Tony Magee is the Founder and CEO of Lagunitas Brewing Company – the fifth largest and fastest growing craft brewery in the United States. He’s also one of the industry’s larger-than-life characters, known for shooting from the hip via his Twitter feed. In addition to recently opening a second brewery in Chicago, he’s just re-published So You Want To Start A Brewery?, a laugh-out-loud (and recently updated) memoir that he somehow found time to work on.
And even with everything that he’s got going on, Mr. Magee kindly agreed to sit down with ACB, and we repaid his graciousness by asking him …5 STUPID QUESTIONS.
1) As Founder and CEO of one of the nation’s most successful brewing companies, you’re clearly a busy guy. You’ve just opened a second brewery in Chicago and published a book. With all that you’ve accomplished, you could be spending your time with any number of “credible” journalists. Why in the world would you ever have agreed to be profiled by us? For God’s sake man, what were you thinking?
I have mostly ONLY friends in low places. My only worry is that you’re not far ENOUGH down the food chain….and now I have a question for you: I need you to burn down my sister-in-law’s house…tonight. Can you make that happen….??!??
2) So, tell us about So You Want To Start A Brewery? Why did you write it and how did you ever find the time to pull it off?
I wrote it so I wouldn’t forget how it all happened to land me and all of the brewery people where we are today. I was starting to get hazy about some of the details, ya know? I wrote it on the 104-hour train ride from San Francisco to Chicago…I got a sleeper car, my laptop, a dime bag, and an eight-ball….whoosh…!
3) You strike us as a private man who lives his life at times in the spotlight. And So You Want To Start A Brewery? is much more than just a business book; it’s also a memoir. Can we expect you to give up some dirt? Any embarrassing stories?
It’s all in the book, even that one thing in West Memphis with the El Salvadoran prostitutes and the water balloons….I think that’s in there…
4) You are a craft beer pioneer. You started Lagunitas as a one-man operation on a shoestring budget. Today, the craft beer business is booming, with more new breweries than ever coming on line almost daily. Is this a book that new brewers might want to tap into?
I have a feeling that nearly every brewer went through these same trials of will before it was all over…the only difference between them and Lagunitas is that we looked GOOD doin’ it…!
5) Okay, you’ve just published a book, you front a nationwide brand, and you oversee two large-scale brewing operations. It does seem like you’re showing off a bit. Are you done for a while?
Where I’m from they say ‘it ain’t bragging if you done it’… and you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Everyone has a “house beer” – a beer that’s their staple at home. What’s yours?
Polygasm Brewing’s Radicchio Bok Choy Legume Stout….. Yum yum yum…!