“You don’t have to be an organic business to be a green business, but if you’re an organic business you should be able to meet the City’s qualifications for green certification,” said John Gonzales, founder of Leashless Brewing, a Belgium-inspired certified organic brewery. Situated at 585 E. Thompson Avenue in historic Downtown Ventura, Leashless offers a menu of classic style and gluten-reduced beers.
The name “Leashless” refers to pure freedom and how Gonzales likes to surf “with no leash.” It’s also part of the Leashless brand mission statement — to produce beer with freedom from conventional practices.
“These days, when people are so concerned about GMOs (genetically modified foods and products being produced with toxic and inorganic pesticides, we’re proud of Leashless’ organic brand and crafted tasty ales.”
Gonzales grew up a mile from the beach in Carpinteria, and that’s where he spent most of his time when he wasn’t in school.
“It’s always been my love of the Pacific Ocean that has driven my choices,” said Gonzales. “I honestly don’t understand how anyone can live on the coast and not be environmentally-conscious.”
It was Gonzales’ connection to the ocean and the desire to work in a field that fostered environmental sustainability that led him to pursue a Masters in fish nutrition and aquaculture management. Gonzales ran the aquatic resources for a genetics lab at the National Institutes of Health and worked for University of Hawaii’s Sea Grant College Program promoting sustainable agriculture in American Samoa, before founding Leashless.
While working in Samoa, he met his wife and eventually moved back to the U.S. landing for a time on the east coast in 2007 and shortly after that, Gonzales pursued making his ales, and it wasn’t long before he began winning awards for his delicious libations. Then July, he opened the doors of Leashless Brewing.
“When my wife and I decided to relocate back to California, I figured, if we were making this move, I was going to rewrite the next chapter in my life, I’d go big, and I’d go differently but stay true to my passions. However, what I’ve discovered is that ‘Leashless’ is more a continuation of my passions only now I’m using yeast and water versus fish and water.”
Sustainable Décor & Practices
As a new City of Ventura Certified Green Business, Leashless Brewing incorporates a myriad of sustainable business practices.
A visit to Leashless Brewing’s attractive tasting room and brewery, visitors will notice beautiful reclaimed redwood on the massive bar top, and the sides of the bar boast reclaimed Douglas Fir that was formerly Ventura city school bleachers. Even the tap handles, which pour a selection of organic, specially crafted beers, are made from wood. Local artwork depicting beachy themes hang on the walls, and attractive signs placed strategically around the bar (which give a shout-out to some of Leashless’ early crowd-funded sponsors) are made from recycled cardboard. Napkins, cups, utensils, and plates are all recyclable as are the hand towels, toilet paper, and other paper products purchased. Branded t-shirts that are sold in the bar are also made from recyclable organic cotton and plastic materials.
Leashless procures its organic raw ingredients from certified organic facilities in Belgium, Germany and the United States, and once the ingredients have been used, Leashless recycles the spent grains to local organic farmers to use as feed and to make organic fertilizer.
Other eco-friendly practices include the use of a unicycle trash bin, the installation of LED lights and solar tubes for energy efficiency as well as making use of the gorgeous natural light that pours into the tasting room’s large picture windows.
All the janitorial cleaning agents purchased are environmentally friendly, and Leashless’ glass washer sanitizes with steam versus chlorine.
The tasting room and brewery’s outdoor patio is also surrounded by a certified ocean friendly garden.
When it comes to community partnerships, Leashless Brewing takes pride in associations with other businesses and non-profits to help raise awareness for important causes that incorporate their core values of incorporate sustainability, community, commitment, and celebration.
“’You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone,’ is an important adage that’s true,” said Gonzales. “We shouldn’t wait until our natural environment is in worse shape before we realize we should change. We need to change slowly and consistently, so we have something of equal value or better to give back to the next generation.”
585 E. Thompson Avenue
Ventura, CA 93001
Be Organic. Live Free.
–Maryann Ridini Spencer for SustainableVentura.TV
WATCH the Sustainable Ventura News Segment featuring Leashless Brewing: