Earlier this year, Samantha Olson ventured to Lemon Grove’s 13 Point Brewing to brew up a fruited Berliner weisse dubbed Pennyweisse. That collaboration beer took the first part of its name from Fourpenny House, the La Mesa brewpub where Olson has served as head brewer for the past year. Her performance during the brew day was so impressive that it led to a job offer from 13 Point founder Bob Frank.
“I’ve been working on my own for quite a while now, and decided it would be awesome to be a part of a team who loves and cares about beer as much as I do,” says Olson, who started working at 13 Point in October while still working at Fourpenny House and her side job at Miramar’s The Good Seed Food Co. “I was trying to balance all three jobs. Can anyone say ‘workaholic’…or maybe just passionate?”
A recent brewery accident in which 13 Point’s head brewer Robert Bessone was severely burned and forced to go on medical leave inspired Olson to put in her notice at Fourpenny House. While this reverted her to lone-brewer status in the short term, she looks forward to working with Bessone and will be collaborating with him on recipes and what to add to 13 Point’s tap list upon his return. A new hazy IPA, dunkelweizen and hard seltzer are in the works, but the current priority is catching up on the production schedule and brewing existing beers. The biggest changes are for Olson versus her new employer.
Back in La Mesa, Olson says there is plenty of beer to last the brewpub a while, but the business is at a crossroads. As reported yesterday, owner Peter Soutowood is looking to sell the business, which opened on the main drag of La Mesa’s Village area in June of last year. Olson found her footing at the Scottish-themed establishment directly following the closure of Ramona-based ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, where she got her start in the San Diego brewing scene. The closing of that chapter was beyond her control but turning the page to the next scene in her vocational development was her choice and one she did not take lightly.
Olson sees parallels between and opportunities within the community she is leaving and the one she is joining. “I think both areas still have a lot of growth ahead of them. The demographic is rapidly changing, but there are still a lot of people who live in these areas and they have not really been introduced to craft beer and what it can do for their communities. If we are going to gain ground with these people, it’s super important as more breweries come into these areas that we continue to work with and give back to the community, just as craft beer in San Diego always has.”