Brewery News: CA: Lagunita’s founder Tony Magee scribes “So You Want to Start a Brewery: The Lagunitas Story”

Press Release

Tony Magee—one of America’s most innovative and successful brewers—reveals his struggles and triumphs with Lagunitas Brewing in this laugh-out-loud memoir

image sourced from the publisherJust over 20 years ago, Tony Magee, a serial job hopper and severely in debt, decided to found a brewery. From its inception in 1993, Lagunitas Brewing Company has grown from a shoestring, one-man operation based in Petaluma, California, to the fifth largest and fastest growing craft brewer in the United States with a newly opened second brewery in Chicago. Lagunitas makes craft beer that is simple and flavorful and defies categorization, and the same could be said for Magee’s memoir So You Want to Start a Brewery? The Lagunitas Story (Chicago Review Press, October 2014), which is his no-bones-about-it account of his gut-wrenching challenges and unexpected successes as founder and CEO.

This behind-the-scenes Lagunitas roller coaster ride, equal parts memoir, narrative, and business story—with liberal dashes of pop culture and local color—is Magee’s honest and hilarious account of his journey, starting with a homebrew kit and just happening to culminate with the success of one of America’s most popular craft beer brands.

“This is the memoir of starting a business. The business happens to be a brewery, which is good, because there is alcohol involved. Which can also be bad, but it makes things a lot more interesting.” —Tony Magee, Founder & CEO, Lagunitas Brewing Company

So You Want to Start a Brewery?, previously released in a limited edition from a small California publisher, has here been revised and updated to account for the subsequent years’ growth and to include Lagunitas’ establishment of its new Chicago outpost. Magee has incorporated sidebars from Lagunitas employees about their relationship with him and the company, hilarious original label copy, and personal insights on dealing with fast growth and building/maintaining a brand. Magee, whose heroes include Ted Turner and Frank Zappa, showcases his trademark wit and vibrant voice with entertaining digressions and revelations of the unglamorous world of brewing. SYWTSAB? is entertaining and engaging must-read for all who have considered starting their own business—or have sweated blood working to get one on its feet. This blow-by-blow chronicle exposes the sausage making as well as the rapport behind Lagunitas’ mellow and creative vibe, allowing craft beer fans, small-batch brewers and general entrepreneurs to sit at the bar with Magee, as he shares the realities—both good and evil—of his personal success story.

About the Author:

Tony Magee is the founder and CEO of the Lagunitas Brewing Company. He lives in Marin County, California.


“If you really want to understand what makes craft brewing fundamentally different and more recklessly thrilling than its plodding industrial counterparts, it’s hard to find a better spirit guide than Tony Magee. This is not a how-to business book, but a stream-of-consciousness sermon on one man’s ongoing trip into the unknown as he creates and continues to shape the destiny of one of the more iconic craft beer brands anywhere. There’s no glib advice here. Tony insists that we all find our own unique way to success, but it sure is enlightening being along with him for the ride.” —Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer

“Documents the seemingly simple but uniquely savvy thinking Magee used to turn a six-barrel brewhouse into a top craft brewer. Instructive and inspiring for entrepreneurs of all stripes.” —Ray Daniels, director, Cicerone Certification Program, and author of Designing Great Beers

“A must read for aspiring brewers, beer aficionados, and entrepreneurs alike. This is a tale of perseverance and patience, creativity and wisdom, innovation and insight, all shared through the lens of an unlikely beer genius who cultivates his brand through a symphonic approach.” —Brett Joyce, president, Rogue Ales

“All brewers think they can write, but Tony brings his unique and entertaining beer story to life in such a funny, breezy, yet thoughtful way that reading it feels like you’re having one of his IPA’s with Hemingway and Gore Vidal in a Key West bar. I read it cover to cover in one sitting and found myself laughing out loud throughout.” —Harry Schuhmacher, publisher, Beer Business Daily

“Unconventional brands come from unconventional people. Drawing from music and literature, Tony Magee sees the world in a way that most completely miss. He has poured his heart and soul into Lagunitas and we are all richer for it.” —Keith Greggor, co-owner & CEO, Anchor Brewing Company

“Tony is one of the most unique characters in all of craftdom, rising fast to become one of the top US craft brewers in recent years. He’s wicked smart and has a way with words; here’s his story told in his own inimitable fashion.” —Benj Steinman, Beer Marketer’s Insights

“Like the beer of the brewery he founded, Tony Magee’s voice is original and provocative. Read this book.” —Tom Acitelli, author of The Audacity of Hops

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