Starting A Brewery: I can see the path, but I don’t know where it leads.
Entrepreneurship is a painful journey. Nobody talks about it really. No one tells you ahead of time how much it is truly going to suck. Long days that never seem to end, trying to tend to an ever growing list of tasks and details. The sleep is rough also. Try having a good night’s sleep after lying in bed debating whether or not any of this crazy shit is actually going to work. Blend the startup pain with still working full time as the head brewer for Rip Current Brewing Co. and you get a nice stress and anxiety cocktail. Do you ever feel like are too many things to do and not enough time to do it all? Or maybe like you have too many thoughts floating around in your brain? That has been me for the past 6 months. It’s like I’m on a journey with an unknown destination.
Who am I? I’m Justin Stambaugh. I’ve been brewing at Rip Current since they began over five years ago. I got into the world of craft beer with the intention of opening up a small brewery. My goal was to get a job at a brewery, learn the ropes, and after a year or so I would raise some money and start a brewery. I was also younger and tended towards naive ambitions. Since then my goals have shifted and morphed. Let’s put it this way, when I started brewing professionally I thought sour beer was awful, and now my proposed business model revolves around sours. Five years ago, the brewery of my dreams was similar to those you would see spread all over San Diego, and the entire country for that matter. And let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that model, it’s just not my bag, baby. Not anymore, anyways.
So if you are not going to conform to the traditional model, what the hell are you going to do? Well, our business model revolves around mixed fermentation. Sours, Wild Ales, Mixed Culture IPA’s, Berliners, the sky is the freaking limit, and we intend to push it there (cue top gun flight deck scene). I’m not saying we will never make clean beers, because I would never restrict our options down the road, but the focus of our business is to create characterful beers that display complexity and balance, and the way we know how to do that is by fermenting with an array of wild yeasts and bacteria. The plan as of right now is to package our wild ales in bottles and cans and have monthly releases at our very small tasting room in San Marcos. We only plan to open the tasting room for one weekend a month (yes you read that correctly) and it will coordinate with said monthly releases.
We have a general idea of who we will be and the kinds of products we will produce, but an equally important question is who are we not?
Well we sure as hell will not be boring. Not just with our beers, but with our story. I’m basically putting everything I have into building this business, financially and otherwise. I’d like to think my family is one of hard work and determination and I think that type of passion is what puts a story behind our beer. I mention family intentionally. My hard working (overworked according to him) younger brother Joe is another major part of this story, but more on that later.
We will not be perfect and we don’t want to be. Success lies at the end of a long trail littered with failures that were overcome. We want to push the limits of traditional brewing techniques and in that push, we accept failure as part of the process.
We won’t be fake. Life has given me several tough lessons, as it has every right to. One lesson that should be universal is that it’s always better to be honest and upfront. We are what we are, and we won’t be what we are not. This goes back to not being perfect, we want to show you the truth behind our beers and our journey.
Ok, enough for now! I will do my best to keep this blog updated with our current endeavors of all sorts, brewing, traveling, experimentation, and life in general. Until next time, cheers friends, be well.