"Societe makes some of the best beer in the country, and as much as people know that, I still think they're underrated."
"Since I was 18, I wanted to start a brewery. That was always my goal. I didn't know how I was going to do it, so I thought I'd work in finance, go to Wall Street, retire at 45 with a shit ton of money and then start a brewery.
I was on that track and met with a mentor of mine in New York one night. Over a beer, I laid out my life plan to him and he looked at me and said, 'You'll have a wife and kids at 45. You think your wife's going to let you pick up and leave that lifestyle to start a brewery?' He told me instead, 'Start now. Go right now.'
I was 23 years old then and I went for it.
I'm only able to reflect on how much better my life is now, in this pursuit, when I look at the people who are closest to me and they either have a career or a job. I look at life like you either have a job that you do to pay rent, you have a career, which is something your building towards, or you have a passion.
If you're lucky enough to be passionate about something, I think you should follow it.
I was lucky enough to get hit with my passion at such a young age, where I didn't have any of those things that can tie your hands behind your back and really force you on a certain path.
For me, raising the money to start Societe was a combination of two things. One, there's nothing else in the world that I want to do other than brew beer for a living. Two, every day that I'm not brewing beer professionally is a day that there’s somebody else out there who's younger than me and more driven than me and they're going to win. They’ll beat me.
There's no way you can half-ass this. It's a marathon at a sprint pace, so you've got to come in ready to work. Building a brewery is not going to be this leisurely thing where you start up and can take vacations. It's an absolute grind, and you've got to have something deep down that's driving you and motivating you. There's always someone else working harder than you, doing a better job than you, and if you don't stay sharp, that's how you fail."
What I Love Most about Beer
"I like its accessibility to everybody. That's why we're called Societe. Beers are for everyone in society, it’s the great uniter. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer, a CEO or a plumber, because some of the best beer in the world costs $5."
My Advice for Others
"Don't start a brewery because you hate your day job and you really like homebrewing.
Start a brewery because there’s nothing else in the world that you want to do for the rest of your life.
And if you're going to do that, go work at another brewery for a couple of years - at any level, if that’s bartending, if that’s a cellarman, if that’s washing kegs. Because very quickly you’ll get a taste for it. The weeks are long and the pay is probably not as good as what you’re getting now. Everyone takes a pay cut to be in this industry, but people tend to be happier than they were before. So just make sure this is the only thing in the world you want to do, not just something that you like better than what you're currently doing."
"I love all the Pizza Ports. Stone Brewing in Escondida is like the Disneyland of beer, and Ale Smith is probably one of the best breweries in the world, as is Bagby Beer Company.
I don't want to get stabbed by naming one Mexican place and then somebody else says, 'No, mine's better.' Taco shops here, those are fighting words. I think one of the best ones is the one right in front of Societe called Yesenia's. Then there's a restaurant in Del Mar called Market that I would put up against the best restaurants in New York City."