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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Slowing Down A Little

Yet again, I’ve been bad about keeping up with posts. My apologies to the 67 of you who check this site every day for enthralling information about Mad Haven.

I’ve done a lot of research, and met some very helpful people along the way. A lot of what I’ve learned has shown me that I have a lot to learn. Right now, I’m focussing on learning more about the beer industry and business in general, and more about every aspect of brewing. So the business planning has slowed down as I learn what I need to know to make this work. Hence the lack of posts.

Some things that have been happening:

  • The wedding beer service went splendidly. We went through 3 5-gallon kegs of my beer, plus a 5-gallon of Great Divide’s Samurai, in about 90 minutes. Even though the beer was unfiltered (the IPA had some nice hop and yeast floaties going on), and generally a little too foamy, people loved it. I had to go buy another 5-gallon keg, this time Great Divide’s Titan IPA, because we were out of beer. It was super super neat hearing total strangers talk about my beer, not realizing the bearded gentleman at the keg (me…) crafted their beverage by hand. It also helped that the wedding was for two Colorado College alums. My alma matter as well. People there know how to enjoy a good beer.
  • At the wedding, I made some great contacts. One person approached me about getting Mad Haven into CC alum events. That would be awesome.
  • On the other side of all this, I’m going to start writing a weekly blog post for RateBeer.com. More on this as I learn more.
  • I’m also going to start writing more on here about things I learn about brewing, as I learn them. I’d really like to learn more about yeast, and I’ll try to explain my findings. I’ve got a few new books and whatnot to help me on that journey.
  • And of course, I’m still brewing often. If you’re in Denver and want to join in a batch, please let me know.

Lastly, as always, if you have any questions about the beer industry at all, or want me to look into something specifically, leave me a note. If I can’t answer it, I’m sure I know someone who can.

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My Library

What my desk at home generally looks like

What my desk at home generally looks like

I like to read. I also like to buy books. I actually just bought a book on woodworking, so I could learn how to build a bookshelf to hold more books. That being said, I have a few brewing books. Some have left my house, destined for the shelves of others. A few of my basic brewing books are no longer here, as friends getting into brewing needed them more than I did. So here is a partial list of what I’ve got on my shelves. (If you click the images, they’ll take you to Amazon. I get a little kickback if you buy from that link.) The first few are brewing books, then some equipment stuff, followed by some brewing business books. There are of course magazines and websites. I subscribe to Brew Your Own, Zymurgy, and Beer Advocate. I also regularly check out byo.com, probrewer.com, beeradvocate.com, and the recipes on beertools.com. There are many more websites, one off calculators, random articles, blogs, etc. Check out the sidebar for some, or go to the google.

Designing Great Beers

Once you’ve moved past the basic “How do I brew” books, this is the Bible. It is written like a text book, which in this case is a good thing. There is very detailed information on every little step of the brewing process, from choosing your malt to water calculations. Definitely a go to book.

Extreme Brewing

I bought this one because it had some clone recipes of some breweries I really like, such as Dogfish Head, Avery, Allagash, and Russian River. They are mainly partial mash recipes, but they’re pretty cool. There are some interesting recipes, like a Chamomile Honey Wheat, Blood Orange Hefeweizen, etc. And some information on what it means to brew “extreme”. It’s a fun book for sure.

The Brew Master’s Bible

I honestly haven’t read too much of this one. My roommate bought it when he was starting to get into brewing. I think it’s supposed to be a pretty good getting-started style of book, but I haven’t had time to peruse it too thoroughly.

The Home Brewer’s Answer Book

This is a great resource book. Every once in a while, something weird happens. This book either has the answer, or enough of a base of an answer to let you ask a better question. It’s got “Oh no something went wrong” answers, as well as “Why the heck do they do things this way” answers. And a few things in between.

Brew Ware

Great “How to” book on making your own equipment. It has detailed instructions on making everything from a mash tun to a wort chiller, a full brewing system to a grain mill. Definitely a good purchase.

Brewing up a Business

This is my personal brewery business bible. If you want some warm fuzzy feelings about starting a brewery, read this book a few times. Sam is the poster boy of our industry, and this book is his “How to start with nothing and be awesome” book. It has lots of blank pages at the back for note taking. Most of mine are filled up now.

Starting Your Own Brewery

This is the Brewers Association’s guide. It’s got all the goods. Floor construction, marketing plans, stories from those who have been there, and a sample business plan. Sadly, there are a huge number of proofreading errors, which can get distracting. But overall, it’s a good book. I’m almost finished with it. There are some essays by some pretty heavy hitters, like Ray Daniels, John Hickenlooper (founder of Wynkoop and current mayor of Denver), and Sam Calagione, to name a few.

