In 2013, Josh Landan assembled a team of high-profile investors from the action-sports world to fund Saint Archer Brewery. A little over two years in, Big Beer (MillerCoors) came knocking with a multimillion-dollar offer members of that contingent were eager to snap up. The company sold and, eventually, Landan left the business. Recently, he returned to the scene with Harland Brewing and Scout Distribution. We caught up with Landan to ask him about both interests, starting with his second foray into the brewing industry.
What inspired you to get back into the beer industry?
I just missed it. I missed going into a bar and drinking our beer, and the community of it. I was at Blind Burro the other day and had a pint with the owner. I missed that — that building something that’s so tangible. Saint Archer was a crazy, two-and-a-half-year ride. It was a blur keeping up with it. Anytime you go that fast in that short of a period, you don’t get a chance to take it all in. I was gone from the scene for a year and a half just processing it and settling it in my head, because it was hard. I think I had to go through something like that to realize that what I really enjoy is starting something with friends and doing it ourselves, not doing it then living in corporate America. Doing that [after selling Saint Archer] was the death of me, but you never know until you do it. There are some great people still there and doing good work in that environment, but there were a lot of people with a lot of opinions and when you feel like your track record speaks for itself — we built the small brewery and know what it’s like to sell beer on the street as a small craft brewery — and then there are opinions that are opposite of ours… I don’t want to have conversations like that anymore. It’s a comfortable life just working there and that’s that, but I’ve never been one for the comfortable. So, I thought, ‘Why not start over? Why not throw in wine and a distributorship this time?’ [laughs] This time around, I’m not worried about selling beer in Portland, Las Vegas, or Arizona. I don’t have the capacity for that anymore. I’d rather do it all here and wherever we go in the county we can have one.
What are your plans for your headquarters in Scripps Ranch?
We’re currently building out our space at 10119 Carroll Canyon Road. The entire building is 37,000 square feet. One side and 20,000 square feet of it is for Harland and the other side is for Scout Distribution. Harland’s tasting room will be on the west side of the building. On the brewery side, we have a 30-barrel Premier Stainless brewhouse. We’ve done everything with [Premier owner] Rob Soltys in the past, so it was seamless. We’re excited to be in Scripps Ranch. I wanted to be in a community, not some place like Miramar. Who is going to Miramar? There’s something to be said for all the families living around us in Scripps Ranch, not to mention having our distribution client, JuneShine, down the street at Ballast Point Brewing’s old brewery, and Newtopia Cyder close by. It’s way better than some faceless business park like we had at Saint Archer. That was a bummer.
In addition to Scripps Ranch, you have a tasting room on the way at One Paseo in Del Mar. Why did you select that location?
It will have a built-in customer base. Right behind our 3,200-square-foot tasting room there’ll be 608 luxury apartments that are already 90% occupied, even though they haven’t yet been built. Next to us will be 1,200 office units, and the first thing they will see when they leave work will be Harland. It’s where One Paseo starts for them. The feel of our tasting room will be very masculine with black hardwood floors. I grew up in Ventura on motorcycles. It’s the culture I’ve always been around — blue collar and rough around the edges — Harland speaks to that… admittedly in a little bit nicer way in Del Mar. You can only be so rough in Del Mar, right? But the bar aesthetic and overall brand is warm but clean. We’ll have about 20 beers on tap eventually. Another bonus is that you can go eat at killer restaurants or grab pizza next door, then come in and watch football on Sunday or whatever and drink beer. We’re not so much about special events as just being a good everyday place to enjoy beer.
Do you have plans for future satellite locations?
I’d love to put something in Oceanside. It just feels so much like my hometown. I think it’s one of the most comfortable communities. We’re also in negotiations with the Marriott Marquis San Diego downtown on a bar at the hotel. There’s never been a tasting room in a downtown hotel before. The idea is that you walk up to the building or through the lobby and, instead of getting a coffee at a Starbucks you can get a beer. Lots of downtown bars aren’t stoked on that but being at a hotel and taking a 16-ounce can to your room, well, that doesn’t sound too bad to me.
Back to the beer. Who is brewing it and what will Harland’s portfolio include?
We’ve made it through the first three months with one beer, our IPA. But we have a lot in store and it will all be brewed by Nick Marron. He is our director of brewery operations and was director of brewing at Saint Archer. For now, he has been contract brewing at Bitter Brothers Brewing and Mission Brewery, where we produced our Mexican lager. It’s amazing how many breweries are willing to contract brew these days. Our can releases will include a hazy IPA with Azacca and Citra hops, a passion-fruit kettle sour, and sour IPA. We’ll also offer a rotating series of hazy IPAs with choice hops like Strata, Mosaic, and Nelson. Our brewery-only specialty releases will include a pair of sour milkshake IPAs, and several kettle sours including Boysenberry Pie with boysenberries, vanilla, nutmeg, and graham cracker. We’ll have an unfiltered Kellerpils, brown ale with maple and coconut, and a pair of pastry stouts, including one with Mostra Coffee.
How much beer do you think Harland is capable of producing?
I think you can sell 10,000-plus barrels, and we’ll be looking to do that in San Diego. We’re not really looking to go beyond the county. Of course, we will send beer to Ventura at some point.