San Diego Brewers Guild craft beer brewing
Erik Fowler. Photo credit: Courtesy, San Diego Brewers Guild

The San Diego Brewers Guild has named Erik Fowler, a 15-year beer industry veteran from Ramona, as its new executive director.

He replaces Paige McWey Acers, who departed after more than five years at the helm and 10 years with the guild, a nonprofit organization that promotes local small businesses and entrepreneurs of craft beer.

Fowler, 35, spent the last nine years as head of education and craft hospitality at White Labs Brewing Co. in Mira Mesa and its sister company White Labs, a yeast wholesaler with a team of biochemists who explore new ways to advance brewing. 

He is a “Certified Cicerone,” a classification for skilled beer professionals that can be considered an equivalent to a sommelier. He also has served as a director on the Brewers Guild board for the last year and a half. 

“My passion for beer and brewing stems from my very first visits to taprooms and beer bars,” Fowler said. “From the industrial garages of new breweries that were opened by both home brewers and industry veterans, to the culinary programs of San Diego’s early gastropubs, my experiences were formative, and I fell in love with the budding community.”

His goal as executive director, he said is to “continue Paige’s legacy of helping so many independent craft breweries prosper.” 

“It’s up to us as a trade group to ensure craft beer’s continued relevancy and accessibility in our local communities with an ever-changing landscape,” Fowler said.

He was part of the first cohort to graduate from the Business of Craft Beer program at San Diego State University in 2013. He also earned a certificate from UC Davis’ Intensive Brewing Science for Practical Brewing program.

Fowler now serves as an instructor at SDSU, as well as in UC San Diego’s Extended Studies brewing program

“I have worked with Erik for the last few years while on the board of directors, and he brings so much knowledge and enthusiasm to our organization,” board President Haley Smith said. “I know he will do a great job leading us and working with our members, both individually and collectively, to continue to grow San Diego’s bustling craft beer industry.” 

Fowler began his career as a beer buyer, followed by becoming one of the first employees of the now-defunct nano-brewery ChuckAlek in Ramona. He moved on to Stone Brewing and helped open its downtown taproom on J Street.