By Logan Broyles | SDUN Reporter
In recent years, San Diego has developed a reputation as a craft brewing hub, with each neighborhood having its own hotspot where local beer lovers gather. With the upcoming opening of the Hillcrest Brewing Company, Hillcrest now has a brewpub to call its own.
For 20 years, the partners behind the MO’s Universe restaurant group have operated Urban MO’s Bar and Grill, Gossip Grill and Baja Betty’s. Now, the restaurant owners are brewing unique beers for the Brewing Company.
The Hillcrest Brewing Company is the brainchild of David White, a beer enthusiast and self-described “mad scientist,” who got his start as a brewer while working at the Aztec Brewing Company in Vista.
“Our brewmaster David White came to us about a year ago because he wanted to open up a brewery and was looking for investors,” Hillcrest Brewing Company owner Chris Shaw said. “We knew right away this was a great fit for our company because we sell so much beer at our three other locations. We figured, ‘why not start brewing our own?’”
The new brew house is currently under construction at 1458 University Ave., the former site of the Mandarin Dynasty restaurant and in the same complex where Gossip Grill currently resides.
“We just love Hillcrest and we’re really passionate about the neighborhood,” Shaw said. “We’re so excited to bring a new venue where all of our old friends can gather and feel like a part of a community.”
The Hillcrest Brewing Company will feature a hexagon-shaped bar, an open ceiling and a 12-foot drop-down chandelier made from 97 beer bottles. There will also be a garage door leading to a large patio featuring communal tables with cushioned kegs for seats.
“It was a pretty plain looking building but once we started opening up some of the walls, it became a spectacular looking space that had never been utilized,” Shaw said, calling the space “fresh and new.”
“People will be amazed when they see the building. It’s going to be phenomenal. We tore down some walls and found this great central beam structure where we’re going to hang the custom chandelier,” he said.
Additionally, White built a custom thirty-barrel system that can brew up to sixty kegs at a time. The brewpub will have 24 taps flowing, with six carrying White’s own brews.
“We’re making enough that we can sell to other places as well,” Shaw said. “There are currently 10 different locations that have already ordered our beer, and eventually we hope to sell it at liquor stores and grocery stores once we get our own bottling machine.”
Additionally, there will also be mobile, chilled kegs, called kegerators, for on-site parties and special events, a trademark for any MO’s Universe venue.
“We want to create a very festive atmosphere for locals, just like at all of our restaurants, we do parties well so there will always be something special going on,” Shaw said. “We’ll be giving classes on how to home-brew your own beer, and we’ll be giving tastings and doing a lot of things to help people appreciate the art of beer.”
The Hillcrest Brewing Company is slated for a tentative opening day on June 15 and will offer brick-oven pizzas among other menu items.