Indian Joe Brewing represents the culmination of a long-time dream for me and it didn’t come easy. The way I see it, the challenges I faced were insignificant compared to those of my ancestors, who had been forced into the Spanish Mission system and later relocated to Indian Reservations and other areas of North San Diego County.
Growing up, my elders, such as my mother, grandmother, aunts, and uncles, told stories about my Native heritage and culture. One of my aunts, Louise Foussat, was a widely respected community advocate in Oceanside, California. She was the driving force behind the creation of Luiseno Park and the city named the Louise Foussat Elementary School after her.
Of all the stories recounted to me by my elders, the ones that resonated most were about my uncle Joe, and how he became a legend in the local Native American community. My Great Uncle Joe was a Luiseño Indian from North San Diego County. His grandfather had tended to the vines at the San Luis Rey Mission, but brewing beer was my great-great grandfather’s real passion. My Great Uncle Indian Joe earned a reputation in the early 1900s for brewing outstanding beers. His recipes were infused with natural ingredients —some with medicinal properties— gathered from canyons and valleys throughout the coast and neighboring reservations. Indian Joe was a self-taught master brewer, and his story helped shape my future.
In my 20s, I was introduced to the art of craft brewing after helping my father and a German master brewer formulate small batches of beer. I was mesmerized by the process and how unique flavors could be achieved by blending different natural ingredients. Inspired to become a brewer, I asked my entrepreneur friend, Pedro, if he would go into business with me in the late 1980s. He told me that I was a crazy dreamer:“There’s no way we could compete with giants like Bud, Miller and Coors,” he said. So I put my dream on hold. Then, in the late 1990s, I watched local upstart breweries, like Stone, Ballast Point and others carving out success. This was very encouraging and it re-lit the fire within me. Encouraged by friends and loved ones, I took the leap of faith and decided to pursue my dream and become a full-time brewer. In 2010, after nearly two years of legal maneuvering, I was granted the trademark for “Indian Joe Brewing” in honor of my Great Uncle Joe and my Native heritage. The vision I had nearly 20 years ago is now a reality. Our small brewery and tasting room opened in the fall of 2012.
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