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Visiting San Diego Brewing Company (10450 Friars road, Mission Valley) in the late nineties was my first experience tasting beer in the same place it was brewed. I still remember how foreign, and how abundantly cool, that concept seemed to me. It’s a memory that’s hit me on every return trip to this craft beer mainstay over the past decade-and-a-half, during which I’ve always made sure to order one of the house beers brewed up by the brewpub’s long-time brewer, Dean Rouleau.

While future trips to San Diego Brewing Company will continue to evoke flashbacks from that first fateful trip, I’ll no longer be able to bolster the nostalgia with a sip of the aforementioned brewer’s creations. Rouleau recently left the company to become brewmaster for local work-in-progress, Prodigy Brewing Company, leaving his old digs to his assistant, Jeff Drum.

Drum started working at San Diego Brewing Company as a labor of love lured in by his passion for brewing beer. A homebrewer by hobby and mechanic by trade, he met Rouleau three years ago and assisted him in the brewhouse sporadically for two years before being hired on as his cellar man. At that time, Drum was commuting all the way from Temecula, fueled by gas and a thirst for knowledge.

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Drum’s done everything from cleaning kegs to brewing. In order to improve at the latter, he completed an Intensive Brewing Science course at UC Davis last June. Two months later, when Rouleau announced his plans to move on, Drum was hired to take his place.

He has been brewing all of the beers at San Diego Brewing Company for the past six months. Along the way, he’s created new brews including Infinitude IPA, 80 Schilling Scottish Ale, Lakshmi Imperial Red, and a pair of witbiers. It’s ironic America’s Finest’s namesake brewpub is being manned by a Riverside County resident, but one has to admire Drum’s drive to make that lengthy drive.

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