Last November, Diane and Sean Hilz announced they had taken over an industrial suite in Vista to transform it from a hard-seltzer facility into a brewery. It was a return to form for the space, which had started its beverage-production life as the home of Toolbox Brewing in 2014. In hiring a trio of industry veterans to round out their pre-open team, the Hilz share that they are bringing on the brewer who helped establish and make a name for Toolbox, Peter Perrecone.
Toolbox was a cult favorite among local suds fans who, in particular, took to the company’s aggressively sour and otherwise wild beers. Those creations were the work of Perrecone (pictured above), who established the facility’s brewhouse and cellar setup when working with owners Amanda Elder and Spencer Peters to get the company up and running. In 2016, Perrecone was hired by Oceanside-based Belching Beaver Brewery to head production at the company’s Pub 980 facility in Vista, where he maintained a robust barrel-aged sour program and worked on other small-batch beers.
“Sean and I live at Shadowridge in Vista, absolutely love Pub 980 and probably go there about once a week,” says Diane, who says she and her husband had a good idea of who Perrecone was from their time at his vocational stomping grounds, but learned a lot more from his Portrait of a Brewer feature on the San Diego Beer News site. It encouraged them to build even more of a rapport with him at Pub 980. “As we got to know each other, we mentioned that we are in the process of opening our own brewery, and he shared with us that he really wanted to get back to the creative side of making beer.”
“Ever since COVID, my position at Belching Beaver started shifting into more of a production-brewer role. That’s not my happy place in the brewery,” says Perrecone. “I love to create new recipes and improve on the ones I’ve already brewed, and I wasn’t able to do that over the last year. So, when I learned that a brewery was going back in where I started my career, I had to see if I could be a part of it.”
Perrecone will serve as Co-head Brewer alongside Sean, who has 15 years of homebrewing experience and will share style-selection, recipe and portfolio development and brewing duties. That sort of shared, team-oriented approach will be something new for Perrecone, but he is excited to get back to developing new beers.
“We will come up with recipes as a team, but we would really like to see what sells and pay attention to that, changing what needs to be changed and really dialing in the science. With Peter’s background, we can do that,” says Diane. “We also want to offer a variety of styles. Peter is known for his sours and most people who know we are bringing him on have asked if we will be making sours. We will do one or two, but we will pay attention to what our customer base wants. I think Sean and Peter have the capacity to make great styles of any beer.”
“This whole thing feels like it’s meant to be; full circle. We are pretty much starting from scratch, so it will be a different place from what I remember.”Peter Perrecone, Co-Head Brewer, The Roadies Brewing
The Hilzs have brought aboard another pair of established members of the local beer industry. Coming on as Taproom and Production Coordinator is Angela O’Brien, who joins The Roadies after stints at Booze Brothers Brewing and Stone Brewing. In addition to overseeing the front-of-house, she will also have a hand in brewing. Meanwhile, marketing and social-media duties will be the responsibility of Lia Garcia, who has worked for beer companies (Societe Brewing, URBN St. Brewery) and industry-appurtenant businesses and organizations such as the local chapter of the Pink Boots Society, where she has served as a co-chapter lead since 2022.
When asked about the timeline for The Roadies’ debut, the Hilzs say their brewing system is currently on a freighter headed to Oakland. It is scheduled to arrive on Valentine’s Day, then be transported to Vista.
“Lots of exciting things are finally starting to fall into place, and we cannot wait to show everyone our planning and our team’s hard work,” says Diane. “The goal is to hold a soft-opening in late-April or early-May.”