Josh Landan, a Ventura native who built a successful career as a filmmaker featuring skateboarders and surfers, went on to manage action sports athletes before partnering with friends Mikey Taylor and Paul Rodriguez on Saint Archer Brewery in San Diego. They hired decorated brewers Yiga Miyashiro (Pizza Port) and Kim Lutz (Maui Brewing Co.) to oversee craft beer production. Now Saint Archer is slowly expanding their reach up the California coast. On January 3, Landan shared several insights into Saint Archer’s approach.
At what point did you know you would work with beer for a living?
I didn’t know. What I did know is that I wanted to work with my friends for a living. That was really the first and foremost goal when Mikey Taylor, Paul Rodriguez and I started this company almost three years. We wanted to work together and own a company with our friends. Beer was really the best-case scenario because it’s the one thing all of us enjoy together. We didn’t know anything about making it. We just loved craft beer. It was the one thing that all of us could be a part of together. Nothing brings your friends together more than beer. I had the idea to do a beer company and talked to them about it. Honestly, I’m making it sound more simple than it was. That was really the spirit of it, though. The spirit will always be building a company with our friends.
How did working in the action sports world help prepare you for Saint Archer?
I’ve always, in one way, shape or form, been an entrepreneur. That entrepreneurial spirit was with me since I was younger. I would think about owning a company since I was a freshman in high school. I’ve always had those thoughts of doings things on my own and building something from the ground up. From action sports, you can’t really pick anything more opposite than being the President and CEO of this company. I was a filmmaker, especially an independent filmmaker and documentary filmmaker like I was, you can’t ask for anything more different than running a company on a day-to-day, hiring people and paperwork and raising money. It’s totally different. I’ve always been fascinated with business and got really comfortable with business when I was managing athletes. I learned a lot, and that led to me feeling comfortable with the business side of things. I don’t know if action sports really prepared me for it, but without growing up in action sports, I never would have been able to put this company together. That’s for sure.
What does a beer have to be for you to brew it at Saint Archer?
My answer’s probably a lot different than Yiga or Kim’s. For me, personally, a beer, there are really no general guidelines. It just needs to be great beer. I like drinking sessionable beers. That’s what I drink 99% of the time, but I’ll enjoy enjoy a good double IPA. We have a Scotch ale aged in whiskey barrels, that’s available in the tasting room. I would never think that’s something I would be super into, and I loved it. To get made at Saint Archer, it just needs to be really good. Just because I might not be the biggest fan of it doesn’t mean that you won’t be. Yida and Kim are two of the best brewers going. Their track record speaks for itself. Do you know who they are, or not really?
I’ve heard a bit about their background. Why don’t you tell me a bit more.
Yiga is our Head of Brewing Operations. He was the head brewer at Pizza Port Ocean Beach for about five years and has pretty much won every medal you can win. Kim Lutz was the head brewer at Maui Brewing Co. for about the last four or five years and had a huge hand in helping Garrett [Marrero] and Maui to where it is now. She’s won numerous GABF medals. Between both of them, on the beer side, it’s been a huge blessing for us to have great beers coming out of there all the time. It’s also a huge challenge for new breweries to get the hops you want to make these beers special. That’s a huge, huge challenge, and we’ve been fortunate and got most of the hops we’ve been looking for. We’re only doing our double IPA for four months because we couldn’t get enough Citra. That’s kind of just the way it breaks.
To make a beer at Saint Archer, it just needs to be a great beer, and they’ve accomplished that across the board, which has been exciting to see.
What are some of your most satisfying moments of working with craft beer so far?