At the end of March, the I Like Beer Team was lucky enough to sit down with Paige McWey Acers, executive director of the San Diego Brewers Guild. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the San Diego Brewers Guild is committed to growing and strengthening the craft beer community.
McWey-Acers was kind enough to bring along some beer from Thorn Brewing Company, and over a couple of beers, we were able to hear her story.
ILB: Welcome to our show!
Paige: Thank you for having me.
ILB: What should we start with?
Paige: The Thorn Brewing Michelada. It’s their Barrio Lager with pure tomato juice, lime juice, ocean clam juice, Worcester sauce, and hot sauce. It’s a good summertime beer.
ILB: Paige, tell us a little about your journey in the craft beer industry.
Paige: Yes. I am coming up on my ninth year with the Guild. Prior to being with the Guild, I worked in a law firm. And I worked at a craft-centric restaurant in North Park right when that was booming on 30th Street.
And so I had been exposed to the industry, and we would have beer dinners, and the brewers would come in. And I really liked having that community-driven industry be a part of the restaurant. I found the San Diego Brewers Guild was looking for an administrator to help with their organization, daily tasks — that type of thing. And then, as the position grew, I became full-time, and I’m still here.
ILB: We just read about the 2022 San Diego Brewers Guild hop blend that has been created in celebration of the Guild’s 25th anniversary. Congratulations on that!
Paige: Yes, we’re excited to get some beers made out of that release this summer.
ILB: Ok, on the topic of drinking great beers, we are not going to put you on the spot to pick your favorite brewery, but let’s ask this: what’s your go-to beer style?
Paige: Brown ales. Definitely a gateway beer for entering craft beers. Not a lot of them around…the Alesmith Nutbrown. [You] can’t go wrong with that beer. It’s definitely a staple for me. And Pizza Port Chronic is another one, an amber, but another favorite.
ILB: Tell us a little about the goals and vision of the San Diego Brewers Guild.
Paige: We are a trade association, so the breweries are members of our organization, and we serve our members by providing advocacy, when needed, educational programs, marketing, and promotion.
ILB: That’s all the good stuff. Let’s get to something serious. Coming out of very needed and honest reports of mistreatment of women, people of color, and other minority groups last summer, what role has the Guild played in helping make the brewery industry a fair, safe environment for everyone?
Paige: Going back to education, we’ve created two very important educational sessions for our members. One is women in beer, where we’re going to have a panel of women and men to talk about the roles women play in the industry, how they can advocate for themselves, and how allies can advocate for them.
How can women continue to play an important part in the industry as they have over the last several years? We also have bystander training: a workshop where brewery employees will have an opportunity to go through this training to learn how to properly react when they are witnessing something [inappropriate].
ILB: That’s great work.
Paige: Yes, giving people the tools to feel empowered to say something is really important. We want to continue to provide educational opportunities like those two sessions. We also put together a code of conduct that we’re releasing to our members that will be accompanied by resources for both employers and employees, and guests.
So if they are to witness something, or be exposed to something, or have an experience that they need to report, we want to make sure that people have the types of resources that they felt like they didn’t have before. And we want to be able to provide that as a value to our membership, but also our overall community.
ILB: What’s the best part of the work you do?
Paige: I get to work with all of the breweries in San Diego County. Instead of working for a singular company, I’m meeting and working with owners and different people from every brewery. So, I have a lot of opportunities to just work with different types of people, different business models, and different company priorities and missions. I really enjoy that part of the experience.
We continued our discussion with Paige McWey Acers over a Thorne Brewing Out of this World double IPA made with Galaxy hops and full of passionfruit and grapefruit notes. You can hear the entire interview on our podcast at www.ilikebeerthepodcast.com or search for it on your favorite platform.