Pacific Plate Brewing Company has it going on. The Los Angeles-based brewery is the brainchild and baby of Latino brewers Stephen Kooshian, Jonathan Parada and Steven Cardenas. To make beers like Agave Wheat, Horchata Stour and Mango IPA, they use ingredients like cinnamon, Madagascar bourbon vanilla and Ecuadorian cocoa.
We had a chance to chat with CEO Stephen Kooshian about his growing brewery, Latino-flavored beer and what makes this entrepreneurial enterprise tick.
MM: Are Latinos a core group of your consumer market?
PPB: Latinos are a very important part of our market. As a consumer and brewer I have noticed the growth of craft beer since 2007; in those 7 years I have noticed not only the growth of craft beer as a whole, but in the Latino market as well.
I attribute this to several factors: 1.) Craft beer has grown in every demographic. I have noticed growth especially in the Asian-American and Latin-American demographic but as a whole, it is growing; 2.) I believe that Latin-Americans ultimately do want more flavor in their beer. We have flavorful cuisines that use spices and fruits very liberally and this translates over to what we want in beer; 3.)
We are a family-oriented culture and we want to support local and family owned businesses over large corporations.
MM: Is reaching out to Latino consumers different than reaching out to the general market for you all? If so, how?
PPB: Not really. We promote our Latin American flavor inspired beers and they really speak for themselves. We get customers from all backgrounds and demographics, but we certainly do have a strong core of Latino customers and I think that has to do with our unique approach to beer.
MM: Were there any bumps along the road, blazing a trail as y’all did in an industry that associates Latinos with staple beer brands?
PPB: We certainly do get customers that have never tried craft beer before. But we try to get to know our customer’s tastes. I always ask a new customer what they normally like to drink, it helps me make a suggestion for them.
When a customer says they want something similar to Corona or Bud Light, we start them off on our Agave Wheat. It’s light in color and easy to drink; it definitely packs more flavor than commercial adjunct lager, but its delicate. It has a nice bready flavor with a delicate hop balance. It really is a gateway beer for new craft beer drinkers.
MM: As entrepreneurs, what are 2 or 3 of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
PPB: Narrowing it down to 2 or 3 is pretty hard! Firstly, that you’re not going to have a life for a while. As a small business with no employees, we do everything from design and brew to beer, to making sales call, and running the tap room. There are many hats that we wear.
Secondly, to not get discouraged. It’s hard to break molds and do something new. If you believe in what you do with passion and your product is good, you will succeed.
Lastly, to have fun. Making beer is a lot of work. Trying to make a living off of it is a whole different animal. It’s a lot of fun and that’s what makes it worth it.
MM: What are you most proud of with the work you’ve done to grow your company/brand?
PPB: This is a hard question. I want to say our size. It’s almost unheard of to start a brewery with a 1 barrel system (31 gallons). We are one of the smallest licensed breweries in the country. But were getting by and slowly growing.
I am also very proud of our unique recipes and our delicious beer!
To learn more about Pacific Plate Brewing click here.