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Help Me Help You (Please dont sue me Mr. Cruise)

Help Me Help You (Please don't sue me Mr. Cruise)

Alternate titles:

  • How I got my first brewery job.
  • Where do I fit in?
  • Too many cooks in the kitchen make Mad Haven sell more beer.

I like to ask people what they think. I feel that the best way to be heard is to listen. I feel that by having open ears, eyes, and mind, you can truly learn what someone wants, and either give them that or fully understand how to explain your idea. This is one reason why I’m always asking for your ideas, advice, opinions, and votes. I also like to network. Not the Chamber of Commerce “Hello my name is” style of networking, where you hand out your business cards to everyone in the room and try to gauge how they can help you. I like the kind of networking where I get to know someone, become friends, and keep in touch. And hey, if it so happens that another friend can be of assistance to this new friend? Sweet. Connection made. You two go have fun.

What I’ve been learning with my non-stop talk about the brewery is that while everyone has their own aspirations, problems, whatever, a lot of people really like beer, and want to be involved somehow. It’s pretty awesome when I get a Facebook note from someone saying “Hey, we haven’t talked in 12 years, but my brother’s dog’s vet’s uncle’s best friend is an accountant who wants to work for you for beer”. Ok that hasn’t happened yet, but I’m waiting… Seriously though, the contacts, connections, and assistance that has been flowing from all corners of space and time has been amazing. Hopefully they’ll all be knocking on my door still when I start asking for money. Just kidding. Nah, I’m not kidding.

So here it is. How you can help:

  • If you have an idea about the brewery, beer, business, Denver, marketing, whatever, tell me!
  • If you give me an idea, don’t be offended if I don’t use it.
  • If I use your idea, give yourself a pat on the back, come have a drink with me, don’t ask to own half the company.
  • When I ask for advice, be honest. I can take the criticism, and in fact need to be knocked down a few pegs more often than not. Don’t blow rainbows up my.. just be honest.
  • When I ask for something specific, like, a lawyer, tell me everything you’ve ever learned about working with lawyers. Or give me  your friend’s number who does estate law. I bet she knows someone good, and I’ll help make the connection.
  • Spread the word. Talk about me. Talk about the brewery. The idea. The name. Talk about beer. Drink a beer. Buy me a beer! Try one of my beers. Just keep the conversation going. That helps more than you think.

That’s all nice and vague. When it comes time to open, I will need help. I’ll need help getting stickers out, inviting people to the opening day, building stuff, brewing, bottling, distributing, and a million other things. Seriously. If you want to help me make beer, come help. I won’t have any money to pay employees for quite a while, but I’d love to share some beer. You have no idea how much fun it is to give a beer you made to someone else. You seriously have to try it. It’s intoxicating. (No pun intended)

In the meantime, there are certain roles that I could use some help with. (There are certain roles with which I could use help – that’s for you, Erika)
Again, money will be tighter than tight for a while, so the people I’m looking for  need to be passionate about what they do, passionate about small business, passionate about beer, and comfortable taking little money and a lot of beer. Certain roles include financial, legal, engineering, construction / contracting, marketing (all of it: Ads, PR, Strategy, etc.), design (logos, branding, etc.), and a few thousand other things. If you or someone you know wants to help with these roles, leave a comment or shoot me an email, tweet, whatever. Business Plan guidance would also be very, very, very much appreciated.

Oh, and buy the beer. Drink Mad Haven.

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In the past few weeks, a lot of people have asked me how the brewery is coming along. Depending what day they asked, they got a very different answer. I’ve been telling people everything from “Awesome, we’ll be open by January if things go right” to “Slow and steady” to “We don’t really know what direction we’re going, so we need to figure that out before I can give you a definite answer.” They’re all true, too. Or they were when I said them.

So for those who have asked, and those who haven’t, here’s where we’re at: We’re still trying to figure out our direction, but things are going great, slow, and steady, and we’ll be open when things are ready.

Ok, that’s out of the way. Let’s get to recent events. Back in February, I posted something on Twitter and Facebook about a new goal I had. Obviously it was unrealistic and idealistic and straight up crazy, but here was said goal:

Goal tracking via social media..

Goal tracking via social media..

