Jake Nunes shares presidential agenda

Local beer-industry veteran of over 20 years embarks on 2024 San Diego Brewers Guild presidency

In the craft-beer industry, there are people who have been around the block and then there are individuals like Jake Nunes who have been orbiting it for years, picking up new valuable lessons and perspective on each lap. Over his two decades in the industry, the certified Cicerone has worked in managerial capacities for over a half-dozen breweries, en route to his current position as Director of Hospitality for Modern Times Beer. He’s also served as an instructor for San Diego State University’s Business of Craft Beer certificate program since its 2013 inception. But it’s in his new role as the President of the San Diego Brewers Guild (SDBG) where he hopes to have his greatest impact yet, providing direction and leadership to member breweries during unprecedentedly challenging times for the craft-beer industry. We caught up with him to find out about his mindset, agenda and Guild initiatives for 2024.

Why did you get involved with the Guild and how have you served to-date?
The San Diego beer industry has always been very important to me. I want to contribute all I can to aid the success of the fine people working for breweries in America’s Finest City. I care for them, and I care for the reputation of San Diego beer. I started as a member of the Board of Directors in 2022. Most of my time was spent with the Education Committee coordinating events like the monthly Tap Into Knowledge seminars and the annual SD Craft Beer Con, which has grown to be the Guild’s flagship event. Last year, I acted as Vice President and next year I will be President Emeritus, acting as a mentor to the new president.

What does it mean to serve as president and what initiatives will you focus on?
I am so, so humbled and honored to represent this local industry. The accomplishments that San Diego beer has achieved and continues to achieve are world-class. It’s an industry of quality, collaboration and memorable experiences. I can’t think of an industry I’d be prouder to represent, and in my hometown, no less. My two biggest initiatives for this year are, first, for the Guild to be more present and available to help all of its member breweries. I want San Diego breweries to know exactly what the Guild can do for them and to consider their membership to be invaluable. Our plan to achieve that is to assign a short list of breweries to each board member to act as an ambassador to the Guild. Every brewery will have a representative to contact for all their SDBG needs. Second, I want to build San Diego Beer Week to greater heights. I would love for all of San Diego’s breweries to put in the effort to have tons of fun and unique events during San Diego Beer Week, attracting beer fans from all over the world to our city to celebrate our beer and our culture. Using the Guild’s network, we can achieve something great every year.

What are the biggest challenges facing local breweries coming into 2024?
This past year was a tough one for the industry as a whole; something craft beer has never had to deal with before. In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges is learning how to appeal to the new generation of alcoholic-beverage drinkers. There are more options than ever, and with increasing costs it’s becoming harder to stay approachable from a pricing standpoint. Craft beer needs to be an affordable and necessary luxury to have success going forward. Also, we have gotten to the point where quality beer is no longer enough on its own. A buddy of mine recently said breweries need to be good at everything: branding, marketing, service, value, etc. My expertise has been with taproom service. I think creating memorable taproom experiences to build brand loyalty will be an even more important part of the beer business.

How is the Guild’s approach to its popular public-facing events shifting?
We are looking to change with the times by offering smaller-scale events more often. One of the initiatives we are working on is called “Guild on the Street”, where SDBG board members will do meet-and-greets at locations around San Diego like taprooms, brewpubs and other beer destinations. Another idea we have in the works is to have four seasonal Guild Fests that spread the love to the north, east, south and west area beer communities. These will be smaller than the once-annual big Guild Fest we traditionally had in November to kick off San Diego Beer Week. The idea is to have these events be more approachable and at a scale that’s easier to manage. We will call on the help of our member breweries to help execute these events. Lastly, we are hosting a new podcast starring prominent members of the beer community. It’s called the “Capital of Craft Podcast” and the goal is to help educate our people in an accessible way since not everyone can make it to our Tap Into Knowledge seminars.

What is your approach as you assume the presidency?
I plan to study the history of the Guild to become more of an expert. The Guild is over 25 years old now and there’s so much to learn about where the Guild has been and its influence on the success of San Diego beer. While I’ve been in the industry for 20 years, some people have been around even longer. They are the pioneers that started it all. There are too many people to name, but Rick Chapman (Coronado Brewing), Colby Chandler (formerly of Ballast Point Brewing) and Tom Nickel (Nickel Beer Co.) are people who have had such a big impact on the early local beer scene. I can learn a lot from them and others. The spirit of craft beer is defined by its collaborative culture. The more we work together, the better our odds of overall success.

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