When Lost Abbey announced the opening of a new tasting room called The Confessional (2007 San Elijo Ave.), I was pretty excited. Lost Abbey was overdue to extend its geographic reach. And as a long-lapsed Catholic, I'd been hoarding a multitude of references to religious doctrines. At the risk of blasphemy, let me just get this out of my system:
Forgive me, Father, for I have sipped. It has been one day since my last quaff session.
Given the recent explosion of satellite tasting rooms for San Diego breweries, Lost Abbey's continued relegation to the edges of San Marcos seemed a bit strange. It's not as if there were insufficient fans and patrons to justify a second location.
This was not for lack of motivation.
"We never really found a spot that fit us," says Adam Martinez, director of media and marketing for Lost Abbey and Port Brewing.
That changed when a slot opened up in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The region was not only a favorite for the many surfers masquerading as Lost Abbey brewery employees, it also happens to be a weirdly desolate section of the San Diego brewery map. It didn't extend the reach of the brewery as much as some more far-flung expansion sites for North County breweries, but it felt like home.
Unfortunately, the discovery of Lost Abbey's ideal expansion real estate in September 2014 was the last blessing they would receive for a bit. The projected opening for later that year was stymied by the bountiful bureaucracy of architecture reviews, and a shift in the application timeline for liquor licensing. As of April 22, blessedly, The Confessional tasting room is open to serve fresh beer and silently condemn your sinful ways.
The 1,400-square-foot facility is not radically different from its San Marcos counterpart. Despite the specificity of the branding, its 24 taps will likewise be serving selections from Port Brewing as well as Hop Concept. Growler fills and carry-out bottle sales are likewise offered. It does mercifully offer the seating that San Marcos sorely lacks, but that may not be a differentiator in the long run.
There is no denying the benefits of the shift in geography, though. The neighboring Seaside Market offers countless options for sustenance that will be welcomed into the tasting room. This stands in stark contrast to their San Marcos location, where the best local food option is the heavily wilted Kudos bar you left in your car's center console.
There is one additional, albeit only potential, differentiator. There is a tentative plan to offer a Cardiff-specific beer at the site, presuming all that beachfront living doesn't sap the motivation out of employees.
If you loved Lost Abbey before, you now have a new cathedral in which to hold mass and sing praise. The facility won't overhaul your expectations of the breweries it houses, but the opportunity to enjoy Judgment Day in the company of a soothing ocean breeze may be all the sweet salvation you need.