Stumbling into San Marcos

El Cajon’s Creative Creature Brewing expanding, taking over Stumblefoot Brewing

Ingenuity and inventiveness are at the heart of the craft-beer industry, but few lead with these traits quite like the fermentationists at Creative Creature Brewing. A small El Cajon brewery operating out of an enclave at URBN restaurant, the three-year-old operation has built a fervent cult following behind fruited kettle sours, pastry stouts, IPAs of the hazy and milkshake ilk and outlandish strange brews. As is the case for many popular yet tiny interests, the business’ biggest problem is its inability to keep up with demand. Owner Derek Carnation admits it’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless, and one he hopes to solve by taking over the North County brewery previously operated by Stumblefoot Brewing.

Located in a south San Marcos industrial park, the 5,000-square-foot combination brewery and tasting room is equipped with a 15-barrel brewhouse that Carnation and company are quite familiar with. Creative Creature has contract-brewed at the facility for a significant stretch of time. Several months back when the opportunity to acquire Stumblefoot’s license and equipment arose, Carnation seized it.

“We enjoy North County and have a lot of ties there. It’s an area where we see a lot of growth potential,” says Carnation. “Our goal is to try to build a new audience that we don’t currently have. People come down to our current tasting room from North County, but this will allow our brand to be seen by a lot of people who have no idea who we are.”

Creative Creature’s new tasting room is under renovation and expected to open early next year. Right now, the bigger push is to get up and running in the brewery. Having two production centers will allow the company to double its annual production to 2,000 barrels. That increase in barrelage will make it possible to put more of its beer in kegs and offer it to bars and restaurants. Currently, Creative Creature only distributes to four nearby retail accounts, one of which is the aforementioned URBN.

For years, on-premise accounts have shown interest in carrying Creative Creature’s beers, particularly the avant-garde, ultra-modern varieties that garner attention on a weekly basis. Carnation appreciates that, but hopes increased visibility will show people what his company is all about and perhaps clear up some misconceptions along the way.

“Our goal is to try to be different than other breweries, which is difficult to do somewhere like San Diego. Even so, we’ve managed to do that, but we also try to have a full spectrum of styles for everybody,” says Carnation. “People are always asking what our next sour or fruited beer is going to be, but we have good classic beers, too, and I love them.” Currently, Creative Creature’s tap list includes five lagers—Helles, doppelbock, Irish red, Mexican and Vienna—but the brewery owner says most people don’t even know they produce bottom-fermented beers.

“The craft-beer audience is so much larger now. There are 45-and-up fans and then the 25-to-40-year-old beer people who make up a lot of our market,” says Carnation. “There’s a different feel for what both of those groups expect. The older market gets frustrated sometimes that we’re not putting our traditional beers in cans, but we don’t do them in large volume because I can’t afford to sit on them. There’s just not enough cold-box space to make that profitable, which is another reason why this expansion will be good for us.”

Creative Creature Brewing’s North County facility is located at 1784 La Costa Meadows Drive in San Marcos

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