Craft beer has played a prominent role in Brenden Dobel’s life, the Brewmaster at ThirstyBear Organic Brewery. During Dobel’s early years, he lived in Europe where various interpretations of beer, wine and spirits have led to distinct discoveries of regional cultures.
Dobel’s parents helped shape his singular interest with beer from the start. His German mother taught him the difference between a Pilsner and an Export. His father enjoyed Anchor Steam and Rainier Ale, both treats at a time (‘80s) when very few craft beer options were available in America. During his college years at St. Mary’s College, the typical scenario of valuing quantity over quality persisted. But Dobel was on a mission to find exceptional beers such as Devil Mountains Railroad Ale (Walnut Creek) and Mendocino’s Red Tail Ale, which came in a champagne bottle with yeast suspended in the bottom and was endlessly fascinating to him.
After graduating college, Dobel became fully immersed in the craft beer world. He started home brewing to delve deeper into beer’s history and traditions, tasting as many new beers as possible and visiting as many breweries around the world. He soon began working at various breweries such as the short-lived Monterey Brewing Company, Tabernash Brewing Company in Denver, CO (focusing on German-style beer), and even his own, Reccow Brewing Company. His ambitions were to open a brewpub highlighting continental-style beers rather than British-style ales, which were prevalent at the time.
Before officially opening, Dobel decided to continue his studies at Doemans Brewing Academy’s "International Course in Brewing Technology" in Munich, Germany and shop around for beautiful German engineered brewing equipment. While in the program, he was joined by brewers from Africa, Israel, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Croatia, U.S. and Canada. After finishing at Doemans, he landed a journeyman position at Graminger Weissbrauhaus in Alt Otting, and traveled around Germany working in many different breweries.
Unfortunately, Reccow Brewing Company closed in 2000. Soon after though, he took a job with Noah Berry at his Broken Drum Brewery and Wood Grill in San Rafael, CA and was finally able to brew like an American brewpub craft brewer should.
In 2002, he was invited to brew for ThirstyBear Brewing Co. in his hometown of San Francisco. At ThirstyBear, Dobel has creative control to present an incredible craft beer experience, with whiskey and wine barrel aging programs a current focus.
Along with Owner and Head Brewer Ron Silberstein, ThirstyBear and Dobel hosted the debut official meeting of the San Francisco Brewers Guild (est. 2003). In 2007, Dobel facilitated the organic certification process through the CCOF, making ThirstyBear the first (and still only) certified organic brewery in San Francisco, in accordance with the brewery’s green philosophy. In 2010, he successfully passed the rigorous exam to become a Certified Cicerone (which is to beer what a sommelier is to wine).
At ThirstyBear, Dobel has steadily defined a standout German-influenced West Coast style of brewing, with a special emphasis on pilsners, IPAs, stouts, Belgian-inspired ales, cask conditioned ales, session beers, and barrel aged brews.