San Diego

San Diego to Deem February 2 as ‘Karl Strauss Day'

The brewery brought craft beer to the local economy 30 years ago

In honor of the 30th anniversary of Karl Strauss Brewery in San Diego, the city will deem February 2 as "Karl Strauss Day." 

On Feb 2, 1989, the downtown location opened, bringing the craft beer scene to San Diego. 

"Having worked with Karl, I get choked up thinking about this," said Paul Segura, brewmaster at Karl Strauss Brewery on Columbia Street. "He was my teacher, mentor, and friend and the city is going to name a day after him. It is so incredible!" 

Now, 30 years after the doors to the brewery opened, over 100 breweries operate around San Diego. The industry has propelled more than $1 billion into the local economy and $6.5 billion into the state’s economy.

Many craft brew lovers may not realize the long road to the successful craft brewery community of San Diego all started with two friends in Mission Beach.

Chris Cramer, founder of Karl Strauss Brewing Company, and his partner Matt Rattner, started playing around with the idea of starting a brewery by Cramer's apartment.

[G] San Diego's Craft Beer Scene Over Time

“Matt and I would take my football and we'd throw the ball around Tower 10 as we'd write the business plan to start the first new brewery,” Cramer said.

When they opened in 1989, they were the first new brewery to open in city limits in more than 50 years.

"There had not been a new brewery since prohibition actually," added Segura. 

“One of the reasons why San Diego has become such a mecca for craft beer is we started off with a group of individuals who were friends and collaborative rivals,” said Chris Cramer, founder of Karl Strauss Brewing Company, said about his former employees later building their own companies.

Cramer's cousin, Karl Strauss, had been trained in Germany as a brewer before World War II. Strauss later fled Germany prior to the Holocaust and began working for a brewing establishment in the U.S.

When Rattner and Cramer started the process of opening up their brewery in San Diego, the brewmaster Strauss became their mentor.

After learning the ropes, Strauss helped the men set up their own brewery, formulate beers and train newly employed brewers. He helped them use national quality control standards of a large-scale brewery and translate it to a smaller-scale craft level.

The Brewer's Association defines a craft brewer as a brewery that produces six million barrels of beer or less at a brewery where 25 percent or less of the brewery is controlled by an industry member. 

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