Sunday, May 25, 2008

Super Secret Grand (Yet Restrained) Opening Party

Yesterday we had a party to celebrate our opening.  From my perspective it went extremely well-- I was amongst my favorite people, everyone was enjoying themselves, and the word is getting out about what we do.  Approximately 140 beer lovers came throughout the day.  I couldn't have asked for a better opening.

To those who didn't get the invite, I apologize!  I sent it to as many friends and supporters as I could think of at the time, and I know I missed some important people.  Next time I'll be more coordinated, and hopefully it won't have to be an invite only affair!

Thanks to all those who came!  I'm looking forward to having more parties already.

Thanks to Steve Sage for the wonderful write up in his Summer of Beer blog and for taking photos:

Also, thanks to Spence and his helper (forgot her name, sorry!) for taking photos.  Spence will be sending over the photos, which I'll post in the news section of the website.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Finding Our Beers

Last week Tyler and I spent a bit of time going around to different potential accounts, and I'm pleased to report that beer is available around town.  A few more will be added next week, and hopefully dozens more once we have a distributor (we're working on it).  Here's the list now:

Beachwood BBQ - Rotating keg selection, had on Black Orchard as of Thursday
Hollingshead Deli - Everything we bottle, perhaps Black Orchard is still on tap
Hi Times Wine Cellar- Everything we bottle, delivering on Tuesday
Tustin Brewing Co- Saison Rue in bottles
Lone Hill Liquor- Everything we bottle
Walnut Liquorette- Everything we bottle

These are some of the great beer institutions in Southern California, so I'm very excited to see our beers here.  For the great beer places you don't see on this list, I'm working on it!  Having the beer distributed by someone else will make my life much easier.

A full list is maintained at

Our Website is Up!

A few days ago I uploaded our website.  It still needs quite a bit of work, but I thought we needed to have something up since our beer is now in stores.  We're working on a fairly extensive food pairing section and a store with our merchandise and possibly beer sales.  All these things and more will take shape over the next few months.

Boonville Recap

Rachel, Tyler and I went to Boonville for the Boonville Beer Festival put on by Anderson Valley Brewing Company last weekend. We spent two nights on the grounds of Anderson Valley, which is a beautiful place.  We plan on distributing in Northern California in the next few months, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to get our name out there.  While we had many fun and interesting experiences on the trip, it seems like it was ages ago since so much has been going on so I'll spare the details.  I do have a cold right now so that's probably a souvenir from the trip.  

Here's a photo of us at the festival serving our beer (thanks to Jay Brooks, Brookston Beer Bulletin):

Selling Beer and Being Reviewed

When Tyler and I brewed our first batch, he asked me with excitement something along these lines: "You gotta be so excited right now!  We're finally brewing!"  He hadn't brewed anything in a few months after leaving BJ's West Covina to become a glorified handyman at The Bruery, so he was feeling great about getting back to his normal routine.  I quickly agreed, it was a great feeling after the previous ten months, when so many days I felt like The Bruery wasn't going to happen.  I told Tyler, "I can't wait until I sell my first beer.  That's when I'll know this is really happening."  

I'm very happy to finally have my beer out on store shelves.  Cash flow is great, but I'm most excited about sharing my beer and hearing what people have to say.  So far, the reviews (to my face) have been glowing.  That's to be expected-- not too many people are going to tell me directly that my beer sucks.  It still feels good.  There's also reviews that are not for my purposes, but for those interested in tracking their beers and sharing with others whether a beer is good or not.  I've been told by many brewers to ignore reviews of my beers on beer rating sites such as BeerAdvocate and Rate Beer.  Most brewers do look at the reviews from time to time, and it can lead to frustration and anger.

Of course, I check my reviews several times a week.  I can't resist.  So far, they've been very good.  The positive reviews reaffirm my own taste in beer and validate I'm achieving what I set out to do.  The negative ones are not easy to read.  Reviews that are less than glowing often show me where things are going wrong, so it gives me information to improve the way we make our beer.  So far, they have largely been a result of poor servings (yeasty dregs from kegs of Saison Rue being a big one), so we're changing our approach to avoid this in the future.  Don't expect to see much in the way of "keg conditioned" beers from us anymore.  

