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 Belching Beaver Brewery
What is your current title?
Where did you grow up?
I was born in San Diego and grew up in Arizona, Colorado and Northern California.
What was the first beer and/or alcoholic beverage you ever had?
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
What was your a-ha moment that turned you on to craft beer?
Drinking Stone Smoked Porter with a buddy in college
What led you to consider a career in brewing?
I became obsessed with craft beer and wanted to figure out how to make it.
Where did you first apply for a brewing job and where did you get your first brewing/brewery position?
What breweries have you worked for over your career and in what roles?
Belching Beaver as a cellarman, brewer, keg washer, production manager, distribution manager and quality Manager
Who have been the individuals that have helped you the most to learn and advance in your career, and how?
Belching Beaver owner Tom Vogel and Brewmaster Troy Smith gave me a job and taught me how to brew on a commercial scale. Rick Blankemeier, both when he was at Stone and then later when he came to work for us, taught me a ton about quality control. I learned a lot from countless authors and other brewers from reading, tasting beers and chatting about techniques.
What singular piece of advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a professional brewer?
Drink a lot of different beers and study ingredients to find out what effect they have.
What ultimate career goal would you like to achieve?
Owning my own brewery
What is your favorite beer you’ve ever brewed, be it on a professional or amateur level?
Pound Town Triple IPA
What is your least-favorite beer you’ve ever brewed on any level?
This one Black IPA that we dumped
What are your favorite and least-favorite hop varietals at present?
I really love Citra, but don’t care for Cascade much on its own.
If you weren’t a brewer, what do you think you would do for a living?
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?
A knowledgeable bar staff
What is your favorite beer style?
West Coast double IPA
If you could wipe one style of beer off the face of the Earth, what would it be?
What single brewing company’s beers and/or ethos/style has been most influential on your style?
What is your favorite San Diego County brewing company?
Craft Coast Beer & Tacos
What is your favorite brewing company outside of San Diego?
Pinthouse Brewing in Austin, Texas
What three breweries that you haven’t yet visited—local or elsewhere—are on your current must-see bucket list?
Altstadt Brewery, Burke-Gilman Brewing and Alvarado Street Brewery
What are your favorite local beer events?
Pizza Port Strong Ale Festival
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?
Usually funk music
What motto rules the way you brew and approach brewing in a professional brewhouse?
Aim small, miss small
When you’re not at work, what do you like to do for fun?
Hang out with my wife and baby, and walk around Carlsbad Village
Where do you like to drink off-the-clock?
Craft Coast, Heritage Barbecue & Beer, Pizza Port and Burgeon Beer Co.
What is your favorite beer-and-food pairing of all time?
Hands-down, double IPA and carrot cake
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?
All my friends and family eating a bunch of different tacos with a bunch of different pale lagers.
Who do you think you are?
Just a guy who loves his family, making high quality things and watching Padres baseball.
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].