Kristopher “Kris” Parker is the grandson of Santa Barbara County wine legend Fess Parker. He attended USC’s Marshall School of Business and previously worked as COO for Fess Parker Enterprises in Los Olivos before launching Third Window Brewing with partners at The Mill in Santa Barbara. Bonus: they’re utilizing The Bruery’s original brewhouse thanks to the backing of Patrick Rue. Learn more about Parker’s background and approach.
Josh Lurie: At what point did you consider opening a brewery? What was the final push that helped to make Third Window Brewing a reality?
Kris Parker: I started thinking about beer concepts and opening a brewery in 2007. At that point in time I was brewing every weekend on a more beer brew sculpture. My family wasn’t terribly into the idea.
I did an MBA at USC and one of my friends in the class John Neale organized the start-up. Another of our friends in the program wanted in as well. When Patrick offered the brewhouse in exchange for a partnership we achieved critical mass.
JL: How did you come up with the name Third Window?
KP: I was trying to imagine a name that a local Trappist brewery might use that wasn’t too explicit in the Trappist connection. I started to read about the legend of St. Barbara and found the third window component of the story. (There’s a lot of really weird “third window” stuff out there – which made me like it more.)
I like to think about connections between progressive business structure and Trappist ethos.
JL: Who are your partners? How did they join Third Window Brewing, and in what ways do they complement your contributions?
KP: Our management team is an extension of our business case team at USC. Money Grips (John Neale) handles our finance, The wizard (Adam Nazar) handles all of our IT and HR stuff. I’m the concept and operations guy. Patrick Rue brought SOPs and, for me, confidence in our concept. We filled out the rest of the capital stack (about 25%) with friends and family.
JL: What’s the first craft beer you ever remember drinking, and what do you remember about the experience?
KP: I grew up a mile down the road from area 51 where Firestone was creating DBA in the mid ’90s and I remember how delicious I thought it was. It was pretty easy to get for a kid in his middle teens in town as everyone had it – and everyone was talking about it.
Chimay Red is a beer packed with nostalgia for me as my grandfather fell in love with that beer near the end of his life. That was the introduction to the Trappist beers that I have such nostalgia for.
JL: Who have you looked to for guidance, inspiration or advice in the craft beer world?