Business partners Bryan Giesen, Brian Hendon, and Scott Cortellessa first opened Docent Brewing in San Juan Capistrano six years ago, with the goal of crafting “approachable, balanced, and easily drinkable” beers, according to Docent’s website.
Earlier this month, the company started serving those “easily drinkable” beers out of its new tasting room at 123 Avenida Del Mar, with an official opening date yet to be announced.
“As with all things, we are learning daily where to improve and grow,” Giesen told San Clemente Times. “(We’re) excited to share the evolutions we have planned in the coming weeks.”
Docent Brewing’s new location replaces the community stalwart Village Mediterranean Rim, which operated for 25 years in San Clemente before owner Nour Tillo chose to retire in May.
“(Nour) actually left a note on my partner Scott (Cortellessa) here’s door at home, saying that he was hanging it up after 25 years, he liked what we do, and gave us this incredible opportunity we have now,” Giesen said.
Two weeks after that moment, the partners signed a lease with the site’s landlord to operate the space, a development that fills in the gap as Docent looks to open a Carlsbad location soon.
Giesen explained that his group had always wanted to expand “organically,” and while numerous other opportunities to grow had presented themselves, they got “lucky” to be able to act on the San Clemente space so quickly.
The tasting room has received a warm welcome since its soft opening, he added.
“What we’ve learned over the years is we have a lot of San Clemente fans, but our fans in San Clemente don’t often like leaving,” Giesen said, adding: “So, we had to come to them.”
Named after the term docent, which describes someone who acts as an educative guide, the brewery prides itself on creating beers within a wide variety of styles that many can enjoy. Giesen added that they’ve also strived to make great food and cultivate a good community.
Over the past few years, the business has seen relationships blossom and experienced an “outpouring of support” by the community of San Juan Capistrano and beyond.
“(We’re) really trying to get better with every turn of the kettle and dish in the kitchen,” said Giesen.”
Now on its first “Main Street” location, Docent looks to bring what it’s done in San Juan Capistrano to a new area with more potential for accidental traffic.
“I know we’re among a great collection of restaurants,” Giesen said. “I think that we provide an excellent value in that our food is of great quality and also priced right.”
The San Clemente location will also be a place for Docent to showcase beers that don’t make it to the company’s restaurant accounts.
“As we get our feet under us, we’ll start exploring options to really bring that (San Juan Capistrano) community into the new space, find a new crowd that enjoys us and enjoys the people that they meet, and watch a whole another blossoming of that community that we’ve experienced at home,” Giesen said.