Latchkey Brewing unlocks its future

After two years of displacement, a beer op birthed at Mission Brewery Plaza is relocating to Bay Ho

Brandon Hernández February 21, 2024

In the fall of 2017, a craft-minded trio took over the brewery and tasting room at Five Points’ Mission Brewery Plaza to install their passion project, Latchkey Brewing. Those spaces had just been vacated by their most recent and long-tenured occupant, Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment, but that interest (now operating as Carlsbad Brewing) were far from the first to produce local beer at that historic locale. In years prior, at least four other breweries rented or leased the facility before moving on to forever homes. The Latchkey team joined that list in 2021, exiting in search of a home base that would allow them to grow both their brand and barrelage.

That was over two years ago. Over that lengthy span, Latchkey has been able to keep its beer in the market – albeit to a far lesser extent than when operating out of Mission Brewery Plaza – thanks to an alternating-proprietorship agreement with Del Mar brewpub, Viewpoint Brewing. Another hospitality venue, The Landings in Carlsbad, has served as something of a pseudo-taproom, offering roughly half-a-dozen of their beers on tap at any given time. Those partnerships were helpful as Latchkey’s owners searched high and low for a new base of operations that would work for them.

Latchkey never actually went away. While our volume hasn’t been very big, we have continued to distribute some of our core beers and continued to innovate with new releases like Fly Away Pale Ale, It’s All in the Hops IPA and Now Yer Skrewed Imperial Stout, which is finished on Skrewball Whiskey barrel staves.”Matthew West, Co-founder, Latchkey Brewing

It’s been a tiresome and frustrating couple of years, but the Latchkey team’s patience was rewarded last year when a 3,200-square-foot combo brewery and tasting room in Bay Ho came available. The former domain of since-closed 7-year-old Bitter Brothers Brewing (pictured above), it is located on Morena Boulevard, within a half-mile of heavy-draw businesses, Costco and San Diego Harley-Davidson, providing the opportunity for organic discovery. The new location also has its own parking lot supplemented by an abundance of on-street parking along Morena, a boon in a city where parking consolidation is proving problematic for business owners.

Inside, Head of Brewing Operations Gerald Dollente and Head Brewer Anthony Beach, both of whom worked at Ballast Point Brewing before leaving to start Latchkey, will be producing their beers on a 15-barrel brewhouse. It’s the same size system they worked with at Mission Brewery Plaza, but that’s where the similarities end, and the team is ready to make the most of their new digs.

“We are pushing to open the new Latchkey Brewpub this spring,” says West. That’s not a typo. Latchkey will be doing something Bitter Brothers’ owners greatly wanted to do but were never able to – install an on-site kitchen. West and company will have some assistance in that area. “We have partnered with an amazing food concept which has taken San Diego by storm over the past year, and look forward to sharing more about that as we get closer to opening.”

It’s been a long road, but with any luck Latchkey 2.0 will be well worth the wait for its founders as well as the company’s fans.