In a moment of weakness, Eric over at HolzBrew thought it would be a good idea to interview us about the process of starting a brewery. Eric soon realized the folly of this interview request, but nevertheless he followed through with it.
Read the interview in its entirety. Do it, you big pansy.
You didn’t even click on the link. Pansy.
The weeks that we don’t brew are inevitably worse. I think brewing has become something of a weekly catharsis for us, a way to regroup and pour ourselves out into something that we are passionate about.
But why exactly? There’s an obvious social angle to all that we do, which is great. But I also think there is something about brewing that appeals to all types of people. Brewing addresses both art and science. Spontaneity and spreadsheets. It appeals to my right brain and Jeff’s [large] left brain. And Joel’s thumbs.
Some fodder as we eagerly await another Monday.
First, let the record show that we are still technically homebrewers. But after being entrenched in the homebrewing culture for a few years now, and after having some exposure to the professional brewing culture as well, we thought it might be interesting to point out one of the fundamental differences between the two. There are obviously more differences, some of which I’m sure we will probably learn the hard way.
While we homebrew (only brewing small batches and never selling anything), we approach the art with a focus on the future, specifically commercial production. What does this mean? Realistically we will only be able to launch with a few beers (we are targeting two), and so we need those two beers to be as good as they can possibly get.
Homebrewing traditionally has been a bastion of experimentation and creative expression. Charlie Papazian’s phrase, “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew,” has become a rallying cry to many homebrewers. Homebrewers embrace the unexpected and even seek it out in their beers.
We, however, have been brewing the same couple beers with only minor tweaks in controlled environments for years now. After becoming relatively comfortable with an initial recipe, it has been our blessing and curse to massage every last drop of goodness out of that recipe that we can. We brew the same IPA, over and over, trying to get it one iota closer to where we want it to be. Once we’re past the concept phase, we brew for consistency, not creativity.
Most commercial breweries (even craft breweries) deal with this same truth. It isn’t uncommon for a particular beer to be 70-80% of a craft brewery’s sales. Think Fat Tire from New Belgium. Or closer to home, 420 from Sweetwater. In those cases, the time for experimentation are indeed over, and consistency is the key to success.
That’s not to say that the two viewpoints are mutually exclusive. This great article points to the fact that many craft breweries are still rooted in homebrewing:
?I?d say over 90 percent of small brewers I talk to today have roots in home brewing,? says Papazian, who now serves as president of the Brewers Association, a trade group. ?The creativity and innovation they?ve brought to the business has been amazing. The American wheat beers. The fruit beers, the honey beers, the chocolate beers. They were all homebrews first.?
In fact, much of the craft beer revolution we’ve experienced in the U.S. grew out of a response against the bland macro lagers. Creativity is a natural part of this uprising. But once you make it, you need to make it consistently or you’ll be going home.
Brewing for consistency can wear on you. We obviously look forward to the day when actual production will free up our homebrewing to experiment more (time permitting). But for now, we’ve embraced this necessary dichotomy at Monday Night Brewery. We work hard to create not great beers, but consistently great beers.
Thoughts from any homebrewers or professional brewers out there? We’d love to hear them.
We’re going to try a little something new here at MNB. It’s called empowerment. Jeff, being the unwieldy CEO, isn’t too keen on the idea, but he doesn’t know how to delete blog posts. So here’s the drill. If you want to write something about MNB or your experience at MNB, shoot me an email. We’ll make it happen. This first installment in Monday Night Perspectives is brought to you by Colin Ake, the lovable but ultimately dimwitted regular. Colin decided to take on the persona of Joel’s new outsourced replacement, Mohindar.
This brewing recap, much like Joel’s former role with Monday Night Brewery’s operations side, has been outsourced. My name is Mohindar, and I spent all night cleaning stuff and doing Jeff’s beckoning. Brewing was wet. We tried our newest recipe – Acid Rain IPA (if any of you marketing types have a clever name for this, that’d be ideal). It should be a little more… acidic than our previous IPAs, with a touch of that one leaf that fell into the boiling wort.
Joel showed up tonight, but he mostly stood around looking useless, checking his iPhone. He mumbled something about “not being sick anymore” since he saw that poll on the website, but since I’m getting a paycheck, it’s TOO LATE, sucker. Little does Jonathan know, but Jeff is having me slowly overtake his duties as well. I’m currently reading two books: Being an Intemperate Asshole for Dummies, and How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is Jonathan’s unique combination of the two techniques that has brought some of the “feel” to Monday Night Brewery’s branding, but Jeff told me he thinks it will be REALLY easy to duplicate.
Most of our so-called “fans” stood in the garage and drank beer. Pansies. The real hardcore, come-almost-every-week guys, Colin and Nathan, stood outside in the rain and watched. Colin even washed something, being the swell guy that he is. Scott washed at least two things, which is obviously him just trying to win my job.
As a budding outsourced brewer that does simple tasks like Joel and Jonathan, I am humbled to be a part of Monday Night Brewery, no matter how little money I make. I hope one day to be trusted with the responsibility of manning the Monday Night Brewery call center. Soon, all you’ll have to deal with is the polite and kind Jeff, and won’t have to deal with the bumbling Jonathan. You already don’t have to deal with Joel.
Also, Jeff offered a $500 reward to whoever gets him to start using Twitter. If you read this and get Jeff on Twitter, I was a part of that and expect at LEAST half. Joel is finally on Twitter. We’ll see if he uses it.
I look forward to serving you some of our Acid Rain IPA sometime soon. Many blessings to you.