People scoffed. They said “Ok PJ, good luck with that..” But sometimes things happen in weird ways. Saturday was Great Divide’s 15th Anniversary Party. A month ago I helped Hilary create a beer for the party. We made a Dirty Blonde, named A Night With Pamela Anderson. And on June 7th, she made an appearance. She was a bit over carbonated, and ended up getting pulled after 10 minutes due to super foaminess, but we got to try her. She was on tap. This happened. Hello dream, thank you for coming true.

"Dirty Blonde" goes on tap

"Dirty Blonde" goes on tap

The whole party was overwhelmingly awesome. There were hundreds of people at Great Divide. The tap room, brew house, and parking lot were jam packed with beer lovers. 3 bands, 800-1000 people, a ridiculous number of different beers, food, and an amazingly gorgeous day. If you weren’t there, next time maybe you’ll listen.

There was lots of picture taking. I have a few to share, and MetroMix (titled Old Ruffians mix with dirty blondes) has another 80 or so, and the Gigbot Photobooth went a little crazy with the picture taking.

The crowd outside

The crowd outside

Anyway, not much else to tell. It was an awesome party, it was great to see my beer served to the public for the first time, and the shenanigans were delightful. To protect the innocent and not so innocent, those stories will remain off the public domain. Just call me Jafar and we’ll see what happens.

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This is a press release from Great Divide about their party this Saturday. I helped one of the people there (Hilary) brew a batch for the party, so you should all go and drink it. Ask for A Night With Pamela Anderson…

Brewery Celebrates Milestone With Limited-Release Beer, Party

Denver, CO—Great Divide Brewing Company, one of America’s most acclaimed microbreweries, will celebrate fifteen years in business on June 6, marking the occasion with a limited-release oak-aged double IPA and a party at the brewery featuring live music, food and a number of special beers.
In 1994, Colorado’s craft beer scene scarcely existed, but Brian Dunn recognized Denver’s potential to be a great beer city. Combining his business background with his passion for beer, which was developed through his international travels and his experience as a homebrewer, he decided to start a brewery. He set up shop in an abandoned dairy-processing plant at the edge of downtown Denver and began brewing the beers that, over the past fifteen years, have carried Great Divide Brewing Company to its status as one of America’s most decorated microbreweries and helped transform Denver into an international destination for beer lovers.
“It’s been a fantastic ride,” says Dunn. “We started out with two beers, doing everything by hand, and we’ve just grown and grown and grown. Just in the past year, we’ve added a state-of-the-art new bottling line, quadrupled our (admittedly small) barrel-aging program, opened a patio for the Tap Room, and released seven new seasonal beers, with more to come. We’re all having a ton of fun doing it, and looking back at how far we’ve come in fifteen years, I can’t even imagine what the next fifteen will bring.”
To celebrate this milestone, Great Divide will release 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double India Pale Ale. Based on the brewery’s most award-winning beer, Denver Pale Ale, this copper-hued treat is a celebration of everything Great Divide does best. Plenty of malty sweetness provides a backdrop for earthy, floral English and American hops, while French and American oak round off the edges and provide a touch of vanilla.
“We really think this beer sums up everything we’ve come to be known for over the past fifteen years,” says Dunn. “Like all of our beers, it will be assertive and flavorful but also balanced and drinkable, and it’s a combination of classic elements with more innovative touches.”
15th Anniversary, which is at 10.0% alcohol by volume and 90 International Bittering Units, will be available in 22-ounce bottles and on draft through August 1.
Great Divide will release 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double India Pale Ale at its 15th anniversary party, which will be held at the brewery on June 6 from 2-7 p.m. In addition to their first taste of the new beer, partygoers will get to enjoy delicious food, live music by Denver bands Dressy Bessy, the Swayback, and Young Coyotes, and plenty of other Great Divide beers, including some well-aged versions of old favorites and a number of small batches brewed just for this event. All of this merriment will be included in the ticket price of $20, and Great Divide will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and the Colorado Environmental Coalition.
“This party should be an equally great time for our devoted fans and anybody who just wants to spend a beautiful Denver afternoon with good music, good food and great beer,” says Dunn. “Come help us celebrate fifteen years and say cheers to many, many more.”
#######
15th Anniversary Double IPA

15th Anniversary Double IPA

Denver, CO—Great Divide Brewing Company, one of America’s most acclaimed microbreweries, will celebrate fifteen years in business on June 6, marking the occasion with a limited-release oak-aged double IPA and a party at the brewery featuring live music, food and a number of special beers.

