Cardiff beer-tasting room wins approval


Encinitas planning commissioners unanimously supported Port Brewing Co.’s bid to open a beer-tasting room at Cardiff Town Center during the June 19 meeting.

But they disagreed on a closing time for Monday through Thursday nights.

Eventually, the commission voted 3-2 to let Port Brewing keep the lights on until midnight throughout the week, with the two commissioners opposed favoring 10 p.m. on weeknights.

Commissioner Anthony Brandenburg said the 1,300-square-foot location would attract those looking for high-end beer, and not late-night drinkers. He added surrounding establishments are open until at least midnight, so it’s unfair to single out Port Brewing.

“Denying midnight just makes no sense,” Brandenburg said. “Two blocks away, until two o’clock in the morning, you can go to 7-Eleven and get all the beer you want.”

Devon Ponds, Port Brewing’s financial manager, said the location is comparable to a wine bar. People would primarily order four-ounce tasters, decide which beer they like and buy bottles for home.

Port Brewing has a brewery in San Marcos, and the Cardiff tasting room would operate under the same liquor license. Consequently, given that any problems at the Cardiff location could affect the brewery, Ponds said the company has extra motivation to be a good neighbor.

He added Port Brewing is actively discouraging beer tour buses from visiting the tasting room.

“We understand the issues that could cause the community,” he said.

Vice Planning Chair Glenn O’Grady said he has no problem with the tasting room staying open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. However, he said beer-tasting rooms typically close at 9 p.m. and later hours could invite noise during weeknights.

He added that 10 p.m. is a more reasonable time.

Commissioner Ruben Flores seconded his thoughts, adding nearby restaurants close earlier than midnight, and having only alcohol available in the immediate area might create issues.

Commissioner JoAnn Shannon said the tasting room isn’t next to homes, making it conducive to later hours.

Along with four-ounce tasters, the location will serve 16-ounce pints.

Planning Chair Kurt Groseclose said customers would likely choose pints over tasters as the day goes on. He added that’s not necessarily a reason to deny the tasting room — just something to be aware of.

“I want us to go into this thing with eyes wide open,” he said.

Ultimately, Groseclose voted in favor of a later closing time throughout the week, although he didn’t elaborate on the reason.

A Planning Commission vote last February paved the way for the tasting room.

New beer bars aren’t explicitly allowed in Cardiff. But the commission decided the tasting room is comparable to a wine bar, which is permitted in the Cardiff Specific Plan.

At that February meeting, a representative from the Encinitas Citizens Committee, a group that’s sought tougher restrictions on bars, said the tasting room would generate noise and traffic.

However, during the June 19 meeting, five public speakers all supported the location.

Cardiff resident Bill Rodewalt said the tasting room would save him from having to drive to San Marcos to fill his growler.

“I’m 100 percent in support of this,” he said.

Live music and food won’t be allowed at the location, according to the permit the Planning Commission approved.

If the Planning Commission ruling isn’t appealed to the City Council, the beer tasting room is cleared to open. It would take a vacant spot next to East Coast Pizza.