I appreciate that someone would take the time out of their day to write about my beer.  It's invaluable information and I plan on continuing to read the reviews. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Counting Cells

Here's local home-brewer Dan learning how to count cells on a second runnings beer that he and Brent (Brewcommune) helped out with. Thanks guys!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

While I'm Working On The Budget...

Tyler just sent me this picture of the BrewCommune / The Bruery booth at the Southern California Homebrew Festival in Lake Casitas, happening right now.  I was supposed to go, but instead I'm sitting on my couch, working on The Bruery budget for future years.  I'm trying not to pity myself, but not doing a very good job at it.

The banner looks pretty sharp though.  Thanks to Tyler for representing us at the festival.

May Already?

Sorry for the lack of updates.  Here's a brief list of everything that's been going on:

- Craft Brewers Conference / World Beer Cup: We had a great time here, and I still feel like I'm recovering from my week in San Diego.  I started seminars at 8 or 8:30 AM, and went non-stop (networking / more seminars / hanging out with friends / drinking great beer) until 1 or 2 in the morning to start all it over again the next day at 8 AM.  We didn't win any medals at the World Beer Cup, but I don't think my ego could handle actually winning a medal at the WBC at this point, so perhaps it's for the best.  We're looking forward to participating in the San Diego County Fair, Los Angeles County Fair, California State Fair, and of course the Great American Beer Festival.  Maybe we'll pick up a few in those competitions.

- Distributor News: We are currently selecting distributors in Southern California and Northern California.  We are now negotiating with a few different distributors, so I'll give more info once we have signed an agreement.

- Hollingshead Tasting: Last Monday we had our first official roll out of our beers at Hollingshead's Deli in Orange.  This was a great tasting-- about 54 people showed up and I heard lots of great things about the beer.  Thanks to everyone who showed up!  If anyone took any photos of the tasting, could you send them my way?  I never remember to bring the camera anywhere.

- Official Roll Out: I had committed to having the tasting at Hollingshead's a few weeks back, thinking we'd have all of our labels applied and our packaging would be ready.  The packaging won't be ready until next week, so that's why you can't find our beer anywhere else besides Hollingshead at the moment.  Look for our beers at other places around Orange County (and perhaps San Diego and Los Angeles) starting the week of May 12th.

- Orange County Brewers Cooperative: A few brewers in Orange County (including us) have started a local brewery organization to help promote craft beer in Orange County, as well as provide a venue for us to better communicate with one another.  As the new brewer in Orange County, it is important to my business that the public knows there is good beer to be had here, so I've spent a lot of time with the planning of the co-op.  We started up about 3 months ago, and are currently planning a beer festival.  I'll post more info as dates are confirmed.

- Opening Party: We are hoping to have an opening party at The Bruery on Saturday, May 24th, but I need city approval before it becomes official.  Leave the date open for the moment, and I'll let you know as soon as I find out.

- Website: I've been holding off on putting the website up until our official roll out, so look for it the week of May 12th.

Right now I'm supposed to be at the Southern California Homebrewers Festival, but I gave Rachel the stomach flu, so we decided to stay home.  Tyler is there with BrewCommune and will be serving Orchard White and Black Orchard.

Next week we'll be serving our beers at the Boonville Beer Festival, and will hopefully be meeting with a few Northern California distributors.  We'll also be meeting with my brother-in-law Matt and our good friend Ali, who will soon be our Northern California Sales Reps.  Matt will cover San Francisco, and Ali will cover Oakland / Berkeley.  

Thanks to Rick Sellers for writing about The Bruery on his blog:
I read Rick's blog every few days, and was shocked when I saw my logo on his page.  Very nice write up, Rick!

I'll try to post more frequently.  See you around, hopefully drinking our beer!  Cheers!