Southern Brew News June/July 2014 : Page 1
Good Things Happening
Good People brewer Jason Malone with first cans and first bombers ever produced in the state of Alabama. JASON MALONE PHOTO BY BILL PLOTT, BACKGROUND ZANDA.COM
Five years isn’t a real biggie on the anniversary celebrations list, but for Good People Brewing Co. In Birmingham, 2013 marked several major milestones.
“This year we will produce between 10,000 and 12,000 barrels. We can probably get out 15,000 barrels. Back in the day, it was more like 200-250 barrels,” said co-owner Michael Sellers.
When Sellers and partners Rick Schultenover and Jason Malone decided to put their home brewing skills on a career path in 2008, they couldn’t have envisioned today’s 25,000-square-foot building with 12 fermenters. To get started they rented the space abandoned by Southside Cellar Brewing Co. In 2000. “The place had been uninhabited for about five years,” said Malone. “To say it was in disarray would be a vast understatement.”
Scavenging abandoned Southside Cellar equipment and adding new stuff as they could, the guys went to work. It was arduous, especially for Malone. The brew house was on the second floor of a building with no elevator. He had to haul 100-pound sacks of grain up metal stairs by hand. That was after he had used a hand cart to transport the bags through a 100-yard labyrinthine cellar from the loading dock.
“Now breweries don’t start like that anymore,” laughed Sellers. “It was big day when we got our forklift. We thought we had arrived.”
The first kegs of Good People Pale Ale were tapped by two local restaurants in July 2008. Next up was an American Brown Ale and an IPA.
Two years later they acquired the current space at 114 14th Street South, a site adjacent to the newly developed Railroad Park. The expansion was exciting but also a little scary. But to make the move, the brewery had to actually shut down for several weeks.
“We tried to build up as much inventory as we could,” said Malone shortly after the transition. “We brewed a lot of Pale Ale and Brown Ale in anticipation of the down time."
As new equipment came in, Good People got back on track and by the fall of that year had its full flight of regulars available again—Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Snake Handler Double IPA, Hitchhiker IPA and Mumbai Rye.
With room for expansion, the brewery quickly began filling up the space. They now have 12 fermenters, including two 120-barrel units.
The new location and expanded capacity led to a couple of groundbreaking packaging moves.
In November 2010, they discovered a quirk in Alabama law that allowed one geographic location – Coosa County, about 60 miles south of Birmingham down U.S. Highway 280 – to sell 22-ounce bombers. Elsewhere in the state the maximum size for a beer container was 16 ounces.
Malone began producing his County Line small batch series. Each bottle had to be hand-filled and labeled, a labor intensive process that made the batches much smaller than he wanted. The bottles were delivered to Moseley’s Exxon convenience store in the community of Kellyton and each time sold out within hours.
State law has since changed, and all Alabama breweries are turning out beers in bombers.
In February 2011 Good People became the first micro in the Southeast to can beer, sending the distributor pallets of the Brown Ale and IPA. The event also gave the brewery two firsts at home. Because of closings in other cities, it became the oldest brewery in Alabama at the young age of three. More notable, when the Brown and IPA rolled off the conveyor belt they became the first beers ever canned in the state.
Good People’s next innovation came in 2012 when the Birmingham- Shuttlesworth International Airport underwent a $201 million expansions. Among the eateries on the new concourse was a Good People bar and restaurant. One of the first thing visitors to the city would see is the Good People logo and a bar with four rotating taps.
Good People’s success has mirrored that of Free the Hops, the grassroots organization that brought about raising Alabama’s beer abv level from 6% to 14.9%. FTH also succeeded in getting legislation passed to allow 22-ounce bombers and tasting rooms at breweries. Good
People was there, hand in glove, through all of those campaigns.
“When we first started we kind of paralleled Free the Hops. That helped us a lot and their growth was beneficial to us as well as more breweries came on line and opened up. Then, the Brewery Modernization Act allowed people to come into the breweries and sample the product,” said Sellers.
As they moved into the new location Good People anticipated the taproom possibility. They installed a long bar and tables in the front of the facility and a bigger bar in the warehouse where all of the tanks were set up.
Already popular, the tasting room became even more so when Regions Park was built across the street last year. The facility is home to the Class AA Birmingham Barons baseball team. Dozens of fans now pop into the brewery before going to the game or for a nightcap afterward.
“We’ve built a pretty strong relationship with the Barons,” said Sellers. “Their first press conference to introduce the new players was held at the brewery. They come over and hang out with us. They do meetings at our place. It’s kind of extension of us and we’re an extension for them, on a personal and professional level.”
Jonathan Nelson, general manager of the Barons, said the club’s relationship with the brewery started even before the stadium was completed.
“Our partnership with Good People actually started before construction, and they really helped us during the entire construction process. They hosted numerous Barons events such as our annual World Series party, meetings, luncheons and our team media luncheon prior to the season opener,” he said. “It was only fitting that when we clinched the Southern League championship that our entire team celebrated it with our Good People ‘family’ at the brewery.”
The ball club’s relationship with Good People has included Birmingham’s other breweries. Beer from Avondale and Cahaba was also available at the ballpark last season as well as concessions by local restaurants such as Dreamland BBQ. None of Birmingham’s breweries serve food, but all have built symbiotic relationships with local food trucks that set up outside the breweries for special events.
As Good People has grown, so has beer culture in Birmingham.
“The beer drinkers have changed,” said Sellers. “It used to be beer enthusiasts; now it’s everybody. Most interesting, too, is that there are really two markets. You still have your enthusiastic vocal minority Everybody still looks to those people for direction, to balance new beers with flagships. They’re the people who know your brand, your innovative nature, that sort of thing.
