We San Diegans don’t need fancy stats to prove our love for suds, but here they are, anyway: more than 130 local breweries are nearing $1 billion in sales annually, employ close to five thousand workers, and those numbers are going straight up.
“San Diego is arguably the craft beer capital of the country,” says Taphunter CEO Melani Gordon, an original founder and current boardmember of San Diego Startup Week (#SDSW). Since the 2012 inaugural event, Gordon’s company has grown from a fledgling startup to a leading provider of operational software tools to thousands of bars and restaurants across 12 countries. TapHunter provides business owners with an efficient, centralized dashboard to manage rotating drink inventories and menus across print, digital, web and social media.
As the founder of a B2B technology enterprise for the specialty beverage industry, Gordon has unique insight into San Diego beer scene, which she will share with SDSW “#BevSD” attendees. Here are some highlights:
San Diego is Bigger Than Beer
“The industry is not just about beer anymore; the city has become a specialty beverage mecca,” Gordon says.
San Diego is home to an expanding array of urban wineries, spirit distilleries, and wide-ranging tangential booze supply companies. For example, White Labs is an international company founded locally by a team of biochemists who have turned out increasingly innovative yeast products for both professional and amateur beermakers.
Beyond Brewing: The Possibilities Abound
“There is so much opportunity in San Diego to break into new facets of the business,” Gordon says. “It will take visionaries to continue pushing the industry forward.”
As Taphunter demonstrates, the beverage industry isn’t all about liquids. Startups ranging from cloud-based apps to brick-and-mortar real estate have sprouted to support the world’s ever-growing thirst for San Diego spirits. Case in point: The SDBJ recently reported that Brewery Ignitor is “lighting a match under new breweries” by offering commercial leasing opportunities designed to accommodate and grow their businesses.
And while the bev industry has been dubbed a boy’s club, the San Diego scene has deliberately made room at the table for women. You and Yours, “California’s first urban craft liquor distillery,” was founded by USD grad Laura Johnson, who has infused her brand with a unique blend of flowers and feminine spirit.
The Beverage Industry Isn’t All Fun and Games
“The majority of the brewers in San Diego don’t get into it to become millionaires,” Gordon says. “They take their craft very seriously.”
But building, branding, and monetizing a beverage empire takes business acumen, and that’s where #BevSD comes in.
“Behind the Bar: The Digital Bar,” led by TapHunter Co-Founder and CTO Jeff “Flash” Gordon, will explore how bars, bottle shops and tasting rooms are incorporating digital TV menus, POS innovations, and other tech trends to improve their operations and customer experience.
“Innovation and Collaboration in the Craft Beverage Industry: How Creative Ingredients, Experimentation, and Collaboration Drive the Industry Forward” features local brewers and distillers, who will give attendees a “behind-the-bar” peek at the process of developing new products and bringing them to market.
And if all that doesn’t make the #BevSD track sound fun, here’s a real incentive to attend: Drinks will be served.