A Year into the Voyage...
After a year at the helm, Longship Brewery owner Dan Jachimowicz sat down to share the experience of his first year running a San Diego brewery.
Read on to see how Longship got started, what the brewery's first year in business was like, and where Dan hopes to steer Longship in year two.
1. What inspired you to start Longship Brewery?
I had been home-brewing for years and after a while when I visited other breweries I found myself thinking that what I was making at home was often better quality, and often had a different take from the offerings. I was in the midst of a career change when I finally decided to take the plunge and pursue my dream of opening a brewery because I thought I had a lot to contribute to the San Diego beer scene in terms of style variety and beer quality. Our commitment to quality and beer excellence parallels the drive that led the Vikings to be master navigators and explorers.
I want to leave no doubt in the customers’ minds that the beer they are drinking has been carefully crafted and brewed with new and unique perspective in mind.
2. How much experience do you have brewing?
I had been home-brewing for nine years before we opened. A roommate of mine had started home-brewing so I learned it was possible for me to try it out as well, and one day we were at a store and we saw the Mr. Beer kit. I bought it, made a terrible lager, then immediately went and got better equipment to start extract brewing. Over the years I continued to upgrade and the batches got better and more diverse. I only ever followed two recipes when I got started and quickly preferred to put my own spin on recipes.
I also competed the American Brewer’s Guild course in 2008, so I have known for a very long time that this is the industry that I wanted to be part of. The final component of the course was a short internship at a small San Diego brewery, where I was able to get more hands on training, apply the theories that I had learned, and become comfortable with the larger equipment size.
3. What were the steps you had to take to make the brewery a reality?
First was the business plan and doing my research on the industry to see if it was viable. After that, I presented the plan to investors to get the money and then searched for a place. Finding the appropriate location proved to be a very time consuming challenge. After that was navigating through the endless legal pitfalls of permits and construction that all brewery owners are forced to face. The process was not easy but after a total of3 years, we finally landed in a very good location in Mira Mesa and we enjoy being neighbors with Green Flash.
4. How do you think things went when Longship first launched?
It went extremely well. We didn’t really know what to expect at first, but even for our soft opening we had people coming in off the streets to check us out. Everyone seemed glad to have us in the area and I was thrilled to be so well-received by the people in the area. At the time of the opening, we only had four beers on tap, (Allfather, Golden Torc, Abomination, and Battle of Leuven) but people liked those, and our tasting room environment to keep coming back.
5. Can you summarize what it means to have made it a year in one of the most competitive craft beer cities in the country?
Well, we still have a lot to do and a lot of room to grow, but it makes me feel great and validated that we have people that enjoy the beer and a number of regulars that appreciate the beer, the environment, and our approach to the craft. I’m proud of how people react to our beer and the level of service we provide. Being open for one year has validated the last three years of work it took to start Longship. Our first year was full of lessons learned and building the foundation. We look forward to growing and improving in the many years to come.
6. If you had a proudest moment as the owner, what would that be?
That had to be when Ragnabock, our Doppelbock, won a silver medal at the New York International Beer Competition. Winning a medal was proof that we are what we say we are: a quality craft brewery. I’m proud of Ragnabock because it has turned people into craft beer drinkers, and helped customers start to expand their beer world. There are a lot of proud little moments when I see people appreciating Longship beer, but it’s all summed up in the success of the Ragnabock.
Ragnabock’s win and our opening night were my proudest and happiest moments. A few of the guys that did the construction for the tasting room were here for the grand opening and they all commented that it was the first time they had seen me smile – which was probably true. To put it simply: construction was a bitch.
7. Where do you see Longship headed in the years to come?
In the next year, the goal is to focus more on distribution. I also plan to start the process of ordering and installing the new tanks in order to double production and push more distribution. We also hope to host more regular events at the brewery and provide a unique experience with our beers.
We’re really poised to grow in year two. This first year has been a training period and playtime is over. Now that we have a more balanced and put-together team, we are excited for what’s to come and I expect things to get even better. We are ready to continue the voyage!
Cheers to year two!