by Gonzalo J. Quintero, Ed.D.
The evening of Thursday, June 27, 2013, Voice of San Diego (VOSD) brought a group of San Diego’s craft beer industry leaders together to the tasting room of one of the city’s newest craft breweries, Modern Times Beer, in an effort to discuss both beer as well as land-use issues in our community.
Zack Warma, events manager at VOSD, asserted that events are an extension of the organization’s journalism. “We bring different members of our community together to discuss a specific issue. Having people from different walks of life, such as government officials and community advocates in a room to discuss craft beer, that is exciting to us,” he said. The idea obviously excited others, as more than 200 people showed up for the event.
Neva Parker, lab manager at industry-leading local yeast manufacturer White Labs, discussed the science and nuance of yeast. Parker was clear, stating that “beer was a message from the gods that this is something people should drink. It is safer than water.” Parker went on: “the synergy of beer is transitioning to the food culture and community.” When asked to qualify, she elaborated: “beer is becoming so craft-focused and local that it is more about where you go to enjoy the beer.”
Jacob McKean, founder of Modern Times, discussed beer and land-use issues from the perspective of new brewery owner. If beer is indeed about where you enjoy it, McKean was cautious when doling out advice to prospective brewery owners. “Beer is the most regulated item in the U.S. It takes a tremendous amount of work to make a space like this because a brewery is both a factory and a retail space.”
Omar Passons, North Park resident and attorney at law, felt that there has been a shift in the business model towards more community action. “Young, creative owners of businesses in the craft beer industry are community-minded.” Continuing the theme of community mindedness, Tatiana Peavey, a local craft beer blogger and business development manager at TapHunter, expounded on what social media means to the craft beer community. “Social media is there to bring a community closer,” she stated. “Technology bridges the gap in the craft beer community, but the only problem is not enough people use it.”
Greg Koch, CEO and co-founder of Stone Brewing Co. Koch closed the discussion with his thoughts on the untapped potential of San Diego’s beer industry. “Only through aggressive solidarity can we grow our reputation nationally and internationally. San Diego’s craft beer scene is, beyond question, an economic and tourism force.” Koch said that when bars, restaurants and public venues work to help grow San Diego’s craft beer industry and reputation, it grows tourism and benefits the San Diego hospitality industry directly.
Andrew Keatts, event moderator and self-proclaimed land-use geek, was clear on the intentions of the night’s events. “We simultaneously write intelligently about what people care about, in this case beer, and use it to make land-use issues accessible.” Scott Lewis, CEO of VOSD, echoed these sentiments: “we feel it is important to convene these events anytime we see a discussion bubble up. Journalism needs to happen face to face. Trends, ideas, and topics need to be discussed.” When asked ‘Why craft beer?’ Lewis simply gestured to the large crowd on hand and said, “Look at this — 200 people enthusiastically discussing community issues. This event made that opportunity.”
Gonzalo J. Quintero is a founding member of Craft Beer Tasters, LLC, which is dedicated to honoring the integrity, innovation, and fun of The Craft Beer Culture. Whether we are visiting a brewery, a tasting room, a bottle shop, a bar, or restaurant we hope to share with you the stories of how real people made their dreams a reality. Craft Beer Tasters is an online multimedia craft beer discussion. Our goal is to demystify the craft beer culture and report on the great experiences within the craft beer world using the following mediums: online website articles, print media, graphic arts, video, and social media. Visit www.craftbeertasters.com to join the discussion!