Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy Birthday to Us!

That’s right, The Bruery is turning 1 year old!  So you know what that means; a celebration is in order.  On Saturday, May 16th, we’d like to invite you to come help us commemorate our first year in the craft beer making business with - well beer of course!

In addition to our year-round offerings, we’ll be releasing Papier, our anniversary ale.  Papier is a Belgian-style Old Ale layered with complex flavors of dark fruit, vanilla, oak, and burnt sugar.  This robust ale weighs in at 14.5% ABV and we think it's the perfect beer to mark our first big milestone. 

We’ll also be pouring Levud’s, which was our very first batch, as well as Melange #1, Humulus Ambre, Cuvee Juene, White Zin, and yes, for all you Melange lovers, #3 will be making an appearance!  

Excited yet?

How about some barbeque to wash down your beer?  Beachwood BBQ will be on hand to satisfy any beer-fueled cravings for the smoky stuff.  And if you need a little something else in between brews, we’ll have some additional treats available for snacking (haven’t had the Bruery Belgian Waffles yet?  Here’s your chance!)

The party will run from 11 AM through 6 PM, and we’ll be accommodating 150 people at a time.  The ticket price is $25 and includes beer tasting tickets, food tickets, and your Bruery glassware.  We’ll also have some commemorative Papier t-shirts available! 

So come help us raise a toast to our first year, and have a great time doing it!  We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Craft Brewers Conference

Tyler, Rachel, Jonas and I got back on Saturday from the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston where we had a productive and fun time.

This is my third conference and the function of this conference seems to change every year for me. The first year, I was looking for information on how to start my brewery, and focused on the educational aspects as well as getting to know equipment suppliers. I quickly found out when talking to equipment suppliers that new equipment would mostly be out of my reach. At this first conference (in Austin, TX), I noticed how friendly everyone was to each other in this industry and this made me all the more excited to start a brewery and be a part of this family.

My second conference in San Diego, CA came about a month after our first batch, and a week before we sold our first case of beer. (Speaking of which, today is our first anniversary of selling our first case of beer to Hollingshead Deli in Orange, CA. I'll have to stop by Hollingshead's today, have a beer, and thank the Hollingshead family for all that they've done for us.) My second conference came at a time when Tyler was the only employee. We came to the conference to learn as much as we could about the industry as well as try to let our industry know we existed. We donated 12 cases of beer to the conference, and a case or two luckily ended up at the Brewery Owners / CEO Reception, where Greg Koch and Steve Wagner from Stone Brewing Co. first tried our beer. This was the starting point of Stone distributing our beers in Southern California. No one had heard of us, and many were skeptical that we'd be in business a year from then.

Things were a bit different at this year's Craft Brewers Conference. This conference I focused on making and strengthening relationships with our suppliers, fellow brewers, our distributors, and distributors we'd like to have on our team. We also focused on drinking the best beer the Northeast has to offer, something we did quite well I might add! The educational components of the Craft Brewers Conference were a bit lower of a priority this year than the previous two years, but collectively we went to most of the seminars and learned some new things.

Tyler flew the redeye and went to the two day MBAA yeast seminar, where he had the chance to make friends with and pick the brains of some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. He also discovered new quality assurance procedures which require new pieces of lab equipment that we clearly can't afford right now. Maybe for Christmas, Tyler!

On Saturday we checked out downtown Boston and visited our friend Andrew at the Jamaica Plain Sam Adams brewery. Andrew gave us a great tour, and then drove us to a beer store where we stocked up on East Coast beers, and then drove us back to our hotel. What a great guy-- thanks Andrew! We hope you'll visit Southern California soon.

The CBC is a great place to make friends who share the same passion for craft beer that we do, and it's a lot of fun being a part of this large family. I'm looking forward to the next CBC in Chicago!

