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CEO Jenny Lewis grew Strike Brewing Co. from a contract brewer to a taproom and brewery.


Stashed in: Founders, Culture, Beer!, XX, Beer, Silicon Valley, San Jose, @philzcoffee

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Startups come in many shapes and configurations, including one that focuses on craft beers in the heart of Silicon Valley.

There are 431 craft breweries in California?! Talk about tough competition.

Strike, which started as a contract-brewing startup, now runs a full-fledged brewing facility and taproom, which opened last July.

Seeded with about $1.3 million from primarily angel investors, Strike was co-founded by brewmaster Drew Ehrlich (he was a former pitcher for Stanford University’s baseball team, hence the company name) and CEO (and former competitive swimmer) Jenny Lewis.

Lewis, 30, was working with local bakery Satura Cakes when she decided to change tracks. She went back to school in 2009 for her MBA at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business while seeking funding for the brewery company.

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How many types of beers do you serve? When we launched in December 2011, we had four beers – all session beers. In California, IPAs (India Pale Ale) are all the rage, but we were always committed to having a line of products. We had fall and summer beers, but contract brewing is really hard to do on a seasonal basis. Since we’ve opened our brewery, we have six permanent beers and six seasonal, plus the occasional one-offs. 

What does “session” beer mean? It’s beer with under 5 percent alcohol, so you can drink them in sessions. So, for instance, at a baseball game, you can have three or four beers and not get hammered. It’s better for us, better for the bar and better for the consumer, and it’s something we’ve always focused on. 

How big is your operation? We have about 6,000 square feet, and 90 percent of it is production and warehouse space. We have a team of about 15 people, which includes a full-time sales staff, and we also have a fantastic board of advisers. We’re really looking at building our culture. It’s definitely a Silicon Valley type of startup. 

How has the taproom been received? It’s a lot like a winery. There are about 50 seats, and they’re literally next to the tanks. It’s got a unique warehouse feel, and we’re right near the (Santa Clara County) Fairgrounds, so there are always a lot of things going on. We’re open five days a week.

I like that she talks about culture. Just like Philz Coffee does. 

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