June Lake Brewing: The Brewery the Community Built

There’s nothing like a cold one after hitting the ski slopes. In the Mammoth/June Lake area, one of the best places to get a tasty hop-forward beer made from fresh mountain water is June Lake Brewing (JLB). Open 365 days a year, JLB’s tasting room is an environment that creates not only great beer, but a welcoming family vibe where kids, locals, visitors and dogs enjoy. Enjoy professional and friendly outdoor athletes behind the bar who easily share stories and tips on some of the best trails for snowboarding, hiking or rock climbing. Just across the parking lot from JLB, their friend Rena McCullough runs Ohanas395, a food truck serving up Hawaiian-style soul food that pairs perfectly with their brew.

Sarah Walsh started brewing with her dad when she was a wee tyke and she now owns JLB. Avid homebrewers Sarah and her husband Justin gained additional brewing experience in San Diego. When the time came to raise a family, they decided they wanted to live in an old school, down-to-earth environment, so June Mountain’s community of friends and snowboarding allure was a nature fit.

The Walshes and their friends worked like fiends, volunteering their time and energy with payment of beer or equity and the promise that any paying jobs would be reserved for residents of June Lake. They all stood behind an unwavering mission statement: 1. Make Super Awesome Beer™ (a term they have actually trademarked), 2. Give back to our community, 3. Get people outside.

“We had hundreds of hours volunteered by our friends and family to make JLB a reality,” Sarah recalls. “We’re the brewery the community built, we just happened to be the ones that organized and motivated everyone to do it.”

JLB’s beer is the conduit to creating strong community and getting people outside. They volunteer and organize the summer Village Championship Downhill (mountain bike) Series and help with the annual June Lake Autumn Festival. JLB donates swag to over 21-year-old amateur athletes, gives beer to local, well-run non-profit organizations and provides topo maps and suggested day hikes pinned to the door.

However, if you want this exceptional beer, you’ll have to travel to 7,654-foot elevation to get it.  Their business grows organically in one of the most hard-fought, high-margin, localized business models for breweries: the tasting room model.

“Given our size and dedication to providing Super Awesome Beer™ we’re focused on a micro regional premium distribution strategy,” says Justin. “We are only in the best restaurants and finer tap houses within Mono County. Insisting on this quality ensures that our Super Awesome Beer™ will remain that way from the tank to the glass.  We refuse to distribute our beer outside our area because we would lose that control.  By limiting distribution to Mono County we’ve created a great reason for beer tourists to come visit!”

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