Wednesday, March 19, 2014

FDR, SFHG & E66 Part IV

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
First & foremost, I’d like to congratulate Kevin, VP of the SF Homebrewers Guild, and his wife Shae on getting the financial support needed for their dream project - a Nanobrewery through crowdfunding. They needed to raise the startup capital of $50,000 in the 30-40 day timeframe, and it was looking tight a week ago, but just before the deadline they were able to pull it out thanks to contributions by many guild members (including myself) and now for the tough part… starting the actual brewery & paying back all those rewards.
Ferment.Drink.Repeat (FDR) Nanobrewery is going to be a 3.5 barrel (about 110 gallons) nanobrewery, homebrew supply shop, and brewery incubator located here in San Francisco. The exact location is up in the air but it’s being hinted that it’ll be in the Portrero Hill area more than likely. Now, you may be asking yourself… what’s a brewery incubator? Basically, it means they’re going to be a place where up-and-coming professional brewers (like say… Terrible Lizard Brewing) and have access to some of their equipment & facilities… and help develop their brands without having to finance all of the equipment & facilities themselves. Kind of like… how a catering company may rent out a kitchen from a restaurant during their off-hours. Also, they will be displaying some of the award-winning brews from members of the SFHG for public consumption, again so that they can spread their brand awareness (if desired) or just provide some fantastic brews at this local spot. The whole thing is very centralized to the homebrewing community here in San Francisco… but the idea itself can probably be utilized anywhere. It’s basically what I would like to do one day wherever we decide to settle and once we have sufficient (minimal) experience & resources… so I’ve been intrigued by the process & picking Kevin’s brain a few times about it since he announced it a few months ago… and will definitely continue to do so.
As mentioned, we did invest in FDR back in the beginning… and one of the rewards was that you design your OWN recipe, Kevin would be there to guide you & make suggestions, you’ll have lunch on brew day, and then you get a little private reserve party on the day that your craft beer makes it to the public with up to 12 friends. So eventually a Terrible Lizard Brewing brew will make it to their draft… and if you’re in the Bay Area& want to reserve a spot at the release party, let me know. Reading the blog has its privileges indeed. In the meantime, once they get started we will also have a $500 gift certificate to use at the supply shop. That’s a good chunk of change & we’re looking into a keg system… but we’ll probably take care of that before this all gets up & going. Again, congratulations Kevin & Shae!!!
Tuesday night was the monthly meeting of the SF Homebrewers Guild at Anchor Brewing… and our special guest was Jay with Rare Barrel Brewing in Berkeley. He gave a great little talk about making sour beers & how their business came to be because they had a passion for them… and it’s kind of a niche market due to its lack of availability & die hard fans. Now… I’m not a HUGE fan of sour beers… but I’ve tried a few & they’re pretty nice in moderation. However, I can see how you can be in a market like the Bay Area where just about everybody who really wants to have a brewery is opening one up… or gypsy brewing… or whatever, so to stand out in the market without a huge advertising budget, you can specialize. Rare Barrel makes exclusively sours. Trumer makes just about the perfect pilsner. Anchor just makes f**king liquid gold & obsidian, but they’ve also been doing it for a long, long time. For upstarts, you almost have to try to find a good market that isn’t saturated… or specialize.
Another thing that Jay mentioned: He was asked how the transition from passionate homebrewer to professional brewer changes your view, he replied something along the lines of “When I’m a professional brewer, it’s doing about 10% of the stuff you love to do as a homebrewer.” Basically, as passionate as you might be about making beer… that’s only about an hour or so a day of your job. The rest is getting out there, handling paperwork, cleaning, running the business, hiring people, firing people, working out your marketing strategies, taxes, bills, customer complaints, partner complaints, mortgages, all that stuff that you didn’t really have to deal with when you were just cooking up brews in your basement. Now… where that may sway a lot of people… it kinda made me feel good that I had already thought that far ahead before even considering doing a brewery. It means I probably have a good head on my shoulders & am willing to work hard in many different facets of my life to make it work… so we’ll see.
We also brought some of our homebrews for a little Taste Testing by the Guild & though we only had about 5 or 6 subjects stop by, they all really liked our Bourbon Barrel Porter & Winter Warmers. We also got to meet a few more members that we hadn’t before… including one gentleman that lives a street away from me there in the Presidio. Small world here in San Francisco. After the meeting, I congratulated Kevin in person on his crowdfunding & let him know that we look forward to working with him… and then the President of the Guild (Chris) invited us to have a drink at Steep Brew a block away, where we shot the sh*t for a bit and… honestly, drank a little water for the drive over to Izzy’s place. Don’t drink & drive!!!
Wednesday morning, we woke up again dark & early to help out with another big batch at Elevation 66 Brewing with Super Dave & Big Ben. With our experience, we’re getting more & more duties to do… almost to a point where they are just kind of telling us where to attach the hoses, etc. while they watch. Obviously they’re still doing a lot of the hands-on stuff when it comes to the actual beer, but we’re doing some good cleaning… and a lot of heavy lifting when it comes up. Still, we’re learning so much… and I’m always excited to help out… even at 5 AM. Let’s see… one different thing this time was that I was a part of my first transfer from the fermentor to one of the storage tanks that they have for the time from the beer is ready, until they have a tap ready for it. Since business is kinda boomin’, they go through beer pretty quickly (especially their IPA & vanilla stout) but we got to see how the transferring & storage is done. It’s pretty much what you would expect… but here are a few pictures anyway…

Cleaning the fermenter...

Some spent grains for making bread
to share with Super Dave & Big Ben

Jack in the Box afterwards...
Not sure if it's art...
or just a very delicious new food item
Anyway, that was the groovy past… 30 hours or so in our little world. A fellow homebrewer’s dream came true, Terrible Lizard’s first official brew is coming soon, rave reviews from our homebrew by the Guild, drinks with the Presidents, helped with a legitimate batch of award-snubbed IPA, and all the time networking with some great brewers & overall great people! Oh… and I get to spend time with my ladyfriend & enjoy her company as well. I think she really likes me… and that’s good… because I kinda like her too. Have a great day everybody!!!

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