April 19, 2021
What do you do if you love geography and fancy beer, want a job that allows you to travel the world and be an entrepreneur, and hate the daily grind of desk work?
You open your own geography brewing company.
At least that’s what former and soon-to-be-again University of Missouri geography student Ian LaGrace did with business partner Tyler Lasley.
The duo are owners of Waypoint Brewing Company, which is no ordinary distributor. They do high-end, outside-the-norm beers — the type that usually are harder to find in mid-Missouri. LaGrace and Lasley sell their product in 32-ounce bottles to go and also on tap in Columbia establishments such as iTap, The Social Room, 9th Street Public House, Pappo’s Pizzeria and Pub.
Before coming to Mizzou, LaGrace served in the military and traveled the world. “I lived the life before being a student,” he said. “And when I went back to school, I loved geography. To be completely honest, I loved human geography but was afraid of the job market, so I majored in that and chose a geographic information system (GIS) emphasis.”
LaGrace was so dedicated, he even landed a GIS job while he was still a student. “It was a great job,” he said. “But I learned really quickly a desk job wasn’t something I really wanted to do with my life.”
So, when he got laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, LaGrace went to his wife, Riane, for guidance. “And she was like, ‘Well you know — you didn’t really like sitting at a desk. What do you want to do?’ I jokingly said ‘I want to start a brewery,’ and she said ‘Well, then do it.’ So, I said ‘OK.’ And so here we are.”
LaGrace was a senior when he temporarily left Mizzou due to some life circumstances, but he is so close to graduating — just a handful of classes away — he said he is definitely coming back to finish.
LaGrace and Lasley have big plans but are smart enough to know to start small, very small. Currently, they are a one-barrel nanobrewery. One barrel produces 31 gallons of beer each time they brew, which translates to 248 pints of beer. “That’s why we are starting off with three beers,” LaGrace said. “But I could brew another batch tomorrow and we would have a fourth one. That’s the nice part of being so small.”
Their name, Waypoint, refers to a stop along a journey — a geography term. “We think a lot of people passing through I-70 are going to Kansas City or St. Louis,” he said. “We would be a waypoint on their journey.”
For more information, and updates on where you can find their beer, check out their Facebook page: Waypoint Brewing Co., or visit them on Instagram at waypoint_beer.