Just over 20 years ago, Tony Magee, a serial job hopper and severely in debt, decided to found a brewery. From its inception in 1993, Lagunitas Brewing Co. has grown from a shoestring, one-man operation based in Petaluma, Calif., to the fifth largest and fastest growing craft brewer in the United States with a newly opened second brewery in Chicago. Lagunitas makes craft beer that is simple and flavorful and defies categorization, and the same could be said for Magee’s memoir So You Want to Start a Brewery? The Lagunitas Story, which is his no-bones-about-it account of his gut-wrenching challenges and unexpected successes as founder and CEO.
This behind-the-scenes Lagunitas roller coaster ride, equal parts memoir, narrative and business story — with liberal dashes of pop culture and local color — is Magee’s honest and hilarious account of his journey that starts with a homebrew kit and culminates with the success of one of America’s most popular craft beer brands.
So You Want to Start a Brewery?, previously released in a limited edition from a small California publisher, has here been revised and updated to account for the subsequent years’ growth and to include Lagunitas’ establishment of its new Chicago outpost. Magee has incorporated sidebars from Lagunitas employees about their relationship with him and the company, hilarious original label copy, and personal insights on dealing with fast growth and building/maintaining a brand. Magee, whose heroes include Ted Turner and Frank Zappa, showcases his trademark wit and vibrant voice with entertaining digressions and revelations of the unglamorous world of brewing.
So You Want to Start a Brewery?‘s blow-by-blow chronicle exposes the sausage making as well as the rapport behind Lagunitas’ mellow and creative vibe, allowing craft beer fans, small-batch brewers and general entrepreneurs to sit at the bar with Magee, as he shares the realities — both good and evil — of his personal success story.