You could say that Paul Witte started out near the bottom of the barrel in the craft beer industry.

An avid beer enthusiast, Witte first got into beer in 2006 after relocating to San Diego from his home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Since then, he’s worked in a small brewery in the Mexican town of Santiago de Querétaro, delivered beer around San Diego, and currently is on the brewing crew at 8 Bit Brewing Company in Murrieta, where he wears many hats.

With lots of real-world experience under his belt, Witte, 43, has now enrolled in the Professional Certificate in the Business of Craft Beer program through SDSU Global Campus with hopes of learning more about the business side of the industry.

“I’ve always been more of a hands-on person, but I feel like there’s so much more to learn,” Witte said. “By taking this course, there are areas like marketing and how to run a brewery that I can learn about.”

All Around the World

Witte’s life and journey to a career in craft beer have been full of twists and turns that have taken him to many locations.

Born in Indiana and raised in Venezuela by parents who were missionaries serving in Latin America, Witte moved back to the United States to attend college at Purdue University where he met Francesca, the woman he would later marry. The couple moved to San Diego in 2006 after her automotive parts sales job transferred her here.

The couple arrived in San Diego just as the region’s craft beer industry was really taking off and Witte became a fan.

“I’m not sure if I had stayed in Indiana if I would have gotten as into craft beer,” Witte said.

Before he started experimenting as a home brewer, Witte was mostly seeking and trading beers, from IPAs to sours then to lagers and maltier beers like English special bitters.

“But it all started off with the good old west coast IPAs,” he recalled.

In 2014, Francesca’s job transferred her again, this time to Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico, so Witte followed his wife and eventually landed a job at Compania Cervezera Hercules, a family-run brewery that had been established in a converted textile factory. 

He started off washing kegs and folding case trays for the cans, while slowly working his way up through the ranks to filtering beers, packaging them, then ultimately becoming a brewer.

Taking it to the Next Level

Another of Francesca’s job transfers brought the couple back to San Diego in 2019, and after delivering beer for Brown Bag Distributing, Witte landed a job in 2020 working with friends who had opened their own brewery in Murrieta called 8 Bit Brewing Company.

It was there he first heard about the Craft Beer program offered by SDSU Global Campus.

“I had always wanted to take it, I’d just never taken the leap of faith to sign up for it,” Witte said.

He began the program in January and is on track to graduate from the program in 2024.

After completing the program, Witte plans to stay with 8 Bit Brewing and help expand the brewer’s foothold in the competitive Southern California craft beer scene.

“What I’ll do is distribute more of our own beer,” Witte said, by focusing on boosting online sales and overcoming a bit of a distribution bottleneck the brewery currently has.

“We’re not producing as much as we could, distribution is the bottleneck,” he said. “By taking this course, I’ll be able to take those tools and help with the growth of the company.”

While his journey to a career in the business of craft beer may have taken many years and just as many twists and turns, Witte said he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“I see Stone Brewing and Karl Strauss and all the others and I think, ‘Man I wish I’d gotten into craft beer a little sooner than I did,’ but then I figure better later than never.”