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Kern Back In Business: Craft beer industry growing in Kern County

$15 million dollar industry with about 200 jobs
Posted: 12:33 PM, Nov 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-26 20:33:15Z

Kern County has six breweries, three of which are here in Bakersfield. Those brewers estimate the craft beer industry makes up around $15 million dollar a year and employees about 200 people here in Kern County. As the industry expands, so do the jobs.

Craft beer, it's an industry pouring it's way through Kern County. Twenty years ago the craft beer scene had one location, Lengthwise Brewing Company.

Lengthwise Brewing Company's co-owner, Jeff Williams, said "Lengthwise was open for sixteen years before we really had another brewery in Bakersfield. Since then we're getting a growth on breweries, we're starting to get people to open up."

In the last three years Bakersfield has seen Temblor Brewing Company and Dionysus Brewing Company open. And in the next couple of years two more breweries are expected to open. And the local breweries can point to Lengthwise paving the way.

Temblor Brewing Company president, Don Bynum, said, "Them being here was an inspiration for us. And I think us being here is an inspiration for others So it's kind of like passion is slowly growing."

As that passion grows it opens up the opportunities to expand the local craft beer industry. Either adding new jobs or new styles of beer made in Bakersfield.

Dionysus Brewing Company co-owner/head brewer, Kyle Pittser, said "Within a 200 mile radius there was no sour beer whatsoever. If you could find it in town it was really expensive, so we wanted to make an inexpensive sour beer locally."

For most brewers, their start was similar to Williams and his buddies during their college days.

"We brewed our first batch of home brew together in 1991, it was terrible. But we didn't give up. We tried, we tried, we tried, we kept brewing better beer. And that's where we're here today. It's about passion," said Williams.

Now with more refined abilities, these brewers are hoping other will follow their footsteps and create more breweries and jobs in Bakersfield.

Pittser said, "I think that's going to help everyone. As, you know we have this brewery district going on, everyone wants to come here for all the good beers and travel between the breweries and check out the different styles."

"Temblor has 48 employees," Bynum said, "You know those were jobs that weren't here three years ago. With each new brewery that comes you're going to have, you know, a handful of new jobs right off the bat. And you know more jobs equals a better economy for Bakersfield."

Williams said, "The easiest way would be to research first. Learn as much as you can about craft beer. Learn about the process. And it comes down, do you want to be employed in the craft brew industry or do you want to open up your own craft brewery? There's two different things."

One easy way to join the craft brewery industry is starting at the bottom of a local brewery.

Bynum said Temblor is an easy place to apply for a job. He said, "We're hiring all the time. Bring in a resume and fill out an application. We look for diligence, hard work, team player. You know, those types of people will move up. Success is about baby steps."

Pittser said, "You can sweep floors, and then you can clean kegs. And then one day the brewer might let you brew with him. And then gain enough confidence where you can be a head brewer one day. As long as you're a hard worker in the industry, you can go anywhere."

If you think you're a good enough home brewer to build your own brewery in Kern County, Williams said it takes more than brewing talent.

"Really you've got to start with a good business plan," said Williams. "And of course you're going to need money to put it together and get it behind. But it is going to take time. And if you really don't have much knowledge in the brewing industry, you better start home brewing. You better start gaining knowledge, or working for one of the craft breweries here in Kern County."

With six breweries already opened in Kern County, the local brewers think there's still plenty of space for more.

Pittser said, "Kern County could probably allow another ten breweries, within the county, and still be healthy without any kind of other breweries stepping on each others toes. There's so much room to grow here."

The next brewery expected to open in Bakersfield is Great Change Brewing near Lengthwise and Dionysus. Their owner Tim Belmont said they're weeks away from the city's final approval. And while they're waiting for that approval, they're looking to hire a staff.

"We're looking to hire about eight to ten people and mostly in the tasting room, where they will be doing beertending and serving our customers," said Belmont.

While all the brewers said it's hard work, they all said it's a dream come true.

Williams said, "It's almost like we won the lottery 20 years ago. And it just keeps going on and on."

Black Gold Brewing Company

Dionysus Brewing Company

Great Change Brewing

Kern River Brewing Company

Lengthwise Brewing Company

Temblor Brewing Company