When Beau Schmitt first opened the San Diego Brew Project in 2013, the gypsy pub located inside Mission Hills’ 57 Degrees wine bar served as an excellent analogue for a county-spanning brewery tour in case you didn’t have time to do it yourself. With 31 taps pouring beer only made within the county limits, Schmitt’s business venture was truly a showcase for the variety of brews made in San Diego, which made for a shock when it shut down in April. Schmitt and his local suds concept didn’t stay out of the market for long, as Monday saw the opening of a beefed-up Brew Project.
Trading the airport traffic of Mission Hills for the urban chic atmosphere of Hillcrest, Schmitt and business partner Mike Sill’s reincarnation of what they call “a San Diego brewery tour under one roof” now occupies a circa-1902 craftsman-style house on 5th Ave. In the years since it was last a home, the location has seen a parade of restaurants such as Old Damascus, Busalacchi’s and R Gang Eatery. In its current configuration, the building features a two-level outdoor dining area with additional seating upstairs and downstairs inside the structure.
As the name has always implied, the focus for The Brew Project is the diversity of the San Diego craft beer scene, and the bar’s 24 taps will feature a rotation of beers that meet the criteria of having been brewed in the county. Along with the two-dozen brews, additional faucets pour four different wines, kombucha and cold-pressed coffee on nitro.
While the concept of a tap list made up of nothing but local beers came over from the original location, the biggest upgrade to the operation is the addition of a food menu. Helming the kitchen operation is Chef Tom Miller, who spent nearly two years as a sous chef at Ballast Point’s Miramar restaurant. The menu for the brew project is sandwich-heavy with a solid lineup of tortas stuffed with fillings ranging from carne asada to roasted pork. Other offerings include macaroni and cheese, carne asada fries, sliders and a full complement of salads.
The menu doesn’t feature desserts, but the staff will be quick to tell you that they do have the perfect way to cap off your meal: a to-go beer from the Brew Project’s small bottle shop. Like the draft list, every container in the cooler was sourced from a brewery within the limits of San Diego County, and there’s even a 10% discount on bottled beers with a food purchase. You can even pick up a vacuum-sealed stainless steel growler from the shop for your next tasting room visit, but the law prohibits you from getting it filled at the bar.