When developer H.G. Fenton opened its second Brewery Igniter location in North Park, the largest of its three suites was leased by veteran local business San Diego Brewing. That split-level spot, which also includes the largest tasting-room component in the campus, not only served beer, but house-made kombucha. San Diego Brewing has since vacated the space, but the healthful fermented beverage it minored in will be the focus of new tenant, JuneShine, which is on track to open its doors to the public, appropriately enough, on Friday, June 1, with a grand opening party set for Saturday, June 9.
JuneShine isn’t an everyday variety of kombucha. In addition to its purported health benefits, this beverage packs an alcoholic kick. Founders Forrest Dein and Greg Serrao call it “hard kombucha,” and each of the company’s initial dectet of offerings comes in at six percent alcohol-by-volume (which is actually lower than some other hard kombuchas currently on the market). The duo met while attending the University of San Diego and used to joke that they’d trade the substandard beer they were drinking at college keggers for kombucha if only the latter had the same alcohol content of the former. Several years after graduating, the pair decided to go into business together and the aforementioned conundrum helped direct them to the type of project they would pursue.
Though their post-college careers were quite different, with Dein traveling the world to shoot surf and music documentaries, while Serrao gained his business acumen as part of a venture-backed startup, the duo had an active, healthful lifestyle in common…as well as a vice. Namely, alcohol. While they found themselves eating right, exercising and engaging in myriad outdoor sports, they continued to enjoy adult beverages with shared gusto. Recognizing themselves as part of a large demographic of similar San Diegans obsessed with fitness and fun, they developed the JuneShine concept and went about making it a reality.
Steering the ship with Serrao as CEO and Dein as creative director, the duo hired Josh Makler as their first full-time employee. Heisenberg brewed hard kombucha at Chula Vista-based Boochcraft, as well as beer at Eastlake’s Novo Brazil Brewing. He has since developed a portfolio of flavor combinations such as blood orange-mint, honey-ginger-lemon, grapefruit-hops, and “supergreens.” The JuneShine team also received consulting assistance from Mason Ale Works director of brewery operations Matt Webster, who helped Heisenberg and company increase efficiency as they scaled up their operations with the production equipment at their new space. The hip interior design was executed by Solstice Interior‘s Katie Gebhardt.
Working from its Brewery Igniter digs, JuneShine expects to produce roughly 1,000 barrels in its first year of operation. Most of its kombucha will go into 1/6-barrel kegs. Initially, only the blood-orange-mint and honey-ginger-lemon varieties will be distributed to outside accounts, but every variety will make its way to the taps at JuneShine’s tasting room. The company also plans to be the first to offer hard kombucha in 16-ounce cans.
The choice to go with cans was based on the company’s environmental tenets, of which there are many. Like their contemporaries at Brewery Igniter’s Miramar campus, Pure Project Brewing, JuneShine is a One-Percent-For-The-Planet company, meaning one percent of its annual revenues will go to charity causes. The company also uses 100% recycled PacTec packaging, and uses only organic ingredients while eschewing added sugars, food-coloring, GMOs, and high-fructose corn syrup. But it’s really more about what is in the finished product. As Serrao and Dein put it, each variety of JuneShine is crafted to contain “probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins and, of course, a good time.”