In 1994, Colorado’s craft beer scene scarcely existed, but Brian Dunn recognized Denver’s potential to be a great beer city. Combining his business background with his passion for beer, which was developed through his international travels and his experience as a homebrewer, he decided to start a brewery. He set up shop in an abandoned dairy-processing plant at the edge of downtown Denver and began brewing the beers that, over the past fifteen years, have carried Great Divide Brewing Company to its status as one of America’s most decorated microbreweries and helped transform Denver into an international destination for beer lovers.

“It’s been a fantastic ride,” says Dunn. “We started out with two beers, doing everything by hand, and we’ve just grown and grown and grown. Just in the past year, we’ve added a state-of-the-art new bottling line, quadrupled our (admittedly small) barrel-aging program, opened a patio for the Tap Room, and released seven new seasonal beers, with more to come. We’re all having a ton of fun doing it, and looking back at how far we’ve come in fifteen years, I can’t even imagine what the next fifteen will bring.”

To celebrate this milestone, Great Divide will release 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double India Pale Ale. Based on the brewery’s most award-winning beer, Denver Pale Ale, this copper-hued treat is a celebration of everything Great Divide does best. Plenty of malty sweetness provides a backdrop for earthy, floral English and American hops, while French and American oak round off the edges and provide a touch of vanilla.

“We really think this beer sums up everything we’ve come to be known for over the past fifteen years,” says Dunn. “Like all of our beers, it will be assertive and flavorful but also balanced and drinkable, and it’s a combination of classic elements with more innovative touches.”

15th Anniversary, which is at 10.0% alcohol by volume and 90 International Bittering Units, will be available in 22-ounce bottles and on draft through August 1.

Great Divide will release 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double India Pale Ale at its 15th anniversary party, which will be held at the brewery on June 6 from 2-7 p.m. In addition to their first taste of the new beer, partygoers will get to enjoy delicious food, live music by Denver bands Dressy Bessy, the Swayback, and Young Coyotes, and plenty of other Great Divide beers, including some well-aged versions of old favorites and a number of small batches brewed just for this event. All of this merriment will be included in the ticket price of $20, and Great Divide will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and the Colorado Environmental Coalition.

“This party should be an equally great time for our devoted fans and anybody who just wants to spend a beautiful Denver afternoon with good music, good food and great beer,” says Dunn. “Come help us celebrate fifteen years and say cheers to many, many more.”

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Beer in Italia? I hope so

Beer in Italia? I hope so

PJ asked me to write a blog post about Italian beer because Emily and I are headed to Europe on Wednesday.  My response was, “Why? To say it’s terrible?” I don’t want to get into a fight with anyone about the merits (or lack thereof) of the three Italian national brews, but my opinion is that the three (Peroni, Moretti and Nastro Azzuro) are at the most, mediocre macrobrews.

I have tried to think if I know of any sort of craft brewing in Italy. I have not once heard of even homebrewing. However, I know a TON of Italians that make their own liquor. So if I had to sum it up in one extremely generalizing way, I’d say Italians know how to distill and ferment, but not brew.

So I have a challenge to propose to the field! Find me a micro or craft brewer in Italy and Emily and I will try to visit! Luckily we are also voyaging to other far reaches of Europe (and a little bit of Asia too!) so we will be able to delight in some delicious beer, but we’re also big on trying local fare. Leave any suggestions in the comments area and we’ll try to check it out.

Also, enjoy this lovely posting in Wikipedia about liquor consumption per capita around the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_alcohol_consumption

Oh Italy. Good thing I like wine too, eh?

[PJ’s Note: Let’s find them a LOT of breweries to stop by. Thanks G!]

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And how does that make you feel?

And how does that make you feel?

Have a seat. Let’s talk.

It’s been a great few days. Someone said that excitement and passion over a goal makes that goal happen faster (I think my mom said that last night). Well, I’m excited, and I’m passionate, and things are happening.

This is going to be a big post. I’ll start with the small stuff and grow from there. Side note: Anyone going to Beer Wars in Denver on Thursday? Andrew (you’ll find out who that is at the end) and I are going, and hopefully Kell will make it up as well. Let me know, we’ll grab a brew.

National Homebrew Competition

Beer judge. Better job than tan-line inspector.

Beer judge. Better job than tan-line inspector.

The NHC is under way! (http://www.beertown.org/events/nhc/) We brewed our IPA specifically for this competition. Timed it out, cleaned the bottles, made sure the caps were clean, and… rushed it. Ended up bottling it at 1.032 or so, meaning we bottled it with a lot of sugar still in the wort. What that means is rather than all the CO2 – yeast’s byproduct when converting sugar -> alcohol – escaping through the air lock, it was forced into solution in the closed container that is a beer bottle. What’s that mean? Something like this.

