After three years with Golden Road Brewing, brewmaster Jesse Houck has departed the company and accepted a new position as Maui Brewing Company’s director of brewery operations, Brewbound has learned.
The news comes less than four months after it was announced that Anheuser-Busch InBev would purchase the fast-growing Los Angeles craft brewery.
Reached by email, Golden Road founder Meg Gill said Houck’s exit was unrelated to A-B InBev’s acquisition.
“This had been in the works for a while, [and] dates back to before the acquisition,” she wrote. “We wish Jesse all the best and are so happy to have enjoyed a seamless transition to Victor [Novak] being the brewmaster of both breweries now and moving forward,” she added.
Houck, who took over as Golden Road’s head brewer in 2013 following the departure of founding brewmaster Jon Carpenter, began his new role with Maui Brewing in early December, according to Maui Brewing founder Garrett Marrero.
“Jesse reached out to us,” said Marrero. ”I’ve known Jesse for years and I was excited when he reached out. The discussion very quickly became how do we make this work.”
Though it is unclear exactly why Houck chose to leave Golden Road, Gill said it was on “good terms.”
“Jesse is a long time friend of mine and of Garrett [Marrero’s]. He took a promotion with Maui Brewing Company, also a job that allows him to be closer to his other passion – scuba diving,” she said. “We are happy to see him moving into a bigger role and get to do more of what he loves in Maui both in the brewhouse and out.”
Houck leaves a Golden Road brewery that is in the midst of expansion. In February of last year, the company announced plans to build a second 56,000 sq. ft. brewery in Anaheim, a facility that would be overseen by then-head brewer Victor Novak.
Golden Road had planned for both Houck, who would continue to oversee Golden Road’s original LA brewery, and Novak to serve in co-brewmaster roles. With Hock’s departure, Novak will now take over as brewmaster for both facilities.
As director of brewery operations for Maui, Houck will lead the company’s brewing team and recipe development. Marrero said he’s looking forward to tapping into Houck’s creative talent and prior brewing experience as the company looks to innovate and manage the high costs of brewing in Hawaii.
“Jesse brings a lot of brewing talent, making some killer beers; we make a lot of one-off beers so it’ll be great to have him to help with that, but also he has a great business mind — thinking about the economics of beer while not sacrificing the quality,” he said.
Houck joins Maui Brewing during a period of sizeable growth. The company produced about 36,000 barrels in 2015, up 75 percent from 2014, Marrero said. The brewery also recently expanded distribution to Massachusetts, New York and Florida.
In addition to his time at Golden Road, Houck also had stints at Drake’s Brewing, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, and 21st Amendment Brewery.