Newport Avenue is in the process of becoming a beer hub. First to open in a spate of pending brewery projects along the Ocean Beach strip is Helm's Brewing. In mid-May the Kearny Mesa–based company opened a tasting room at a Cable Street corner location that previously housed a clothing boutique called the Humble Hippy.
4896 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach
Helm's joins Solana Beach–based Culture Brewing on the block, with Belching Beaver reportedly due this summer. Elsewhere on Newport, the coming-soon O.B. Brewery seems poised to end six months of teasing to finally open Memorial Day weekend.
The Helm's shop features an open, dog-friendly layout that suits the beach-community vibe, and wood accents and furnishings maintain the brand's nautical theme. Sixteen taps include a cask handle and rotating seasonal releases in addition to Helm's eight core beers. True to O.B. style, a roll-up window bar offers drinkers a chance to sample pints and tasters belly up to the sidewalk, where they can watch the street life go by.
Cofounder Bryan Ruiz said Helm's had been considering a tasting room in North Park when they found the Newport space. "We knew we wanted to branch out into another neighborhood," he said, pointing to a trend of industrial-park breweries seeking out high-foot-traffic areas for more immediate access to customers. "There was a big push for the industrial-park location for a while," he added. "It was kind of a novelty — the tours were going around — but it kind of wore off after a little bit. Now people want a retail storefront location."
Which explains the development of O.B.’s burgeoning craft scene, including a Mike Hess Brewing tasting room that opened a few blocks north on Voltaire Street last summer, and Pizza Port O.B., which celebrated its sixth anniversary a couple blocks away the same weekend Helm's opened.
Judging by a happily bustling first-weekend crowd, O.B.’s gritty, undeniably thirsty population seems primed for its incoming craft boom. "This location's awesome!" Ruiz said. "The community's really embraced us." He paused for a moment to reflect on some of colorful, ranting O.B. characters most Newport retailers encounter on a routine basis, and amended his statement: "The vast majority of the people are very welcoming and excited to have us here!"