Ya.. it explodes unless you open it ridiculously slowly, and pour it into a few glasses to let the foam settle. We decided it wasn’t worth the almost 2 hour round trip drive to submit a beer that would drench the judges.

This weekend I received an email from our division’s coordinator, asking where the beer was. I explained, and she said she could add a special note saying “Open Slowly”, and meet her in Denver to drop off the brew. So I’m going to meet her tomorrow or Thursday, and submit the beer! I doubt we’ll win, but at least we’ll be in it still! It’s called “First Round Draft”. Good times.

Homebrew Shop

I couldnt find a picture of the shop... So here is my favorite grain: Dark Munich Malt

I couldn't find a picture of the shop... So here is my favorite grain: Dark Munich Malt

I mentioned this earlier, but I’ll recap anyway. Saturday, Dave and I went to Beer At Home in Englewood to pick up supplies for the Blonde Ale. We brought the new volcanic IPA with us, as well as a bomber (22 oz.) bottle of our previous batch. They. Loved. It. I can’t really say more than that. They were stunned at how tasty the beers were. Asked us all sorts of questions. Asked for more. They’ve always been respectful of us as customers, especially customers who appear to have some idea what we’re doing. But their attitude definitely shifted quite a bit. It was a really really good feeling, and one of the best receptions of the beer I’ve had to this point.

Speaking of the Blonde Ale, it ended up weighing in at 1.072 with 3-3.5 gallons. It’s gonna be a big bodied blonde.

Daniels College of Business

This is a fun one. Sunday, while brewing, I emailed a professor at the University of Denver’s (DU aka my college’s rivals) Daniels College of Business. I told him how I have these great ideas and drive to start a business, but no formal MBA-style business training. I asked if they ever lent students to small businesses to help with certain tasks, for class credit or whatever. I expected to hear back in 2-3 weeks, if at all. Three hours. Three hours, and I had an email back. He told me that they in fact have an entire program for just this scenario, and forwarded me on to the contact for that program. The next morning, this guy emailed me the application and some details.

The rules are simple. Four MBA students form a team, with the business owner / business contact joining occasionally, and help a new or growing business with three aspects of the business. An example would be the business plan, marketing plan, and sustainability plan. So, pretty much, I can get help in part of the planning that I’m not 100% confident in. Sold!

Twitter, the ultimate networking tool?

Its the Fail Whale!

It's the Fail Whale! (use twitter, it'll make sense)

I’ve been tweeting a lot. I’ve made some great connections with other like-minded individuals, in many different parts of the craft beer world. I helped out with some code at BeerNews.org, made some contacts in various industries, have some advice coming from experts in everything from branding to real estate, and am generally just spreading the word about the brewery. I micro-blogged the entire brewing process on Sunday, which you can see on my twitter page (http://twitter.com/hookedonwinter) and twitpic photo stream (http://twitpic.com/photos/hookedonwinter). This probably sounds like geek gibberish to a lot of you. That’s fine. Ask or explore or ignore it, you’ll learn about it eventually.

Mike

New Belgiums first system is behind the lady with the pretty gloves.

New Belgium's first system is behind the lady with the pretty gloves.

When I posted last week about looking for an engineer, my buddy Phill sent a note to some friends. Mike responded, and wants to help out. Mike is currently an engineering student who enjoys beer and long walks on the beach. Well, beer at least. Anyway, he’s going to help us figure out if designing and fabricating our own equipment will be cheaper than buying it used from various sources. I’m excited to work with him on this project.

[EDIT] Mike is no longer a student. The test he’s studying for is for work, not for school. Ooops! Also, he prefers long walks up steep rocks, though sunset walks along the surf are also appealing.

Andrew

Through another slightly random connection – Facebook message from a friend, Dan, from my high school years, who’s friend’s brother, Andrew, started a brewery in Brooklyn and now lives in Denver – I had the pleasure of meeting with Andrew last night at Great Divide. Andrew has a lot of experience with what I’m trying to do. He started a brewery from the ground up, worked on everything from cleaning the tanks to closing the sale, generally in the same day. We have a lot of talking and meeting and whatnot to do, but I’m very hopeful that our goals and Andrew’s goals are aligned. He’s interested in doing it all again, from the ground up, and I’m interested in having someone with that knowledge and experience be around all the time. Potentially a great partnership in the works. We’ll take it slow and make sure everything is in order, but keep an eye out for more about this.

That’s about it so far this week. It’s only Tuesday, so we’ll see what else is in store. Thanks for reading! Leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions, or just want your name to appear in the comments.

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