Chris Cramer, Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Chris Cramer has been making beer in paradise for a living since 1989 when he and his business partner, Matt Rattner, co-founded Karl Strauss Brewing Company, the first new brewery to open in the city of San Diego in more than 50 years. Since then Chris has enjoyed continuously pioneering in San Diego’s craft brewing industry, opening the city’s first distributing brewery in 1991 and over the years adding nine more brewpubs. While the brewery’s distributed beer operations have remained focused on its one-state home market (“Karlifornia”), Karl Strauss has grown to become one of the top 50 craft brewers in the United States. Chris takes particular pride in having introduced many Southern Californians to their first craft beer and in knowing the DNA of Karl Strauss Brewing Company runs throughout the San Diego brewing industry; he has helped numerous friends and former teammates branch-off to follow their own brewing dreams, making San Diego’s thriving craft beer scene a much more fun and interesting place to work and play.
Natalie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Company
Natalie started her career in the alcohol beverage industry at just 16 years old working weekends in a small winery in Southern California. After moving to Temecula, California, in the late 1980’s she met this guy named Vinnie whose lifelong dream (at 20 years old) was to open his own brewery. In 1994, Vinnie founded Blind Pig Brewing Company with which Natalie was involved at arm’s length while working in the wine industry and going to college full-time. In 1997, Vinnie and Natalie moved north to Sonoma County where Vinnie began working for Korbel Winery’s new brewery, Russian River Brewing Company. Natalie continued advancing her career in wine with Kendall-Jackson, Franciscan, and Silver Oak Cellars. After 5 years in the beer business, Korbel closed the brewery and, in lieu of severance, gave Vinnie and Natalie the Russian River Brewing brand name. Natalie left the wine business to join Vinnie and opened a brewpub in Downtown Santa Rosa in 2004 with no money in the bank and 28 employees. In 2008, they opened a production brewery and began distributing in a handful of markets outside of Northern California. Between the 2 breweries they now produce 14,000 barrels annually and have reached full capacity. Natalie oversees all operations of the business including the brewpub, human resources, finances, marketing/PR, sales/distribution and whatever else needs to be done. She also signs Vinnie’s paycheck! The brewery now employs 75 people and they are self-distributed in the North Bay and Bay areas. In addition, they have wholesale partners in other parts of California, Oregon, Colorado and Philadelphia. Natalie is Co-Owner of Russian River Brewing Company with her husband of 18 years!
Julian Shrago, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing
Born in Northern California, Julian Shrago was an aerospace engineer for over a decade before becoming a craft brewer. Along with his business partners, Gabe Gordon & Lena Perleman, they opened Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach in 2011. The pub was recognized in 2013 as Mid- Sized Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival, 2014 Large Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival, & 2016 World Champion Large Brewpub at the World Beer Cup. Beachwood has expanded its brewing operations with Beachwood Blendery, along with a production facility in Huntington Beach, CA.
Adair Paterno, Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
Adair Paterno is the co-owner and co-founder of Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, which opened in Capitola, California in May 2012. Adair manages various aspects of the brewery’s daily business operations, including reporting and compliance, tasting room management, label and package design, and all financial and administrative matters. Prior to opening the brewery, Adair practiced governmental and real estate law in and around the greater Bay Area. A craft beer enthusiast for almost half her life, Adair feels grateful to work in an industry and with the people she admires.
Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Ken Grossman founded Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in 1980, with the goal of providing his customers with the kind of beer he likes to drink. He is known throughout the beer industry for his uncompromising approach to quality, financial savviness, and firm belief that a rising tide lifts all boats. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is a steadfastly family owned and operated business, run on Grossman’s philosophy of environmental, social and economic health. Grossman recognizes the challenges in today’s beer marketplace, but remains confident in the continued expansion of craft.
Lynne Weaver, Three Weavers Brewing Company
Lynne Weaver is the Founder and CEO of Three Weavers Brewing Company, a craft brewery in Inglewood, CA. As Founder and CEO, Lynne leads all aspects of the brewery, including operations, finance and sales.
As a former homebrewer, Lynne loved sharing her beers with family and friends. It was at these gatherings that the importance of the relationship between beer and community came to light and the idea for a new craft brewery was born. Rooted in the mission to promote a positive sense of community through her passion for craft beer, Lynne founded Three Weavers Brewing Company in 2013.
In three short years, Lynne has cultivated and guided the growth of Three Weavers, forecasting 2017 production of 12,000 BBL’s and expansion of the Inglewood brewery and its team.
Before founding Three Weavers, Lynne held designations as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Enrolled Agent (EA) with the IRS and was the Lead Real Estate Tax Consultant and Accountant for a Real Estate Tax Consulting firm.
With a growing brewery, Lynne remains committed to the brewery’s mission to build community and leverages her financial planning experience and expertise to provide counsel and guidance to management teams of local craft breweries.
Lynne lives in Los Angeles, with her husband, Jonathan Weaver, and their three daughters (aka the Three Weavers). Lynne received a BA in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Laurie Porter, Smog City Brewing Company
Laurie Porter founded Smog City Brewing with her husband 7 years ago. She has become an industry leader in Los Angeles County (serving as VP and President of the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild for 4 years) and an active participant in government affairs (CCBA Government Affairs Committee) and charitable organizations (Culinary Advisory Board for Food Forward, 1% for the Planet member). Laurie’s strengths lay in her ability to see and respond to trends and opportunities across many industries alongside a passion for catalyzing the right people with the right opportunities. Over the last 7 years, Laurie has focused on building a business that thrives not just in profitability but on positive company culture and positive impact on the environment through progressive sustainability measures and participation in the 1% for the Planet organization. Since 2011, Smog City has seen exponential returns from legislative and local leadership engagement directly impacting business growth as well as benefiting local breweries in the Los Angeles County area. With a strong belief that collaboration and industry support will lead us towards a healthy and sustainable future, Laurie’s commitment to craft beer has always extended beyond the boundaries of the brewery.
Mike Hess, Mike Hess Brewing Co.
Mike Hess, CBO of Mike Hess Brewing, is a 1990 graduate of the University of Colorado, with a BA in Economics. He started homebrewing while a Navy officer stationed in Philadelphia in 1995. Fifteen years later, while running his own financial services firm, he launched San Diego’s nano-brewery, and the region’s #33. In 2013, he commissioned a 30-bbl production brewery in North Park, the region’s first urban brewery. Now employing 52 team members, MHB has grown to three locations, is San Diego’s 11th largest craft brewer, distributed in three states and is respected as a brewery making great beer. His wife Lynda is the brewery’s COO and they have three children.
Jim Woods, Woods Beer Co.
Jim Woods is the founder and CEO of Woods Beer Co, a family of brewpubs and taprooms in the San Francisco Bay Area, known for creative blends of classic beer styles with uniquely Californian influences.
Jim Woods’s road to the beer business started with a homebrew kit, a cup of tea, and a wild idea: to marry the flavors of California craft beer with the natural buzz of yerba mate. That union became MateVeza — the first mate-infused beer of its kind in the world — and its commercial success fueled Woods’s original brewpub, a small cafe on the corner of San Francisco’s Dolores Park.
Today, that beer is joined by hundreds more adventurous brews, made and served at a growing network of pubs and brewing outposts around the Bay. Woods is proud member of California’s inspiring community of makers, chefs, artists, and business owners, and takes his inspiration from brewing history, local ingredients, and the Bay’s unique creative spirit.