Craft Brewing: ‘Hop’ping Into the Artistic Career

Mario Ibarra
BURSTOUT Contributor

Mario is a psychological horror writer, and has produced many short stories. He currently works for California State University.

“California has been central to the growth of home brewing” said American Homebrewers Association Director Gary Glass. This well crafted art may seem like a very difficult hobby to pick up, to most people.  But you shouldn’t fear it. With the market doing well; home brewing - if you're just as a huge fan of beer as I am - is the direction to seek.

The founder of The Bruery in Placentia, Patrick Rue, started his way in craft brewing while he was studying law and in the need of a “distraction to the banality” - and like most, left an incredible mess of the kitchen in the beginning. The lovely aromas that wandered throughout his house (and into the neighbor's) raised a lot of eyebrows no doubt.  Regardless of all the mess and stress, Patrick Rue gave birth to his career by sharing with his friends and family, going out and marketing his crafts. Above all, instead of studying and taking the Barrister exam after finishing law school, Patrick entered his Belgian-style beers into several competitions and won a few awards. Then in 2008, the business was founded.

Patrick’s really innovative idea though was to form a membership clubs for customers, so that each will receive exclusive beers and merchandise from the company on a quarterly basis.  

The first club is the Preservation Society; where each person will receive “three specially released beers from The Bruery” for a price of $58.  The next club is the Reservation Society that offers the client special hard-to-find beers and a whopping 15% off all items purchased from The Bruery. This tier costs about $300, and before you think to yourself “that’s crazy”, understand that this is for the selected few that truly love the art of beer that this place delivers.  The cost helps cover the funding for aging those beers and to open bigger and better opportunities for the company. I say that this is a phenomenal idea to help raise money for the business and something to think about after you have developed several aging batches.

To get a much closer idea of how to start, we interviewed Cal State L.A graduate, nutritionist and Le Cordon Bleu Chef Johnny Zegarra. What is it like to begin the process of becoming a home brewer?

His initial plan began a couple years ago. He explains that before starting “be sure of yourself” and “be sure that this is something you’re planning to truly pursue”. “Of course you're going to have to extinguish a bit of your funds, but most of it is the equipment you will be using to create different batches, after that it’s usually the ingredients you’ll need to get going again and again”.  

We asked Johnny what are the benefits of being a former student of the culinary arts; how does it affect his craft:
“there are a lot of benefits to having this kind of knowledge in culinary arts, you know your way around the kitchen fairly well, but that doesn’t mean that the average Joe needs to be like me, everything is in simple measurements and basic math”

“I just want to bring out the best of me (which is in the kitchen, cooking) and share it with the world.  In this case it’s not just food alone, but with beer.  And that’s what I am going to do”.

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