Beer Culture

My appreciation for good beer and beer culture began at an early age. My mother is German, and when we lived in Germany, I couldn’t help but notice the importance beer had in that culture. The presentation of beer was often reverential and beer was given a place at the table. When I returned to the United States in the early 1980s, this wasn’t the mind-set for most Americans. Changing that has been my passion.

In 1992, I graduated from Saint Mary’s College, where for me, like most college student experiences, it was about quantity over quality (in terms of drink). If I did manage to scrape some money together, I’d get Devil Mountain Brewing Company’s Railroad Ale in Walnut Creek, for example. I also remember my uncle's introducing me to Mendocino Brewing Company’s Red Tail Ale, which came in a champagne bottle. The American craft beer revolution was afoot and creeping into my consciousness.

After college, I began home brewing, delving deeper into the history and traditions, the secrets and magic of beer. In 1996, I put away my tie, walked out of my work cubicle, and got a job installing and cleaning tanks for the short-lived Monterey Brewing Co.

In the spring of 1997, I had the opportunity to serve my apprenticeship at Tabernash Brewing Company in Denver. The company decided that I should continue my brewing studies in Munich. After finishing the course, I managed to land a journeyman position deep in the Bavarian heartland.

In 2002, I was invited to brew for the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company in San Francisco, my hometown. It’s here that I’ve been able to express myself as a brewmaster.

I’m happy to say that, after a quarter century or so, we craft brewers have changed the American palate for the better, when it comes to beer. We now have a good beer culture in this country!

- Brenden Dobel ’92, MA in Leadership ’09

Dobel oversees all brewing operations for the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company in San Francisco.

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