Portrait of a Brewer: Dave Ohmer, Seek Beer Co.

A North Park brewer lives to collaborate with his compatriots and expand his beermaking knowledge

Image Name Alt

There are hundreds of talented brewing professionals giving their all to help maintain the San Diego beer industry’s storied reputation. While these industrious practitioners share numerous similarities, each is their own unique person with individual likes, dislikes, methodologies, techniques, inspirations, interests and philosophies. The goal of San Diego Beer News’ Portrait of a Brewer series is to not only introduce readers to local brewers, but dig in to help them gain a deeper appreciation for the people making their beer and how they have contributed to the county’s standout craft-brewing culture, all while presenting them in the finest visual light care of exceptional local lifestyle photographer Matt Furman.

Today’s featured brewer is…

Dave Ohmer
of Seek Beer Co.

What is your current title?
Owner / Brewer

Where did you grow up?
Cincinnati, Ohio

What brought you to San Diego?
We loved visiting San Diego and we wanted to find a way to get here permanently. So we created Seek Beer Co as a means to move here.

What was the first beer and/or alcoholic beverage you ever had?
Aside from sips of drinks belonging to older family members, my first memorable experience with an alcoholic beverage was Christian Moerlein Select Lager. It is a local beer in Cincinnati, and it was leftover from a big family party because no one drank craft beer back then, so I was given permission to drink it. It was a golden, malt-forward lager with minimal hop flavor, and I found it enjoyable. That experience made me realize that there was more out there than the beer I saw my dad and uncles drinking.

What was your a-ha moment that turned you on to craft beer?
At a party, when I was young and before my career in brewing, there was the typical keg and then another smaller keg that no one knew anything about. I tried it and was able to describe it well and make a guess at what style it might be. My friends laughed it off, thinking I was making things up, but later we asked the host and it turned out I was correct. No one else seemed to care about my guess or the beer at the time, but I thought it was pretty cool and wanted to expand my knowledge further.

What led you to consider a career in brewing?
At some point, I realized I wasn’t interested in pursuing music as a career despite that being what I was studying in college. I had recently started volunteering in the brewhouse at a brewpub that I waited tables at in college for fun and to learn more about the beers I loved drinking. The brewing practices clicked with me and felt natural. One day, I told Niki, “I think I am going to seriously pursue brewing as a career, dig in deeper and stop pursuing music.”

What was your first brewing/brewery position?
I started volunteering at Downtown Grill and Brewery in Knoxville, Tennessee, with no prior brewing experience, home or professional. I cleaned kegs, scrubbed floors, grained out and tackled any other task they would allow me to do. As the brewery grew busier, they began paying me for my time there, allowing me to continue expanding my skills and taking on more responsibilities. Eventually, I became a full-time brewer, overseeing brew days, still handling tasks like cleaning kegs and scrubbing floors, and thoroughly enjoying every aspect of my work.

What breweries have you worked for over your career and in what roles?
Downtown Grill & Brewery and Saw Works Brewing in Knoxville, Tennessee; Whole Foods Brewing Co. and Urban South Brewery in Houston, Texas

Who have been the individuals that have helped you the most to learn and advance in your career, and how? 
Al Krusen, my brewing mentor. He taught me a lot and put up with me in my twenties. Karma Clark, she believed in me and gave me the resources and runway to improve my skills and explore brewing in any direction I wanted.

What singular piece of advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a professional brewer?
You have to love every aspect of it. It’s hard work and not always glamorous work, so you have to have a passion for it.

What ultimate career goal would you like to achieve? 
Collaborations at my favorite breweries I like to drink at.

What is your favorite beer you’ve ever brewed, be it on a professional or amateur level?
First decoction helles = Timepiece

What is your least-favorite beer you’ve ever brewed on any level? 
Any one that’s not a decocted lager.

What is one of your favorite brewing ingredients? 
SafLager W-34/70 yeast

If you weren’t a brewer, what do you think you would do for a living?
Teaching music

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?
Beertender. They are the connection to the customer and set the tone and vibe for a brewery experience, they educate the guest on what Seek and its beers are, and they are the last line of defense for the beer.

What is your favorite beer style? 

If you could wipe one style of beer off the face of the earth, what would it be?
Amber ale, if it’s even a real thing.

What single brewing company’s beers and/or ethos/style has been most influential on your style?
Holy Mountain Brewing and Suarez Family Brewing

What is your favorite San Diego County brewing company?
Blind Lady Brewing and North Park Beer Co. They have great beer and people who have helped Seek a lot along the way.

What is your favorite brewing company outside of San Diego?
Outer Range Brewing – my happy place, partly because I’m skiing too.

What three breweries that you haven’t yet visited—local or elsewhere—are on your current must-see bucket list?
Human Robot Brewery, Sacred Profane Brewing and Von Ebert Brewing

What are your favorite local beer events? 
North Park Festival of Beers – I can walk the kegs down there!

If you were to leave San Diego, where would be the next-best place you’d want to brew?

Which musical genre or artists are on your brew-day soundtrack/playlist?
Depends on the beer style, but lots of old hip-hop, funk, yacht rock and jazz.

What motto rules the way you brew and approach brewing in a professional brewhouse?
Give the beer what it deserves, whether it’s more or better raw materials, more love or just more time.

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishments?
Surviving year one of owning a brewery.

What are you proud of having achieved in your personal life?
Marrying and building a life with my wife, Niki.

When you’re not at work, what do you like to do for fun?
Hike and travel, but mostly share a beer with friends

Where do you like to drink off-the-clock?
Any patio with good beer.

What is your favorite beer-and-food pairing of all time?
Mexican food with a Mexican lager

Who do you think you are (a purposely broad question)?
A lover of beer trying to figure out how to make it every day.

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].

Furman Photography Ad
Back to top button