By all accounts, Jeremy Joerger had already made it. At 32, he'd secured a cushy, six-figure government job with tons of vacation time, and he was on the fast track for advancement.
So he quit.
It's a move that's possibly most representative of his personality. The 35-year-old U.S. Army vet has always considered himself a bit of a maverick, and the bureaucratic life — no matter how luxe — just wasn't for him.
"I was miserable," he said. "I've always felt I could be much more successful if I made my own way. So I took a hard look in the mirror and thought about what I wanted to do with my life."
Three years and a slew of entrepreneurial hurdles later, Joerger has successfully abandoned his former corporate life in favor of what he's realized is his true passion: craft beer.
The week before his brewery, JDub's Brewing Co., celebrates its one-year anniversary, Joerger is making his rounds at the brewery's tap room, located just north of downtown Sarasota. A load of T-shirts has just arrived, and he jokes with employees, who are folding and sorting them, before heading into the 5,000-square-foot brewing facility.
He surveys the facility's six fermenters, lovingly adorned with print-outs of a tank-topped Kurt Russell, a Ghostbusting Bill Murray, Mad Max and other favorites, and reflects on the early stages of JDub's.
"The stars just aligned," says the California native, who relocated to Sarasota by way of Washington D.C. in 2012. "I'd been wanting to get into this industry for more than a decade, and the market conditions were perfect. Sarasota was a really underserved market, and with Cigar City gaining national attention in one of the hottest industries in America, if ever there were a time and place to do this — this was it."
The first year wasn't an easy one, though. After living with his in-laws for nine months, hitting personal, financial and legislative roadblocks and the rest of the gray-hair-inducing stressors that come with a first-year start-up, Joerger says things are leveling out. Business is steadily increasing, finances are in the black, and he's grown his employee count to 10.
Looking ahead, Joerger says he's happy to have these struggles behind him, but above all, he's loving his newfound independence.
"There's no faking it in this industry," he says. "You can't kiss ass to rise the ranks. Your success is built on the quality of your product and your employees. I'm doing this because I'm pursuing my passion — and you can't fake soul."
+IF YOU GO:
JDub’s Anniversary Party — takes place from noon to 10 p.m. at JDub’s Brewing Co., 1215 Mango Ave. Free / $50.
Celebrate one year of local brewing with JDub’s Brewing Co. Unticketed event includes live music by Bootleg and Sowflo starting at 5 p.m., food for sale by Polpo Pizza Co.and Ri Quisimo food truck, vending from SRQ Cigars as well as beers in the JDub’s tasting room.
Ticketed event includes access to exclusive sampling area with beers from nine different breweries as well as access to purchase the $25, 750 mL bottle of JDub’s anniversary release.
Ticketed sampling area includes:
J Wakefield Brewing
- Hazelnut Coffee Imperial Sweet Stout
- Specialty Berliner Weiss
Cigar City Brewing
- Hunahpu's Imperial Stout
- Jai Alai IPA
Late Start Brewery
- Tequila Sunrise Florida Weisse
- Rye Pale Ale
St. Petersburg Brewing Co.
- Milo's IPA
- More beers TBA
Wynwood Brewing Co.
- Pop's Porter
- Wynwood Fox Imperial Red
- El Infante Barrel Aged Wheat Wine
Black Cauldron Brewing
- BIP! Belgian Imperial Pale Ale
- Ruckus Red Ale
- Brett Broke My Heart Passion Fruit Sour
Proof Brewing Co.
- Guru IPA
- Creatures in the Dark Imperial
- Hipster Popsicle
- Guava and Passion Fruit Lactic Zeppelin
- Belgian Pale Ale
- Cherry Lime Berliner Weisse
- Coconut Cream Pie
- Sir Albert's Double Stout