Solana Beach brewer is all about being part of the neighborhood
Posted on May 29, 2019
Picture a head brewer at a craft brewery and chances are good that picture is a man, possibly rosy-cheeked, probably flannel-wearing, and likely bearded. Culture Brewing’s Aleks Kostka is none of those things. Miss Kostka, a fresh-faced 28-year-old, has been making beer and winning awards at the Cedros Avenue-based brewery as head brewer for more than two years.
“People will come into the tasting room and say they want to meet Aleks, the head brewer, ‘is he around?’ And it’s like, ‘oh, actually our head brewer is a female,’” she says with a laugh. “I could go on and on about being a female in this industry, but I think a lot of women deal with what I do, even people who aren’t brewers. It is a common misconception that women don’t know beer.” Despite acknowledging that she does work in a very male-dominated industry, she admits, “I forget sometimes that it’s weird for people to see — for me, it’s just my every day.”
What she’d prefer people to focus on rather than her gender is enjoying the many beers she makes and Culture’s place within the neighborhood. “When you go to our tasting room, we don’t fall into this box, we brew all styles of beer, our tasting room is very simple — we don’t have a niche or anything — but I think what we’re most proud of is how many people we get to work with and how many businesses we get to know and help, and really be a part of the community. That is really the biggest part of Culture, for sure,” she says. From partnering in numerous charitable events to inviting local artists, free of charge, to be featured on the tasting room walls, there’s a great pride in being that friendly place where people like to gather.
Still, it’s the beer itself that takes center stage. In 2016, when Kostka was assistant brewer, Culture’s American Brown Ale won gold at the esteemed Great American Beer Festival; as head brewer a year later, she took bronze for her Blonde Ale. Kostka enjoys the freedom she has at Culture to explore many different styles and methods when crafting her beers. “It’s not just physical. It’s mental, it’s emotional, you have to be creative,” she says. Which means there’s very likely always going to be a style to suit everyone’s different tastes on tap at their three San Diego locations: Ocean Beach, Encinitas, and the Solana Beach brewery. “It is really cool to change someone’s opinion about beer,” she says. “You don’t even have to be a beer drinker — let’s figure out your palate and go from there. The goal is just to get everyone to like beer. It doesn’t even matter whose it is, as long as we can convince everyone that beer is a craft.” culturebrewingco.com Deanna Murphy
Photography by Jennifer Nelson