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After 4 Years, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. Drinks In Success with Expansion Plans

Buellton-based brewery to add 4 more taprooms, partners with Pacific Beverage Co. for tricounty distribution

Jaime Dietenhofer grew up in Los Olivos with a dream not so appropriate for a youngster in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Not astronaut, police officer or superhero, but brew master.

His passion wasn’t stymied when he nearly blew up his dorm room at UC Santa Barbara in a failed attempt to brew beer.

Even when he moved to Los Angeles after graduating with an economics degree and spent more than a decade growing another business, Garage Envy, Dietenhofer never put aside the goal of opening his own brewery.

After roping his father, Jim, into the idea, and interviewing more than 100 brewers — since Dietenhofer learned he himself lacked the patience — the duo founded Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. in November 2010 as a 100-barrel production brewery in Buellton.

They self-distributed beer from San Luis Obispo County to Orange County, wanting to grow their brand and give buyers individual attention. The Buellton taproom success led to a second in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone in the spring of 2013, with a third opening a year later in Los Olivos.

On the brink of Figueroa Mountain’s fourth anniversary, the beloved regional brewery has announced plans to open three more taprooms in the United States and another in Germany, with a contract to begin distributing beer by partnering with local Pacific Beverage Co. beginning Nov. 17.

Brewery production capacity has reached 20,000 barrels, and beers like Lizards Mouth Imperial Double IPA and Davy Brown are reordered soon after they hit shelves.

Dietenhofer’s dream has paid off, and in a big way.

A Santa Maria taproom will open at 560-B E. Betteravia Road in the College Square shopping center in mid-November. Taprooms with on-site brewing will open in Westlake Village at 30770 Russell Ranch Road, Suites E&F, in mid-December, and in Arroyo Grande at 1462 E, Grand Ave. in mid-January.

Although excited, Dietenhofer describes the expansion as somewhat reluctant, since the regional brewery wants to stay that way.

“We’ve been looking at different locations for some time now,” said Dietenhofer, the brewery’s president and CEO. “We have a lot of people in Santa Maria who drive to Buellton. We’re not striving to find a lot of locations, but we’ve always wanted to go south. We sell a lot of beer in L.A. County.”

A German taproom and brewery — long a pipe dream for both Dietenhofer and his dad, who hail from and have spent time in the region — is also in the works for Bavaria, near Munich, and would be used as a dual-training site for stateside brewers, and vice versa.

“American beer is definitely in demand over there,” Dietenhofer said, noting Escondido-based Stone Brewing Co. and some larger breweries are in Germany. “Twist my arm, we have to go to Germany.”

Because the Jordanos of Pacific Beverage Co. will deliver throughout Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, Figueroa Mountain will be able to focus on what it does best — brewing beer.

Dietenhofer said all former drivers and sales staff will become market representatives, focusing on customer service. His wife and mother are also part of the business.

“The people who grew this company are the people who are drinking the beer,” he said, noting a two-year waiting list to join its Mug Club in Santa Barbara. “I think the bigger thing for us is that, even though we have expanded, we’re still within a couple counties. We’re still a regional brewery.

“Our primary focus is trying to keep our customers and employees as part of our family. Even though we’re growing, we’re not losing sight of how we got here.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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