When Josh Schreer decided he wanted to open his own brewery upon completing SDSU Global Campus’ Professional Certificate in the Business of Craft Beer Program, he had no idea of the challenges he would face ahead.
A graduate of Pratt Institute in New York City, Brooklyn-native Schreer always had the craft beer industry in the back of his mind, even after completing his undergraduate education in architecture and construction management.
In 2018 Schreer decided to combine the resources he had for his construction company and pursued a craft beer education with the goal of opening his own brewery, WestBrew. Read more about Schreer’s experience at SDSU and opening WestBrew in the middle of a pandemic.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I initially went to Pratt Institute in New York City to study architecture. I am originally from Brooklyn, New York and lived in Atlanta, Georgia during high school. From there I was in the Army for three years active, and did four years in the National Guard while studying at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I fell in love with craft beer then, frequenting Brooklyn Brewery. Since I was already in school studying architecture and construction management I pursued my degree, but upon moving to California in 2003 after graduating college I got more and more into the craft beer world. I always had in the back of my mind, I would love to brew.
What made you choose the SDSU Global Campus certificate program over others?
The SDSU program was a great starting point to learn the commercial industry of brewing and how things are done on a larger scale with business operations, distribution, and large scale production. I wanted to focus primarily there because as a business owner, I knew I needed that knowledge to ensure I knew what I was getting into and how the pro-level breweries operated. I also attended UCSD’s program to master my brewing science skills to ensure I could learn how a home brewer can scale up recipes and source ingredients for production-based brewing.
How was your experience in the program? What’d you think about the classes and instructors?
My experience was great. SDSU staff are all leading professionals in the craft beer industry and were willing to share their knowledge, experience, and resources to help me in succeeding at the start of my new business. I could not have gotten to where I am at without the program. It is a must for any home brewer who is planning on taking it to that next level.
What made you want to open up your own brewery?
I moved to San Diego in 2008 from San Francisco and shortly after started home brewing over the next decade. I started my own construction company in 2010. I always had a huge warehouse, and as my construction jobs were busy the warehouse was usually empty. Over the years, I attended SDSU’s craft beer program and graduated in 2019. I also attended the core classes at UCSD. Being in both programs taught me a lot about the brewing industry and science behind brewing. I achieved a wealth of knowledge from the professionals in the industry and made extremely valuable contacts and connections with most of the people I have now hired to assist me in the operations and growth of WestBrew. I decided to move my business to Vista and acquire a larger building to split up and open WestBrew. Half [of the building] is for my construction company, and the other half is for WestBrew’s production facility and tasting room.
Tell us a little about WestBrew.
We purchased our building in 2018 and started the process. We broke ground on the renovation in 2019 and completed preparation for our grand opening on October 3 and 4. We will also be opening our satellite restaurant and tasting room in Del Mar in late October, our East Village location one block from Petco Park in March 2021, and South Oceanside location in April of 2021.
What are some challenges you’ve faced starting a business in the middle of a pandemic?
It has been crazy during COVID-19. We committed to purchasing our equipment in December of 2019. Fabrication started in January of 2020. The pandemic hit officially in March and we started to delay in March through June. I have an extensive background in construction from my commercial construction company, EvergreenCali, I have owned and operated over the past decade. It was a challenge and it caused a lot of delays and financial burdens for us. I accepted delivery of the equipment in July. At that point, we had initially planned to open Fourth of July weekend. In July, we needed to scramble to commission the system and get remaining construction completed. It took us six weeks to commission the system and finally get our water test completed to ensure everything was working. We finally have our first round of batches in kegs and we are starting to can. With restrictions easing a bit, we are hoping to maintain schedule and start shipping out our first cans and kegs for our grand opening to the public October 3 and 4 by reservations from our online website at www.westbrew.com.
What’s the future for WestBrew and yourself in the craft beer industry?
Our future right now is to maintain what we have committed to. We want to enter the market with a bang and maintain what we have. We have strategically picked locations throughout San Diego County to ensure we are reaching the entire community as well as possible. We want to serve our local community and provide a relaxed environment with quality food and beer to keep people coming for more.
Start Your Craft Beer Journey with SDSU
Whether you’re new to craft beer , or you’re a seasoned professional looking to take on a new role in the industry, SDSU’s craft beer program can help you become an important part of a rapidly-growing industry.
Visit neverstoplearning.net/craftbeer to start your journey.