KINGSBURG – For Josh Bakker, what started as a Friday night pastime evolved into a burgeoning business, where Kingsburg residents can grab a craft beer to pass the time on their own Friday nights.
Five years after the initial business idea and after four years of extensive renovations – interrupted by COVID, rotating contractors and skyrocketing building costs – Magosh Brewing officially opened its Kingsburg taproom on June 23.
“We have a whole bunch of beers in the pipeline,” Magosh Brewing co-founder Josh Bakker said.
Currently, Magosh offers five craft beers. The tap system allows for up to 24 different offerings. According to their business license, Magosh can only sell products they brew in-house. Bakker said he hopes to use every tap at some point.
The Kingsburg Chamber of Commerce has listed only one other business in the city that sells craft beer – Roadhouse 99, which happens to be located in the same building as Magosh. But Bakker is not concerned about the competition.
“We sell them beer,” he said, laughing. In fact, Bakker said he is happy that Roadhouse is literally around the corner.
“The more cool businesses like Roadhouse 99 or Brew-Wings or us or places like us,” said Bakker, “the more it’s going to bring people to this area.”
He added that downtown Kingsburg is known for its cute boutiques. He is hoping that Magosh and Roadhouse can become destinations where people can go to enjoy a cold beer.
Brewing up the business
For the brewery’s origins, Bakker said the company had a prosaic start.
“I moved out here in 2012 from the Midwest,” Bakker said. The only person he knew was Magnus Olson, co-founder of Magosh and Bakker’s brother-in-law. The two were both into craft beer but neither had any brewing experience.
“I said, ‘Hey, let’s try brewing beer on a Friday night for something to do,’” said Bakker. “We did it and just got hooked after that.”
Bakker admits the first batch didn’t turn out “super great,” so he and Olson dove in.
“We started buying books, listening to podcasts, reading forums on the internet,” he said.
Before experimenting with microbrewing, Bakker was a financial advisor, but in the back of his mind, he always entertained notions of running a brewery.
“A year before (starting the brewery), I had written down in my book of goals two things,” Bakker said. “One was to grow my book of business as a financial advisor; the other was to start a brewery. I ended up doing one of them.”
A downturn in the financial industry in 2018 opened the door to a new industry. His company went through a change of ownership. Bakker said he was left looking for something to do.
Bakker’s wife’s family has a family farm in Kingsburg. He and Olson initially brewed their beer at the farm and marketed it locally. Magosh’s initial brews were modest–10 gallons at a time.
Bakker credit’s Olson’s wife with the company name – a combination of Magnus and Josh.
“We hated it and loved it,” he said.
The family owns the building where the taproom is located. The space that eventually became the taproom was storage.
“It wasn’t quite (stacked) floor to ceiling but pretty near,” Bakker said.
After clearing out the storage, he and Olson began the near Sisyphean task of transforming the 112-year-old building space into a modern, fully-functioning taproom and brewery.
“We had to clear out the storage so we could bring in architects and engineers to bring the building up to code,” said Bakker. He noted that the renovation costs were formidable.
“They always say once you come up with a budget to open a brewery, double it,” Bakker said. “We did that twice.”
While brewing up the business, the company experienced numerous setbacks during renovations. In addition to COVID, Bakker said working with PG&E to modernize the electrical system took nearly four years. They also lost their principal contract midway through construction.
After an arduous search for the right replacement – the company went through 10 contractors – Magosh found RJ Miller Construction, Inc. in Fresno.
“RJ Miller saved the day,” Bakker said. “We wouldn’t be here without them.”