The city of Carlsbad hasn't historically made it easy for breweries to open, requiring new businesses to goes through a series of committee meetings in order to obtain a conditional use permit. Case in point — Guadalupe Brewing still doesn't have an active tasting room in its northeast Carlsbad brewery and homebrew shop, and has decided to look into opening a tasting room elsewhere.
Nevertheless, the Carlsbad brewing community is growing, particularly inland, around El Camino Real and Palomar Airport Road, where five breweries already operate. The next to set up shop is called Burgeon Beer Company.
Working with the city has gone relatively smoothly for Burgeon proprietors Matthew Zirpolo, Derek van Leeuwen, and Anthony Tallman. The old high school pals hope to finish their CUP application soon, which could see them brewing in October and opening as soon as November. "We've got one little hurdle left with the city at the end of the month," says Tallman, "and then we should be able to get a more precise first brew date."
"We've been pretty fortunate," says Zirpolo of working with Carlsbad. "They've been on time with everything they told us."
When the partners originally conceived of starting a company called Abstract Brewing three years ago, they intended to open something in coastal Carlsbad or Oceanside. Trademark issues forced them to change the name, while ambition convinced them it was a better idea to move east.
"We wanted to be in a more industrial area," Zirpolo recalls, "that way we could grow faster."
Located just south of the airport, the Burgeon facility is large — big enough to house a 15-barrel brewhouse, with space and plumbing already set to more than quadruple capacity over the course of their seven-year lease. But to start out, the plan is simply to self-distribute to local bars, barrel-age beers for bottle release, and see which beers customers gravitate toward in their tasting room.
"Burgeon means to grow," Zirpolo points out. "We have our roots here in North County San Diego. We grew up here, and we want to continue to grow with this business."
Tallman and van Leeuwen have been homebrewing together for the better part of a decade, and have developed a variety of initial recipes for Burgeon, including a milk stout, pale ale, hoppy rye amber, a couple of IPAs, and several takes on a low-alcohol grisette featuring French saison yeast.
Transitioning to a commercial scale system shouldn't be an issue. Tallman has spent the past six years brewing professionally, first with Stone, and more recently for Rough Draft and Back Street Brewing. Tasting his beer is what first inspired Zirpolo — who previously worked in sales — to seek out investors to start their own beer company.
"One thing I noticed as we started," he remembers, "is that Anthony brewed five days a week, all week long. Then, on the weekends, what did he do for fun? He homebrewed. I saw that passion for beer and it made me feel really good about the project."