Craft Brewery Taps Into Electricity, Creates Niche in Crowded Industry
Video Credit: Joseph Foulk and Ernesto Sanchez
MURRIETA, Calif. — As the craft beer industry continues to grow, a small brewery in Murrieta has carved out a special niche for itself. Unlike most breweries that use natural gas, Electric Brewing Co. uses electricity to make its popular beer.
It wasn’t a marketing ploy, but necessity that brought owner Justen Foust, 34, to his unique method. Determined to open a brewery and tasting room in his hometown, he found a former automotive shop to open his business in 2014.
But there was one big hurdle. There was no natural gas going into the building, but he had lots of electricity, including a transformer and a 600-amp panel.
“We never set out to be an electric brewery,” said Foust. “When I got into this, I was a home brewer. I did it in my garage. I started with propane and then natural gas. I converted my home brew system to electric so I could perfect my recipes.
“I was determined to brew here and I had to figure it out.”
After three years in business, Electric Brewing Co. has more than 80 different beers — nine rotating varieties on tap — at their tasting room that often has lines out the door. Food trucks and bands are part of the experience too.
In the past year, the brewery saw an increase in sales of 1,400 percent. Today, Foust and his wife run the business with seven employees, including Justen’s dad Dana, and Foust does it all, including brewing his popular beers.
But the success wasn’t without some bumps along the way. Going electric meant increased electric bills. And the first one came as quite a shock for Foust. So much so that he started Googling for information on his options.
He came across an InsideEdison.com article about the hot sauce company Sriracha and how they worked with Southern California Edison on energy-efficient options and ways to save money.
Foust learned about the savings possible on SCE’s Time-of-Use Rates and off-peak hours. Soon, he had his solution: they would shift brewing hours to the night from June to October, between 11 p.m.-8 a.m. twice a week. He also brews on Sundays from 5 p.m. when Time-of-Use Rates are not in effect. LED lights throughout their 4,500-square-foot building help to further reduce their electricity use.
“I heat up the water during off-peak hours,” he said. “I make it work. I choose the route that saves me money.”
Today, Foust has been so successful brewing with electricity that large, mainstream breweries call to ask about his methods.
He has come a long way from his college days when all he wanted was to own a business; The idea for making that business a craft brewery came while he was studying at Mount San Jacinto College.
“I got really into craft beer. I definitely nerded out on it,” said Foust, who would read the bottles of his favorite brews and look up their websites. He also spent many hours studying how to perfect his craft beers, including fiddling with recipes.
Soon, Foust plans to expand his growing business in Murrieta, perhaps with a pizzeria that sells his Electric brew.
For now, he loves the camaraderie among the craft brewers, especially in his hometown. He has been telling his colleagues about the benefits of Time-of Use rates and using energy-intensive equipment at off-peak hours.
“I wish we had off-peak hours all the time,” he said.
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