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San Clemente Journal

Docent Brewery - A New Beer Tasting Experience

Mar 07, 2024 03:24PM ● By Nina Welch

Taylor Dunlap, the ‘Captain of Culture’ at San Clemente’s newly opened Docent Brewery.

by Nina Welch

There’s a new pub in town. Docent Brewing, 123 Avenue Del Mar, opened in downtown San Clemente in August of last year. Taylor Dunlap is the General Manager of the San Clemente Store, and he is also known as “Captain of Culture.” 

This is Docent’s second location. The original Docent and production facility, where the beer is brewed, was launched in San Juan Capistrano seven years ago. With the brewery’s success, owners Bryan Geisen, Brian Hendon, and Scott Cortellessa had plans to open two more Docents in South Orange County. According to Taylor, the opportunity arose for a second Docent in San Clemente even though the Carlsbad location was going to be next. The timing was perfect because the owner of the Mediterranean restaurant was retiring and he asked them to take over his lease. Within two months, Docent San Clemente opened. The Carlsbad location will now be the home of the third Brewery.

“We were drawn to San Clemente because a lot of San Juan customers live here, and there’s a nice beer drinking vibe. With other breweries nearby, it creates an allure. A beer enthusiast could do a beer-hop from Pizza Port, to Artifax, to Docent,” says Taylor. Beer drinkers can also people-watch while enjoying their favorite beverage at the outside bar, adjacent to the sidewalk.
The name Docent refers to a volunteer guide. The “beertenders” guide customers through a beer-tasting experience. They require all of the front-of-house employees to earn their beer server cicerone, which is a beer level of education to guide a customer through tasting notes. alcohol beverage volume (ABV), and the basic knowledge of how the beer is made.
“We’ve been compared to the closest example of a European pub,” Taylor proudly stated.
There’s no TV at Docent, which brings conversation, community, and camaraderie into the warm atmosphere. Bryan is the author of the Field Trip Guide, which is located at the tables and bars. He writes a story on each beer. For example, when talking about one beer, he writes: The Rube, a yokel, a country bumpkin is rustic with his own refined dignity. Bold yet balanced by an assertive candied grapefruit bitterness, in this easy-drinking red ale.”

Docent carries a large selection of merchandise, which includes T-shirts, hoodies, flannels, hats, and crowlers. What’s a crowler you ask? Taylor says that it’s. a 32-oz aluminum can that they fill with beer and press so one can take it home. 

Inventive uses of the crowler include a patron who enjoyed the beverage on the Great Wall of China, and another customer who sent a can to space and took a video. It soared up to the skies on a helium balloon with a little spaceman attached. 

There’s talk on the street to not only grab a beer at Docent but to check out the food. Popular items are smash burgers, tacos, caramelized onions from barrel-aged stout, various bowls, kimchi made in-house and the ever-popular Korean Reuben.

To celebrate Docent’s seven-year anniversary in San Juan Capistrano, one can join the Field Trip Fest on March 30, 2024 to promote craft beer, live music, and a love of community. b
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to