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Am a Craft Brewer

I Am a Craft Brewer debuted at the Craft Brewers Conference this week, and I had a small part in it. Cheers to Stone Brewing and Redtail Media, it's a pretty remarkable video. If you haven't seen it already, you need to check this out:

I Am A Craft Brewer from I Am A Craft Brewer on Vimeo.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beer Geek Show & Tell this Saturday!

For those of you who've been to a past Show-and-Tell, you know what to do. For those who haven't, Beer Geek Show-and-Tell is where we invite everyone to bring in one bomber/750ml/ 2-12oz bottles of special craft/exceptional home brewed beer to share. And by share we mean having the beer served by the tasting room staff-please don't just bring it for everyone just to look at and drool, that's not nice. Only those who bring beer can partake in the sharing. And, of course, we'll share some fun stuff as well! The tasting room will be open from 12-6p as usual.

See you there!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

11 Months In Business

I thought I'd attempt to write a new blog entry, seeing as how it's been a few months since I've written anything of substance on here. Our anniversary is coming up and this is a good opportunity to think back to where we were only 11 months ago. We sold our first case of beer to Hollingshead's Deli on April 28th, 2008, so I've decided to roll over our anniversary date to the month of May. Close enough, right? Last night Tyler, Rachel, Jonas, Jay and I sampled all of the barrels of our anniversary beer, picking out the most exceptional barrels for the single barrel versions of Papier. I couldn't help but feel a little sentimental that we were tasting our fifth batch of beer brewed last April, when things were vastly different than they are today.

In the beginning, I wondered how we were going to sell 15 bbl (465 gallons) of beer, the smallest volume we typically produce of any single batch. Tyler and I were the only people working here, and we brewed the beer, sold the beer, and I attempted to run a business. Within a few weeks of our first releases sitting on store shelves, we received complaints of over carbonation. Luckily, we were a new brewery, and people drank the beer anyway and understood we didn't really know what we were doing at this point. I bought back beer from places that weren't selling it well. I'm still sitting on 30 cases of grossly over carbonated Black Orchard and waiting for a great idea on what to do with it. A not so great idea was bobbling for apples in Black Orchard, which we attempted on Halloween.

In June, Stone Brewing Co. started distributing our beer in Southern California, which is one of those events that made my life a lot easier and gave us the opportunity to grow quickly. Steve, Greg and Arlan recognized we are making great beer and I recognized I cannot do everything and do it well. I could now see it was possible to sell 15 BBL batches of beer.

In September, we opened our tasting room, which has wildly exceeded my expectations. I expected the tasting room to be a place where we'd get the occasional visitor wanting to check out our brewery. It has become a North Orange County attraction, and we recently hired Stef, Tasting Room Manager, and James, to run the tasting room.

Our beers were distributed exclusively in Southern California until November, when I decided to branch out to other states. Stone was doing a great job for us in Southern California, but we had extra capacity and I felt it was important to build ourselves in other markets. Over the past 6 months, we've partnered with the best distributors in states that have an exceptional beer culture. We're now in Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Northern California, and will soon be in Arizona and New Jersey.

The Bruery family continues to grow. My wife Rachel joined us full time in September, and Jonas joined the team in December to help brew and handle our expanding distribution. Bryan joined in January to spread the word of our beers in Southern California. Jay will shortly join us full time as assistant brewer as our production needs increase. Ben, who once helped us brew, is now working with us as our marketing director. My brother Chris is working in Portland, Oregon to build our account base there.

We're currently undergoing a major expansion, bringing our fermentation capacity from 75 BBL to 210 BBL. The work is almost complete and we're prepared to fill the new fermenters in the next two weeks. The fermenters couldn't have come at a better time-- we're almost out of beer and struggling to keep up with demand. In the next few months, we'll also be adding a faster bottling line.

In another 11 months, I wonder where we'll be. I honestly have no idea. Maybe we'll have maxed out our fermentation capacity and trying to fit more fermenters in our now cramped space. Perhaps we'll be constructing a new brewery. Whatever the future brings, we know it'll be shaped by our hard work and high expectations. Thanks for supporting us!