Second chances

Posted: September 7th, 2018 | Food & Drink, Top Story, Uptown Brews | No Comments

By Jess Winans

North Park beer lounge celebrates its first year

The charitable Second Chance Beer Co., which operates a tasting lounge in North Park and brewery in Carmel Mountain, celebrated its first “brewversary” in Uptown — and third in San Diego — this past Labor Day weekend.

Opening the brewery was a “second chance” for co-founders Curtis Hawes, Marty Mendiola and Virginia Morrison, who founded the business after working for more than a decade in the San Diego craft-beer industry.

Curtis Hawes, co-founder and chief sales officer, pours from the tap (Photo by Jess Winans)

“Working at a brewery here in town [Rock Bottom in La Jolla] and just tasting awesome craft beer, not only that Marty [Mendiola] brewed but around town, gave me the idea to open Second Chance,” said Hawes, who also operates as the chief sales officer (CSO) for the company.

Hawes and Mendiola began working in the industry at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in La Jolla as brewmasters for 10 years and 15 years, respectively.

“Marty and I would talk a lot about wanting to go out and open up our own brewery and so after a few years of talking about it, Virgina [Morrison] at one point was like ‘Either do it or stop talking about it because you guys talk about it all the time,’” Hawes said. “So we were like, ‘Alright, that’s a good idea.’”

Continuing with their theme of second chances, Hawes, Morrison and Mendiola use upcycled furniture in their beer lounge. (Photo by Jess Winans)

Hawes, brewmaster Mendiola and CEO Morrison chose the name, Second Chance, on the premise that everyone deserves a second chance in life. In line with its name, the brewery donates to charities as part of their Giving Second Chances program. Nonprofit organizations and individuals can fill out an online application to hold events at their two locations. Organizations that benefit from the program include Second Chance Dog Rescue and Donate Life, among others.

“I think the best part about operating the program is seeing the actual impact,” Hawes said. “People talk a lot about change, but especially when it’s change locally that you’re a part of, you get to see the impact.”

Second Chance also holds fundraisers for individuals and families experiencing losses or hardships, such as paying for cancer treatments or funeral services.

Hawes said one of the hardest parts of owning a brewery is naming the beers. With an estimated total of 7,000 breweries nationwide, there are a lot of names that are off limits.

One name they snagged, which is Hawes’ favorite, is their first beer — Seize the IPA.

“That might’ve been the first beer name we ever chose,” he said. “It just fit not only with the feel we wanted, but also just what we were trying to get across like ‘seize the moment, seize the day, live in the moment,’ — that idea. And that’s where ‘Seize the IPA’ came in.”

A hand-painted logo graces one of the walls in the tasting room. (Photo by Jess Winans)

Other drafts on rotation include Luminous, a blonde ale; Tabula Rasa, a toasted porter; Seize the Coffee, a coffee IPA; Mulligan, an Irish-styled pale ale; Clever Hoppy Name, a pale ale; Legally Red, a hoppy American red; Fool me Twice, a double IPA; Glorious, a Belgian-style golden ale; Saison Solare, a Belgian-style saison; and Take Two, a brown ale.

Another opportunity may also be in the works for Second Chance, which might expand sales to Arizona, Orange County and other areas. Hawes thinks the craft-beer industry is only continuing to grow. For the brewer who has been doubling sales and production each year since opening, there’s a whirlwind of second chances to be taken.

“One of the best things we do is talk to beer fans, whether they’ve been into it now or been into it since the beginning, or just starting,” Hawes said.

“There’s a ton of people who are into craft beer, but there’s also still a giant amount of people who are either just getting into it or haven’t really gotten into it yet,” he continued. “Yes, we love talking to people who are into craft beer, but it’s funny to talk to people who are just getting into it or kind of dipping their toe into the beer pool.”

Second Chance Beer Co. will be celebrating the first anniversary of its North Park beer lounge during Halloween weekend. For more information on Second Chance or its events, visit

—Reach Jess Winans at

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