by AMY LEHRER | photo by Zeena Gregg Photography

Hopportunity Knocks

After retiring, Phillip Warren discovered hops growing outside Julian, which was probably originally cultivated by gold miners. He named it “Julian Gold” and currently grows it and other varieties at Hopportunity Farm. He brews in his garage, experimenting with different ingredients to create simple to complex flavors. Knowing the brewing process allows him to share techniques, failures, and successes with other brewers. His original dream was to grow and sell hops to local breweries, but tending plants, picking hops, sending samples to the lab for alpha acid testing, and transporting hops to breweries cost more than he could earn. His wife developed the solution of having brewers pick their own hops like tourists pick Julian apples. Phillip elaborated, “Now people can come up, pick their own hops for brewing, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Julian area.” Those interested in picking hops at Hopportunity Farm should email Phillip at He sends periodic updates as the harvest draws close, usually late July through September.


A San Diego native, Phillip attended San Diego High School and SDSU before serving three years in the naval air. He then completed his teaching degree at SDSU and met his future wife, Ellen Wier. They moved to North County to teach and bought their current PQ house using Phillip’s GI Bill. Phillip explained, “My inspiration to teach came from my mom, who thought I would be an excellent teacher because of my patience and creativity.” Phillip enjoyed his 33-year PUSD career teaching mostly sixth grade and coaching track and field and cross country. One of his coaching goals was to inspire young students to run. He and the San Diego North Rotary Club developed a cross country meet that involved elementary schools. This past November they jointly held their 27th annual cross country meet at Mt. Carmel. “Every year we have over 600 kids from third through eighth grade enter the race, representing 10 to 15 different schools,” informed Phillip.

The Warrens’ boys, Bailey and Scott, attended Mt. Carmel High School. Bailey now works as a carpenter in the remodeling industry, and Scott, a MCHS marching band participant, pursues music along with working full time.

For fun, Phillip and Ellen attend SDSU basketball and football games and spend time camping in the Sierras and at local beaches, mountains, and deserts. They’ve also discovered scuba diving and have explored the underwater world in Hawaii, Cozumel, and La Paz.



Name: Phillip Warren
Profession: Retired teacher and coach
Community: PQ since 1976
Hobbies: Running, camping, surfing, growing hops
Favorite Local Spot: Torrey Pines State Beach