Bolt Brewery

8179 Center St., La Mesa    |    Neighborhood: East County    |    (619) 303-7837     |     BoltBrewery.com

By Jeremy Pritchard

It’s official, I’ve completely made the transition to East County San Diego and outside a slightly longer drive into work, not much has changed. My commitment to discover all the East County craft beer scene has to offer continues! One brewery in particular just happened to catch my eye while I was making the early morning grind on the 8 West: a black and red Quonset hut, set just of the freeway in a La Mesa industrial park. I knew from the striking red and white logo with the thunderbolt in the middle, this was the new home of Bolt Brewing.

There’s a lot of history around San Diego’s craft brewing scene and it’s often overlooked that one of San Diego’s very first craft breweries didn’t start within the city limits, but the town of Fallbrook. The year was 1987 and the brewery was the original Bolt Brewery. At that point in time the craft brewing scene was in its infancy, the beer drinking population still had to be educated on why they should pay $2.50 for a craft beer when they could drink any other swill for just $1.75. La Mesa native Clint Stromberg looks back on those times with happy memories: “Back then, basically every craft beer you brewed had to be sold to the consumer.”

Clint was there on the frontline with the original Bolt team. The genesis of Bolt Brewing doesn’t necessarily begin in Fallbrook where the original brewery stood, but in La Mesa. In an apartment on University Avenue just a stone’s throw away from where the new Bolt Brewing now stands, both Clint and original Bolt head brewer Paul Holborn started home brewing together in 1986. It wasn’t long after that Paul heard of a failing brewery attempting to open in Fallbrook.
He purchased the entire brewery from owner Clay Ferguson and Bolt Brewing began.

Why Bolt?

“Take it for what it is,” Clint answered. “It’s a name without borders.”

The original Bolt Brewing lasted a glorious two years. After that Clint got into the brewery equipment business and became part of the development team at Mission Brewery Plaza, where he helped install a brewhouse in 1990 that he would come back to brew at in 1995 under the brewery name Five Points. While he was in the equipment business Clint got a chance to travel the world working in Hungary, Taiwan and China. Strangely enough while working in Budapest, Clint built a brewhouse that would follow him around until it eventually became the beautiful copper beauty to see at Bolt Brewing today. He built it in 1995 for Long Island Brewing. After three years of operation, it was sold at auction to a guy in Virginia, where it sat in a barn for five years before being sold to Backstreet Brewing in La Quinta. In January of 2014, when Clint was looking for equipment to build the new Bolt Brewing, he got a call from Backstreet asking if he was interested and—BOOM!—19 years after he first built it, brewer and brewhouse have been reunited.

Now the new Bolt Brewing stands as a hidden oasis in La Mesa, cranking out some of the best beer San Diego has to offer. The former junkyard at 8179 Center St. is now home to open space for all craft beer lovers and fledglings alike. It’s a space hand built and designed by Clint and business partner Tony Calafato, where they host food trucks, live music and, of course, lots and lots of beer.

What’s next for Bolt? How about a new tasting room in Little Italy, right off India and Grape, with all the delicious beers Bolt has to offer plus a restaurant?! So, it doesn’t matter if you live in the east or the west of San Diego, we all can enjoy a little San Diego heritage in every Bolt beer.


Pils  5.00% ABV  30 IBU
Style:  Pilsner
Appearance:  Yellow with a foamy, white head
Aroma:  Clean, crisp
Taste: Slight malt body, clean and crisp, very easy drinking, VERY sessionable.

Mango Me Crazy  5.20% ABV  20 IBU
Style:  Ale with mango
Appearance:  Golden yellow with a thin white head
Aroma: Subtle, fruity nose
Taste:  Smooth and subtly sweet, not at all cloying or overly fruity, with a clean finish.

Citra Pale Ale  5.90% ABV  47 IBU
Style:  Pale ale
Appearance:  Beautiful golden colors with a gentle white head
Aroma:  Mmmm … citra hops
Taste:   Clean malt body balanced with just the right amount of citra hops. I think I’ll have another, thank you!

Eighty-Seven IPA  7.60% ABV  88 IBU
Style:  IPA
Appearance:  Gold with a foamy, white head
Aroma:  Delicious cascade hop
Taste: Floral hops out the gate, held up with a significant malt body and clean and bitter finish.

Itty Bitter Nitro English Pale  4.40% ABV  46 IBU
Style:  ESB
Appearance:  Amber with a dense foamy head
Aroma:  Clean with a subtle English hop aroma
Taste:  This is the way to enjoy this beer … on nitro! Smooth sipping, clean with a delicious malt body and a dry finish.