These days, finding a brewer is a daunting task. There are over 70 operating brewhouses and, even with brewing and craft beer industry prep programs coming online at UCSD and SDSU, the employment pool has yet to catch up with the need for people to fill an ever-growing list of open brewing positions.
This leaves each brewing company to select one of several options. Either they can lure someone already in the industry from a neighboring San Diego brewing company, bring in a brewer from another region, or take a chance on a homebrewer looking to get into the professional ranks.
About six months ago, Mark Purciel, the owner of Oceanside Ale Works (1800 Ord Way, Oceanside) went with the latter, bringing on a new head brewer by the name of Jake Whyte. The bulk of Whyte’s experience comes from working with his father, Rob Whyte, to open Fort Myers Brewing Company in Fort Myers, Florida. He was involved with every phase of that project, including the brewing that took place there once it got off the ground. It's quite a bit of experience for a brewer who’s all of 21 years and just over a month old.
Though it would seem his youth might make for a situation where there might be a significant adjustment curve at his new digs, since Whyte’s come aboard, Oceanside Ale Works has won a gold medal in the double IPA category for its Dude IPA, and a bronze in the wheat beer category, both at the San Diego International Beer Festival. Whyte’s Pacific Imperial Porter also took bronze at the recent Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition.
As a growing number of brewing companies figure out how to nab the right brewer for their individual operation, it would seem one has found a solution that works for them, drawing simultaneously from faraway lands and the youth movement.