Council Brewing Set To Close Doors For Good This Week
(San Diego, CA) – Five years ago, The Full Pint was stomping around San Diego for the infamous San Diego Beer Week. Once of our regular visits was AleSmith’s Speedway Grand Prix. Like always, we run in and socialize with our San Diego beer brothers and sisters. That year, the talk of the town was the newly opened Council Brewing, just down the road from the original AleSmith (now Mikkeller SD) brewery. We went and checked out Council Brewing, and were pleased to try something that wasn’t so prevalent in San Diego: fruited Berliners. From then on, Council Brewing made a name for themselves by breaking away from the tried and true formula of bitter, crisp West Coast IPAs. While it was a risky gamble, it was a breath of fresh air for San Diego beer lovers. We watched Council going from onsite only consumption to online bottle sales to regional distribution. Today, we sadly report that they are closing their doors due to current market pressures that many breweries of this size are facing in San Diego. Here is a statement released by Curtis Chism, co-owner of Council Brewing.
6 1/2 years ago, Liz and myself, Curtis, began plotting a course to open our own brewery. Just over 5 years ago we signed our first lease on what became our Kearny Mesa brewery and tasting room. We were blessed with enough customers to expand our brewery several times over these 5 years. There have been many ups and downs over the years including many long days to build our business.
We entered 2018 knowing that it would be a make it or break it year for Council. We were excited when we opened our Santee brewery and tasting room and had hope for our future. However, we had many significant cost increases this year (freight, labor, rent, utilities, etc) and much lower tasting room/distribution sales due to over-saturation of the brewery market, we began taking heavy losses part way through the year. As a result, we’ve had too long of a stretch of declining sales that we can’t sustain any longer.
Liz and I have always committed to being honest, ethical business owners. We committed to our employees that they would always be paid and that we always pay our bills. This meant that for the first couple years, we completely drained our life savings. We slowly rebuilt our savings the last couple years only to go back to not paying ourselves or reducing our already meager salary.
We have no regrets starting and operating our brewery. We’ve had so many great times with our wonderful customers. One event I’ll miss in particular is Talk Like a Pirate Day (aka “Pirate’s Breakfast Day”) and just enjoying our flagship west coast IPA, Bully Pulpit. We’ll miss hanging out with our regulars, meeting first time visitors to Council, meeting fans from around the world, collaboration brews, and traveling for beer.
We would like to thank each and everyone of you reading this for the part you’ve played in the Council story. We will miss sharing our beer with you and seeing how Council beer has strengthened friendships and helped others.
As a way to say good bye, we are going to do what we do best. We are going to drink with our friends and support our community. Starting today until we close on December 15th, all to-go bottles/cans will be a minimum $5 (cash only) for each bottle to benefit the San Diego Food Bank through the #soreeyesudsmas food drive. This will not just include what you typically see but all the archive bottles we have saved over the years. We will also have a good-bye party on December 15th at our Kearny Mesa tasting room from 11am-8pm where all beers will be discounted and all archive kegs will be on tap (including House White and House Red). Crowler fills will also be available for any beer on tap on the 15th. Our last day in Santee will be December 14th from 2-8pm (Liz and I will be there until 5pm to say good bye to our customers there).
See you all soon for one last cheers!