So You Want to Start a Brewery?: The Lagunitas Story
In 1993, Tony Magee, who had foundered at every job he'd ever had, decided to become the founder of a brewery. So You Want to Start a Brewery? is the thrilling first-person account of his gut-wrenching challenges and heart-warming successes. Based in Petaluma, California, the Lagunitas Brewing Company makes simple and flavorful craft beer that defies categorization. The same could be said for this book. Equal part memoir, narrative, and business story, with liberal dashes of pop culture and local color, this illuminating yet hilarious account of a one-of-a-kind made-in-America journey just happens to culminate with the success of one of the nation's most popular craft beer brands. In twenty years, Lagunitas has grown from a seat-of-the-pants one-man operation to be the fifth largest-and the fastest-growing-craft brewer in the United States. So You Want to Start a Brewery? is a look behind the curtain rather than a simple business story. It's unglamorous and full of hilarious digressions, but it's never afraid to mess with the nuts and bolts. Devoted to details but never boring, this is a must-read for all who have considered starting their own business-or have sweated blood working to get one on its feet. Told in the vibrant voice of the man closest to the process-and with the most to lose-this illuminating volume should quench the thirst of anyone who has ever tried a Lagunitas beer. Tony Magee is the founder and CEO of the Lagunitas Brewing Company. He lives in Marin County, California.
obtain financing through another bank, but our existing relationship was seriously in question. So unwarranted was the credit decline that my friend the loan officer actually resigned his division presidency over it. The bank’s chief credit officer later flew down to meet with us. Everyone on our side of the table agreed that he looked like he’d been pulled through a knothole a few times. Turns out the bank was bleeding badly over some troubled real-estate business, and they wanted to gently get
had lost some freedom with respect to recipes. Lagunitas has gained a certain good reputation among consumers for making beers that have bigger flavors, which is great, but it makes it a little difficult to market more delicately flavored beers. They are dismissed as feeble and go nowhere. Being delicate without being daring is not bad, but it has become a little uncool. It is like Elvis Costello singing Burt Bacharach songs; it is too much of a disconnect from fans’ expectations. But I still
loud at first, because my budget had already been set in a different sort of concrete, and then I realized I was laughing alone. There was a long silence on the phone, and he waited for me to restart the conversation. Taking the bait, I said, “Reeeealllly?” He told me that he’d forgotten to include the labor. I took a deep breath, assumed a lotus position, then a Drunken Eagle, inhaled white sage smoke, and regained my composure with a flawless Pooping Crane while being administered smelling
was that I should know. She described what they had observed and questioned my level of awareness. I chested my cards and asked her if it was true that the agents had been trying to get my employees to sell them pot. “Were you really trying to make them do something illegal?” I asked. I know that this is SOP for narcs, but it is immoral, and I don’t like it. The investigator then said the most amazing thing, which became the punch line for every newspaper that called about it afterward (and there
I wanted to be serving beer before anyone thought about what they’d permitted! There is a grass area off of the TapRoom between the buildings that I had thought about turning into a beer garden from the first day we looked at the property back in 1997, and that space is now a sweet sanctuary where you can sit and drink beer, day or night. The Beer Sanctuary is intended to be the ideal backyard. It has very few Lagunitas signs—just two small neon ones, in fact. Even our glassware mostly does not