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Friday, June 23, 2017
THE BREWSPAPER / RETURN OF INDIAN JOE BREWING
View from The upstairs lounge at Indian Joe Brewing
LOYALTY HAS ITS
GUEST BLOG / By
Brandon Hernández/ Via Westcoastersd.com
would be challenged to remember the last time I saw any business receive as
much support while out of business as Indian Joe Brewing (2123 Industrial
Court, Vista). The family-run operation abruptly shut down when it lost its
base of operations to landlord disputes in 2015.
Max Moran and Geri Lawson immediately got to work looking for a new spot to
install their brewery, but it took a while—two years to be exact. In a county
with more than 140 operating brewhouses, there’s little reason for even the
most devoted of beer-drinkers to hold a candle for the return of one of the
smallest of the suds scene’s sojourners, but hundreds of Indian Joe fans
remained just that…fans.
the casually interested kind, but the most engaged breed of supporters,
communicating with the owners over social media and in-person when possible,
following them as they sought out a new facility and, after finding it, took on
the task of not only reopening, but growing the business by leaps and bounds in
the process. The result is the current iteration of Indian Joe, which opened in
March and is fulfilling the long-entertained dreams of Moran, Lawson and the
many hopeful beer enthusiasts crowding their corner.
the lengthy road to Indian Joe 2.0, I also stayed close to the business’
founders, visiting the project site and wondering just how much of their
ambitious agenda they would actually be able to realize. Installing a 15-barrel
brewing system, an extensive stainless steel cellar, tons of oak barrels for
aging and a huge tasting room; taking over an abutting building for warehouse
space; distributing throughout the county in kegs, bottles and cans.
in mind, they were coming from a business-park brewery where Moran brewed
several times a day on a meager 20-gallon system simply to keep beer on-tap at
the sole source of consumption, Indian Joe’s tasting room. It was nicely
appointed and featured many an outlandish brew that, frankly, weren’t for
everybody. It wasn’t exactly the type of operation one would figure to be ripe
for financial backing and expansion, but Moran and Lawson easily secured
enthusiastic financing to take things to the next level.
permitting and construction of their new spot proved much more difficult, a
recent visit reveals they’ve accomplished many of their goals and are on-track
to breathe life into the rest.
A taster tray of Indian Joe beers with co-owner Max Moran in the background
Joe has a whopping 30 beers on-tap. That’s admirable—but only if the beers are
of quality. Quantity is nothing without quality. After tasting through more
than half of the offerings the day I was there, I can say that Indian Joe’s
beers taste better than at any point in the company’s history.
makes that even more impressive is the range of styles and the retaining of the
anything-goes approach that birthed oddities like a Margarita Gose aged in
tequila barrels; blueberry, plum and ginger sour ale; and honey-oatmeal tripel
with Vietnamese and Ethiopian Baraka Buna coffees.
to the beer-purist (and even some adventurous drinkers) sounds like a rundown
of the tap-list at an insane asylum…wait for it…tastes rather nice. Sure, you
have to be in the mood for something avant-garde, but I often am and enjoyed
all three of these beers in addition to an “imperial red sour” with
blackberries and black currants, “Indian Sunrise” blood orange and sweet cherry
Gose and apricot-peach sour. All three are ideally suited for the hot-weather
months just around the corner.
Inside Indian Joe Brewery
not all of the beers are weird at Indian Joe. There’s a Belgian-style witbier
(which also comes infused with lime or tangerine), a robust porter (another
version of which is available spiked with chocolate and hazelnut) and a variety
of IPAs, including a double, a flagship infused with white sage and, to show
they can fall in line with the best of them, a Northeast-style number for the
haze-crazy. The IPAs are better than the ones I remember from the original
Indian Joe. The increase in overall quality isn’t just the result of purchasing
new, larger, more state-of-the-art equipment.
and Lawson brought on a head brewer, Grant Heuer, who last brewed at Temecula’s
Refuge Brewery and Relentless Brewing as well as Las Vegas’ Big Dogs Brewing.
In addition to bringing experience, he has also brought brewers and brewing
ingredients from Riverside County (where he still resides) to the table,
resulting in collaboration beers (including that hazy IPA created with Electric
Brewing) and the java from Augie’s Coffee utilized in the aforementioned
out-there tripel and Indian Joe’s imperial oatmeal coffee stout.
upgraded is the environment in which the beers can be experienced. Indian Joe’s
4,000 square foot tasting is one of the largest in the county. Visitors can
drink at the long downstairs bar, high-tables or an outdoor patio…and that’s
just the ground floor.
an L-shaped upstairs area with windows looking out onto State Route 78, a rail
bar and numerous plush leather couches. Moran and Lawson clearly made the most
of all the time they spent waiting on agencies to respond and construction
issues to be resolved. The immense amount of time was worth it and the faith in
these entrepreneurs from their loyal fans well placed.
SOURCE:West Coaster print magazine, a monthly beer
publication and its website: www.westcoastersd.com, is a media partner with daily
online magazine: PillartoPost.org