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Good news: beer joints are popping up all over San Diego, so much that Time Magazine recently called San Diego the “hoppiest place on earth.” America’s craft-beer capital spells good news for people who want careers in beer and don’t want to relocate to hipster Portland or Golden, Colorado to earn a paycheck.

Ever since Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner graduated from college and moved to San Diego and opened a brewery under the guidance of a distant cousin — Karl M. Strauss — breweries in San Diego have been gaining popularity and expanding throughout the county. New breweries mean jobs for warehouse workers, packagers, drivers, sales representatives, and restaurant staff.

The country is enjoying the highest number of breweries since before Prohibition - 1,595 in 2009, the last year of data, according to the Brewers Association.

Craft brewers provide an estimated 100,000 jobs in the United States, including serving staff in brewpubs, according to the Brewers Association, which promotes small, independent brewers.

The craft brewing industry in the first half of 2010 grew 9 percent by volume and 12 percent by sales even as overall beer sales were down a bit. Sales of craft brews were up from 2008 to 2009 as well, from 8.5 million to nine million barrels.

Shane Sansone graduated with a degree in business from UCLA and moved home to Oceanside to find a job. After a year of working in an office in downtown San Diego, he quit to work at a new brewery in Vista.

“I love the craft of beer making and I realized that I could make almost as much working in a brewery as I did in the office,” he said. “And the perks are way better.”

Sansone works in marketing for the brewery but he is often out on the floor tasting and helping to create the taste of the beer.

“I wear a lot of hats, and that’s fine by me,” he said. “My parents thought I was crazy to give up my real job, but now they see how happy I am. They could pay me in beer and I would be happy.”

Besides jobs in small breweries and restaurants in San Diego, there are some big players scattered throughout the county.

Stone Brewing Co. has been in San Diego for 17 years. Located in Escondido, Stone is best known around the country for their Arrogant Bastard Ale and their hoppy Stone IPA. Their job board at Stonebrew.com lists gigs in North County as well as San Diego. These guys want to hire route drivers, kitchen staff, merchandise managers, and a digital media technology strategist.

Karl Strauss is looking for general managers, accountants, and restaurant staff.

Green Flash Brewery is looking for traveling sales reps, a ‘cellarman’ (who kegs the beer,) and a packaging line operator. Greenflashbrew.com.

If you’re all about working for yourself, how about opening your own brewery?

First off, make sure you have a lot of money in the bank, a good loan officer, or rich parents. To open a micro-brewery properly you will need between $50,000 and $100,000 depending on circumstances, brewery size, and luck. You’ll need to research the laws of the state and register with the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Here’s a great link to find out what it will take to open your own brew pub; smallbusiness.chron.com/start-minibrewery-12964.html.

There are also actual brewery colleges and courses you can take to hone your craft. From the Institute of Brewing & Distilling in London, to courses at Oregon State University. Brewing science courses at University of California – Davis can also be found online at extension.ucdavis.edu/brew.

Mark and Liz Barson, both graduates of UC Davis, are saving to open a micro-brewery in North County, but until they can find the capital they both work at breweries learning the ropes.

“We love beer and the craft of making it,” Liz said. “We have had this dream for two years and while we are saving we are also learning. This is a serious business, and if we can make it work we will be living the dream.”

To find more schools that cater to wannabe brewers, check out brewersassociation.org.

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