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Friday, December 8, 2017



GUEST BLOG / By Ryan Lamb, Editor, West Coaster craft beer magazine and website--Tucked away in a North County industrial park lies SpecHops Brewing, where David “Spook” Casperson brews Reinheitsgebot-adhering beers with unwavering precision on a 15-barrel system.


His background in special operations, or Spec Ops, led to the brewery name, which he trademarked by 2012 after sharing beer made from a Mr. Beer Kit with friends. Casperson went on to take “a firehose of information” from the UC Davis summer brewing course, before building the brewery’s exhaustive
business plan with his wife, Stephanie, who works as the director of educational technology at San
Marcos Unified School District.

Some readers may even remember a few of their SpecHops beers popping up as a collaboration with Aztec Brewery around that time.

In 2013, Casperson jumped at the opportunity to join Modern Times Beer founder Jacob McKean on an all-encompassing webinar, as a reward for donating to their Kickstarter. “His number one rule was that we can be friends if you make good craft beer and you have clean business practices.”

David Casperson, SpecHops Brewery, San Diego
Photo: Tim Stahl
Casperson similarly looks up to San Diego pioneers like Tomme Arthur, co-founder of The Lost Abbey. “I saw him out at a restaurant, and I told him that I wouldn’t be in this business if he hadn’t kicked open the door for the rest of us.”

David also cites Stone’s uphill battle with educating the public about beer, and Green Flash’s risky move of betting on West Coast IPA, as inspiration.

David and Stephanie ended up looking at 35 locations before signing a lease on Vista’s Activity Drive. The build-out that followed was meticulous. “Every aspect had 15 engineers looking over it,” he says, “because you don’t go anywhere without a solid team.” The first batches were brewed in January, and the tasting room opened the following month. A July 3 military charity fundraising event at The High
Dive featured a keg of SpecHops beer which kicked in just a couple of hours.

Inside SpecHops Brewery
The next phase of SpecHops’ operations focuses on what Casperson calls “slow social media.” A small, soundproof office in a corner of the tasting room houses what resembles a miniature television studio, geared up to record stories of service from war veterans, their families, and others who have “participated in America.”

The plan is to edit the footage and upload it to “The beer pays for the privilege of gathering the stories. A lot of places latch on to telling stories of service, but here it’s built into our DNA. If you’ve participated in a cancer foundation, if you’ve rescued dogs, if you were a firefighter...those are the stories we want to tell.” • is a media partner of magazine.

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