Rear View Beer: Barrel Rescue Brewing

Here then gone in the blink of an eye, Kearny Mesa brewery aimed to find homes for adoptable pets

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 Barrel Rescue Brewing with co-founder Katie Earle.

Barrel Rescue Brewing logo

When some breweries close, they leave behind a legacy that would require chapters of lengthy prose to adequately describe. This is not the case with Barrel Rescue Brewing, the local operation that holds the distinction of having the shortest run of any beermaking operation in the history of San Diego County. Open for just one day in the spring of 2018, it was built by animal-lovers, Greg Littrell and Katie Earle (pictured below), who aimed to raise awareness about local pets in need of forever homes from a 1,900-square-foot Kearny Mesa industrial suite. It was an aspiration both noble and unique that was thwarted when their rent was hiked prior to their landlord putting the building on the market. Rather than walk away without seeing their dream realized, the couple threw a one-day grand-opening/closing party. At the time, they had planned on finding a new site to house their passion project, but that never came to pass.

How did you develop an affinity for craft beer?
I got into beer when I lived p in Torrance and stumbled across a little place in El Segundo called Richmond Bar and Grill. They had the normal beers—Bud, Coors, etc.—but the owner also had what he called the “rotator tap”, which was hooked up to five-gallon kegs of various IPAs. My first taste of AleSmith IPA and I was hooked.

Why did you decide to open a brewery?
We were basically talked into opening our brewery by others who had tried some of our homebrew sour beers that had won awards.

What did you seek to bring to the local brewery scene with Barrel Rescue?
We wanted to bring traditional Belgian-style barrel-aged sour ales with a twist to San Diego.

Greg Littrell & Katie Earle

How did you put your personal stamp on the business?
Instead of traditional beer signs, Barrel Rescue was going to incorporate original photography of adoptable pets throughout the county from local photographer Tim Stahl. We have been heavily involved in dog rescue for years and thought it would be a cool venue to advertise adoptable pets in need of a home.

What are your proudest accomplishments from the Barrel Rescue era?
The blood, sweat and tears that we and our friends put into demolition, construction and our opening. We can’t thank everyone enough, from all of our friends who lent a hand, the crew at Societe Brewing for advice and encouragement, and everyone in the awesome San Diego beer community who stood behind us.

What are some of the most memorable moments from building the brewery?
Digging the trench drains with just the two of us and one very unlucky friend who volunteered. And, of course, our grand opening/closing party.

What are you two up to today?
I am in the veterinary field now and Greg is in IT.

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