…PART II Continued
Ryan: So I was curious and I wanted to know from both you guys when did you first lose your virginity to craft beer, and what was the whore that kept you coming back?
Doug: I was 16 or 17, Jr in HS and it was the Rogue Chocolate Stout. That was the beer that I tasted it and I was like “Holy mother of God! This is the greatest thing I have ever tasted! I can’t believe there is actually beer out there like this!” I always loved chocolate and I liked beer, more strong flavorful stuff. And I was like “Chocolate? Beer? There is no way this is actually for real” It was limited at the time and I think Japan was the only place you could get it and somehow I got a bottle. So that was the beer that did it for me. There are other beers, I would say about every 2 years there is a beer that really knocks my head back and I say “Holy hell!” It’s like you see God.
Ryan: And what is that beer right now?
Travis: Whatever he is drinking.
Doug: Well there are a lot of them
Ryan: I know it is going to be one of your own, so let’s just say what is your favorite beer right now that is not one of your own?
Doug: Taras Bulba from Brasserie de la Senne in Brussels…It’s hard to find. Blind Lady has it on tap. O’Briens gets it in the bottle from time to time. It’s just delicious. Awesome. Wonderful. Umm, yeah. Stone Imperial Russian Stout is probably my favorite of all time, I say that more than anything else. Hottenroth from the Bruery is absolutely killer as well. I want to bathe myself in it, it’s soo good!
Ryan: Travis? When did you lose your virginity?
Travis: It was about 21 when I started drinking. Started drinking craft beer and never shied away from it. It began with a bottle collection and I don’t remember all the beers, I do remember that Mississipi Mud from Trader Joe’s was in there
Ryan: What about your favorite beer right now? Other than your own
Travis: Drie Fonteinen sours, I wet my pants over. Oude Geuze is phenomenal! I am a hophead, so my favorite IPA right now is Alpine Nelson.
Ryan: Did you geuze in your pants first time you had Oude Geuze?
Travis: Just about
Ryan: Haha. So people that don’t know business, they’ll walk into your taproom and see it is full and say “Life is so good for these guys! Oh, they’re making so much money!” But people who have done business know there’s a climb. You’ve got to climb a mountain before you get to enjoy the view, before you can reap the rewards. People don’t ever really talk about the dark days, and you guys have been open for, how long now?
Doug: We’ve been operating for 4.5 months but we have had this building for 13
Ryan: So in those 13 months what has been the scariest thing?
Doug: Fucking everything! (laughter) I mean, what I tell people is you always hear in the industry “Don’t open a brewery! You’re absolutely crazy for doing it!” I know why. It’s not “Don’t run a brewery, don’t own a brewery”. It’s “Don’t open a brewery”. Opening this place was such a friggin nightmare! Every single day you don’t know what is going to come up, if you have enough money for this. We had to go out twice already and get more money. It’s just nightmare, after nightmare, after nightmare. The unknown. I don’t care how well you prepare there’s going to be stuff that will pop up that you have no idea will pop up. For example, I don’t care if you’re the best brewer in the world. You’ve been running breweries for 20 years. You open your own brewery. Oh! You messed with the fire sprinkler system? You know what they make you do? They make you install a backflow preventer for the fire sprinkler system. The unit alone costs $12,000. Installed about 15. There goes a tank. See you later. Stuff like that.
Ryan: How many different agencies do you have to go through? How many different people have to sign off?
Travis: (laughter) I don’t think there are enough fingers between us (5 people).
Doug: We have a folder this big (hands held 2 feet apart). I mean everything. Steam, fire sprinkler, water, gas, electric. There was somebody here just watching when we poured the concrete. An old guy, just dozing off, but he had to be here watching. He had to be here when we were drilling the tanks into the ground. There is so much stuff you have to deal with it’s a friggin nightmare! People say “Oh we’re opening a brewery. We’re about to sign a lease on a building”, say it’s September, “We’re hoping to be open December/January” BULLSHIT! Absolute bullshit, unless you are cutting corners and doing something the wrong way. If you want to do it the right way, bullshit. I give you a year.
Ryan: Do officials here take bribes? Does it work?
Travis: No comment
Doug: Um, I wouldn’t know
Ryan: Travis, you’re in agreement? The scariest moment has been everything?
Doug: Opening. Running this has been what we know best
Ryan: But the opening? Scariest moment
Travis: Opening, without a doubt
Doug: Also money. The amount of juggling around we have had to do with the money is ridiculous. We pay every bill on time. That’s the goal. But you know, do you open up a new personal credit card that allows you to transfer up to $5,000 from another credit card at low interest rates? Yes, you do that stuff so you can pay the bills. You do it because you have to buy grain to brew beer to sell it to make money. You have to be creative. It’s a juggling thing. If we bottled it would be easier to make money. Ounce per ounce, you make a lot more money off bottles. You make about as much money as you would selling draft beer in a tasting room as you do from bottling. The tasting room is keeping us alive. Completely. We knew the tasting room was going to be very important in this. Even if we are only selling 10% of our beer out of this room, it pays the rent and it pays some of the other stuff. Our biggest nut is this building. I don’t know another 1000 barrel a year brewery operating in a 16,000 square foot space. We knew by getting this building we had to have a lot of people in here moving a lot of beer.
Doug(To Public): So please come here and drink our beer so we don’t go out of business!
Ryan: On the flip side of that, what has been the most rewarding moment?
Travis: Um, it’s hard to argue that
Doug: Haha. Drinking the beer that you’ve dreamed of making for so long. It’s so good. Not only that, that’s really rewarding, but seeing people come in here and enjoy the beer is the best feeling. And you hear every brewer say that. And even hearing you guys say your beer is awesome. We have 2 people we respect the most as far as bar ownership and taste in good beer, in this city (San Diego) who buy the most of our beer, those are our 2 biggest accounts, and that is such good validation. That is the only reason I can go to bed at night. It doesn’t keep me asleep all through the night, but it puts me to sleep. Not knowing if we are going to be able to pay the bills, that wakes me up at 4am.
Ryan: So what is the perfect day off for Travis? What’s Travis doing?
Travis: Well…(laughter)…whenever I have time off I spend it with my family
Ryan: So family. Family is important. (To Doug) Perfect day off?
Doug: The perfect day? Wake up at 9, pour yourself a Duvel and watch a movie to start the day.
(Lots of Laughter)
Doug: Maybe 2 Duvels if it was a rough night before. Uh, you know, start the movie at 10:30-11, blinds shut, dark in your room, freezing in your room and you are sitting there drinking awesome beer. 1 O’clock rolls around, you go outside, maybe go get some fish tacos somewhere, drink a Sculpin. Then maybe you go hit O’Briens, then Hamilton’s and Toronado. Blind Lady for dinner, pizza and then you come back home and you go to sleep. You do this all with your girlfriend, or your boyfriend (Points at Ryan), the love of your life.
Ryan: Why did you point at me and say your boyfriend?
(Room Erupts in Laughter)
Ryan: Hahaha. What is that all about?
Doug: Tell me about West Hollywood
Ryan: Uh, I like West Hollywoo…I’m married to a woman.
Ryan: Don’t flip this on me. I’m interviewing you, Okay? You don’t get to do this.
Doug: So that’s my ideal day but it sucks to do it alone, so to do it with friends, I mean, get a group of 6 people, my girlfriend, buddies I went to college with, that would be the ideal day.
So there you have it. If you are in San Diego and you don’t hit Societe Brewing you are a fool. Be sure to make it down to the tasting room at the brewery, 8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. in San Diego. Doug and Travis keep it open 7 days a week and they are almost always there. You can check the hours on there website here. Stay soggy friends!