Since opening Cinco de Mayo of last year, Chula Vista Brewery has been a one-man operation. That one man is Russell Clements, who came to the South Bay city’s eponymous brewery after years of refinement at Ballast Point Brewing and La Jolla’s Rock Bottom Brewery and Restaurant. With beer-interest and business booming on Third Avenue—especially the block that houses not only Chula Vista Brewery, but Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing, a tasting room for Santee’s Groundswell Brewing and Bar Sin Nombre—Clements and owner Timothy Parker decided it was time to bring on more production manpower.
Parker recently announced the hiring of James Hodges, an industry veteran who comes to the South Bay from the North County city of San Marcos, where he most recently worked at the production facility for Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey / The Hop Concept. Hodges began his career in beer as an opening bartender at Pizza Port’s Ocean Beach brewpub in 2010. He later moved to the company’s Carlsbad brewpub where he became a delivery driver and had the chance to begin assisting that facility’s head brewer, Mike Aubuchon. In 2013, he was offered a position on the brewing team for Pizza Port’s triple-threat sister company. He accepted and became an integral member of the brewhouse, cellar operations and barrel-blending team.
“It’s bittersweet to leave the nest,” says Hodges. “I love and owe a lot to every brewer I worked with in my eight years in the Pizza Port and Lost Abbey fam, but I am looking forward to this next challenge of being the head guy and applying everything I have learned from those brewers.”
Hodges will begin work for Chula Vista Brewery at the start of September with his first beers finding their way onto tasting-room taps in early October. In the near-term, few changes are expected to the brewery’s portfolio. While Hodges intends to bring forth new ideas and fresh concepts, he is pleased with the company’s beers at present and his primary objective will be to refine their manufacture from a technical standpoint, with Clements providing oversight in a mentoring capacity.