In 1992, there weren’t many options when it came to locally crafted, freshly brewed beers produced in San Diego. As such, brother and sister team and Pizza Port co-owners Vince and Gina Marsaglia started brewing at home. Soon, they were making more than they could leisurely drink. Yet, they really wanted to share some of the incredible brews they created with their customers too. So in October of 1992, a seven barrel brewery was installed and in 1993 the first handcrafted beer brewed on the premises of Pizza Port in Solana Beach was served.
Pizza Port became famous for fresh, hoppy beers prompting the addition of two more Pizza Port locations in Carlsbad and San Clemente. But even with three brewing systems, there wasn’t enough capacity to distribute the beers outside of the restaurants and Vince and Gina realized they needed to expand the production.
The answer came in late 2005 when another local craft brewery (and long-time friend of Pizza Port), Stone Brewing Company, announced that it was opening a new, considerably larger facility and would be leaving its old location in early 2006.
The Early Years
In March of 2006, Vince and Gina, along with two new partners, Tomme Arthur (then Pizza Port’s director of brewing operations) and Jim Comstock, founded Port Brewing Company and acquired the old Stone Brewing facility in San Marcos. Shortly thereafter Tomme turned the Pizza Port family brewing reins over to Carlsbad head brewer Jeff Bagby and left to head brewing operations full time at the new Port Brewing Company.
Port Brewing first opened its doors to the public on May 5th, 2006 and used its expanded capacity to deliver long-time Port-brewed favorites in bottles and on draught to a thirsty public. The roomy new brewery and greater capacity also gave Tomme the opportunity to pursue his love of boundary-pushing styles and barrel-aging, spawning what is now the legendary line of Lost Abbey Belgian-inspired beers.
Within a year Port Brewing had produced 16 different beers and earned a reputation as one of the most remarkable new craft breweries in America. In a nod to its achievements, the brewery was named the 2007 Great American Beer Festival Small Brewery of the Year, and Tomme Small Brewer of the Year. Scarcely six months later, Port Brewing and Tomme were again honored as Champion Small Brewery and Small Brewer at the 2008 World Beer Cup competition, one of the youngest breweries ever to win the back-to-back honors.
Now and the Road Ahead
Today Port Brewing continues at the vanguard of craft brewing, ranked as one of the top 10 new breweries in the nation by both industry experts and enthusiasts alike. Brewing capacity has nearly doubled since 2006, and the company’s 800-plus oak bourbon, brandy, sherry, and wine barrels comprise one of the most remarkable barrel-aging programs for a craft brewery of any size. Distribution has also expanded to major cities and metropolitan areas throughout the country, allowing beer lovers to now enjoy fresh brewed Port products from coast to coast. (If your region doesn’t yet have our brews, don’t worry, we’re adding new distribution all the time.)
If you ever have the opportunity to visit San Diego, make sure to visit our brewery, take a tour, admire our barrel room and maybe enjoy a few samples in our tasting room. You’ll find directions to the brewery and tasting room hours right here.