Just about every craft beer lover, not only in San Diego, but throughout the U.S., is familiar with O’Brien’s Pub (4646 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa). Our city’s longest tenured craft beer bar, the smallish, unassuming spot has been named one of Draft Magazine’s Top 100 Best Beer Bars the past two years (Blind Lady Ale House and Hamilton’s Tavern also made the 2012 list) and recently earned serious hardware as the nation’s number one soccer bar by U.S. Soccer (an upgrade from their second place finish in 2011). These and other accolades are much the result of above-and-beyond efforts of owner Tom Nickel to assail O’Brien’s to the top of the heap. In doing so, he’s built the backbone and funds to move forward with other entrepreneurial ventures.

The first was he, his wife Lindsey, and Pizza Port owners, Vince and Gina Marsaglia’s, purchase of Bailey Wood-Pit BBQ (2307 Main Street, Julian). Together, the quartet has turned the ho-hum venue into a destination for the getaway sect and even took top honors for their apple-pear pie during last year’s Apple Days festivities. The buzz for this spot will only get louder once Nickel, a former brewer for Pizza Port and Oggi’s, starts serving up his beers from Julian Brewing Company, including a pale ale made using Cascade and Nugget hops from Ramona’s Star B Ranch, this spring.

West Coast BBQ and Brew

But that’s not the only project Nickel has in the hopper. He and business partner, Larry Koger, are in the midst of constructing yet another venue, West Coast BBQ and Brew (6126 Lake Murray Boulevard, La Mesa). The 2,400 square foot space will be a hybrid bar and restaurant combining the best of Nickel’s previous watering holes—exceptional craft beer (30 taps and a thoughtful bottle list) and kick-ass ‘cue. The menu will also include some popular apps, soups and sandwiches from the O’Brien’s menu in addition to slow-cooked carnivore fare prepared per the specs of a pit master with 50 years of experience.

Projected to open in late February or early March, West Coast BBQ and Brew is planning on having a grand opening featuring barbecue specials and a number of very special beers called in from Nickel’s friend and compatriot, Vinnie Cilurzo, the owner and brewmaster at Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Company. First Brian Malarkey and James Brennan bring in Gingham and now, here comes a bona fide craft beer bar. Lookin’ good, La Mesa!

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