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 Fall Brewing
What is your current title?
Where did you grow up?
Rochester, New York. 585, baby!
What brought you to San Diego?
I came out here in 2012 when I joined the Navy.
What was the first beer and/or alcoholic beverage you ever had?
Ha, on my fifth birthday my dad gave me a sip of his Coors to get rid of my hiccups.
What was your a-ha moment that turned you on to craft beer?
When I rode the train up to L.A. and they had an 8% good-tasting beer and it wasn’t malt liquor, haha.
What led you to consider a career in brewing?
The overall curiosity of creating and enjoying the finished product always piqued my interests.
Where did you first apply for a brewing job and where did you get your first brewing/brewery position?
Once I decided I wanted to get in the industry, I literally applied to every brewery in a 20-minute radius. My first position was as a keg washer. I started from the very bottom and worked my way up.
What breweries have you worked for over your career and in what roles?
I have been lucky enough to only to work for two: Coronado Brewing and Fall. As far as roles go, I’ve been a keg washer, lead canning/bottling line operator, centrifuge operator, cellarman and brewer.
Who have been the individuals that have helped you the most to learn and advance in your career, and how?
My first boss, Kenny, helped me get my feet wet and introduced me to a new world I was jumping into. Then, of course, Bart, Andrew, Ryan and Brian. They were all head or lead brewers and super-knowledgeable to bounce ideas off of and just getting a better understanding of the brewing world.
What is your favorite beer you’ve ever brewed, be it on a professional or amateur level?
My favorite beer I have ever brewed would probably be Weekend Vibes IPA at Coronado Brewing. That baby was all I drank for a long time. It was so juicy and refreshing. It even got a medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
What is your least-favorite beer you’ve ever brewed on any level?
My least favorite would have to be this one with coconut that just tasted like sunscreen. SMH
What are your favorite and least-favorite hop varietals at present?
You can never go wrong with Citra and Mosaic, right? As for the ones I don’t really care for, I never was a fan of Vic Secret and Idaho 7.
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?
Anyone packaging the beer. Your day can be going so smoothly, then something breaks on the line and your day becomes a straight nightmare.
What is your favorite beer style?
Juicy IPA or Mexican lager
If you could wipe one style of beer off the face of the Earth, what would it be?
I believe all styles have their time and place, but for me, probably the hype candy beers.
What single brewing company’s beers and/or ethos/style has been most influential on your style?
Its gonna sound whack, but before I even got into brewing I always thought Fall would be a sick place to work. The whole punk-rock-skate-scene vibe is right up my alley, and not having a beer menu completely flooded with 7% beers was a refreshing sight.
What is your favorite San Diego County brewing company?
The homies at Embolden Beer Co. have been killing it!
What is your favorite brewing company outside of San Diego?
SouthNorte. Anything that dude touches is gold!
What three breweries that you haven’t yet visited—local or elsewhere—are on your current must-see bucket list?
My bucket list is going backpacking through Europe, hitting up as many breweries as possible!
What are your favorite local beer events?
North Park Beer Fest and Collabapalooza
If you were to leave San Diego, where would be the next-best place you’d want to brew?
Maybe I’d bring something new to a place in an unsaturated market.
Which musical genre or artists are on your brew-day soundtrack/playlist?
It’s all over the place…Inclination, Andrea Bocceli, AOTP, 90’s techno. It gets wild for sure. Ha!
What motto rules the way you brew and approach brewing in a professional brewhouse?
Have fun and enjoy yourself or don’t do it. It’s like cooking…you can tell when you put love into it.
When you’re not at work, what do you like to do for fun?
Skate, play guitar, watch sports, jam, drink, repeat.
Where do you like to drink off-the-clock?
Dive bars with pool tables
What is your favorite beer-and-food pairing of all time?
Miller Lite and a slice
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?
My cop-out answer would be, If I’m dying I’m literally drinking and eating everything in front of my face! As to who I would invite, it would be the people that have meant a lot to me throughout my life. They know who they are.
Who do you think you are (a purposely broad question)?
Mr. Big Stuff? Ha! Really though, I’m just an honest, loyal, real human.
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].