What do you get when you combine technical lighting experience, love of craft beer, and friendship? You get Kilowatt Brewing, one of San Diego’s Nano craft breweries that opened its doors 7 months ago in the Clairemont Mesa area. For such a small operation, Kilowatt has been busy building an impressive beer list complete with some refreshingly different and tasty beers.
The vibe of the tasting room is extremely laid back, causal, and well…electrical. The first thing I noticed, even before I walked in, was the neon lighting escaping both entrances. Owner Steve Kozyk, who has years of technical lighting experience, and owner Chris Calva (also head brewer), who has been a general contractor for years, wanted their tasting room to reflect not only their passion for brewing, but also their passion for their professions.
The pair met years ago near Ontario, CA when Kozyk bought a property behind Calva’s house. As any friendly neighbor would do, Calva found his way next door and was impressed with the collection of craft beers he saw in Kozyk’s refrigerator. The rest was obviously history. The brewery was initially going to call Ontario its home because Calva had additional warehouse space from his construction company, but lucky for us San Diegan’s, a deal with his shady landlord fell through and 3-4 months later, Kozyk suggested starting the operation in the San Diego area.
There are 4 visionaries behind the Kilowatt brand: Kozyk and girlfriend Rachel Fischer, head brewer Calva, and jack-of-all-trades Adam Vance. Kozyk is the general manager and focuses on marketing. Calva calls Fischer the “backbone” of it all, taking care of social media, finances, and bookkeeping, as well as doing most of the recipe design. Calva brews and then Vance glues it all together. The quad also have the support of a few silent partners.
Kilowatt is relatively small and thus has a very intimate feeling, especially at night due to the neon lighting and lamps (make sure you check out the creatively designed hop lamps that dangle over the bar). Board games such as Battleship, Beeropoly and Jenga are available in plenty. Photography and art done by Kozyk’s family and friends are displayed, adding to the laid back San Diego vibe. The brewing operation doesn’t take up much space, and sits just next to the bar.
Food trucks are usually available on Friday and Saturday nights. Check their Facebook for a calendar of events and when the trucks will be there. Also, let it be known that Kilowatt sits next door to Karaoke 101, a lounge with 10 rooms and high tech systems, so build some liquid courage and then head next door to belt it out!
Head brewer Chris Calva grew up in the Ontario area and had been homebrewing for over 14 years before attempting to electrify the San Diego craft beer scene. Like many of us who have graduated to the higher ABV, Calva admits that he grew up drinking Natty Light, Lucky Lagers and Mickeys. When he turned 23, his mother bought him a beer kit and encouraged him to try making some beer of his own. He admits to favoring browns, ambers, stouts and porters- and of course simple pale ales, over IPA’s– and it is plain to see in his impressive beer list.
Calva’s motto? Keep it simple. How can it get simpler than the 3-barrel setup he brews on now? He likes to keep it old school: no clarifiers, no additives, raw ingredients, dry yeast. His 3-barrel system allows him to fill 6 kegs at a time, which solves the problem of limited space in the cooler, and allows him to experiment more readily with different flavors.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Kilowatt, aside from the beer of course, is how readily accessible the staff is. Kilowatt is sure to be a favorite hang out for homebrewers curious about how Calva is able to maintain such an impressive and growing beer list on an operation just larger than some homebrewers use. Be sure to stop in Sunday through Tuesday, when Calva is prepping and brewing!
Kilowatt currently has over 16 beers on tap, light to dark, complete with many different styles that would satisfy all beer lovers and convert those not yet convinced. They have an array of season-appropriate, delicious beers (my favorite being the Cinnamon Hazelnut Brown). What makes Kilowatt different from many breweries is that it isn’t obsessed with IPA’s. Of course they are available for those who are, but like Calva, I too favor darker beers with curious flavors.
Calva says that one of his favorite beers so far is the Smoked Scotch Ale, which gets its smokey flavor the trimmings of Calva’s own apple tree (that he smokes himself in his backyard). When asked what beers to expect in the future, Calva mentioned a Peppermint Patty Stout in time for the holidays.
Also, keep an eye out for Calva’s dry hopped experimental pale ales that will retain the same ABV but will feature a different hop in each keg.
So far, Killowatt has been on tap at 2 places, Quad Ale House (Downtown) and Common Theory (Kearney Mesa). Now that the brewery is on its feet you can expect to see them on tap a lot more around San Diego. Perhaps the most exciting thing in Kilowatt’s near future is its plans to bottle. They have already started working with a small bottling unit, and labels are on the way! You can expect their Double IPA Obliquity, their Kilowatt Pale Ale and their Strawberry Blonde to be among the beers chosen to always be available in bottles.
They are also in talks to open a second location in San Diego in Ocean Beach so be on the lookout!
In total, if you haven’t been to Kilowatt to check it out, you need to. Plan on getting a few flavorful flights because if you are anything like me, you will have a hard time choosing just a few.
Be sure to also check out their Social Media:
Be sure to follow us on Social Media as we invade more breweries and discover more awesome craft beers from all over the world! Cheers humans!