“GUNWHALE” is a name inspired by a prior era. It means the top ridge of a boating vessel (now more commonly known as a gunnel). Its name is derived from the place where a gun is attached to a ship in order to fend off any threats to the voyage. We think our name is a curious, unique and memorable one, but we were most inspired by its use in the Old West. “Loaded to the gunwhales”, meant overflowing, and was slang for having tipped back a few too many fermented beverages. Where we were raised has history as a coastal territory with a rough surf, a land fertile for growing (hence the citrus groves lending its name), and a place of exploration. Some of its facade has changed....however its soul has not. Now, just like back then, life in California is about living wild-hearted on the frontier of the world. Let us not forget how to enjoy such a lucky fate!
It was the self-reliance and optimism of the explorers and pioneers who crossed vast and distant oceans to arrive here; they made their way to the West through uncharted trails, discovering a rustic landscape that was majestic and fertile. These were rugged people living on the frontier, literally and figuratively, helping one another in the building of a new world. And from the Old World, they brought along their most cherished traditions: among them the art of brewing. They include the farmers, ranchers, the natives, the cowboys, the anglers, the hunters, the speculators, the missionaries, and even the outlaws. We are inspired by how the natural wealth continues to produce the culture on this wild coast, and we hope to preserve the wilderness through a lifestyle of craft food and beverage. We think the fact that society has taken a step back and has begun to re-evaluate and demand more natural, sustainable and quality products, is very promising. However, the battle for better beer is still in its infancy, and obfuscation and less than savory tactics are prevalent. This project is our effort to do things right, to educate, and create something special. This quote sums it up nicely...
“Working to preserve in perpetuity is a great inspiration. We are not fighting a rear-guard action, we are facing a frontier. We are not slowing down a force that inevitably will destroy all the wilderness there is. We are generating another force, never to be wholly spent, that, renewed generation after generation, will be always effective in preserving wilderness. We are not fighting progress. We are making it. We are not dealing with a vanishing wilderness. We are working for a wilderness forever.” - Howard Zahniser
Like the ocean collides with the shore, Gunwhale holds the line between the European farmhouse tradition and the bold, West Coast styles that California made famous. We call these “Coastal Ales”, evoking the untamed coastline and the expansiveness of the ocean to replace the rolling hills and plains of the inland farms. The same isolation and rugged terrain that inspired the farmhouse style is found on the open ocean, and against the rugged coastline of California.
Gunwhale Ales push hops, yeast, and unexpected malt bills toward new territory that captures the spirit of our region. As shown in it's history, California remains a place of cultural and culinary diversity, and the beer we make will reflect a balanced influence of local flavor. Our beer will be both delicate and robust — layered flavors, slightly unpredictable yeast strains, wild bacteria, and hybrid styles that evoke a native, adventurous spirit. But they will all be produced with a technical edge that elicits praise for their quality, mouthfeel, and aromatics that draw in the discerning beer drinker. They will often sound familiar, but they will surprise and challenge expectations.
As you can see from this photo, Kevin Hammons is damn serious about beer. And he will check you up against the boards if you suggest differently. Gunwhale was ecstatic to tap Kevin as Head Brewer for many reasons. Kevin is a local guy, he hails from nearby Orange, CA, and he likes hoppy and farmhouse beer. That would be enough. But he is also an experienced (and humble) brewer and has been around the scene for years. He started as a homebrewer, and worked in the homebrew store in downtown Orange that has been a craft beer staple, from The Bruery to the current Provisions. He started as an Inventory Manager at The Bruery, worked up to the brew deck, and ended up as Brewery Manager. He then went on to become Director of Brewing at Evans Brewing. Kevin uses his experience in brewing, cellar management, packaging, and overall production in getting more Gunwhale Ales to the masses. Expect the highest quality and consistent beers from him, because nobody with a face forest this impressive would have it any other way.
Favorite beer style : Table beers and Session IPAs
Favorite Outdoor activity : Patio drinking, BBQing, Hockey (street or ice)
The Gunwhale Team has three passionate founders who are native to Southern California. We are native to the California coast (2 in Newport Beach and 1 in La Jolla), reveling in the beauty and adventure at our fingertips. We grew up surfing, fishing, camping, and boating from Baja California to Central Coast to wherever the ride took us. We also are self-proclaimed beer geeks, happy to have been forming our palettes over the years to scouring the tasting rooms in a hotbed of brewing culture. We are just a couple of family guys who have risked much to go after a dream. We started as homebrewers, and we take beer more seriously than ourselves.
Justin split time growing up between Newport Beach and Maui (not a bad combo, eh?). He became a cook, mostly because his ADD prevented him from a 1600 on his SATs, and it led him to some great kitchens in Orange County. He even leveraged his knife skills into a gig cooking on the Quicksilver Crossing surfing expedition boat. He has been Executive Chef at Pizzeria Ortica, putting out the best pie in the area as well as some pretty rad beer dinners with local breweries. He will be ramping up some of the same for Gunwhale in the future, on top of heading up our Operations. He straddles the edge of inappropriateness with an adeptness not often seen.
Favorite beer style : Wild Ales and anything with fennel.
Favorite Outdoor activity : Surfing / Windsurfing.
JT has technical prowess, pretty much the MacGyver of the beer industry. He not only was in charge of our tasting room buildout, he will be overseeing Production and is our stickler for quality control. He studied engineering (read: nerd), worked in antiques, manufacturing, and construction before diving into this rabbit hole of endless brewery tasks, ie "fixin shit". He loves piles of lumber more than any healthy person should, and is clearly above average at restoring old boats and cars. He grows his own food (what a hippie, right?) and will probably try to convince us to make a swiss chard beer because his garden is overgrown with it.
Favorite beer style : West Coast IPAs.
Favorite Outdoor activity : Boating (on his restored electric in Newport Harbor).
Bobby, a Certified Cicerone® will be managing Sales. But as a wicked artist, he also handles all the branding, design, and packaging for Gunwhale. Looking back, he sees time living in Europe in the 90's as a major influence on his desire for better beer due to the exposure of traditional European styles before he even turned of age (and it kept him from getting much else done over there). But growing up in San Diego and spending much of his working life near many craft brewery pioneers didn't hurt either. He has a deep love for coffee, Vespa culture, and the "3-beer lunch" which he justifies as "crucial research & development".
Favorite beer style : Funky saisons and Unfiltered IPAs.
Favorite Outdoor activity : Fishing / camping in Baja.
We are grateful for these bunch of goons that run our taproom day in and day out!
Our brewery is growing quickly, and we are open to bringing on people with the talent and passion to help us build our brand. If you think you have the skills and drive to join our team, please send cover letters and resumes to : firstname.lastname@example.org