After establishing itself as the go-to craft beer festival organizer of the Las Vegas market, Motley Brews is expanding to the San Diego area’s ultracompetitive beer scene.
It’s a big business step for home-grown Motley Brews, founded by owner Brian Chapin in 2010.
Motley Brews made a name for itself by putting on the annual Great Vegas Festival of Beer, Nevada’s biggest beer event that attracted 6,000 suds fans to downtown Las Vegas last year and is set to host more than 100 breweries for the 2015 version of the event on April 11. Motley Brews also drew 3,000 beer drinkers to its Downtown Beer Festival at the county amphitheater last year.
Chapin believes Motley Brews, headquartered in a Sahara Avenue office, is ready to hit the big leagues of beer — the San Diego market.
Motley Brews plans to hold a beer festival on a coastal park site in San Diego in late summer — Chapin’s first foray into a market that is home to more than 100 breweries and another 40 planned ones.
“It’s the major leagues of craft beer,” said Chapin, a 1998 U.S. Military Academy at West Point graduate who worked in real estate before creating Motley Brews. “San Diego has a high expectation when it comes to craft beer. We can’t just set up tents and pour.”
Chapin said ticket sales of Motley Brews beer events are up 15 percent to 20 percent more than last year, so he believes he has the revenue growth to expand into San Diego. He plans to finance the expansion into San Diego through internal cash flow.
Motley Brews has four employees, but plans to add two more workers to accommodate the festival expansion into San Diego, Chapin said.
Craft beer tastings are common throughout the Las Vegas Valley. But Motley Brews’ festival include food-and-beer pairings, so chefs and restaurants are part of their events. Chapin said he will include the food elements in his festivals in San Diego.
Mark Lawson, craft and imports brand manager for distributor Nevada Beverage, expects Chapin to succeed in San Diego because of his experience of staging festivals in Las Vegas and forging relationships with San Diego brewers who participate in Motley Brews events in Las Vegas.
Chapin has contacts at San Diego breweries such as Alpine, Green Flash, Ballast Point and Pizza Port because those craft beer companies participate in Motley Brews events in Las Vegas.
Tim Etter, owner of Tenaya Creek brewery in Las Vegas, said late summer is a great time to stage a beer festival in San Diego because of the weather that time of year there.
“He’s been successful here, so he has a track record and he has to establish it there,” Eetter said.
Lawson also noted that 28 percent of the 40 million annual visitors to Las Vegas come from California, so he figured some beer fans in the San Diego area may have already attended a Motley Brews event in Las Vegas.