Ballast Point Opens Sour Beer Brewery and Barrel-Aging Cellar

Austin Ray
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THE GIST
Ballast Point has built out a sizable new brewery in a 60,000 square foot space adjacent to its headquarters in the Miramar neighborhood of San Diego. Reached by GBH, the company confirmed the facility, its seventh in California, is split to serve three key purposes. The Trade Street Facility, as it’s called, will feature a sour beer production brewery, a barrel-aging cellar, and room for dry goods storage.

On the production side of things, the Trade Street space will enable the company to dramatically ramp up its sour production in the future. To that end, this section of the space includes its own bottling line, a 40-barrel brewhouse, and is ultimately capable of pumping out 20,000 BBLs of sour beer per year. But the company says boosting sour production will be a gradual ramp up, as Trade Street is currently operating only “on a limited basis.” That being said, the production, packaging, and national rollout of Sour Wench, a kettle sour blackberry ale, can be traced back to Trade Street, meaning the brewery has already facilitated a significant release.

In addition to expanding sour production, Ballast Point also joins a growing list of other breweries that have opened dedicated sour facilities to keep wild products separated from tame offerings. “[The space] provides opportunity to keg and bottle on a larger scale, without worry of contamination in our ‘clean’ breweries,” the company tells GBH.

Through Trade Street, Ballast Point also plans to turn its barrel program—which, to date, has been only available on draft and limited to specific regions—loose on the rest of the country, and in new formats. Most notably, the company says it’s currently planning the packaged release and national roll out of High West Barrel Aged Victory at Sea—a wood-christened version of its popular porter, Victory at Sea—in 12 oz. 4-packs. (The barrel-aging part of this new facility will be sectioned off from the sour part of the facility.) Ballast Point will also utilize this section of the space to help satisfy demand for barrels from other breweries, as it’s currently in possession of more than 2,000 barrels for aging beers.

As for the dry good storage space, the company says there’s “not much to it, other than space.” Perhaps more noteworthy, then, is that the space, like all of the company’s brewing facilities, also features a dedicated Q&A lab. Also worth noting: California only permits beer makers to have a maximum of six duplicate licenses for retail facilities, which means Ballast Point is currently maxed out in The Golden State. The Trade Street space will only be used for making and storing beer, not direct-sales retail.

Ballast Point also runs an east coast operation in Virginia and, this summer, announced plans to build out a brewpub and restaurant in Chicago, the U.S. home of its parent company, Constellation Brands.

—Dave Eisenberg