Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dreams of a Brewer


I have been homebrewing consistently for around 6 years now. My buddy Jeff and I first started in 2002, but with undergraduate school and partying, we lost interest pretty quickly. I started homebrewing because I wanted something other than the fizzy yellow beer that I have been drinking for sometime. I found this beer shop in Grand Rapids called Siciliano's Market that had a wide array of beer that I started drinking. At that time I fell in love with beer and Siciliano'sMarket.

Our first homebrew was an IPA. We inherited ... umm the last roommate left behind ... a homebrew kit. Siciliano's Market, on top of there top notch beer selection, they also sold homebrew ingredients. With not knowing what we were doing, we bought a beer recipe kit at Siciliano's Market. From what I remembered, it tasted pretty damn good. So we went out and made another extract recipe, with help from the folks at Siciliano'sMarket. At this time is where we lost interest and this batch sat in the bucket 8 months until we moved out.

Fast forward 3 years, living again with my buddy Jeff, we decided to try homebrewing again. We bought a homebrew kit and beer recipe kit and made our third beer. This time we didn't lose interest and started consuming knowledge aboot beer from books. We took a class from the now defunct Michigan Brewing Company and learn how to brew all grain. From that time I was hooked and Jeff and I made 5 more batches before, being nomadic, I moved out to start graduate school at Miami University in Oxford,OH. After moving out, Jeff got a brewing job at Hopcat, and I was sort of envious. At that time I started dreaming.
Fast forward again 4 years, now receiving my Master's of Science in Zoology studying beneficial insects and two years into my Doctorate, with my buddy Jeff the head brewer at Pike 51 Brewery, I've continued dreaming and been looking into brewing jobs. People keep talking as though I should start my own brewery and that is where I really start dreaming …

Starting a brewery, it would start small. What I mean being small, it would be 10-gallon batches. The brewery (haven't thought of a name as of yet) would have 5-7 mainstays, both ales and lagers, doing multiple styles. I would have a hand-pull cask beer, of a classic English style and also multiple experimental styles. This will allow for growth to a larger system, keeping the smaller system for experimental batches. I would explore a of of styles, barrel aging, and using different ingredients than the norm.

Along with beer, it would have to be paired with food. This is where I lack knowledge. I know what I would like to have as the main cuisine, but pairing and knowledge of having a restaurant is a whole new story. The main cuisine would be wood-fired pizzas with appetizers that would complement both the cuisine and beer.

The placement of the brewery is important. It would have to be well accepted in the community in a place where the beer culture is strong. I would not want it in a place that is already saturated with breweries, but a place where it would complement other breweries and allows for collaborations. 

Paying to start up my dream is something that I lack. There are small business loans, but I have school loans and it would be painful. Investors and partners would be nice, but I would not want to with connected with people that only think aboot how much money we would be pulling in and have a dominant personality. Nor would I like to be partners with people that are inconsistent, indecisive, or passive. I might be asking too much …

So right now, I'll continue to dream. Maybe I'll be able to get some experience in a brewery and go from there. I know this is the path that I want to go down currently because of the passion that I for brewing. I know that I will not just continue to dream and I will seek out my passion. I'm interested to see where this path will lead me.