Southwest Brewing News October/November 2013 : Page 1
NORTHWESTERN EXPOSURE: Craft Beer Expands in Arkansas (L-R) J.T. Wampler, owner/brewer of Tanglewood Branch Beer Co., Ben Mills, Brewer at Fossil Cove Brewing, Jesse Core, owner/brewer of Core Brewing are key participants in the expansion of craft beer in northwest Arkansas. PHOTO COURTESY OF J.T. WAMPLER, BY, DARREN MORRISSEY AND COURTESY OF CORE BREWING By Darren Morrissey r a beer has been raft sl to come to slow A Arkansas. For m many years, central A Arkansas was the ep e epicenter of attention boa bo boasting four breweries while northwest Arkansas had a lone outpost in Hog Haus Brewing (formerly Ozark Mountain Brewing). Recently things have changed. The corner of the state formerly known only for w Razorbacks and Wal-Mart is now a budding craft beer destination with seven breweries and an eighth opening before the end of the year. Who are these pioneers is blazing an ale trail and why is this part of the state exploding with good beer? SWBN explores three of the leaders. ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM Tanglewood Branch The biggest landmarks in Fayetteville are the University of Arkansas and the nearby “Square,” a small town staple where the city used to be centered. Head south of the Square about a mile and you’ll find Tanglewood g Branch Beer Company Compa in a converted convenience conven store. Owner/ Brewer Brewe J.T. Wampler wanted to open ope a true neighborhood bar, a place patterned after the traditional tradit British pub where families fami came to socialize with their neighbors. A native of northwest n Arkansas from nearby nea Kingston, Wampler was wa only introduced to homebrewing ho in 2008. He brewed at home and then th worked at nearby Hog H Haus when they were w in-between full-time brewers. This experience spurred the desire brewery of his own. hd i to open a b Appropriately enough, Wampler left a career See Exposure p. 5 I ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM By Bev Blackwood II t is often said that you should never make a hobby your work, because it takes all the fun out of it. That said, there are a number of homebrew shop owners across the Southwest that respectfully disagree. “Turning something that we enjoyed as a hobby into a business seemed like the direction that we wanted to move in,” Dave Knott of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s High Gravity Brewing comments. “The suggestion of opening a homebrew shop was a joke at first, but then we started to think about it seriously, and we talked ourselves into it.” Aside from earning a living, among the criteria he and his wife had for making the change were: “We could wear a T-shirt and shorts, have beer on tap and take our bird to work with us.” They didn’t start without some See Homebrewer p. 3 From the Editor .................................. 2 Event Calendar ....................................4 Homebrew News ..................................6 Directories & Maps .........................12-15 Nevada ..........................8 Oklahoma ......................9 Arkansas .......................9 New Mexico ................. 10 Southern California ..... 16 San Diego .................... 17 S/C/E Texas ................. 18 Austin .........................20 N/W Texas ................... 21 Central Arizona ...........22 Northern Arizona ........23 Southern Arizona ........23
Homebrewer To Homebrew Shop Owner
Bev Blackwood II
It is often said that you should never make a hobby your work, because it takes all the fun out of it. That said, there are a number of homebrew shop owners across the Southwest that respectfully disagree. "Turning something that we enjoyed as a hobby into a business seemed like the direction that we wanted to move in," Dave Knott of Tulsa, Oklahoma's High Gravity Brewing comments. "The suggestion of opening a homebrew shop was a joke at first, but then we started to think about it seriously, and we talked ourselves into it." Aside from earning a living, among the criteria he and his wife had for making the change were: "We could wear a T-shirt and shorts, have beer on tap and take our bird to work with us." They didn't start without some reservations though. "All of the shop owners that we talked with before opening our store told us not to quit our day job." He smiles, "We quit our day job and started a homebrew shop anyway."
Scott Birdwell of DeFalco's Home Wine and Beer Supply in Houston, Texas made a quick transition from customer to store owner, starting work there as a part-timer after only his second batch of homebrew and becoming the owner of the store within two and a half years. That was in 1980. "I've been [at DeFalco's] for over 35 years now. It's put a roof over my head, fed me and my family for that time [and] most importantly, it's kept me out of having to find a "real job" since Jimmy Carter was president," he laughs.DeFalco's has been the nexus of Houston craft brewing throughout that time. Birdwell has seen a lot of homebrewers who went on to be professionals pass through his shop. "At last count, I think we had mentored about 40-50 professional brewers and eight-12 professional winemakers," he states proudly.
Having successful customers can also be rather bittersweet according to Kevin Davis of Southwest Grape and Grain in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "It is very satisfying to see people grow and succeed at something they love. It is always a little sad too, because the brewers who go pro were always doing a lot of brewing, so we got to see them quite often in the brew shop," he wistfully observes. "Once they go pro, they don't have much time for homebrewing, so we don't get to visit with them as often as we'd like. But as a homebrew shop guy, I am always visiting our local breweries and that's when we get to catch up on old times."
