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Enabling the Next Generation of San Diego’s Beer Pioneers: Meet the First Recipient of our Brewer’s Education Scholarship

For the last 25 years, Karl Strauss has been fundamental in fostering the pioneering spirit that has come to define the San Diego craft beer industry. Beyond brewing our innovative lineup of award winning beers, we have a longstanding tradition of supporting our local community, a core value instilled by our late brewmaster, Karl M. Strauss. In honor of Karl’s lifetime commitment to community service and education, we established the Karl Strauss Brewer’s Education fund in 2007—created to help aspiring brewers pursue an education in brewing science. We are proud to announce that we are partnering with the UC San Diego Extension Brewing Program to fund an annual scholarship through the Karl Strauss Brewers Education Fund to help educate San Diego’s next generation of talented, local brewers.”Taught by leading professional brewers and other industry experts, the UC San Diego Extension Brewing Certificate is a part-time, evening and weekend program that offers academic and practical training for entry-level brewing professionals.”

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There are countless stories around the craft beer community of people who have taken their passion for brewing, or simply for beer, to the next level by opening their own breweries and pursuing their hobby professionally. Occasionally, we come across a unique story that underscores how special the people are who become drawn to this industry. We are proud to share that the first recipient of the scholarship is San Diego local, Frank Yepiz.

“I heard about the Karl Strauss scholarship on the radio and I applied. I never thought I would actually get it, so I didn’t even tell my wife I applied. I am so grateful and excited to have this amazing opportunity”. Having grown up a San Diego native, surfing the local beaches and soaking up the culture, he feels the explosion of the craft beer industry was perfectly natural, “growing up in San Diego, I’ve come to love everything about the city…It attracts creative people, it attracts conscientious people. It’s why craft beer has been able to flourish here.”

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It was this creative, curious nature that led him to brewing. In the process of completing an undergraduate degree in Physics at UCSD, Frank took a leave from his professional career and made the decision to become a stay-at-home father to his young daughters and let his wife pursue her career after completing her own Master’s program. During his time at home, he began conducting research into how he could provide his family with a healthier, more nutritious diet. He began with bread making, “I wanted to make something that was more natural, more traditional and like how bread was made in the past, to provide a healthier option for my children.”

One day, a curious experiment opened his eyes to the seemingly magical properties of what he was cultivating on his kitchen counter…

“I ended up with bread starters all over the kitchen in jars. One day, I added honey to one of the starters as an experiment….and at this point I didn’t know anything about the fermentation process, but I got a quick lesson the next morning when I woke up and  got hit with alcohol when I opened the jar! From that point on I was absolutely fascinated with the process.”

He dove head first into brewing, and in a story that rings true for many homebrewers, was infatuated from his first taste of homemade beer. However, replacing the jars of bread starters with 5 gallon carboy’s tends to clutter things up in the house quickly.

“My wife likes Amber ales, so I figure I can get away with making a mess as long as it’s for a beer she likes. But I love stouts, and look forward to brewing more of my own.”

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Having officially begun the UCSD program already, Frank is positive and enthusiastic about the students and curriculum. “You have a professor that is not only extremely knowledgeable but an active professional brewer as well , students that are eager to brew and to improve their skills. You put those two together, and you have a fantastic environment to learn. Coming from Physic’s where it’s such a competitive environment, it’s exactly the opposite experience in brewing. You have people who want to talk about it, people who want to share it, and it makes it such a pleasant experience for me”.

In regards to where he sees himself contributing to the San Diego brewing community, beyond the ability to produce great beer, is building on his background in physics and chemistry and applying that scientific curiosity to the process.  “I want to be a professional brewer and come into that environment with a holistic, scientific approach. I think that beer is part of a wholesome diet, the same way bread can be. What I’d like to do is bring a consciousness to beer drinking that it’s not only about having a good time, but that it can be nutritious. And if we  can make wholesome beer, we can make beer something that’s not just recreational, but part of somebody’s overall health.”

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We’ll be keeping up with Frank here on our blog as he continues his journey through the program, chronicling his scholastic experience and practical experience as a brewing intern here at Karl Strauss, as well as when our 2015 scholarship opportunity will be announced. We hope Frank’s story is a great inspiration to always pursue your passions and curiosity, you never know where they may lead.