The proliferation of the #ThornTribe hashtag across social-media platforms has familiarized beer fans with Thorn Brewing’s staffers at many levels. Naturally, some more outspoken and higher-profile employees have risen to greater notoriety over the years. When that happens, those team members essentially become synonymous with their corresponding brand, which makes it all the more difficult to comprehend when an employment relationship comes to an end. Over the past two months, several such individuals have moved on or been terminated from the Barrio Logan-based company, including Thorn’s former head brewer, Doug Pominville, and other prominent staff including longtime sales and back-of-house brand advocate Jay Jones.
“They were significant contributors to Thorn and will be important actors in Thorn’s story when all is said and done. The breweries that swoop them up will be glad they did,” says Thorn general manager Tom Kiely, who notes that there have been key hires over the same time span. “There have been lots of bartender additions to our tasting rooms, as well as a significant addition to the sales team in Taylor Allen as our new director of sales.”
Allen spent the past four years with Latitude 33 Brewing, ending out his time there as sales and distribution manager. Prior to joining that organization, he spent three years acclimating to the beer industry with Karl Strauss Brewing and Coronado Brewing. In his new role, Allen will oversee rollouts of two new series of quarterly-rotating canned beers—a single, Cryo-hop hazy pale ale line and a fruited kettle sour line. Thorn also anticipates expanding distribution to Central and Northern California by year’s end.
Other organizational changes for the company include Nikole Mathews’ promotion to manager of Thorn’s Mission Hills tasting room. Meanwhile, popular Barrio Logan figures Ernie Salgado and Angel Miron now co-manage the tasting room at the company’s headquarters. That facility’s new quality-control lab is nearly complete, a development that will lead head of brewery operations Eric O’Connor to concentrate more heavily on QC moving forward. A series of other adjustments with brewery and cellar staff are also underway as a result of recent departures.
“The plan is for one of our new hires to brew and take on a leadership role, with the other hire rounding out the cellar,” says Kiely. “But we are keeping our minds open to different skill sets and hoping to find people committed to making great beer, being good teammates and that are fun to be around.”
Additionally, Thorn plans to launch a series of internally produced podcasts featuring members of the #ThornTribe. Kiely says there will be room for voices from within and outside of the local beer industry, and invites anyone “with something interesting to say” to send an email stating their interest in contributing to Thorn’s podcast network.