Mark Amador got into craft beer care of post-surf session beers at Pizza Port’s original brewpub and started selling ales and lagers at the ripe young age of 22. In the mid-90s, he watched the rollout of the iconic Red Trolley Ale as a salesman for Karl Strauss Brewing, and went on to work in the same capacity for Left Coast Brewing, Belching Beaver Brewery and, most recently, Indian Joe Brewing. He’s seen and done a lot over his near-quarter decade in the industry, but he’s never run his own show. Until now. Amador has secured the 2,100-square-foot Carlsbad Brewery Igniter space formerly occupied by Wiseguy Brewing and is readying its 10-barrel system to produce beers for his new concept, Papa Marce’s Cervezeria (5840 El Camino Real, #199, Carlsbad). We stole some rare free time with him to get the details on this passion project.
What was the process of selecting a location, brand and direction?
I wanted to represent and be a part of the community I’ve been involved in all my life. Opening a brewery in my backyard seemed obvious and I welcomed the space in Carlsbad with open arms. After some trademark issues (with the brand I’d originally devised), I went back to basics and began to look inward for inspiration. My great grandfather on my mother’s side was a Southern California agricultural icon. He was the first to come to the US to give his family a better life and he was one of the founding fathers of Eden Gardens in Solana Beach. Everyone called him Papa Marce. The brand also mirrors my career in the beer industry. The bear in my logo is brutally and honestly gruff. He’s been through a lot of ups and downs, and it definitely shows on his markings and scars. He represents my Mexican heritage and, much like myself, shows that the beer industry is not all feelings and perpetual bliss. I have lived this industry with years of my life. The hustle and perseverance shows.
What types of beers will Papa Marce’s produce and how much do you expect to brew in your first year?
All styles of IPAs, ales, lagers, barrel-aged sours, porters and stouts, as well as nitro stouts and porters, Old World (beers) and any innovative styles we would like to explore. Initially we will start with kegs, but will definitely package small runs of sours, plus canned four-packs and six-packs in the near future. We expect to produce roughly 1,500 barrels (in our first 12 months) with a maximum capacity of about 2,500 barrels. With the large barrel program for sours and other styles, as well as a secondary barrel-aging facility less than a mile away, we can max out rather quickly and are ready to pivot when needed.
Who will be in charge of brewing at Papa Marce’s?
I am thrilled to have my head brewer Grant Heuer. He is particularly passionate about making innovative sour and Brett(anomyces-fermented) beers, new experimental hop combinations and getting creative with barrels. Prior to becoming a head brewer, he became Nevada’s seventh certified Cicerone and won 19 homebrewing awards. Grant’s career began as an intern at Pints Brewery & Sports Bar in Laughlin, which led to an assistant brewer position at Big Dog’s Brewing’s in Las Vegas. Later he served as lead cellarman at Refuge Brewery and head brewer at Relentless Brewing, both in Temecula. Grant and I met working at Indian Joe’s, where he and I built a relationship and, as their head brewer, he won a gold, silver and three bronze medals at competitions in San Diego and L.A. for beers ranging from a rye IPA to a 100% Brett smoked sour. He’s a talented brewer who can mesh styles and has an urge to produce breakthrough beers and techniques.
What do you hope to bring to the already diverse San Diego beer scene?
When I started, the craft-beer business was a collective, not a collective individual. I like the idea of closing some gaps, putting some things together that may not go together. Grant and I can’t wait to do multiple collaborations with people we’ve had continued relationships with over the years, and the new ones that are on the horizon. I want a chance for the beer community to connect and bond through some music, art and culture. It’s all about creating an experience. I’m trying to cultivate all the things I love under one roof and continue the ever-changing revolution and fun family atmosphere that has helped keep San Diego on the rise. Honestly, I’m doing everything I’ve wanted to do over the past 24 years that people have told me not to. Finally having the ability to control my own destiny is giving me a new outlook on life and this beer collective that I love so much.