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Meet George Thornton of The Homebrewer & Home Brewing in North Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to George Thornton.

Thanks for sharing your story with us George. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My passion for beer began somewhere around age 14. I was for whatever reason drawn to the culture and history of beer in Europe – Britain and Germany in particular. I began homebrewing at the age of 19.

My interest in the hobby gained as my graduate deadlines approached. I took on a part-time job at a local supply store, and became obsessed with every piece of information I could get my hands on. I also became enamored with the techniques for teaching and sharing my passion with others.

When the store I was working at announced that it would be closing, I felt that the needs of the neighborhood would go unfulfilled; and furthermore, that I may have a better read on the pulse of the hobby than my soon-to-be previous employer.

In February 2012, The Homebrewer: Supplies & Resources signed the lease on our El Cajon Blvd & 30th street location.

Our emphasis was, and will always be, on education, serving the (homebrew & neighborhood) community, and stellar customer service.

We were fortunate enough to tap into the synergy provided by Tiger! Tiger! Tavern (one block to the west) and Coffee & Tea Collective (next door). We all opened within a 6 month period of one another, and formed our #30ECB coalition with the help of the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association (AKA the Coolevard).

In 2013, we began work on building our own brewery, and by the end of 2014 Home Brewing Co had produced its first batch of beer. Home Brewing Co. is in the same space as The Homebrewer.

Over the years, we have boot-strapped every element of our growth, funneling all profits into a wider inventory, improved quality, and making our tasting room space more cozy.

Has it been a smooth road?
It’s been a relatively smooth road, all things considered.

Access to capital continues to be our #1 focus. We run on a thin margin for most of our products, and have very high standards to uphold.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are most known for our customer service, commitment to quality, and eagerness to share our passion with others.

I am most proud of our reputation within the community, and of our amazing staff of friendly, knowledgeable, passionate, anti-snobs.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
We have been fortunate enough to be involved in a niche hobby that has a strong base in San Diego. We were able to garner success via a commitment to serving a specific group of people.

That said, we’ve come across many challenges and struggles over the years. Access to information is always a challenge. Early on in our business, I would often joke that the line of people that make money off of my business before I do seem to keep growing: Business Licenses, Sales Tax, SDPD Security Alarm Registration, Dept. of Weights and Measures, Property Tax, Business Improvement District Fees… the list goes on and on. We’ve always strived to build a strong foundation for our business, and that includes following the rules. Quite frankly, I often feel like I learn about many of the rules only after I receive the fine/penalty for not following them.

I sat down with a city employee at the beginning of this process, and that seems like it would have been a good opportunity to hand me a list of every department that I need to register with (read: pay a fee to).

The city is quick to write a parking ticket for my customers that spend 1 extra minute on their meter, but can’t seem to collect the trash that spills out of the trash can just a few doors down. The city has put very little infrastructure dollars into our sidewalk, or the stench of (fill in the blank) that permeates from our alleys. They only reach out to me when I’ve made a mistake on a form for a tax that I hardly understand where the funds go… etc. etc.

Pricing:

  • Pints: $5+
  • Homebrew Starting Kits $100+

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Joe Park
Jeff McCue

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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