10151 Prospect Avenue, Santee
They say passion is the secret ingredient in any good consumable. While genuine affinity doesn’t guarantee success in the fermentation arts, I have found that brewers without passion are at a severe disadvantage when attempting to produce exceptional beer. Brewing is a grind of a job that requires a thirst for knowledge as well as ale. Often, it’s ardor for the craft that keeps the flame of enthusiasm burning long after a brewer’s energy has been zapped by back-to-back-to-back-to-back brew sessions. Like any job, passion or not, people in the profession run the risk of getting burned out.
Garry Pittman, the original brewmaster at Manzanita Brewing Company (10151 Prospect Avenue, Santee) recently succumbed to such a fate, stating he’d lost his passion for the brewing industry. Rather than go through the motions, he opted to leave the brewery he opened and helped to quickly advance over the last three years, and return to his information technology roots.
But this change of course didn’t involve any blind-siding. Manzanita was able to make a smooth and lengthy transition, promoting head brewer, Matt Patterson, to brewmaster. Patterson came to Manzanita as a walk-on volunteer in January 2011. At that time, he was also working as a member of the production team at The Bruery in Placentia, California. That required him to be in Orange County during the week and travel to Santee for weekend work with Pittman and company.
After eight months of double duty, Manzanita offered Patterson a full-time job, which he accepted. From there, he became primarily responsible for keeping the company’s original brewery churning out beer while Pittman focused on construction of Manzanita’s current, larger brewery. Now that everything has transitioned into the current brewery, he is up to speed and has made a rather seamless transition, as proven by the fact that very few knew that anything had changed.
*UPDATE: After this article was posted, both Garry Pittman and several of his colleagues from Manzanita Brewing Company contacted me to refute information that had previously been provided from within the organization, and I am happy to report that Pittman states he has not lost his passion for brewing or the craft beer industry. While it is true that he has parted ways with Manzanita and returned to his previous profession, he did not leave because of burn out. In fact, he returns to the brewery with great frequency and, according to both parties, "is still very much a part of the Manzanita family."*