Switching coasts and profession, beer-loving Douglas Constantiner made a memorable lifestyle change 13 years ago.
“I got into the craft beer industry in 2009 when I quit my investment banking job in New York City to pursue a career in brewing in San Diego,” says Constantiner, the founder and CEO of Societe Brewing Company. “The goal was to learn from others before starting my own brewery. Things happened quickly, and, all of a sudden, I had my own brewery open in May 2012. I had wanted to start a brewery since I was 18, but I didn’t think it would happen eight years later!”
Before opening Societe, Constantiner worked at beer-themed restaurants and two renowned breweries, San Diego’s Green Flash and The Breury in Placentia, California. At The Breury, which has won many awards at the brewing industry’s annual Super Bowl, the Great American Beer Festival, Constantiner worked his way up from cellarman to brewer.
His mantra at Societe is “beer is the world’s greatest social uniter.”
“This mindset inspired our name,” Societe’s website proclaims, “and it keeps us focused on every ounce we brew. We see our brewery as a vehicle for bringing people together from all walks of life.”
Public appreciation of Societe’s beers means a lot to Constantiner.
“The best part of owning and operating a brewery is knowing that all the hard work, paperwork and long hours go to an incredible product that I and the general public enjoy,” he says. “I can’t imagine putting the same effort into a product or service that isn’t inspiring. I’m looking at you, Dunder Mifflin.”
Societe, which is located north of downtown in San Diego’s historic Old Town district, produced more than 13,000 barrels of beer last year. Its flagship beer is The Pupil, a 7.5% IPA that the brewery describes as “a tropical hop triumph” with “notes of guava and mango and a clean finish.”
Societe sells five beers year-round in cans and releases a new beer every month. More than 20 beers are on tap in its tasting room.
The pandemic had a major effect on Societe’s business.
“COVID-19 vaporized about 95% of our income overnight when California shut down its non-essential businesses,” Constantiner says. “We went into the pandemic as a keg-only brewery selling about 90% of our volume to restaurants in San Diego and Orange County. The pandemic caused us to shift rapidly into cans for sales at grocery stores and other businesses.”
What do most Southern California beer drinkers look for in a beer?
“Generally, they like anything drinkable but, more specifically, IPAs and anything hoppy reign supreme,” Constantiner says. “It could be a classic West Coast IPA, a hoppy lager or a pilsener. Anything that pairs with the best weather in the world tends to do the job.”