We had the good fortune of connecting with Julian Shrago and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julian, what is the most important factor behind your success?
We’re fortunate that Beachwood Brewing is able exercise the highest level of creative autonomy. Having that is the ultimate fuel for making beers that are honest reflections of our brewing sensibilities. The result are beers that we’re passionately proud of that transform our customers into fans.
While we have faithful staples in our core lineup, our fans can always find something new and limited available. This keeps Beachwood a consistent market presence while continuously refreshing things. I think our fans know they can always rely on Beachwood beers to be interesting. We make a point to be playful, educational, and interactive, which empowers our fans. We want them to choose Beachwood because they know good beer.
And of course, quality is paramount. Not a week goes by that we don’t at least make some small advance. We’re always looking for ways to improve our beers and processes, ensuring Beachwood’s beers are fresh and tasty!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started drinking craft beer and homebrewing while in college at University of California, Santa Barbara pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. I was lucky to be surrounded by a lot of amazing craft beer.
Homebrewing was a casual hobby of mine for many years. When I was laid off from my engineering job in the early ’00s, I relocated to Southern California. Being single and somewhat bored, I dove deeper into homebrewing and it quickly became a passion. For me, engineering and brewing are very similar on their most integrated levels. They’re both a mix of art and science, so for me, brewing has always been an extension of my engineering sensibilities. While honing my skills as a homebrewer, I would often visit local breweries and share my beers with professional brewers. They were kind and offered valuable feedback, friendship, and mentoring. I’m still close with all of those people today!
Roughly 10 years into my career as an aerospace engineer, I put together a business plan to open a small brewery. Around that same time, I’d formed a new friendship with Gabe & Lena, who owned a highly curated craft beer bar and restaurant, Beachwood BBQ. Before opening their second location, they asked if I wanted to combine forces and open a brewpub (brewery & restaurant) together. My answer was “yes,” of course! I eventually “retired” from engineering in 2012 to focus full-time on Beachwood.
Had I not gotten laid off from my engineering job nearly 20 years ago, I may not have ended up here. So the age-old adage is true: when one door closes, another opens! Going from novice to pro required me to be vulnerable and open myself up to criticism, but that is well worth the level of creative freedom my job & business has afforded me. Moreover, it’s helped me grow as a person and always strive to improve. For our fans, we owe it to them to always make the best beer possible and never rest on our laurels.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Long Beach is a vibrant and active city! One of its greatest assets is – you guessed it – the long beach itself! For a fun weekend in town, I’d plan to spend some time along the manicured shoreline that extends along the entire south side of the city. Make sure to rent a beach cruiser bike, as there’s a fantastic paved path (pedestrian as well) that follows the shoreline. You can make your way east to Belmont Shore for lunch and midday drinks. There’s a wide range of small, locally-owned shops, bars, and restaurants to choose from. If you’re in that area on a sunny Sunday, you can wander further east to Alamitos Bay and enjoy the amazing farmers’ market. Heading back west, you can land at the Pike, also with a wide range of retail and dining choices, but the real gem in that area is the Aquarium of the Pacific. Once you’ve wrapped up your visit to the aquarium, you can move to Pine Street, just north of Ocean Blvd for a host of casual fine dining spots and cocktail bars. The Queen Mary is a very popular destination for tourists, but when it comes to my maritime sensibilities, I prefer to take a trip on the Catalina Express, departing from Long Beach Harbor and spend a day in the village of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island. Once on the island, there are a host of charming dining, retail spots, & museums. If you’re the outdoor type, many miles of pristine trails can be accessed a few blocks from downtown Avalon. On a clear day, the vistas of the Pacific and California coastline from Catalina are tough to beat. The Wrigley Botanical Garden is a short 15-minute walk from downtown Avalon and a great way to spend an hour or two. If you’re feeling glamorous, there are multiple spas on the island that offer great massages and other indulgent amenities.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people to thank (then, now, and into the future)! Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. My first shout-out is to my parents, who always stoked a sense of curiosity in me. My wife is my sounding board and voice of reason, I’m thankful to an industry and peers that have always offered mentoring and support. My business partners, Gabe & Lena continue to create an environment where we, as a brewery have total creative freedom. Most of all, I’m thankful to all of Beachwood’s fans that offer their continued support and enthusiasm!