Alum of Business of Beer – Sacrilege Brewery
Founder and Brewmaster of Sacrilege Brewery + Kitchen, Joe Pacini, attributes much of his brewing success to his adventurous (and some say sacrilegious) brewing techniques and ingredients. We caught up with this graduate of FCI’s Business of Craft Beer course recently, to celebrate his business’s one year anniversary and to hear the lessons he learned along the way.
Q: How did you become interested in beer?
In college, I was fortunate enough to work for some small restaurants that were very craft beer forward for that time. I learned that beer went way beyond the Budweisers, Coors, and Yuenglings that dominated the market. I loved the variety that craft beer offered. I really embraced it and tried to learn as much as I could. But back then there wasn’t much interest in craft beer and therefore not a ton of information out there. Today everyone loves craft beer. There’s so much information: magazines, books, tv shows, etc.
Q: What was the moment you decided you wanted to open a brewery and restaurant?
I don’t know if there was a specific moment that I knew. All of my early work experience was in the restaurant industry. So, I played around with the idea in my head here and there. After I started working in the beer industry, my thirst for beer knowledge really blossomed. I began home brewing and eventually set my goal at becoming a brew master. I just loved the idea of coming up with new ideas for beers and trying them out on my friends.
Q: Tell me about Sacrilege Brewery. What’s the business all about?
Sacrilege is about taking the traditional and spinning it on its head. Why be normal? Let’s see how unconventional we can get and push the boundaries. Someone once told me that any beer that used more than malt, hops, yeast and water was sacrilege. That’s exactly what I want to do. So be it. It’s Sacrilege!
Q: How did you decide on the brew-pub model?
I love how beer and food play so nicely together. I love going to beer dinners and love cooking with beer. In my opinion, beer really isn’t complete without food. Staffing and costs related to the kitchen can be extra challenging. But I think it really pays off in the end for who we want to be.
Q: Who (or what) is your biggest beer/brewing inspiration?
There’s so many.
For bravery in doing the unconventional – Dogfish Head.
For attitude and marketing – Lagunitas.
For confidence that the size of the boat doesn’t matter – Hop Dogma (our neighbors+ friends in El Granada)
Q: As someone who’s been in the industry for years, where do you think the the industry is heading? What are the positive/negative trends you see?
Beer drinkers are seeking out what they can’t get on a regular basis. In today’s world, we can get whatever we want, whenever we want it. Beer isn’t like that. For the new beer drinker, it’s all about the one offs, the rare bottles and the destination breweries, something you can’t get everywhere. So that puts small and local at a definite advantage. And the bigger guys, even the bigger guys in the craft world, are struggling to keep their piece. I think that’s going to be a tough obstacle for the mid to large craft brewers to stay fresh and trendy.
Q: How did FCI’s Business of Craft Beer help you launch and grow your business?
It really helped bring the confidence. Starting a business is a huge endeavor with lots of moving parts. FCI made everything seem attainable and slightly less daunting.
Q: What did you find most helpful about the course?
What I loved about the course was that you got to talk to the people that had been there, faced the challenges, made the mistakes and celebrated the victories. One of the many things I love about this industry is the willingness to share information. We all grow together.
Q: What have been the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered?
Staffing. It’s not easy to live in the Bay Area. In order to do so, you usually need to make a better salary than a small upstart brewery can offer. We have a great staff. And I like to think they are paid well. But the labor pool is small and dwindling. It can be challenging.
Q: What do you envision the next year or two will bring for Sacrilege and you as the founder?
We’ve had a really good year one. I think the next move may be another location – another small scale brewery that is very neighborhood focused.
Q: What advice do you have for new food entrepreneurs starting out?
Learn, talk, and listen. Take every class you can afford to take. Broaden your scope. It’s not all about making the best beer, or being the best marketer, or properly keeping the books. It’s all that and more. And you need to know it all. Talk to everyone you can in the industry. Make contacts and adopt mentors. And really listen to what they are saying. The more you know, the clearer the vision becomes.
Visit Joe and enjoy his amazing selection of brews and food at Sacrilege Brewery + Kitchen in Half Moon Bay.
If you’re interested in attending Business of Craft Beer, you’re in luck! Our upcoming course is October 22 – 25. Check the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.