When a representative from the Encinitas 101 Main Street Association asked Tom Nickel to donate a few barrels of his popular beer for a local beer festival, Nickel said he was taken aback.That brewery that tried to open in Encinitas and ended up in Oceanside is Bagby Beer, founded by award-winning brewer Jeff Bagby, who opened his beautiful new brewpub and restaurant last year on South Coast Highway in Oceanside.
“While I appreciate the invite, I can’t in good faith do anything to support Encinitas when the city is so hostile to the brewing industry. Encinitas is the last major city in the county without a brewery — and that is because of the city government. It feels very disingenuous to not have any breweries and then reach out to the brewing community for donations. And I know that breweries have tried to open there and been turned down.”
The Coast News spoke to several major stakeholders in the region’s craft brewing industry, all who confirmed that Encinitas has an unfavorable reputation within its circles. Many point to at least one instance in which a high-profile brewer attempted to open a “brew pub” in town only to abandon the plans and instead wind up in Oceanside. They also point to the well-documented struggle between downtown’s alcohol serving establishments and residents as a potential reason for the perceived indifference toward breweries.
“What I can say is that this is news that I have never heard that we are ‘anti-brewery,'” Encinitas Planning Director Jeff Murphy said. “I was surprised to hear the word ‘hostile’ to describe our stance against breweries. It is not that we prohibit them, we limit them to certain areas of town.”Never heard? Maybe that's part of the problem.