More movement on tap for Ballast Point Brewing

Ownership confirms news about Miramar and Home Brew Mart divestments and layoffs, shares more about near-term plans

It has been a month of monumental change for a brewing company that has known little else over the past nine years. From ownership shifts to portfolio alterations to the opening and, more recently, closing of venues, new and old, Ballast Point Brewing remains a malleable vessel adrift on choppy seas. Current captains, Chris Bradley and Brendan Watters say they remain both hopeful and determined they’ll navigate the 28-year-old business to a safe port of call, but acknowledge it won’t be easy and will take a great deal of work and change.

That laborious overhaul started in late-April when Ballast Point’s parent company, Bradley’s and Watters’ Kings & Convicts Brewing, divested in the manufacturing component of the company’s 107,000-square-foot headquarters in Miramar. The brewery and cellar, which includes massive 300-barrel and 150-barrel brewhouses, scores of sky-high fermenters, a packaging line, and plenty of warehouse and cold-storage space, has been purchased by another brewing company.

While Kings & Convicts did not name the purchasing party due to legal reasons, the company confirmed the sale and some of the reasoning behind it in its own words via Ballast Point’s social-media accounts this morning.

We’ve sold the production facility to a group that can utilize the scale of that site while Ballast Point simply focuses on brewing our own beer. This change will allow Ballast Point to focus on high quality production of our core brands through our partners, innovation in our taproom-restaurants, and planning for a sustainable brewery footprint as we seek a local site that we can develop into a more nimble brewery similar to our original Scripps Ranch site.

The message confirms Watters’ previously shared plan to locate a workable site in San Diego County to construct a smaller yet still sizable new headquarters with an 80-to-100-barrel brewhouse from which to produce Ballast Point beers.

The Ballast Point beers you enjoy will still be available throughout California and key markets further afield as we work to ensure continued supply. Also, nothing is changing at our taprooms as we continue to crank out new beers at each location.

Watters says Ballast Point will continue to operate its Miramar bar and restaurant for at least another 18 months as the company searches not only for a replacement for that venue, but locations where it can build additional taprooms and restaurants. Several potential project sites have already been identified.

While the exact image of what Ballast Point will become is still unclear, Watters says public venues will play a major role in the company’s revised business plan. He made that clear last month, when news broke that Kings & Convicts had sold the company’s Morena birthplace, 32-year-old Home Brew Mart, to Jim Johnson, a former Ballast Point employee who managed the retail outlet from 2015 to 2021.

The lease was up on Home Brew Mart, and while the homebrew store was how Ballast Point started, that’s not our focus. Ballast Point has determined that our model is major taprooms with restaurants, like Miramar, Long Beach and Downtown Disney, and distribution of our core products, and we are growing along those lines. Handing [Home Brew Mart] over to a long-term employee is a much better option, keeping the homebrew community engaged in San Diego.”  

Brendan Watters, Co-owner, Kings & Convicts Brewing / Ballast Point Brewing

Ballast Point’s social-media message echoed that sentiment.

For 32 years our team has helped customers curate grain bills, carefully select hop varieties, adjust water chemistry, provide the latest equipment and techniques, and just generally create great beers. So many homebrews were born at Home Brew Mart and went on to win awards and become the base for many great Ballast Point beers. So it is with pride that we have shared that, while Ballast Point will be exiting that location, the baton will be passing to a former employee who will continue to operate the homebrew supply stores, with plans for even more to come.

Ballast Point’s local assets now include the aforementioned Miramar restaurant and a taproom in downtown’s Little Italy neighborhood which is equipped with a kitchen as well as a five-barrel R&D brewery. Outside of San Diego County, Ballast Point operates restaurants in Anaheim, Long Beach and San Francisco. All but the latter are furnished with small on-site brewing systems.

Watters says that brewing at those brewery-equipped venues will not only continue, but increase following the Miramar deal. Those efforts will ramp up without longtime Ballast Point R&D Brewer Chris Takeuchi, who worked for the company for a decade, managing its Little Italy facility. Takeuchi was one of numerous employees let go in two rounds of layoffs executed in recent weeks as part of Kings & Convicts’ adjustment and restructuring.

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