Pizza Port, Solana Beach, CA

November 27, 2011, Judd

It would be an understatement to say that Gina Marsaglia loves beer. Since 1987 she has been the owner of Pizza Port, which now has three locations in Solana Beach, Carlsbad and San Clemente.

Marsaglia started brewing her own beer as a hobby. In 1992, the craft of mixing hops and barley became a main staple of Pizza Port’s business as the restaurant added its own brewery.

For the past 13 years, Marsaglia has attended and been a contestant in the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the biggest beer gathering in the country.

Pizza Port’s creative and tasty liquid carbs have won GABF’s award for “best small brew pub” for 2003 and 2004.

Winning two consecutive awards was no small feat, considering there were approximately 1,500 beers entered in the 2004 GABF.

“I just love the diversity of microbrews,” Marsaglia said. “You can brew any style of beer imaginable.”

Marsaglia said brewmasters are some of the most entertaining group of people she’s ever met.

“If you’re in a room full of brewers,” she said, “you will have the time of your life listening to them talk about their concoctions.”

If Karl Strauss has the reputation of being San Diego’s first microbrewery, then Marsaglia’s enterprise is among the first, if not the first in North County.

San Diego has several microbreweries now and it’s no stretch to say that this dty is a Microbrewery Mecca, Marsaglia said.

“The only microbrew that used to be available in San Diego was Sam Adams,” she said. Now there are dozens of breweries making excellent beer all over San Diego County.

Between Marsaglia’s three locations there are over SO different microbrews produced in a given year.

Marsaglia knows its important to give back to the community. Pizza Port partners with an outreach program called “Community Options” that provides supported employment services for adults with developmental disabilities.

“The individuals work in the morning and help us prepare for the day,” Marsaglia said. “They are an essential part of our team.”

Beer is in Marsaglia’s blood. Her father was an engineer at the Coors Brewery in Colorado, where Marsaglia grew up. At 18, she attended Cal Poly and moved to San Diego in 1987 to take over Pizza Port from a previous owner.

A few years later, the brewery was added and it was probably one of the most exdting days of her life. Almost as big of a rush as the day when she gave birth to her daughter nearly two years ago.

Marsaglia is almost as passionate about surfing as she is about beer. She has surfed as far away as Namotu in Fiji, but these days she’s not surfing as much because of motherly duties.

“I surf vicariously these days through the surfers who work at Pizza Port.” Marsaglia said.

One would assume Marsaglia drinking Coors Light would be like Rob Machado forgoing a surf trip to Bali to surf one-foot chop in Virginia Beach. Yet Marsaglia is diplomatic about her opinions of American light beers.

“I can appredate Coors Light on a hot day,” she said with a wry laugh.

Judd Handler is a freelance writer and wellness/lifestyle coach in Encinitas, California. He surfs uncrowded, fun reef breaks; plays instrumental alternate-tuning guitar; goes hiking in the backcountry; and is amazed on a daily basis by just being alive.