From Nomad to Farmer: Brewing Local

  • Speakers: Darcy Shiber-Knowles, Dave McLean, Erik Fowler, Pat Walls, Toni Kraft
  • Tracks: Clubs, Competitions & Culture
  • Homebrew Con 2023
  • San Diego

The origins of brewing trace back to early farming and the use of crops which were available within a region or farm. The group behind the San Diego Estate Beer Project is working to bridge historic brewing traditions, sustainability, and the quest to determine what San Diego tastes like. This panel covers how homebrewers and commercial breweries have begun to work with local farmers to take on this task. Join us in raising a glass of to redefining locality and how you can make the biggest impact with brewing local no matter where you live!

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss ways to return to our roots of using local ingredients
  • Talk about ways to use alternative brewing ingredients
  • Learn how to create a network of raw material and craft brewing supply chain contacts
  • Explore the concept of lighting a fire, not filling a bucket

About the Speakers

Dave McLean is a co-founder of Admiral Maltings in Alameda, California. Prior to starting Admiral Maltings, Dave founded San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewing Company in 1997 and operated it until 2017. Magnolia’s original Haight Ashbury location was one of the first breweries in the country to combine locally sourced, farm-to-table food with its brewing program and is considered one of the first gastropubs in the United States. Dave also opened Alembic Bar in 2006, one of San Francisco’s first craft cocktail bars, also known for an eclectic and inventive food program. Magnolia opened a second location in 2014, a production brewery and barbeque restaurant, Smokestack, with a focus on smoked meats, whole animal butchery, and craft cocktails in addition to beer. Dave has been in the beer industry since 1994 after completing the Master Brewers Program at the University of California, Davis. He has been active throughout the Bay Area beer and food communities, having co-founded the San Francisco Brewers Guild (now Bay Area Brewers Guild) and San Francisco Beer Week, along with various other roles organizing or producing events that promote the Bay Area’s good food movement and craft beverage industries.

Darcy Shiber-Knowles (she/her) is the Director of Operational Sustainability and Innovation at Dr. Bronner’s, the top-selling natural brand of soap in North America famous for its tingly peppermint soap, radical labels, corporate activism, and leadership on regenerative organic agriculture. In her role at Dr. Bronner’s, Darcy oversees global sustainability, quality, innovation, and compliance with Dr. Bronner’s many third-party certifications, including United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic, Regenerative Organic, Fair Trade, Vegan, B Corp, and more. Since 2013, Darcy has led Dr. Bronner’s sustainability efforts, such as achieving 100% renewable power and moving toward climate positivity, addressing and reducing single-use plastic use, moving toward zero waste manufacturing, creating the first-ever Fair Trade Internship Program, and co-chairing the steering committee for the B Corp Climate Collective, a group of Best for the Environment Certified B Corps collaborating to advance climate justice through business practices. Darcy has served on the board of Slow Food Urban San Diego, is a founding board member of Naturally San Diego, and a member of Slow Beer’s Brewcycling Project that is advancing collaborative recycling efforts in the San Diego craft beer community. She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Barnard College at Columbia University, and a Master in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management. She is excited that Dr. Bronner’s is now making chocolate, since she is passionate about enjoying and advancing good, clean, and fair food for all, and lives in Oceanside, California with her family.

Erik Fowler has been with White Labs since 2014. Before coming to White Labs, he worked for a prominent regional brewery, a nano-brewery, and several beer and wine-focused retail outlets. He has led education classes on yeast handling, sensory techniques, and quality control. Erik holds his Cicerone certification, as well as a certificate in the Business of Craft Beer from San Diego State University. His objective is to use his knowledge and experience to make fermentation education informative, accessible, and interesting.

Pat Walls is a Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Certified Beer Judge, Certified Cicerone, Kansas City Barbecue Society Certified BBQ Judge, and published independent historian of food, drink, and culture based in San Diego. He serves as the QUAFF Club-Only Competition Co-Coordinator, the San Diego Estate Beer Project (SDEBP) Coordinator, and a Slow Beer committee member with Slow Food Urban San Diego. He spends his days working at San Diego State University, and he also writes at

Toni Kraft earned a bachelor’s degress in hospitality and restaurants from Madison University with an emphasis in agribusiness and culinary destination management. Toni has owned two successful restaurants in North County San Diego, one on 10 acres of farm, olives, and vines, one in the Poway Unified School District Offices, setting the earth’s table with farm-to-desk style scratch cooking. Toni is the proud past president of Slow Food San Diego North, Chopra trained Lifestyles, and Functional Nutrition Instructor, is a cooking class teacher with over 7,000 students from around the globe and an Amazon Best Seller cook book author. Toni was born to work at the Farm to Institute Center and happy to work for their farms and families. She is here to serve.

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