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What are some of your most satisfying moments of working with craft beer so far?
First would definitely be drinking it.
Obviously, the first time I walked into a grocery store and saw somebody buy the beer. That was a pretty emotional moment. I still can’t believe it when I see it.
The first drop of beer that I had from Saint Archer, I had the first drop of beer out of the tanks. It was our blonde, and I’ll never forget that moment of drinking it for the first time.
Having Saint Archer at Dodger Stadium, as a Dodgers fan, that was a big one. Those are the three that stand out. The Dodger Stadium one, that was a big one.
That’s very cool, especially now that they’re getting good again.
It’s nice, but that’s what happens when you spend 200 million bucks. That’s what you expect. I grew up in Ventura, born and raised in Ventura, and all the people we grew up with, they’re all Coors Light drinkers, Coors Light, Bud Light. Up there, that’s the way it is, so it’s been fun to come home and see Saint Archer in every restaurant in Ventura, and do it really well. Those Coors Light and Bud Light drinkers are drinking the blonde and trying the pale ale and opening up a little bit to craft beer and better beer. 805, Firestone’s beer, has played a huge part as well. That’s been huge for me. My friends who I grew up with, who are not craft beer drinkers, are actually starting to gravitate more towards craft beer, because of Saint Archer and because of Firestone.
Where do you see the San Diego beer scene in five years, and how does Saint Archer fit into that vision?
I see the San Diego beer scene not as big as it is now. The rapid pace that these breweries are coming online, 70-80 breweries a year, I don’t think that’s going to consistently happen. At the end of the day, getting distribution for your product and shelf space, all that stuff is limited. Distributors are only taking on so many brands. Shelf space is only so big. There are only so many tap handles. And it depends on what you want to do with your business. If you just want to run a tasting room out of your brewery and self-distribute, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Another brewery in San Diego, Societe, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Doug and Travis have a great business model, and they’re smart guys, but I think there are only so many Societes. They are a very special niche, and I think they’re going to do great things, but I think there are only a few that can sustain that as a business for multiple years and be profitable and the whole nine yards. Saint Archer, if we’re lucky enough, I see us being much bigger in five years and continue to make great beer in San Diego, and hopefully with our distributors Stone and Crest, still selling a lot of beer.
Who are some other people in the craft beer community that you look to for inspiration, guidance or advice?
Steve Wagner has been my biggest influence. Steve was kind enough to meet with me before I’d even raised a dime for Saint Archer, which is rare. Here I have an idea and I just got his e-mail from a mutual friend. I e-mailed him out of the blue, and he wrote me back, and said come up for lunch, which was incredible. How many industries does that happen? Coming from action sports, you write an e-mail to Bob Hurley, chances are you’re not getting a response. Bob’s a great guy, but it’s a totally different dynamic. Steve took me under his wing and helped the brand develop and with the brewers we had on board, and the branding he was seeing, has really helped me. Obviously they’re our distributor and Steve, when I have questions and don’t have the answers, I feel very fortunate that I can call Steve Wagner and ask for his opinion.
As far as inspiration goes, my single biggest influence was probably New Belgium.
I connected with their brand. It was the first time in craft beer that I really connected – that’s not true, Sierra Nevada too – but New Belgium made it more than their beer. You connected to what they were doing and what they stood for. You connected to their branding, and it made you like their beer. I don’t think ever resonated with me, that you could make it more than just a craft beer company that makes great beer. You could make a great beer company a great brand. They proved that. So has Sam Adams. So has Sierra, but for me, personally, it was New Belgium.
What will it take for you to consider Saint Archer Brewery a success?
In my opinion, just getting the company off the ground, getting people out there to drink our beer, it’s already a success. The fact that we’ve never done a capital raise, we built a brewery in an 18,000 square foot building and we got distribution and people are enjoying our beer every day, everything from here on out is kind of gravy. We’re laughing. It’s a lot of work, but it isn’t real work. All my friends work construction, and that’s real work. Running Saint Archer with my friends is like happy hour.
When people hear the name Josh Landan, what do you want them to think?
It’s easy when you just do the personal one. Great husband. Great father. Just a fair and honest entrepreneur who followed his dreams and had fun every step of the way. I’m trying. I wish I could do that every day. I’m getting closer.
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