey, one of Julian's founders. Marsaglia says he aims to bring the brewhouse into the main restaurant and make changes to the kitchen so that the revamped business can be open daily.
"When I do the remodel, it will just be called Julian Brewing Company," Marsaglia says, adding that while the menu will undergo some revision, it will still include barbecue. "We're going to still use the smoker," he says. "It's been here 30 years, and it's the real deal." The wood-burning grill will continue to smoke meats with Julian-grown oak.
Marsaglia would like to open in time for the popular Julian Apple Days Festival in September, if the new kitchen can be built and approved in time. Otherwise, he sees October as a target date. In the meantime, Julian Brewing beer will be a rare find, most likely to turn up in one of Pizza Port's five brewpub locations.