Rear View Beer: 2kids Brewing

Remembering, catching up with first-ever tenants of the Miralani Makers' District

Rear View Beer header

In a world that’s moving faster than ever, with our attention being pulled in so many directions, it’s easy to get caught up in the here-and-now. But we can’t know where we are going without knowing where we have been. It’s important to take time to look back and survey the landscape gracing the route that led us to where we are today for context and clues as to what may lie ahead. Such is the case with the San Diego brewing industry, a faction both revered across the country for the quality of its beers and the companies that produce them, as well as its positive impact at home and abroad.

San Diego’s brewing industry and overall beer scene didn’t spontaneously occur. It was forged over decades by thousands of entrepreneurs, craftspeople, employees and fans. And key to it all have been the brewing companies that have added their own unique spirit, personalities, motifs, influences and, of course, ales and lagers to the equation. In San Diego Beer News latest feature, Rear View Beer, we are taking a moment to look back and honor brewing operations that are no longer with us; companies both large and small that leant their passion, ideals and liquid wares to the local scene before exiting it. Today, we remember 2kids Brewing.

It was the summer of 2012, when I e-met Rob and Sam Dufau (pictured at left and center, above) a married pair of homebrewers living in Mira Mesa. They were working to open a small brewery where they intended to name their beers by the forenames of family and friends. Their project site was in a small Miramar industrial park on the north side of a back street called Miralani Drive, and they were the inaugural tenants of what would grow to become an artisanal-beverage hub dubbed the Miralani Makers’ District. Working under the moniker 2kids Brewing, they produced a wide variety of beers, many of which were lesser-seen foundational ales hailing from the U.K. The brewing eventually became the sole domain of Sam, who was one of very few female head brewers in the county. Her creations were served up in a brightly colored suite celebrating art, sci-fi and other niche subcultures until 2019, when the Dufaus made the decision to close the business after unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a renewal of their lease.

How did you get into beer and brewing?
Sam Dufau: We were shopping for a wedding present when we found a one-gallon, all-grain homebrew kit on sale for $20. We figured even if it was a disaster we’d get $20 worth of fun out of it. It was a disaster—the beer was undrinkable—but we did have fun. Being the scientist he is, Rob figured out what we did wrong and wanted to try again. So we did, and that beer was much better. Next thing you knew, we were brewing almost every weekend. We entered a few homebrewing competitions and got some great remarks back, even winning a ribbon or two.

What inspired you to open your own brewery?
SD: It never occurred to us that we could run a brewery until we visited Mike Hess Brewing in Miramar. Back then it was just Hess Brewing and it was in a tiny establishment in an industrial park, and I believe their system was only one-and-a-half barrels at the time. The beer was excellent, and we thought to ourselves, “We could do this.” So we did! We wrote a business plan as an experiment more than anything else, an we could have opened just using our homebrew system, but we opted to run a Kickstarter to see if we could buy some heftier equipment. The Kickstarter campaign was successful, and by January of 2013 we were in brewery-setup mode. We opened at the end of September that same year, just before the government shutdown. We got really lucky on that. We operated 2kids Brewing in our original space for six years, and in September of 2019, we decided to close the business. We kind of got lucky on that one, too.

What did you seek to bring to the local beer scene with 2kids?
SD: The real motivating factor behind our involvement in the beer industry was the lack of variety. AleSmith Brewing had made a cream ale that was the best thing I had ever had, but it was seasonal and, at the time, a one-time-only beer to the best of our knowledge. 2kids was about bringing those lesser-known styles of beer to the public, offering more variety and novelty than the bigger breweries could feasibly offer. Bringing in local artists to drink, collaborate and decorate the brewery helped put a real brand on our personal style.

How did you put your personal stamp on the business?
Rob Dufau: We started out as pretty great collaborators, designing beers and brewing together because that’s how we had always homebrewed, but when Sam took over the head brewer role, I think 2kids really came into its own. I could focus more on business stuff and Sam’s totally unique perspective on beer-making really made 2kids stand out. I still got to have input, but it was nice to hand off some of those 100-plus degree brew days.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments and most memorable moments from 2kids?
SD: We were always proud of our beers. We tried never to brew a beer we wouldn’t drink ourselves. Winning a first-place ribbon for our Helles was a career highlight, but the multiple second- and third-place ribbons we won for Poppycock ESB were more indicative of our consistency. All the collaboration events we did with our fellow nano-brewers were memorable. From the semi-partnership with Intergalactic Brewing to the Miralani Makers’ District, we were doing some really cool things that showcased what the small beer scene was about. I miss the May the Fourth parties and the charity “pub” crawls we all organized.
RD: Beer festivals were a mixed bag, but the ones where I got to hang out with our brewing buddies and shoot the breeze between handing out cold tasters were the best. Those are the moments I look back on and smile.

Which of your beers do you miss the most?
SD: 123 Cream Ale, Poppycock ESB and 5 Finger Discount Helles Lager.
RD: All of the above, plus Incredulous Ordinary Bitter and Obligatory IPA.

Were there any fun or interesting things you had in the works but weren’t able to initiate before closing?
SD: Over the years, we made a few attempts to add more space and maybe a second tasting room, which would have been so cool! We would have been able to put something together a little more polished-looking to appeal to a broader crowd, but nothing really materialized. Still, it was fun to dream!

How has it been since you’ve moved on from the brewing industry and what are you up to now?
SD: Rob took a job with City of Hope up in Los Angeles County, so that’s where we are now. Also, the “2 kids” are now going to be “3 kids”, as we are expecting our first child this October. We are still homebrewing, but taking it less seriously. We recently brewed a low-alcohol British-style mild ale that is one of our favorite beers we’ve had in a long time. We’ll have to log that recipe away just in case.

If you could do it all over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
SD: We’d do almost everything the same but start with someone else’s money. It was a difficult decision to leave the industry, but we were so lucky to have been a part of the craft-beer scene in its golden years. I hope someday we can capture that spark again!

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