Getting To Know: Latchkey Brewing Company

Kaeru Beer Peter Mulville

The paying public literally got its first taste of Latchkey Brewing Company’s beers at the new brewery and tasting room in San Diego’s Middletown neighbourhood last week, and Kaeru Beer was there to find out what was happening from co-founder Gerald Dollente.

Beer-tourists from all over the world visit San Diego due to its reputation as a hotbed of beer, breweries and brewing talent, and as a centenarian and the oldest brewery building in the city, the Mission Brewery is undoubtedly the granddaddy of it all.  Built in 1912-1913 at the peak of the iconic Mission Revival boom, it is the only authentic non-residential example of this architectural style in the city.  Originally built and operated by the San Diego Consolidated Brewing Company, the Mission Brewery suffered from the effects of Prohibition like most others, and the building led a chequered existence until rejuvenation and designation as a plaza arrived in the late ‘80s, when it was entered in the National Register of Historic Places.

A brewery and pub were part of the original rejuvenation plans, and several well-known San Diego breweries have called Mission Brewery Plaza their home at some point during the intervening years.  Most recently it was Acoustic Ales who were located here for 5-years until outgrowing its capacity and deciding to relocate to a larger facility outside of the city, a move which allowed Latchkey Brewing Company to unlock this potentially lucrative operation and space.

The fact that Latchkey Brewing Company are continuing to contract brew for Acoustic Ales is a promising sign of both Latchkey’s brewing ability and the brewhouse’s capacity.

Latchkey Brewing Company is the brainchild of Gerald and co-founder Matt West, who utilizes his background in both business and the food/drink industry to focus on day-to-day operations.  Gerald (who formerly worked for Ballast Point) on the other hand, concentrates on the brewing and production side with Head Brewer, Anthony Beach.  The team at Latchkey Brewing Company is completed by CFO Greg Gleeson and taproom manager Julia Mallon.

Gerald also has distilling background, and he was instrumental in helping to launch local craft distillery Cutwater Spirits, which is now distributed throughout the US.  It is this type of pedigree will pay dividends to the success of Latchkey Brewing Company.

It’s early days, so the Latchkey Brewing Company’s range of beers is still small.  However, the planned brews sound mouth-wateringly delicious; there’s already another two new beers waiting to be tapped.  The launch weekend saw three core beers on tap: a Hazy Pale Ale, which was impressive, despite the divisive opinions people hold about anything hazy and pale at the moment; a Problem Child Porter, presumably a reference to the latchkey kid childhoods experienced by the co-founders that is referenced in the brewery’s name; and a San Diego 1915 lager, a name paid in homage to the ‘Old Mission Lager’ — “Traditionally Good” – that was brewed by Mission Brewery on this site in that year.

Latchkey Brewing Company’s tasting room is housed in the one-time bank and original office building of the Mission Brewery, which sits at the corner of West Washington Street and Hancock Street in the Five Points district.  All San Diegans know the location, so there’s no excuse not to visit.  Tourists should have no problem finding the Mission Brewery Plaza since it’s a legendary beery landmark a few minutes’ trolley journey from downtown; taking a trip here shall be rewarded by some great beers with a suitable heritage to match.

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