By Bradley Zint
11:04 AM PST, November 13, 2013
Plans are brewing for craft beer in Costa Mesa. The city's Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved an application for a microbrewery near The Camp in the Sobeca District.
Barley Forge Brewing Co., which hopes to pour and brew within a 19,600-square-foot industrial building at 2957 Randolph Ave., would also have a tasting room.
The business is still subject to receiving a state alcoholic beverage license, according to city staff. If approved, it would be Costa Mesa's first commercial microbrewery.
Barley Forge founder and brewmaster Greg Nylen said Costa Mesa is a good fit for his award-winning brand, given the city's demographics and Sobeca's offerings.
"I think it's a great place for this type of business," he said.
Nylen spoke in front of the commissioners hoping to convince them he wasn't some "crazy twentysomething party animal," but a serious business owner who's also a longtime lawyer and dedicated home brewer.
He said he liked the Sobeca area for its mixed uses and Barley Forge's potential synergy with the businesses there.
"It's a perfect location for this," said Commissioner Colin McCarthy. "It's a square peg in a square hole."
Barley Forge was approved to occupy a 10,000-square-foot space that would include an 890-square-foot tasting area, which would open at 5 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends. Brewing operations for employees could begin as early as 5 a.m.
The site has 23 parking spaces, and city officials anticipate the area handling the customer parking demand given that the tasting room will operate when adjacent businesses are closed and their parking is available.
Expansive food service isn't permitted. Barley Forge could sell simple, uncooked foods alongside the beer samples, Nylen said.
In documents provided to the commission, Barley Forge representatives said the brewery would complement nearby areas well, such as The Camp and The Lab, and be a 15-barrell production facility.
The commissioners were scheduled to examine the operating permits of two motels — the Sandpiper Motel and Costa Mesa Motor Inn — but voted to postpone the items to the Dec. 9 meeting.
City officials see the two properties, which are associated with crimes such as prostitution and drug dealing, as problematic.
In August, code enforcement officials said the 236-room Motor Inn, 2277 Harbor Blvd., had 490 violations, which included unkempt living conditions.