Pizza Port is my Spirit Animal.
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure that I’ll say it again. But, in a sense, it’s quite true. I can’t think of another brewing operation that perhaps better anthropomorphizes and embodies so much that I view as being right-in-the-world when it comes to beer places: quality beer, friendly service, goofy branding, killer spots to have a beer, and a-we-take-beer-super-serious-but-we-don’t-take-ourselves-too-serious attitude. I always have a smile on my face when I’m sipping on a beer at one of their several locations. Pizza Port Carlsbad is my “home” spot, my Ma and Dad live about a mile away and it’s a quick stumble home after one-too-many pours of Raceway IPA.
But Solana Beach is the OG.
Opened by sister and brother, Gina and Vince Marsaglia, in March of 1987 (yes, in 1987 in San Diego!), this humble pizza spot and “homebrew” operation in Solana Beach spawned a veritable brewing empire. Five locations altogether (Solana Beach, Carlsbad, San Clemente, Ocean Beach, and Bressi Ranch), over 90 medals awarded at the Great American Beer Festival, and a list of alum that reads like a roster for an all-star brew team: Tomme Arthur (Port Brewing), Jeff Bagby (Bagby Beer Company), Kirk McHale (Melvin Brewing), Devon Randall (Arts District Brewing), Yiga Miyashiro (Saint Archer Brewing Company), Noah Regnery (Artisanal Brewers Collective), Ignacio “Nacho” Cervantes (The Bell Maker), Melanie Pierce (Keep A Breast Foundation + Brewbies Festival), and I am sure, so many more…
There is so much history within those walls. Pizza Port Solana bought and poured the very first keg of Stone Brewing Company’s beer, Pale Ale, back when Greg Koch and Steve Wagner were just getting their brewery (now, an empire of another sorts) off the ground. The pub was named Small Brewpub of the Year in 2003 and 2004 (under the helm of Tomme Arthur). And it’s the spot where beers like Swami’s IPA, P.O.N.T.O., Shark Bite, Kook, and Grandview—all staples within the Pizza Port portfolio—were first brewed and born there. You feel like you are standing on hallowed ground when you walk-in peruse the taplist, and sip a pint of some of the finest beer in San Diego county.
I visit Pizza Port every time I am in San Diego. After all, you have to feed your Spirit Animal.