Posts Tagged ‘mad haven’


A lot has been in motion the past few weeks. A lot of it is sort of hush-hush right now, but here’s a brief overview to get you through the holiday season.

Business Plan

We’re working with two recent MBA grads. They are awesome. One is all up in the marketing side of things, and the other knows finances like I know.. Well, I think he knows finances better than I know anything. With their help, we hope to start presenting to investors in the next month or two. Pretty exciting stuff.

Unnamed Bar

A bar which I shall not name has recently approached us, inquiring if we’d like to open in what is essentially their back room. It’s a ridiculously good location, with great people, and a lot of possibilities. This is just in the talks, and might not ever move past that, but it’s really fun to think about. Right now, the plan is to ignore it as a possibility in the planning process, and if it comes through, so much the better. Don’t try to guess what bar it is. I won’t tell you. Sorry.


We’re going to meet with Josh Mishell in the first week or two of the new year to discuss branding for Mad Haven. Josh used to do branding for Flying Dog. He loves beer, knows his stuff, and we love hanging out with him. Great combination. I’m excited to see what we can come up with, channeling the crazy in my head through the awesome in Josh’s to make sweet sweet branding.


Mad Haven is being enjoyed by people more and more. Between office mates, bartenders, and that random guy on the corner (two truths and a lie, can you pick out the lie?), the Rye Dry Stout and Heartburn (the chili beer) are making their way across the lips of Denver. Check it out, we’re even on Untappd!


Right, brewing. That important little project. The past few batches haven’t gone so well, but I’m working on fixing all the things that went wrong. I think 4 years in a row of near-perfect results has caught up with me. Two batches in a row were infected – I’m pretty sure the latter was just infected by the former, and not a repeated process issue – and I had a stuck mash during a batch of Pam last week. It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it, right? I plan to brew a lot more of the Rye Dry, and a few batches of the Scotch Ale, as we cannot keep enough in supply.


I might be starting a Denver-based publication soon. No details yet, but it’s something I think Denver needs, and will enjoy. You know, because I’m not busy enough yet.

The Real World

Beyond all this fun news, I have an actual full time job. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a Front End Developer for MapMyFitness.com. It’s going great. I love the people I work with, the work itself is challenging and pretty forward-thinking, and it’s a very fast-moving environment.


That’s all for now. Please, keep reading, keep trying the beer, and keep giving your support, thoughts, opinions, and empty bottles. Have a great [insert your holiday of choice here] and an awesome New Year’s, and we’ll regroup in January.

And if you need a song to listen to, check out Your Humble Narrator by Two Cow Garage. It has nothing to do with this post at all, but it does have an awesome line: “The sun has a way of making us pay for our revelry-filled nights.”

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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 very first tap handle

My very first tap handle

I’m serving beer tonight at a college friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner. It’s sort of huge. I’m a wee bit nervous. Considering it’s the first “contract”, and the first time Mad Haven will be on the label, it’s a pretty momentous occasion.

So first, thanks, and Congratulations to Elizabeth and Raffaello.

The Beer

Kegging the Blonde

Kegging the Blonde

I’m bringing three cornelius kegs with me tonight. I’ve got a batch of the blonde (Pam, for those who know her), a batch of the IPA, and a batch of a ginger saison. A little about each.

The blonde is tasty, as usual. I wanted to make a few batches and blend them, but I ran out of equipment and time. She’s good though. I think she weighs in around 6% today. Clean, crisp, slightly malty, a little on the darker side. Pam is ready to show her stuff.

The IPA is really fun this round. It didn’t quite finish fermenting. Again, time issue. It got down to about 1.022, from 1.086. I believe that’s an 8.6% beer. If I had time, it would have weighed in at a super hot 10%. It was also dry hopping until last night. So we have a super fresh, refreshingly malty, delicious double IPA. I think I’m going to call this one Ice Tray IPA. When I hop it 8 times during the boil, I separate the hops out in an ice tray. Simple story for a good beer.

Lastly is the ginger saison. It’s a recipe out of that Extreme Brewing book (My Library). It’s slightly sour, which wasn’t exactly intentional, but it tastes pretty good. It’s a backup beer. Not my own recipe, and made with extract. Gotta love the quick brews!

The Kegs

My Wrench is too big

Typical problem this week

Typical problem this week

I have never had so much trouble with kegs as I did this week. Makes sense. I’m all nervous and rushing, and things get stuck. It started early in the week. I bought a new ball-lock cornelius keg, and couldn’t get the fittings off. You could smell the soda from the o-rings inside the posts. My wrench was just too big. Nothing was working. So I went to Ace and bought some tools. The fittings fell off on their own when I walked in with the big 7/8″ closed wrench.

