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Kensington Brewing Company is not where you think

By Cody Thompson | Suds in the City

In this exciting and ever-growing craft beer scene in San Diego, not a day goes by without plans being written about the next up-and-coming brewery. Star brewers of tomorrow are plotting their plans of attack on the San Diego beer scene today. That being said, what would appear to be the newest kid on the beer block officially opened its doors Jan. 23, although looking into their past would prove they have been working hard on making their mark in the local beer world for quite some time.

Owned and operated by Zack Knipe and business partner Andy Rogers, Kensington Brewing Company (which is surprisingly located at 5839 Mission Gorge Road in the Mission Gorge/Grantville area) actually has been operating under the radar of thirsty beer fanatics for over two years. What started in Knipe’s garage has now become a full-fledged tasting room and production facility. This facility gives Kensington Brewing the ability to grow and produce more of their Old World style, malt forward beers for their fans. When Kensington Brewing opened to the public on Jan. 23, they started with a three-barrel, direct-fire system with the ability of producing 105 barrels of beer in the coming year.

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Kensington Brewing Company officially opened on Jan. 23, although it has been around for a while. (Photo by Cody Thompson)

“Kensington Brewing Company was started in my garage in Kensington. (We) sought after some space on Adams Avenue, but with space being so hard to come by, we expanded the area we were looking in to at least get us started with the idea that we would always try to circle back and establish a tasting room in the heart of Kensington,” Knipe said.

“We love our location’s proximity to Kensington and a few of San Diego’s other great beer brewers.”

For those who may not often make the trek out to Mission Gorge/Grantville area, rest assured that a visit to Kensington Brewing Company also opens up a stop at other breweries, including Groundswell Brewing and local favorite Benchmark Brewing Company.

Kensington Brewing Company owners boast a fondness for Old World- and English-style beers.

“I was always interested in different beers,” Knipe said. “In college when 99 percent of people would bring Bud Light to parties, I was well-rooted in many beers from other countries because they tasted so much better. So our beer style tends to lean more towards Old World-style recipes with lots of hop/malt balance and characteristics that tend to be more true to style.”

Upon opening day, the beer board displayed multiple styles ranging from an IPA to a brown ale and an imperial stout. (A coffee version of the same beer is also available.) Their IPA is not the typical West Coast style, but presents a more malt-forward brew clocking in at 8.3 percent alcohol by volume. Some melon flavors mingle with the obvious sweeter hops to make their variation of an English-style IPA. Their light-bodied brown ale checks in at 5.2 percent alcohol by volume and with its mild roast profile is an easy drinking example of the style. 

As far as being a member of this vast and highly respected beer community in San Diego, Knipe has a pride that runs deep within him in both his business and personal beliefs.

“I think what makes San Diego such a great city for beer are the people who live here,” he said. “San Diegans enjoy such a wide variety of great choices in activities, cuisine, music and, of course, beer.

“I am very excited about the current climate in San Diego beer. I continue to be pleasantly surprised at how collaborative the brewing community is with one another and how much support is given to see that the industry as a whole continues to flourish,” Knipe said.

“I think we all understand that it is in the best interest of every brewer in San Diego to continue to create high quality creations. We want our city to continue to be a destination for beer tourism, and for the country and globe to know that if they pick up a bottle off the shelf that says ‘Brewed in San Diego’ they know they are in for a treat.”
This statement holds a deep connection with me, personally. The San Diego (indie) beer community is something in which I hold a lot of pride and value of being a member. The sense of community between brewers, writers, artists and drinkers alike is what helps our city thrive the way it does today. Without this sense of pride and collaborative spirit, in the words of George Costanza, a beer community divided against itself cannot stand. Kensington Brewing Company stands for all of this and more.

“I think we just aspire to be an acknowledged member of the San Diego beer scene. When you have an industry that is operating at a high level and is serving its community as well as San Diego brewing has, I think a primary objective is to live up to those standards and continue to perpetuate the trend,” Knipe said. “But I think something that will set Kensington Brewing apart is the desire to not only brew great beers, but our desire to actively foster community connections and give residents chance to gather and maintain friendships.”

Kensington Brewing Company is open Thursday and Friday from 4-8 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m.

—Contact Cody Thompson at cody@threebzine.com.

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