Behind the Bar: Max Helmuth of Encinitas Ale House

We decided to give a special shoutout to the men and women behind bars, beer bars that is. Starting with our good friend Max Helmuth. A Santa Barbara born charm bomb (whose afraid of open water) and beertender extraordinaire who has been killing it at Encinitas Ale House for almost 5 years.

Owner Tommaso Maggiore opened up Encinitas Ale House in 2009, with 32 taps and a range of bottles both from local and international breweries. Ale House is probably best known for their 80 in 80 challenge, where one must drink 80 beers in 80 days! Upon completion, you’re name will be proudly displayed on the wall alongside the 500+ people that have already completed the challenge, as well as being entered to win a destination brewery trip.

The 80 in 80 challenge is actually how Helmuth got his job, finishing the beer drinking challenge in a impressive 14 days. Fast forward 4 1/2 years later, Helmuth has been consistently serving up (and drinking) delicious craft beer and traveling the world. Living up the street from Encinitas Ale House is a major perk for Helmuth, though he says the best part of his job are the people. With only 6 employees and a flock of loyal patrons, the bar truly feels like home. Somewhere you can go, where everybody knows your name (Cheers reference for those who live under a rock). Now of course there are downsides to working in such an established beer bar, Helmuth’s biggest pet peeve? Pliny questions. Something that he said happens way too often, individuals coming in and asking for Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Company and then immediately leaving when it’s not on tap.

When not working or hanging at the bar, Helmuth enjoys playing guitar, taking cooking lessons with his girlfriend, arranging croquet tournaments and touring many of the craft breweries San Diego and beyond have to offer.

In true beer lover fashion, when asked what his favorite San Diego brewery was he could not simply choose one. Listing off Acoustic Ales (also owned by Tommas0 Maggiore), Societe Brewing Company, Modern Times, Toolbox, and Booze Brothers as some of his local favorites. Going on to give shout outs to both Tahoe Mountain Brewing,

Avery Brewing Co. and Cantillon as well. Helmuth made a point to also inform us about his love for a nice New Zealand Sauv Blanc, this is quite a classy man here.

In addition to being a major beer nerd, Max also claims to be a Burger Connoisseur, listing Encinitas Ale House as his favorite (two for one burger nights on Tuesdays FTW), as well as Kettner Exchangeand Rocky’s Crown Pub.

Helmuth’s dream is to open up an Encinitas Ale House inspired beer bar back in his home town of Santa Barbara. Which he says will have the vibe of a bar that has been open of over 30 years, with international beer options available and of course, major sex appeal.

Max is behind the bar Tuesday through Saturday nights as well as Sunday during the day.

Go Dark