Editor’s Note: In celebration of San Diego Beer Week, we are spotlighting one of the region’s many cool craft breweries, Wavelength Brewing in Vista, which is known as the center of “Hops Highway.” This content was originally created by our team for the City of Vista.
Hans Haas has had a love affair with science since he was a kid growing up in San Diego’s North County. His infatuation with the science of beer began years later in 2008 when his wife bought him a home brewing kit off the internet.
“We brewed the batch in the kitchen and were pleased with the results, but wanted to improve. Years later, we’re operating a microbrewery,” said Haas, who opened Wavelength Brewing Co. in downtown Vista in 2014.
Wavelength Brewing’s main M.O. is to conduct science outreach through craft beer, and that includes free events that don’t involve craft beer directly. The one-of-a-kind brewery has several monthly science-related events for the whole family, including talks from nature conservationists from Africa to engineers from NASA’s JPL. The brewery also hosts star parties with its own telescopes, live stream rocket launches and landings, and even has a collection in the brewery of flown spacecraft items for people to check out, including SpaceX and Virgin Galactic.
Below, Haas shares more of his passion for science and craft beer and how his brewery has attracted like minded aficionados as well as promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to future generations.
Out of This World: Wavelength’s combo of craft beer and science doesn’t seem out of this world, especially since science is a key component of making great beer, Haas said.
“But for us, the connection goes deeper than that,” he said. “Craft beer is a great way to bring people together for all kinds of reasons, and science communication is one of them. Sharing a good beer and conversation is a past time craft beer fans know and love, so it seems like a good fit for talking about science, engineering, and humanity’s efforts to understand our universe. From what I’ve seen, it’s a unique pairing in the industry, but I hope others will embrace it.”
STEM: One way to get the general public more engaged with science is through a science fair that Wavelength has been hosting since 2016. In September, Wavelength hosted its fourth fair, called STEMivate, to celebrate STEM in the local community, from employment in STEM positions to hands-on educational activities for kids. Exhibitors ranged from universities and non-profits to businesses in STEM-related industries. Wavelength’s partner for the annual science fair is Vista-based Open Source Maker Labs.
STEMivate is one of the hundreds of community-wide science festivals that take place every year around the globe. Like art, music, and film festivals, they give communities a reason to celebrate. For the local economy, science festivals make a strong statement about a region’s leading role in science and technology, which are the economic drivers of the 21st century. Wavelength’s science fair, which attracted nearly 700 people, included live science shows from San Diego City College Chemistry Professor Shane Haggard and the “Don’t Try This At Home’ team from the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, as well as A Solar System Tour with Astrophysicist Dr. Lisa Will.
“Events like STEMivate are important for our community as we need to engage with and understand the science and technology that are shaping our lives,” Haas said. “Giving our children the opportunity to interact with and explore STEM topics is a great way to help create that understanding and appreciation of our modern world. Besides, blowing stuff up on stage is really fun.”
Public Outreach: Wavelength, one of five craft breweries in Downtown Vista, attracts a wide range of visitors (from near and far) for other science-related events, including Trivia Tuesday and its popular Science Nights every Friday, which are followed by sidewalk astronomy with the brewery’s 14″ telescope. For one upcoming special event, on Nov. 13, Wavelength is collaborating with CSU San Marcos for an ongoing series of talks called STEM On Tap.
“Out of all our science outreach events, our Friday Night Science Talks have been the biggest hit,” Haas said. “We’ve been so fortunate to have science communicators from all around the world (literally) come to Wavelength and present.”
“I always let our science communicators know before they go on stage that they can expect anyone from experts in their own field of science to random people who just happen to pop in for a beer with no idea what we are about,” he added. “We have a loyal following for our Friday Night Science Talk series, but we also see a constant stream of people who are first-timers, sometimes traveling far to visit ‘the science brewery’ they heard about.”
Editor’s Note: Innovation Hub is an original FBT series celebrating the extraordinary companies that span across the entire San Diego region. From software to healthcare tech, retail tech, Agtech, AI, fintech, cybersecurity, brewing and more, this series takes a deeper dive into the innovative industries that make up the collaborative culture of this diverse ecosystem.