Culture Brewing Company is now pouring in Encinitas as the craft beer tasting room opened up on Aug. 2. Locals can enjoy a tasty Session IPA and the ocean breeze in the rustic concrete space on Highway 101 with 20 rotating taps.
Owners John Niedernhofer, Steve Ragan and Dennis Williams opened the first Culture brewery and tasting room in Solana Beach in 2013, followed by a satellite tasting room in Ocean Beach in 2014. Culture’s goal has always been to create more than just great beer — with monthly art shows, local pop-up shops, film premieres, fundraisers and more.
How was the idea for Culture formed and what is your mission with the brewery and tasting rooms?
Culture was started by a couple of guys that enjoyed home brewing so much they decided to take it to the next level. Many of the beers we brew are still based on the same recipes the owners came up with at the very beginning. Our brewers are also given a lot of room to experiment and they're always coming up with amazing new brews.
The goal from the start was always to make amazing craft beer that was approachable and accessible. We don't come up with goofy names for every beer. If we brew a Brown Ale, that beer is simply called Brown Ale on the menu. The owners are definitely craft-beer-purists in that way. The goal of the tasting room is to have the best staff in the beer industry. Each of our servers is cicerone certified so that they can easily and clearly communicate every little detail of the beers to our customers. The hope is that you'll leave the tasting room with more beer knowledge and appreciation than when you arrived.
How has Culture evolved since opening?
Over the past nearly five years we've grown closer and closer with our surrounding communities. At this time we do not distribute, so you won't find our beer in any bar or bottle shop. The only way to enjoy Culture beer is to have a pint at one of our three tasting rooms. This allows us to become hyper-local in the way that we approach the community. We don't have to worry about appealing to the entire state or the entire country. The people that are enjoying our beers are in San Diego, which allow us to focus on supporting local art, local businesses, local food, and to help raise funds for local nonprofits. That's how each little beach town we become part of influences so much of what the Culture brand has become. Each tasting room has the same beers on tap, but each has its own unique personality that the community has influenced.
What made you want to bring Culture to Encinitas?
Our brewery and first tasting room is in Solana Beach, so we're close neighbors. Everyone loved the town and we knew it would be the perfect spot for a tasting room.
What about your beer makes it stand out?
One aspect of our beer that make it stand out is the gluten reduction. All of our beers are gluten reduced below 10 parts per million, meaning even someone with a gluten intolerance could have a pint. Many people confuse the difference between gluten-free beers and gluten-reduced beers. Gluten-free beers are not made with the typical beer ingredients like barley or wheat, so gluten is never part of the equation. Our beers are called gluten reduced because they are made with barley and wheat, but we then remove the gluten using an enzyme.
Any interesting releases/collaborations coming up?
We are getting ready to release our latest collaboration with Duckfoot Brewing Co. They're a really amazing brewery that also does gluten-reduced beers, so it was a perfect fit. This Friday we will be releasing an Apricot Saison that we put together with them.
Does the Encinitas tasting room plan to bring in art shows and music events like the other locations?
Culture takes a lot of pride in supporting local artists. We do a First Friday Gallery Opening in each of our tasting rooms every month featuring a new local artist. This month we are lucky enough to have the photography legend, J Grant Brittain on the wall.
On Sept. 12, Culture will host Doggie Date Night from 6-9 p.m. The brewery has teamed up with The Drake Center for Veterinary Care to help out Goof Dog! Autism Companions. The tasting room will screen the classic movie “Homeward Bound” and there will be raffle prizes and a doggie photo booth, all supporting the local organization.
For more information, check out culturebrewingco.com. The tasting room is located at 629 S. Coast Highway 101.