“That was the base that kind of shaped us as a brewery. As they matured and moved on to say, sours or whatever, they brought the masses behind them. You have to be cognizant of two different segments.”
Although they started as homebrewers in Sellers’ garage, he has left the brewing end altogether. Now, he handles the marketing, saying he finds it as fascinating as he did hands-on brewing. Malone is the head brewer. The other partner, Schultenover, is in Nashville and not involved in the day-today operation.
What’s up next for Good People? Expanding markets. The product is currently available throughout Alabama but only in Nashville outside the state. A broader Southeastern presence will be coming.
Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Good+Things+Happening/1732163/212835/article.html.
The doors have been open nearly a year now at Burial Beer Company in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood. The taproom is intimate and warm, despite the fact that the walls are adorned with farm tools, including a full-sized scythe, which sits above one of the doorways. But the idea of the afterlife isn’t exactly what owners Doug and Jess Reiser, and Tim Gormley had in mind when they started the brewery.
“Burial, for some, is a necessary step to reach the afterlife. At Burial, we see it as a celebration of life, of the cyclical nature of harvest and of the brewing process. What better way to celebrate than with a beer?,” says Doug. “We are owner-built, ownerbrewed and owner-run.”
The three East Coasters met in Seattle and immediately hit it off. While the idea of starting a brewery in Asheville came to them quickly, the planning for it took nearly five years.
While in Seattle, Doug and Tim homebrewed together and began developing some of the initial recipes that appear at the brewery today. Gormley gained commercial brewing experience while working for washington’s Lazy Boy Brewing and Sound Brewery. Reiser, by trade, isn’t a brewer. But as a lawyer, he has long represented craft breweries, mostly in Washington and Louisiana, and is very familiar with both the brewing process and with what it takes to start a brewery. Reiser also owns a small business focusing on electronic data collection and analysis.
The long term vision for Burial is to be a farmhouse taproom and production facility. Owners Doug and Jess Reiser intend to live on the land and run the brewery. In the short term, the brewery is a great experiment in tweaking recipes and honing in styles to support the farmhouse vision. This is apparent in several of the brewery’s seasonal and core lineup of beers: Hayknife Saison, Reaper Triple, Grinder Coffee Saison, and Drawknife Dubbel. “We brew traditional styles with a twist.” says, co-owner, Jess Reiser.
Compared to all Asheville breweries, Burial is the smallest. But this is by design. The brewery only utilizes a one barrel pilot system to brew, with the occasional bigger batch done in collaboration with other local breweries. But, the ability to brew on a small batch system provides the a lot of flexibility in brewing new beers and tweaking old ones.
“It is great having that flexibility,” says Gormley. “The freedom to brew what we want is something we take seriously.” That flexibility has led the brewery to brew nearly forty different beers since opening, not including collaborations.
And collaboration is a big tenant of Burial. Since opening, Burial has collaborated with Asheville Brewing on Black Ink Cascadian Dark Ale and Esprit Sauvage Saison Imperial, Altamont Brewing on Burnpile Doppelbock, Hi-Wire Brewing on Firebreather Barrel-Aged Belgian Strong Ale, and Oskar Blues in Brevard on Voter Fraud Dark Session Ale. While that might seem like a lot in only its first year of operation, the Burial owners believe that collaboration is the best way to learn.
“When we started brewing, we always felt it was important to invite other minds to brew day. Everyone has an opinion about taste, whether they are a brewer or not.
And so began our obsession with collaborative brewing,” Doug says. And it isn’t just about taste either according to him. “We think local collaboration improves what Asheville beer has to offer.” Aside from collaborating with local breweries, Burial believes in partnerships with other local small businesses. “Supporting one another in our community, is what makes the city of Asheville so special and at the end of the day, supporting small businesses is what makes us all successful.” says Jess. Burial also partners with local farmers who feed the spent grain to their livestock, as well as Riverbend Malt House, French Broad Chocolates, Wandering Roots Farms, Vortex Doughnuts, Farm and Sparrow Bakery, Counter Culture Coffee, local farmers markets, SouthYeast Labs and many more.
Being small is not only advantageous to the brewery, but also to patrons. While the taproom is currently only open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the brewery’s flexibility allows it to continually offer something different every day. The owners refer to this as “experimental beer drinking.” The brewery pours special releases almost every weekend and there are some experimental variances between batches in using malts, hops, and adjuncts. According to Doug, “Consistency is very important to us, especially once we are brewing on a large production scale, but for now, we want feedback.”
Having now been open a year, the brewery still looks to the future in opening a farmhouse brewery outside of Asheville. The search is ongoing to find the perfect piece of property. Being picky is very important as the land will not just house the brewery, but will be a place to grow hops and other ingredients to be used in the beers that Burial produces. And this grand vision is getting closer to becoming a reality.
The brewery has recently purchased an American-made 10-barrel brew house. It is also implementing a barrel program, as well as expanding the taproom and its hours of operation to accommodate more people at the brewery every week. Burial also expects to begin producing limited release packaged beers that feature full illustrations on the label by late summer/early fall of 2014.
The brewery will also be celebrating its first anniversary on June 14, and plans to release its first ever bottle to commemorate the occasion. There will be a limited amount of these 750ml bottles and they will feature a full illustration by Minneapolis artist David Paul Seymour. The first 20 people who purchase a bottle will also receive a free limited edition print of the label artwork signed by the artist.
Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Burial+Beer/1732167/212835/article.html.