There are hundreds of hard-working brewing professionals giving their all to help maintain the storied reputation San Diego’s brewing scene has earned over the past several decades. Some have risen to great fame among industry pros and craft-beer enthusiasts. Some ply their trade in obscurity (and are more than happy to do so). Some are Instagram famous, trendsetters with cult followings that would rival social-media influencers. And while they share plenty of similarities, each is their own unique person with their own likes, dislikes, methods, techniques, inspirations, interests and philosophies. The goal of San Diego Beer News‘ Portrait of a Brewer series is to not only introduce you to local brewers, but to have some fun delving into the aforementioned areas so you can get to know them a little better and appreciate them and their contributions to the county’s standout brewing culture. All that plus stellar portraits from brewery lifestyle photographer extraordinaire Matt Furman.
Today’s featured brewer is…
of Hopnonymous Brewing
What is your current title?
Head Brewer / Janitor
Where did you grow up?
I have lived in San Diego my whole life.
What was the first beer and/or alcoholic beverage you ever had?
When I was about 10, I tried my dad’s Foster’s.
What was your a-ha moment that turned you on to craft beer?
I always wanted to have a career I would be able to truly enjoy.
What led you to consider a career in brewing?
I first found out about being a brewer when I was around 18 and I had the chance to observe one. He seemed to really enjoy coming to work everyday
Where did you first apply for a brewing job and where did you get your first brewing/brewery position?
My first job was working for Ballast Point in 2012 as a Packaging Tech.
What breweries have you worked for over your career and in what roles?
Ballast Point (Packaging Tech), Coronado Brewing (Cellarman with some brewing), MIkkeller Brewing San Diego (Cellarman and Brewer), Mike Hess Brewing (Brewer), Hopnonymous Brewing (Head Brewer)
Who have been the individuals that have helped you the most to learn and advance in your career, and how?
Ryan Brooks has helped me the most. Not only did he willingly teach me how to run a cellar, he also never tried to squash my creative side and allowed me to express it from time-to-time while at Coronado Brewing, which I think helped keep my drive to want to do more and be more a part of the industry.
What singular piece of advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a professional brewer?
Nobody cares, work harder
What ultimate career goal would you like to achieve?
I want to win gold for a lager at the Great American Beer Festival.
What is your favorite beer you’ve ever brewed, be it on a professional or amateur level?
Pat’s Blue Ribbon Lager
What is your least-favorite beer you’ve ever brewed on any level?
Foggy Figures Black IPA
What are your favorite and least-favorite hop varietals at present?
Favorite: Simcoe, Least Favorite: Idaho 7
If you weren’t a brewer, what do you think you would do for a living?
I would be a lawyer
In your opinion, what non-brewing position is of great importance at a craft-beer company but often gets overlooked or less credit than those making the beer?
Packaging team, they are the last defense to make sure the product is at the standards desired by the brewery.
What is your favorite beer style?
If you could wipe one style of beer off the face of the Earth, what would it be?
Does seltzer count?
What single brewing company’s beers and/or ethos/style has been most influential on your style?
Enegren Brewing. Never cut corners on your lagers, great beer takes time.
What is your favorite San Diego County brewing company?
What is your favorite brewing company outside of San Diego?
What three breweries that you haven’t yet visited—local or elsewhere—are on your current must-see bucket list?
Bierstadt, Sierra Nevada Brewing and Tripping Animals Brewing
What are your favorite local beer events?
My favorite events are the Beer Fling and Brewery Doubles Tournament.
If you were to leave San Diego, where would be the next-best place you’d want to brew?
I would go start a brewery in the Philippines.
Which musical genre or artists are on your brew-day soundtrack/playlist?
Mac Miller, lots of funk, hip-hop and R&B
What motto rules the way you brew and approach brewing in a professional brewhouse?
Take beer seriously but not yourself. You are just a glorified janitor.
When you’re not at work, what do you like to do for fun?
I like basketball, disc golf, swimming in the ocean and bodysurfing.
Where do you like to drink off-the-clock?
Normally I will head toward the beach, grab some beers at OB Pizza Port or some Tecates at Mitch’s Seafood.
What is your favorite beer-and-food pairing of all time?
IPA or lager with spicy garlic peanuts
If you could somehow plan your last beer dinner before dying, what would you drink and eat, and who would you invite to join you?
For my last beer dinner before dying I would like to sit down with my family one last time, grill some tomahawk steaks with all the fixings and drink draft Blind Pig.
Who do you think you are (a purposely broad question)?
I am just a local kid with a dollar and a dream, trying to get my slice of the San Diego craft-beer pie.
If you’re a brewer at a San Diego brewing company and would like to be featured in our Portrait of a Brewer series, drop us a line at [email protected].