We had the good fortune of connecting with Brandon Hernández, the founder and Executive Editor of San Diego Beer News, an online resource providing all the news that’s fit to drink and information on San Diego County’s hundreds of brewery-owned venues. We’ve shared our conversation (over a few local beers, of course) below.
Hi Brandon, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
In 2019, after contributing thousands of articles to dozens of local and national publications over a 12-year span, all the while putting in 40-60 hours per-week at a full-time job, I was finally able to retire from my day job to focus solely on journalism. When doing so, my wife was extremely supportive and issued me a challenge, daring me to dream. While I’ve enjoyed working with top-notch publications and editors have largely been accommodating, I think every writer wonders what it would be like to do things 100% their way. To do that, one must be the one in charge, so I developed a plan to start my own website focusing on my journalistic focus: San Diego’s brewing industry. That was in November of 2019 and, by year’s end, I had a solid framework for what my eventual business would look like. When the pandemic hit, like many, I was a bit shell-shocked by the way our world changed, but once that wore off, I was able to see the unlikely opportunities presented by the state of the world. I contacted an ex-colleague of mine with expert web-development and multimedia skills to tell him about my idea. He immediately acknowledged its potential and we started working on the website. Within a month, San Diego Beer News (http://sandiegobeer.news) was up, running and thriving. It’s been a smash success from the get-go and I couldn’t be happier with the way we’ve implemented my initial vision, which was to provide anything and everything someone interested in San Diego County’s craft-beer scene could want or need to learn about and stay on top of the brewing industry, and find out how to extract the most out of this world-renowned region for ales and lagers.
What should our readers know about your business?
San Diego Beer News not only provides daily reporting (many days we publish multiple stories) but is known for its scoops, providing exciting news before other outlets. We also boast a team of varied, highly knowledgeable columnists plucked from throughout the beer industry covering brewing history, beer education, beer-centric recipes and pairings, and much more, as well as a Voices of San Diego Beer series of guest articles and essays about items of importance penned by members of the brewing industry. Additionally, we feature a local Beer of the Week and a weekly list of 30-110 (not a typo) beers tapping or releasing at local breweries. All of the above is sent to subscribers to our This Week in San Diego Beer email newsletter each Friday. Another key differentiator is our always-up-to-date list of the 200-plus breweries and brewery-owned venues in San Diego County. It’s sortable by neighborhood and accompanied by an interactive map, making it the top resource for locals and visitors planning their beer adventures. Also unique are our partnerships with media outlets (FOX 5, 91X), the region’s top podcasts, equality-driven non-profits and more. Visitors to our site can find the latest contents form the aforementioned factions, conveniently compiled on our site.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When friends visit, I draft itineraries for them that navigate them through different regions of our expansive county. The beer scene here is so immense that one really must divide and conquer. The following are some one-day regional itineraries that have proven reliable over time…
- North County Inland: Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Escondido (eat lunch here), The Lost Abbey, Rip Current Brewing, Stave & Nail Brewing, Burgeon Beer Co. – The Oasis, Abnormal Beer Co. at The Cork & Craft (eat dinner here)
- North County Coastal: Bagby Beer Co., Craft Coast (eat lunch here), Pizza Port Carlsbad, Eppig Brewing, Rouleur Brewing, Belching Beavery Brewery Tavern & Grill (eat dinner here)
- Central: AleSmith Brewing, Ballast Point Brewing (eat lunch here), Pure Project Brewing, Societe Brewing, New English Brewing, WestBrew – Del Mar (eat dinner here)
- Metro: The Original 40 Brewing (eat lunch/brunch here), North Park Beer Co., Pariah Brewing, Home Brewing, Fall Brewing, TapRoom Beer Co. (eat dinner here)
- South Bay & Downtown: Chula Vista Brewery, Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing, Mujeres Brew House, Half Door Brewing (eat here), Resident Brewing at The Local, Karl Strauss Brewing – Columbia Street (eat dinner here)
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The strength of San Diego Beer News and its timely, detailed content comes from the San Diego brewery owners and personnel who so generously provide their time, insights, information and beers so that I may provide thorough, daily reporting on the business to which they contribute their hearts, sweat and creativity. I owe a debt of gratitude to every owner, brewer, sales and marketing rep, beertender, distributor, supplier and, believe it or not, fellow beer journalist, who has welcomed me into the scene or their business, almost always with open arms.
That openness and acceptance was so incredible that it inspired me to change occupations and start working in the brewing industry, which I did from 2012-2019. I met the most passionate colleagues I’ve ever known and felt fulfilled in a way that continues to fuel my ambition to represent the local beer scene in the truest light and, hopefully, help people see the many reasons why I and so many others believe it is so extraordinary.
I have rights and permission to use the images I’ve submitted.