Interior of 32 North Brewing Company
Miramar brewery 32 North quietly parted ways with its head brewer in April, a change that briefly slowed production, but will ultimately more than double the amount of beer flowing through its tasting room and growing distribution network.
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John Hunter had overseen brewing operations since 32 North launched last October, contributing recipes and collaborating with owner Steve Peterson.
Peterson says 32 North will continue to produce these recipes, including its most successful beers to date: Landfall Berliner Weisse and the Peanut Butter Cup Porter that Hunter had previously developed while working as a brewer at Karl Strauss.
Taking over production of these beers and contributing his own ideas will be new head brewer Will Gallaspy, an experienced commercial brewer whose career has included stops at Montana’s Glacier Brewing Company, Cedar Brewing Company in Iowa, and a principal role starting Parish Brewing Company in his home state of Louisiana. Peterson anticipates Gallaspy's beers will begin to turn up in 32 North's tasting room soon, "probably end of June or early July."
Two additional brewers have been brought on to support Gallaspy with an expanded brewing schedule, part of the young brewery's effort to keep up with demand.
"It has been an interesting seven months," Peterson says. "We've been learning how to run a brewery, which has been major growing pains." Yet, he adds, "The whole time our biggest problem has been brewing enough beer."
The change in personnel slowed an otherwise rapid growth for a brewery whose brand identity is based around exploration and maintaining a roster of special releases. Peterson says some of the customers in his tasting room have expressed disappointment to find only six beers on tap in recent weeks, acknowledging, "In the last month and a half we haven't been able to provide the specialty brews." However, with four new releases scheduled for next week, he says the tap list will ramp back up to 10 beers and by mid-summer will return to a 12- or 14-beer status quo, including a weekly cask offering.
Other future plans include 22-ounce bottling, an increase in barrel-aging efforts, and increased production from 75 barrels per month to between 150 and 200. The self-distributing beer company has made strides in its short lifespan, with burgeoning contracts in Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in addition to local clients including O'Brien's Pub, Hamilton's Tavern, and Pizza Port restaurants.
UPDATE 6/3, 11:45 a.m.:
Brewer John Hunter has clarified that all the beer recipes in question are his own, and that at current date the only one 32 North has purchased is the Landfill Berliner Weisse — but not the Peanut Butter Cup Porter, as previously reported. Hunter says it's likely he and owner Steve Peterson will negotiate terms for the rest of the 32 North "core beers," but any other discussions are unresolved.
Regarding his tenure at the brewery, Hunter commented, "I had high hopes for what initially was a wonderful opportunity. Creating new, interesting, innovative beers is what has fueled my passion for this industry and at 32 North I was given free rein to make what I wanted." He says ongoing equipment and production issues contributed to his decision to move on, and he's working on plans to return to the local beer business.
Regarding the remaining recipes of 32 North beers, Peterson remains confident, saying, "We haven't fully purchased all of them yet, but we're going to." He calls Hunter a "great brewer" and says there's no animosity in his departure.