Flags in Buellton and Santa Ynez were flying at half-mast on July 22 after announcements on social media that Figueroa Mountain Brewing patriarch James Dietenhofer died at age 72.
“Thank you to the communities of Los Olivos and Buellton for recognizing my father and putting the flags at half mast. He would be so proud,” son and Fig Mountain co-founder Jaime Dietenhofer wrote on Facebook two days after the family announced that their famously outspoken father had passed away after a battle with cancer.
With a flair for well produced beer and catchy names like Hoppy Poppy, Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer built Figueroa Mountain into one of the leading brands in the craft brewing business. In the process, the Buellton-based company put the Santa Ynez Valley on the map as a emerging center for craft beer to complement a global reputation in the wine industry.
Fig Mountain and rival Firestone-Walker have been at the leading edge of an industry that has grown exponentially, catching the eye of area economists who noted the explosive jobs growth in craft beer and spirits in recent years.
Fig Mountain was founded in the wake of the 2008 recession when Jaime began experimenting with beer-making in his college years. His father’s infectious wit and marketing flair helped the company grow rapidly and expand with both distribution and tap room operations.
Frequently lauded among the craft beer community for its brews, Fig Mountain most recently took home two bronze medals for its Figtoberfest German-style lager and Hoppy Poppy IPA and a gold for its and Davy Brown Ale at the Great American Beer Festival in 2018.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; the effort had raised more than $1,500 from community members by July 22.