If you looked at the San Diego craft beer scene 18 years ago, the landscape would obviously look a lot different. While Karl Strauss ruled the San Diego beer market, the kindling for San Diego’s current craft beer inferno was quickly growing in an enthusiastic homebrewing community. With creative homebrewers streaming in and out, Linda Vista’s Home Brew Mart was a logical place for a brewery to take root. Those roots certainly sprouted into something big, as Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits celebrated its 18th anniversary on Sunday.
Today’s Ballast Point looks nothing like the small pilot operation that started when Jack White and Yuseff Cherney started brewing beer in the back room of Home Brew Mart. With additional facilities in Scripps Ranch and Little Italy, and a massive new production space in Miramar on the way, Ballast Point’s growth looks nowhere near stopping. They’ve even branched out from beer, and created a wildly successful line of craft spirits.
For the second year in a row, Ballast Point took their anniversary party to the San Diego Maritime Museum, and the turnout was massive. Attendees lined up at nine different stations for more than 50 different beers, many of them barrel-aged rarities. Highlights of the beer lineup included Victory at Sea aged in Devil’s Share whiskey barrels, and a Gueuze from 2004. Samples of Ballast Point spirits were also available.
Like any big event, there were some problems. The massive crowd led to long wait times for some beers, but attendees seemed to take it all in stride. One good side effect of the massive crowd was that the anniversary party managed to raise more than $40,000 for charity, as Ballast Point donated all of the proceeds to the Maritime Museum.
If anything, the hiccups at the event were a testament to Ballast Point’s wild popularity. Without a dedicated fan base, there wouldn’t be that many people willing to stand in line. For those who were supremely frustrated by the experience at the event, Ballast Point is even offering to make it right with complimentary beer, and refunds if people want them.