Reflections of a Brewer

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I brew beer. Ya know, a brewmaster (I hate that word). But not just any beer, craft beer. Well, not just any craft beer either, but the only beer that really matters, Independent Craft Beer. The scope of beer has changed drastically over the past decade or two. I’ll tell you about it. But first, if you haven’t already, stop, grab a beer and read on.

Remember when The Boston Beer Co released Sam Addams Boston Lager in Southern California? I do. It must have been 1988 or 89, when I had my first run in with this beer. It was flavorful and delicious. A big departure from Coors or MGD. I would like to honestly say I was changed forever but I would stray from time to time. From the Sam Addams stepping stone, I found my way into what would ultimately be the true beginning of the path I would take. Marin, 3rd Street, Russian River, Rhino Chasers, Humboldt, Mad River, North Coast, Eel River and Lost Coast were the breweries I got started with. These are ALL incredible breweries with amazing beers. Keep in mind this was the early 90’s. Micro beers were newer than new. Nobody was drinking this stuff. You could find it hardly anywhere. The one place I could, Hi Time Wine Cellar in Costa Mesa. The Mecca for adult beverages.

There are a select few who were a big part of my micro brewery movement, but none more important at the time than the beer manager at Hi Time, Mike McCullah. I got to know Mike when I was in high school. We became fast friends and would look for beers we haven’t had, new beers, new breweries, imported beer and whatever else that was interesting. Back then it was a big challenge to find new micro brews. Not like today when new beers just seem to fall from the sky on a regular basis. It was a great time, a learning time. I felt like Magellan exploring all the beers.

At that point in time I was designing car accessories, enjoying my 20s, with all things 20 year olds enjoy. At a certain point I realized I wanted to get into something different, beer was that something different. I worked at Hi Time for a couple years with Mike, so I was able to try all the new beers that made there way into the store but I wanted new flavors, new experiences in beer, so I started making my own. Home brewing was the final thing I needed to move forward….

Anyway, I need to get brewing. Until next time.


Derek Bougie | Lead Brewer