Diary of a Brewing graduate: 'An incredible learning experience'


Sarah Gathman, with fellow students: "I’m just coming up for air, excited to share what I've been learning."

Sarah Gathman’s passion for brewing was initially sparked a few years ago.

Her UC San Diego degree in molecular biology in hand, she was working at a local biofuels company, diligently researching the fermentation process.

That’s when her “a-ha” moment struck: First, she decided to learn the art of home brewing. Then, she decided to do everything possible to transition her career from the lab to San Diego’s thriving craft beer industry.

Along the way, in early 2014, she enrolled in UC San Diego Extension’s initial Brewing Certificate program. An avid writer, she launched a personal blog about her experience. Her blog posts have since been published in The San Diego Reader and The West Coaster, a popular brewing magazine.

This month, Gathman completed the program as one of nine graduating students. She also wrapped up her marketing internship with Karl Strauss Brewing Company.

The San Diego-based brewery/restaurant chain funded two full Extension Brewing Certificate scholarships in 2014, along with a single re-occurring annual scholarship starting in 2015.

What follows is one of Gathman’s blog posts about her internship. Fully energized and motivated, she plans to keep writing about craft beer while she pursues a full-time career in beer marketing:

​By Sarah Gathman
The sun set over the Karl Strauss Brewery during the last class of the classroom portion of the UC San Diego Extension’s Brewing Certificate program.

About a week later, I saw the sun rise over the brewery as I embarked on my first day of my internship with the Karl Strauss Brewing Company.

I knew going into the internship portion of the program that I wanted an internship that focused on the business and marketing side of the industry. For the past eight weeks, I have been immersed in the world of beer marketing. I’m just coming up for air, excited to share what I have been learning.

My internship started out with an “on-board” process that exposed me to all different areas within Karl Strauss.

I showed up in brewing clothes on my first day and helped brew a batch of Red Trolley. Then I changed into business attire for meetings with the Event Team manager and VP of Marketing — and, of course, later realized I still had malt on my face and in my hair from milling.

My favorite part of the on-board process was the “sales ride-along,” where I got to visit all of the downtown accounts with the sales rep. I was blown away by how many accounts she visits in a day.

After that, I got down to business with my marketing projects. I have projects that range from helping at events, to building out tasting menus for beer and cheese/chocolate pairings to be featured in the tasting room, to evaluating social media platforms for user engagement, and studying beer markets in Northern and Southern California.

For one of my projects I got to work a beer and seafood event at the Hotel Del Coronado. I loved getting to talk with people about Karl’s beer.

Another project had me attending a beer and food pairing dinner at Barleymash in downtown San Diego, experiencing amazing food and beer combinations, and putting my rusty bartending skills to the test. I learned a lot from Karl’s Brand Ambassador as he described the pairings and specific attributes of each beer.

On my days off I frequent Venissimo Cheese and Eclipse Chocolate, searching for the perfect combination to pair with my cheese and chocolate presentation to the marketing team. I am learning how a pairing can be turned into a marketing tool in the tasting room.

These are the glamorous aspects I dreamed of — Instagram-worthy. But the marketing team also works extremely hard doing the behind-the-scenes tasks, hours spent on the computer researching beer markets, price points, sending marketing emails, and wearing just about every other hat needed.

It's been an incredible learning experience. I'm extremely grateful that I got to do my internship at Karl Strauss.

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