CALIDAD with Founder Joshua Zad
Photography by Adrian Martin
Words by Eff Ulloa
Joshua Zad is a marketing wizard. Ever hear of “but first, coffee”? That was Josh. He’s been turning heads and racking up likes on social media since 2013 with Alfred, an LA-based coffee chain. Alfred, located on Melrose Place, quickly became famous on Instagram for its trendy drinks and fashionable design. But owning a café popular with celebs and influencers wasn’t enough for Josh. He wanted to create something that could make an impact on the beverage market all across the world. So he decided to take that same stylish “brand-first” approach and create a fantastic Mexican-style beer.
Josh describes his beer, Calidad, as a California approach to a Mexican cerveza. He wanted it to be high-quality and feel familiar, like his favorite beer Pacifico, but he also wanted his beer to have the same killer design aesthetic that made Alfred Coffee a social media sensation. Calidad was inspired by Josh’s upbringing in Southern California, both in its easy flavor and its branding inspired by the gorgeous California sun. He says he wanted to create something that a customer could see from across the room and immediately recognize, something that makes them feel as warm and welcome as California itself. He’s not trying to appeal to craft beer snobs or deliver intense hoppy flavors that linger on the palate. Instead, he wants to appeal to the rest of us: relaxed beer-drinkers who are more interested in how easy and delicious a beer is than in how many awards it’s won. His Instagram-worthy style is just the way he gets us to notice it.
We were thrilled to have a chance to chat with Josh about Calidad and his approach to business, beer, style, and life.
Describe Calidad in a sentence or two?
Calidad is a California made California approach to Mexican style beer. By being made in California we use primarily California ingredients in our beer and I think we get the benefits of the association of health quality lifestyle that comes along with it. As a Southern California native, it is our approach to Mexican style cerveza.
How was the process of finalizing on the taste?
When we were approaching the taste one thing that I was really conscious of was that I didn't want to have any kind of hoppy flavors or any aftertaste that lingered like most traditional craft beers. So I think in line with my favorite beer Pacifico we really wanted to create something that works parallel to that but we have a little bit more notes of citrus in there as well. So it doesn't necessarily need lime whereas most Mexican beers are better with lime. I think we're pretty on the fence, either way, we're good with or without lime. One interesting comment I've gotten from somebody was that it tastes like a Mexican Shock Top. And I think it's because it's got that orange taste. We want to be more in line with the Mexican beers that people are used to and identify as Mexican beers and not with craft beers or the other crafty styles.
What is it specifically about the Mexican culture that you felt it was perfect for the styles of this new beer?
I'm born and raised in Southern California. A lot my best friends are Latin and that influenced as it just permeates just living here… So a lot of the foods, a lot of the drinks, things that me my friends and my family enjoy outside the Persian culture, I think we identify most with the Latin culture. And so Mexican beer has always been the only beer in my fridge and if you go to my parents fridge right now and you open it up that's all you will find in there. So that's something that's always been on my mind.
What do you think resonates with people as they learn about Calidad and as they get to experience the taste?
I think what our specialty is, it’s a brand first approach. So in the beer space, brands that are coming out now are the craftier beers. They're more of a beer forward approach. It's like a mad scientist that wants to create something that's really phenomenal and then by the time it comes to the branding in the packaging they just have their cousin mail it in.
It's kind of fun to flip it upside down and have the experts help us create the beer and the formula that we enjoy. Don't complicate that process too much but really put the brand together right. Created a nice aesthetic. Create a solid background of merch to support the brand and make it something that looks cool. And if the quality is there you're sold. Game over.
Do you approach it in a very scientific way or in more of the gut instinct?
Gut instinct. It's just simple. Our concept was to create something as authentic and familiar. I think the yellow is very warm and very welcoming. And the logo I wanted for people to second guess and be like have I seen this packaging before like this looks pretty common in my life.
What's the targeted demographics?
I think who we're trying to target is the majority of beer drinkers. I wouldn't say novice beer drinkers but the average beer drinker. We're not trying to go after the people that drink award-winning beers or are super complicated complex deep beers. We want to target men and women slightly skew younger that are not so concerned about the medals that the brewery has won but more concerned about the great taste. So it's a much simpler than the more common approach these days to beer.
From a study done out in Brussels, it was said that lager resonates well with music that is considered pure sound. They mentioned one song in particular "Blackbird Opens a New Window" by the Beatles. And so if Calidad was a song or if there was a song that we could pair it with, what comes to mind?
Californication! Because it's winding and mellow and it's from the L.A. band Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
How can someone get their hands on some Calidad?
You must go visit our website and check-out our cerveza locator, drop in your zip code and see where we carry it. We try to update that very frequently. But of course, there are always new places being added all the time so it's pretty accurate. Find it in a lot of local BevMo! locations.
There’s a reason we connect with beautiful images. They inspire us, they conjure up powerful feelings and associations, and they motivate us to build a community. Joshua Zad has harnessed the power of iconic images and his love of California to create a tasty beer that is every bit as Instagram-worthy as his previous successful ventures. Most of us out there drink coffee and beer, and Josh has demonstrated an incredible ability to build a lifestyle brand around a delicious everyday product.
As the Red Hot Chili Peppers sing, “if you want these kinds of dreams, it’s Californication.” Thanks to the brilliant marketing of Calidad, just like Alfred Coffee before it, we can peer into the beautiful world of Joshua Zad’s California dreams. Visit calidadbeer.com to learn more about the beer, buy cool merchandise like bandanas and patches, and search for locations where Calidad is sold.
So don’t be surprised when you see a delicious can of Calidad in your favorite celebrity’s hand. Josh is on a mission to bring his cerveza to the world… one Instagram-worthy can at a time. #CalidadBeer!