Craft breweries are popping up throughout Southern California, but no market is as prolific in the industry as San Diego, which has become the craft beer hub of the region. San Diego County has 160 licensed breweries and 173 beer manufacturing facilities, according to research from JLL. From 2012 to 2017, San Diego’s craft beer licensing has grown by 358%, and the industry has spread to Orange County, Los Angeles and even more secondary markets, like the Inland Empire. It also is a significant driver of industrial leasing activity, with companies generally occupying facilities in the 1,000 to 10,000-sqaure-foot range.

“Longevity is a major reason that San Diego has become California’s beer hub,” Damon Melda, EVP at JLL, tells “It hit a grand slam with name brands like Stone Brewing Co., Ballast Point, Karl Strauss and Ale Smith who have grown to have a national presence and household name.  These four alone each poured their first pint over 20 years ago and have experienced explosive growth.  Early settlers in the beer business have attributed to San Diego’s craft beer boom.”

The craft beer industry isn’t the only user of industrial real estate. San Diego has a dynamic and growing industrial user base, and it is driving historically low vacancy rates. The tight market is putting pressure on craft breweries, especially those looking to expand, especially in Miramar, Vista and Escondido. “What will be interesting to see is who can weather the storm and get to the next level or die on the vine.  The industry is more competitive than ever and if they can’t differentiate then we will see more space come back to the market,” says Melda. “Also it will be interesting to see is how landlords reposition built out breweries.  Will other breweries be able to backfill or will landlords need to spend capital and tear out all those costly improvements.”

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

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