The recent expansion of craft brewing across the country begs the question of why most shop owners never went into business as brewers themselves.Brenden Stubblefield, owner of Texas Brewing in Haltom City, outside Fort Worth, Texas briefly contemplated brewing as a career."I did a lot of research and was seriously considering opening a brewpub or brewery, but I was sick and tired of going to crappy homebrew stores that I couldn't get sanitizer or Crystal 60 [malt.] So I took it upon myself to open the best homebrew store possible, one that I would like to shop [at]." For others, like Stu Hutchinson, the owner of Home Brew Party in San Antonio, it's about avoiding the daily grind a brewery would demand. "Making the exact same beer time after time requires an attention to detail that I just don't have,"hutchinson remarks. "I like to be spontaneous with my brewing and enjoy being surprised with the results.
Discovering what's new and interesting comes with the territory when you own a homebrew shop. "One of the most enjoyable parts of owning a homebrew shop is getting first crack at all the latest gadgets, ingredients and goodies," notes Andy Sparks of The Home Brewery in Fayetteville, Arkansas. That in-depth product knowledge is something that customers expect from a homebrew store."When someone comes to the shop their level of brewing knowledge might be zero but it might be one of the local professional brewers," Sparks states. "We have to be prepared to help everyone so every staff member must be very knowledgeable about all aspects of brewing beer."
Every homebrew shop nurtures its own special culture, which is often reflected in the homebrew clubs that call the shop "home." Jon Denman, whose shop Backyard Home Brewers and Education Center in Humble, Texas hosts the Rogue Brewers Coalition, describes the club as: "A fun group of people that feel the same way as we do: get people drinking better beer." Up in Tulsa, the club ties go deeper as Dave Knott's wife, Desiree, was the president of the Fellowship of Oklahoma Ale Makers (FOAM) from 2006 - 2009 and organizes the club's annual FOAM Cup competition.Houston's Foam Rangers call DeFalco's home and despite referring to them as "a bunch of bozos" Scott Birdwell remains the original member of the club and proudly carries the title of Bozo Head of Special Events.
The transition from hobby to business can be quite a challenge, as Dave Knott comments, "Homebrewing is a very small niche hobby store, and anyone getting started needs to have patience, and keep in mind that they will be creating a lot of their customers from scratch." Jeffrey Haines, of Brewers Connection in Arizona definitely didn't get into the business for the money. "I've stuck with it all these years for my love of the hobby, or as I like to refer to it as, the art of home fermentation.I took a drastic pay cut to be the owner of the Brewers Connection, and still to this day make less then I did with my corporate job, but I'm glad I have stuck with it." Jon Denman concurs, "Make sure your heart is in it. If brewing beer is not a passion, your customers will know. Make everyone a priority and make their day better than it was before they walked into your store."
Andy Sparks' view encapsulates what many say makes a local homebrew shop an asset to the surrounding brewing community."Homebrew shops are like incubators for beer lovers. It's one thing to know you like pale ales, it's another to educate yourself on pale ales to the point [where] you can craft one yourself. We help create passionate customers with educated palates that crave fresh beer." Making your hobby into a career may not be for everyone, but homebrewers and pro brewers alike owe a debt to the entrepreneurial spirit that keeps the beer (and creativity) flowing.
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Homebrewer+To+Homebrew+Shop+Owner/1527378/178178/article.html.
Craft Beer Expands in Arkansas
(L-R) J.T. Wampler, owner/brewer of Tanglewood Branch Beer Co., Ben Mills, Brewer at Fossil Cove Brewing, Jesse Core, owner/brewer of Core Brewing are key participants in the expansion of craft beer in northwest Arkansas.
Craft beer has been slow to come to Arkansas. For many years, central Arkansas was the epicenter of attention boasting four breweries northwest Arkansas had a lone outpost in Hog Haus Brewing (formerly Ozark Mountain Brewing). Recently things have changed. The corner of the state formerly known only for Razorbacks and Wal-Mart is now a budding craft beer destination with seven breweries and an eighth opening before the end of the year. Who are these pioneers blazing an ale trail and why is this part of the state exploding with good beer? SWBN explores three of the leaders.
The biggest landmarks in Fayetteville are the University of Arkansas and the nearby “Square,” a small town staple where the city used to be centered. Head south of the Square about a mile and you’ll find Tanglewood Branch Beer Company in a converted convenience store. Owner/ Brewer J.T. Wampler wanted open a true neighborhood place patterned after the traditional British pub where families came to socialize with their neighbors. A native of northwest Arkansas from nearby Kingston, Wampler was only introduced to homebrewing in 2008.
He brewed at home and then worked at nearby Hog Haus when they were in-between fulltime brewers.This experience spurred the desire to open a brewery of his own.
Appropriately enough, Wampler left a career in photojournalism to open a brewpub where he could educate the locals in craft beer while providing a welcoming atmosphere.
