If you live (and/or drink) in Long Beach then you’ve probably heard of “Blackwell.”
Blackwell has been the Head Brewer for Belmont Brewing Company in Belmont Shore
for nearly nineteen years and in that time he has become extremely well known for his
consistency and quality of beers. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with him and
learn more about him.

He was born near Silicon Valley where his father worked and soon after his birth the
family moved to Louisiana (briefly) and then to Minnesota where he lived until joining
the Army at the age of eighteen. After his service he moved to Albuquerque to attend the
University of New Mexico in order to pursue a degree in Architecture, which eventually
turned into a degree in Political Science and Economics. It was during this time that his
college roommate turned him on to home brewing and, needless to say, he liked it and he
was good at it. The two friends both really enjoyed cooking and found the two hobbies to
be quite similar. “Brewing is a culinary art,” he said about it. “if you like to cook, and
you like beer, you might like to cook some beer.”

After earning his Masters, he happened upon an advertisement in the newspaper for New
Mexico Wineries Incorporated. The winery was holding open interviews nearby for a
Sales Rep. position, he went to the interview, and he got he job. During the year that he
worked for the winery he got to know the clients and shop managers and learned, through
those contacts, of a new brewery opening in the area: Kelly’s Brewery. Unfortunately for
Kelly’s their Head Brewer quit within days of the soft opening, and luckily for Blackwell
he happened to spontaneously stop by to introduce himself just twenty minutes after said
Head Brewer walked out. Some phone calls were made, some sampling of his home brew
occurred, and then Blackwell had his very first job as a Head Brewer.

A few years after starting at Kelly’s, a friend –who was brewing in L.A.– gave Blackwell
the contact information regarding a possible brewing job in Southern California and
Blackwell sent in his resume. As it turns out Belmont Brewing was also looking for a
brewer at that time and reached out to that same contact looking for recommendations
and they found Blackwell, hired him, and on April 4th 1999 he started work as Head
Brewer for Belmont Brewing Company.

He’s often asked what it takes to become a Head Brewer and he say’s (besides working
hard, being persistent, and being able to brew good beer) “You have to do something
really good in a past life, so if you didn’t already get that squared away…” I guess he did
square things up in his past life, and bringing his killer home brew to his job interviews
clearly didn’t hurt either. If you’re not already familiar with BBC beer, a great time to try
them out is during one of their near twice daily Happy Hours and be sure to try
Blackwell’s favorite BBC beer, the “Pale Ale” that is dry hopped with Citra Hops.

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