We had the good fortune of connecting with Jack Dyer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jack, what do you attribute your success to?
The people. We are incredibly fortunate here at Topa Topa to work alongside some of the kindest, hardest working, and intelligent folks out there. At every level of our company we have talented people who care deeply about their work. That is what keeps us going!
What should our readers know about your business?
Topa Topa Brewing Co. was founded almost 7 years ago in Ventura CA. My business partner and Brewmaster Casey Harris and I had a strong desire to make a product that we could use as a force for good in the world. We figured that beer (the greatest beverage in the world) was the best conduit to accomplishing our goal. From the start we had a focus on building community, along with a strong commitment to environmental causes. As a 1% For the Planet business we focus our giving on environmental non profits in our area, setting us apart from the myriad of craft beer options available in our region. Further, we have chosen a unique path in expansion, opening 5 satellite taprooms outside of our main production facility, which enables us to connect directly with communities in our region, and preserve the quality of our beer and customer experience.
From the start Topa Topa has faced challenges. Prior to opening our doors our brew system got stuck on a boat outside the LA port due to the port workers union strike. This delay almost killed our business before we got open. Before our fledgling brewery turned two, our area was hit with what was then the largest wildfire in CA history, the Thomas fire. The Thomas fire and the subsequent devastating mudslides provided a significant challenge to a small business just getting its footing. More recently we, like all businesses, faced the challenges associated with the pandemic. This was perhaps the most difficult challenge that I’ve faced both professionally and personally.
While each challenge resulted in different solutions, the common theme was that you must remain resilient and nimble when doing business. The challenges you face are merely bumps in the road, if you trust in yourself and your team, you can, and will succeed in whatever endeavors you take on.
At Topa Topa, we believe in the power of good vibes and great beer. We love what we do and do what we love and are truly lucky to have the the opportunity to make great beer and use it for good in the communities we serve.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Topa Topa is based along the southern central coast of California, just 80 miles north of LA. Our main brewery is based in Ventura, a quaint seaside town that has grown up quite a bit (from a food and beverage perspective) in recent years. The region is bursting with farms and incredible agriculture that help make our food and beverage scene unique and flavorful. We also boast a range of outdoor activities for enthusiasts and amateurs alike. Here is a quick itinerary with some solid recommendations:
Day 1- Hop aboard Island Packers Cruises and head out to the Channel Islands for a day of wildlife viewing and outdoor adventure. Pack your lunch and head to Scorpion Bay Anchorage for some sea cave kayaking. Enjoy the ride (both ways) and keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins. Upon your return to the Ventura harbor, refuel from your day with a happy hour meal at Brophy Brothers in the harbor. Oysters on the half shell, Garlic Baked Clams, and a variety of enticing dishes pair perfectly with our very own Chief Peak IPA. After sundown, you can cruise the harbor and pick up some ice cream to finish off an epic day.
Day 2- After a day on the sea, it’s time to enjoy some mountain time. A short drive “up the hill” from Ventura lies Ojai. The Ojai valley is rich in many ways, with bountiful citrus farms and hiking trails galore. This day grab some incredible sandwiches from the Duchess for the cooler and head for the hills around Rose Valley. Here you will find a network of hiking trails near the Sespe River and Piedras Blancas. Find a watering hole and take a dip. Upon return from your hike and swim walk through town and enjoy the shops, if it is a Thursday you can join the locals at the Ojai Community Farmers Market and peruse the local offerings of fresh fruits and veggies. End the day in Ojai enjoying the view of the Pink Moment (a spectacular sunset reflected on the surrounding mountains) from the patio at Topa Topa Brewing Co.’s downtown Ojai location. Grab some wings from Little Sama located inside the Topa Taproom. If you are still hungry and staying the night in Ojai, grab a reservation at Rory’s Place. The finest dining in a casual/hip setting. Everything is good here, cocktails, wine, and of course great beers to pair with their amazing menu!
Day 3- Santa Barbara is just a short drive from Ventura. Opt for the coastal route and maybe pop in for a surf along the way. The coast is littered with opportunities to get wet so don’t pass it up. Once in Santa Barbara head to the harbor and walk the famous seawall out to sandspit, an almost private beach outside the Santa Barbara harbor. On Saturday’s the harbor holds a fish market with the fish literally sold to you from the back of the fishing boats that caught them. Head to the wharf and walk out to visit a few of the great eateries out on the water, or you can enjoy a glass of wine at Deep Sea Winery, which has one of the best views a winery can have. Then head to the funk zone for some delicous pizza from the Lucky Penny. The funk zone has a bunch of great wineries and breweries to choose from, so bounce around a bit and pick you spot. You are sure to find something to your delight.
Day 4- Back in Ventura it’s time to get in the water again. As a beginner, it is always good to take a lesson. We recommend surfclass.com for your surf school needs. Run by the famous Chipper Bro Bell, his surf school will get you in the water and surely will leave you stoked! More experienced surfers can head out at C Street a break in the heart of downtown Ventura. Once out of the water hop on over to Spencer Mackenzies for some world famous fish tacos and wash them down with a Chief Peak IPA. After lunch head up to the Harmon Canyon Preserve for some hiking in the rolling hills above Ventura. Ocean views and native wildflowers abound in this preserve made possible by our pals at the Ventura Land Trust. After your hike, head to downtown Ventura for some libations. Start at Fluid State, a bar and restaurant that is essentially like an adult playground for your tastebuds. Everything is good here from their curated cocktails to their extremely unique beer list. The food and beverage here is second to none in a relaxed setting. If you are still hungry you can make your way further downtown Ventura and enjoy great food at Finney’s Craft House, Rumfish, or any of the other amazing options!
Day 5- Start your morning off with a delicous breakfast at Pete’s coffee house and then head to the beaches around Ventura point. A series of boardwalks are the perfect place to work off the huevos ranchero’s you just enjoyed. For lunch head to a locals favorite Taqueria Tepatitlan. This locally owned spot always has a full bar and offers great beer, incredible margarita’s and an exemplary menu featuring traditional mexican dishes. We hope you are hungry because this spot doesn’t skimp on portion sizes. After your meal you can head to Topa Topa’s original location in downtown Ventura for some good vibes and great beers.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My community inspires me more and more everyday, Whether that be the incredible network of purpose driven businesses or specifically our fellow craft brewers, I’m constantly being challenged and inspired by our community. I’ve been super fortunate to be able to follow in the footsteps of some incredible companies both locally and nationally. Companies who have a purpose and take care of their people. Specifically, we are based in Ventura, CA, home to the ever-inspiring company, Patagonia. The support and guidance they have shown us since we opened doors 6 years ago has been amazing. The craft beer world is one of the most collaborative and cooperative industries in the world, so I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few wonderful mentors from breweries like Allagash, Pizza Port, and Firestone Walker. I’m constantly amazed how willing folks are to help answer questions!
Yelp: Topa Topa Brewing Company