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Take the Helm — Open Your Own Brewery

Helms Brewery

When I was a kid and adults asked me what I wanted to do when I was older, I gave people my forty year plan. I was going to play point guard in the NBA and after my all-star career ended I would become a globe-trotting archeologist. Then, reality set in.

It turns out NBA scouts aren’t in the market for dudes that are 5’7″ and can only dribble with their left hand. Also, the Indiana Jones franchise really lied to the children of America about what being an archeologist entailed. I wanted to get into archeology to eradicate child slavery in the mines of India, and whip bad guys in the face with my bullwhip. That’s not actually what archaeologists do, apparently.

When it finally dawned on me that my forty year plan was riddled with delusion and mistaken impressions I knew I needed to change my goals to something more obtainable, but I have always had a lot of respect for those who have a dream and decide to go for it. Then I heard a heart-warming story about four friends who opened a brewery.

Bryan Ruiz, Tim Johnson, Jason Mitchell and Ken Watson were co-workers in the shipbuilding industry in San Diego when they decided to fulfill their dream of opening a brewery. They decided to name their brewery Helms Brewing Company with the motto “Take the Helm,” as a tribute to their mutual profession as shipbuilders and a nod to the entrepreneurial spirit it takes to start a brewery.

San Diego has a well-established microbrewery culture, with an ever-expanding number of craft breweries popping up in the area. The four entrepreneurs initially looked into purchasing one of the existing breweries in San Diego. After looking at the existing brewery, the four considered the price of the brewery too high and decided to start doing the research to start their brewery from scratch. The four friends were given estimates from friends in the business that projected how much it would cost to start a brewery, but thanks to their extensive research and willingness to put in the elbow grease, they were able to start the brewery for half of the estimated amount.

When asked what the biggest obstacle to opening a brewery is. The answer may surprise you. It has nothing to do with the process of brewing beer. Instead, it’s the considerable amount of licenses and permits required. Once all the permits and licenses were granted and the brewery was completed, Helms Brewing Company opened its doors on November 17th 2012.

Helms Brewing Company offers pints, growlers and samplers year round of their Captain’s Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Hop the RIPA ( a red IPA) and Beeruccino ( a porter brewed with highly roasted malts, black pepper and almond wood to mimic the flavors and complexities of coffee). The company also loves to experiment with brewing new and exciting beers. They have an ever-changing list of experimental brews and seasonal brews. Recently, the guys decided to commemorate the end of the world (according to the Mayans) by brewing Decimation Triple IPA and hosting an end of the world party.

When asked what the future holds for Helms Brewing Company, the owners see themselves starting to distribute their beers locally and slowly start to expand East. Anyone with the cajones to start their own brewery gets the respect of this failed point guard/archeologist. If you want to try any of the beers from Helms Brewing Company check out their website for their location and hours.

Next: Beer-Fed Cattle Produce Better Steaks. Duh.

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