Local Folks: Joel Marroquin

Local Folks: Joel Marroquin
Marroquin, in his home brewery, brewed beer as a hobby for 18 years before becoming head brewer at Tepeyolot Cerveceria.

Love brought Joel Marroquin to Jacksonville, and less than two years later, that love gave him a baby boy and a new career – a whirlwind of change in a short amount of time.

“There was a lot going on,” Marroquin said. “But it’s very exciting for us.’

Originally from San Diego, California, Marroquin moved to the area to be with his girlfriend Kristen Montiel. The pair had dated back in California, when they were in their mid-20s, but went their separate ways for a decade. Marroquin, a molecular biologist at the time, reached out to Montiel, who was now living in Jacksonville, to ask questions about universities in the area, as he had been toying with the idea of doing some research at one of them. The relationship blossomed into a serious one and Marroquin made frequent trips back and forth for nearly two years.

“It became more and more difficult to leave and come back,” Marroquin said. “I didn’t want to leave anymore.”

He decided it was time to call Jacksonville home. Shortly after moving, they discovered Montiel was pregnant.

Joel Marroquin with his girlfriend, Kristen Montiel
Joel Marroquin with his girlfriend, Kristen Montiel
Joel Marroquin with his son, Jesse.
Joel Marroquin with his son, Jesse.

“We went to the Taco Tequila Fest, and she showed me the pregnancy test, but I thought it was a COVID test and said, ‘Oh man, we got COVID?’ And she said, ‘no,’” he said. “It was a very big surprise to both of us, but it was the happiest surprise.”

Their son, Jesse, is 11 months old now, and they are a happy, blended family with Marroquin’s two stepsons, Job and Silas. The two older boys love being a big brother and they help whenever they can, he said.

Joel, Job, Kristen, Jesse and Silas in San Diego.
Joel, Job, Kristen, Jesse and Silas in San Diego.

After moving to Jacksonville, he immediately started looking for work. He got an interview at Tepeyolot Cerveceria in San Marco. Three days later, he was working behind the bar.

“It was the first thing I kind of fell into,” he said. “I wanted to get to work right away.”

Meanwhile, Marroquin had been brewing beer at home – something he had done for 18 years. He decided to bring in a batch of beer he made to share with the head brewer and owner.

“You always want other people’s opinions,” Marroquin said. “Beer is a social thing and is meant to be shared with friends.” They both liked it and asked if he’d be interested in working in the brewery.

“I learned all the ins and outs of the product, and how to brew in a brewery and not at home,” he said. “It’s a big difference. It’s like playing college ball while the other one is like going pro.” 

Recently, Marroquin became head brewer. Before moving to Jacksonville, he had cracked open a prophetic fortune cookie with a message that read, “Your hobby will become your career.” And that’s exactly what happened.

His former career as a molecular biologist comes in handy with respect to brewing. He experiments with different flavors and types, and brews different types of beer that appeal to all beer enthusiasts.

“I love the science of it, the chemistry aspect, but you also have the ability to be artistic and creative,” he said.

He also started an organization called the Jacksonville Brewers Alliance, which brings together head brewers in the city monthly to work together, collaborate, and share tips and advice.

“We try to work together to keep each other afloat,” Marroquin said. “Last year, I think, we lost four breweries. Collectively, we’re the Jacksonville brewing scene.”

He said he’s always trying to improve and considers it a great benefit to be able to tap into such a knowledgeable network.

“It’s not like magic where you can’t, share your secrets. I feel very fortunate because everybody’s been very forthcoming with their knowledge and sharing it with me,” he said.

The family’s older boys are on a wrestling team. As a former high school wrestler and high school coach himself, the decision to help coach their team came naturally for Marroquin. His house is now a “wrestling zone.” Recently, his older son took a family friend down to the ground with a wrestling move.

“I was like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, man.’ He’s like, ‘No, that was good. I’m impressed,’” Marroquin said. “No one is safe.”

Marroquin enjoys getting out with his family and exploring the city. They frequently visit family-friendly breweries around town and support them. But they also like traveling back to California to visit family or venturing to different places like Daytona Beach, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans.

In his two years here, Marroquin said the city has grown on him – quite different than San Diego.

“I was homesick for probably the first year,” Marroquin said. “Eventually, I stopped missing what I didn’t have, and I started really enjoying what I do have. I’m a family-oriented man and my family brings me peace and joy.”

By Jennifer Jensen
Resident Community News

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