The 1 million-barrel question: How does the Craft Beer industry - KUSI News - San Diego, CA

The 1 million-barrel question: How does the Craft Beer industry impact San Diego & what jobs are available?

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Before Prohibition, there had been seven breweries in San Diego. After repeal, there were three. Now the county is home to about 160 licensed craft breweries - the most of any region in the United States.

Perhaps no other industry is “more San Diego” than craft brewing. San Diego County has been called "the Craft Beer Capital of America."

Based on 2016 sales volume, three San Diego County breweries - Stone, Green Flash, and Karl Strauss - rank among the 50 largest craft brewers in the United States. San Diego County brewers pioneered the specialty beer style known as Double India Pale Ale (Double IPA), sometimes called San Diego Pale Ale.

San Diego’s brewing industry accounts for almost 30% of all craft breweries in California. Known as the Craft Beer Capital of the U.S., San Diego had 128 total operating breweries as of June 2016. Most breweries are growing and expanding and expect to hire additional workers to meet their needs.

Its beer culture is a draw for tourism, particularly during major festivals such as San Diego Beer Week and the San Diego International Beer Competition. Beer festivals promoted the new styles and educated a new generation of beer drinkers.

Home brewing clubs can be an accessible avenue for immersing yourself in the culture and industry

These small and independent American craft brewers contributed $55.7 billion to the US Economy. San Diego County breweries like Stone Brewing Co., AleSmith Brewing Company and Ballast Point Brewing Company are consistently rated among the top breweries in the world.

One-third of all the breweries in the county are located in the North County, along the 60-mile stretch of Route 78 from Oceanside to Julian. Sometimes this route is called the "Hops Highway."

The Differences:

  • An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.
  • A Microbrewery is a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year with 75 percent or more of its beer sold off-site.
  • A Brewpub is a restaurant-brewery that sells 25 percent or more of its beer on site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar.
  • A Regional Craft Brewery is an independent regional brewery with a majority of volume in “traditional” or “innovative” beer(s).


  • Craft brewers are small brewers
  • Hallmark of craft beer and brewers is innovation
  • Generally made with historic styles and unique twists with traditional ingredients. Sometimes, non-traditional ingredients are added for distinctiveness
  • San Diego County brewers are charitable with their time and resources.
  • Craft Brewers have individual approach to connecting with their customers

Working in the Industry:

  • Most industry workers receive on-the-job training, or learn industry knowledge through hobbyist and competitive home brewing.
  • The sector offers lots of different career opportunities, with entry points at all levels of experience and education/training
  • Many of these careers are related to the actual production of beer, and many are not
  • Formal industry education is a growing trend, particularly in San Diego, where there are two major industry education programs – the San Diego State University (SDSU) College of Extended Studies Business of Craft Beer Professional Certificate, and the University of California – San Diego (UCSD) Extension Brewing Certificate, both founded in fall 2013. There are at least 4 different industry courses
  • Highly technical PhD level jobs are also coming online


  • Industry wages in the region remain high, though now less competitive compared to other major craft brewing regions in the country.
  • If you want to start a career actually producing beer, you can get your foot in the door as a Cellarman (person) at $15/16 hr., learn the business, and hopefully work your way up.

What Kind of Jobs Can You Get:

  • Examples of non-brewing jobs include retail/tasting room operations, events, sales, marketing, customer service and support
  • Beer Specialist – Beer Brewer – You may need a University degree in Chemistry, Brewing, Distilling or another relevant field.
  • Sales/Marketing – Not only do you act as a brand ambassador, work with accounts to position your beer in stores, and restaurants, build customer relationships, represent the brewery at special events (beer festivals, tap takeovers, samplings, etc. and assist with creation and management of an overall marketing strategy/budget and manage the creative process with the assistance of the production and on-site teams for new product releases, special events, etc. Stay informed as to current general market trends
  • Maintenance
  • Packaging
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