Justin Walsh – June Lake Brewing
“Beer is totally awesome.”
That is precisely the reason Justin Walsh (’06, management/’08 MSBA) gave when asked why he started his own brewery.
But make no mistake – Walsh and his wife Sarah (’07, international business) brewing beer very seriously. They made a thorough analysis of the area surrounding June Lake, California and determined that the area – about 80 miles east of Modesto near Mammoth Lakes – would be a good place to raise a family AND start a craft brewery. “We identified super awesome water as a major resource and beer is 90 percent water,” said Walsh. “Also, we saw the existence of only one other craft brewery (Mammoth Brewing Company) within 140 driving miles as a crazy good opportunity.”
In June Lake, Walsh, a native of San Diego County is a long ways from home. But SDSU was close to home, which was partially why he enrolled. “SDSU was affordable, close to my family and had a good business program,” he said. “I stayed on to get my MSBA because I was working on starting a business at the time and thought additional schooling would help.”
Once the Walshes settled in June Lake in early 2013, they started experimenting with home brews (including a s’mores-based product), looking for a location and securing the permits necessary to establish the business. They also embarked on a Kickstarter campaign, which, though unsuccessful in reaching the intended goal of $80,000, raised over $25,000 in a total of 25 days.
However, if you’re passionate about doing it your way and you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, you won’t regret it one bit.
In June of 2014, June Lake Brewing was officially opened and the Walshes became a part of the fraternity of craft brewers. “The craft brewing industry is unlike any I’ve ever been a part of,” reports Walsh. “We are not in competition with each other – on the contrary: we see ourselves as a large family focused on making the absolute best product we can and taking pride in doing it right without regard to the bottom line.”
For those would-be brewers thinking about jumping into the industry, Walsh advises to proceed with caution. “It’s a lot of hard work and you won’t get rich,” he said. “However, if you’re passionate about doing it your way and you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, you won’t regret it one bit.”