Every Wednesday on Cask Conditioned Ale night, a new cask of “real ale” is introduced to give patrons a taste of classic beer styles. The beers at Tanglewood Branch lean toward British styles with a traditional pale ale, IPA, and porter in the regular rotation, but also include some Belgians and interesting ones like a sweet potato stout and a brew made with locally grown basil thrown into the mix.Tanglewood Branch currently uses a onebarrel brewery providing small but constantly rotating batches of beer. Wampler has a patient attitude toward expansion stating, “We want to grow, but not at the expense of what we’ve already gained.” He further explains the mission of Tanglewood Branch as being “…a great place for families to enjoy themselves in a chill environment while enjoying craft beer responsibly.”
Just north of the campus in Fayetteville you’ll find Fossil Cove Brewing. Fossil Cove is a production brewery started in June of 2012 by Ben Mills. Mills was born in Colorado, but finished high school in Gravette, Arkansas before starting college at Arkansas Tech. Mills looked for a way to put his biology degree to use doing something he loved, and found brewing. He attended classes at UC Davis while also working stints at the Silverton Brewery in Silverton, Colorado. While working there, he found an ad for a used fourbarrel brewhouse from a foreclosed brewery in Washington. He bought the brewhouse and equipment and began a search for a location in Fayetteville. Mills was ready to return home and felt that northwest Arkansas was ready for a new brewery. Fossil Cove opened in 2012 serving mostly Belgian-style beers out of its tasting room. They have since signed with Arkansas Craft Beer Distributors to get their beer out to accounts around Arkansas. Fossil Cove quickly outgrew its four four-barrel fermenters and has expanded to include four 10-barrel fermenters. Plans for the brewery include installing a bottling line and upgrading to a 10-barrel brewhouse. Though a production brewery, the tasting room is an important part of Fossil Cove. Mills has worked with local food trucks to provide food for his customers. In addition, he introduced the first “Randall” to Arkansas that is used to infuse new flavors to his draft beers. When asked about his greatest achievements so far, Mills noted his expansion within the first six months of opening, signing with a distributor and “bringing craft beer to Arkansas and educating the people here on what good beer is.” Also on his list of accomplishments is collaborating with other brewers on experimental beers like the recent sour mash beer brewed with local homebrewing podcaster James Spencer. When asked why he chose northwest Arkansas for his brewery, Mills replied, “I graduated high school from Gravette and have a lot of family here. I also have always wanted to return if I could to work. Not to mention the awesome outdoor activities that Arkansas has to offer.”
Everyone has heard the inspiring brewery story where the brewer starts with a small system and slowly works his way up to progressively larger systems until he becomes a regional influence. Jesse Core decided to use his business experience and ambition to skip some of those steps. About halfway between Fayetteville and the Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, you’ll find Core Brewing and Distilling. Core opened late in 2010 on a small pilot brewery and served its beers at a single location to get feedback on the beer and recipes. Based on this research, a much larger facility was opened in 2011 to lay the foundation for Core Brewing as a regional player. Jesse Core drew not only on his 20+ years of brewing experience, but also his MBA before bringing Core Brewing to life.Core worked across the country as a software developer, but chose to return home when he realized his dreams of opening a brewery. He felt that Arkansans needed a local brewery to call their own and wanted to win their support one beer at a time. Growth came quickly for Core, as the team has been busy adding fermenters to their 25-barrel brewhouse. After only a few years they are already working to bring Core beers to the rest of Arkansas and are looking at other markets in neighboring states. For a company based on growth and volume, Core makes sure they stay grounded in their goal. “I will not expand this company just to expand. Quality and customer service are our primary objectives, period.”
What Lies Ahead?
The main theme of the new brewers seems to be a desire to do what they love in the place they are from. All want to produce a quality product for friends and neighbors whether they be next door or across the state. When asked the future of craft beer in northwest Arkansas the answers were varied, but had a common theme. Jesse Core summed it up by saying, “We Arkansans love beer and love buying local, period. We are very proud of being from Arkansas and buying our local product just makes sense. Being as proud as we are, the product needs to be excellent. There is plenty of room in Arkansas for breweries that are committed to making top-tier product. I always enjoy talking with others about opening a brewery in our area.It is pretty easy to find me... I am usually in the tasting room! Cheers!” Ben Mills notes, “I believe that NWA (northwest Arkansas) will continue to grow and thrive. Of course I also think that in the next few years as new breweries open, there will come a time when there is a selection process and some will continue to thrive and others will go by the wayside based on many factors seen and unseen.” J.T. Wampler at Tanglewood Branch summed it up best: “The explosion of breweries in NWA is great. Time will tell if the market will sustain all of us. I hope we all have long and storied futures in NWA.Personally I think we’ll all survive if we stay true to the beer. It’s all about the beer after all.”
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Northwestern+Exposure/1527379/178178/article.html.