Of course, in this process, I mixed up the posts. Last night, I put the gas disconnect on the liquid post, and the liquid disconnect on the gas post. Needless to say, that’s not how they’re supposed to work. Things got jammed, I sprayed myself with various chemicals, and started to freak out. Then I remembered my nice big 7/8″ closed wrench. Leverage is a super cool phenomenon. Popped those disconnects right off with some properly applied pressure.

Finally everything was in the right spot, and the liquids and gasses were flowing properly. I force carbonated the kegs, cleaned up, and went to bed. Added some more CO2 this morning, just to be safe. We’ll see what happens!

The Equipment

Serving cold beer at a park comes with a few challenges. I can’t bring my kegerator. I’d rather not rely on buckets of ice. The best option is the one breweries use at festivals: The Jockey Box (aka the Draft Box). I asked a few pros if I could borrow theirs, not expecting much. They’re expensive, and this is festival season. I found some great plans for building one, but with only a few days before the event, certain supplies would be hard to come by. My local homebrew shop came through on this one. I went in to gather supplies to build my own, and they offered theirs. Collateral? The promise that I bring it back. I love local.

Draft Box

Draft Box

It needed some cleaning. It needed some lovin. But it’s amazing. It has two lines, and uses a two-line plate chiller for the cooling element. I ran PBW through both lines for about 20 minutes, and then ran sani through as well. Worked beautifully. I didn’t have time to run beer through it, so fingers crossed!

The Tool Box

Sadly, I don’t have a picture of it. But I put together an “oh shit everything broke” tool box. It’s got various sizes and types of wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers. It’s got gas and liquid disconnects for ball- and pin-lock kegs. It’s got random fittings, an extra tap handle, direct taps, and a CO2 canister, just in case. It’s pretty sweet. There’s an extra CO2 tank there too. I hope I don’t have to touch any of it.

That’s it. I’m showing up tonight around 5:45. Hopefully everything goes well, the beer is perfect, and someone signs a blank check to open the brewery. Congrats again to Elizabeth and Raffaello, and thank you so much for giving me this opportunity!

(in other news, have you seen http://steakhouseorgaybar.com?)

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We have a website! And by website, I mean I put a link to this blog and an email address on one of the domains I bought. But now all those people I gave stickers to this weekend have somewhere to go. Check it out and be prepared for… nothing exciting at all. Logo design coming soon.

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Had to be a little less cliche with the image...

Had to be a little less cliche with the image...

Without hearing too much of the story behind the name, or any of the imagery in my mind, I’d like to know what you all think of when you hear / see the name Mad Haven Brewing Company.

Leave me a comment with anything that pops in your mind. Movies, songs, books, art, colors, some story from your past, or some random dream involving a cloud, I want it all.

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If you get bored reading about our naming dilemma, at least make sure to make it to the end of the post so you can take the poll.

Sign with no name

I had hoped that the perfect name would have fallen out of the sky and hit me in the face by now. Or that I would have let go and worked on other stuff and not still be worried about the name. But it’s become the main focus of this entire operation. I’m blaming my business plan slacking on the namelessness of the brewery. There, I said it. Responsibility shirked. Blame the muse of naming things. She doesn’t actually have a name. Ironic.

We’ve sort of narrowed down the theme of the name. That’s not true. We’ve sort of boiled down the entire naming conventions of breweries into a few themes, and haven’t gone past that. Narrowing entails removing choices. Boiling just condenses them.

The main themes of a brewery name, according to my non-statistical analysis of the 2007 list of breweries in operation with no follow up research as to the origins of the names:

  • Adjective / Adverb + Animal
    • Example: Flying Dog, Lost Duck, Blind Tiger, Gilded Otter, Angry Minnow
  • Somewhat to entirely random words with meaning to the owner(s) OR very much inside reference
    • Dogfish Head, Magic Hat, Ballast Point, Left Hand
  • Geography / Geology Related
    • Boston Beer Company, Snake River, Deschutes, Breckenridge Brewery
  • Name of the founder
    • Coors.

Most brewery names fall into these categories. I’m sure there are exceptions. I’d love to be one, but I created some pretty broad categories there. Here are some of our ideas in each category.

The animal references are fun: Malicious Marmot, Sophisticated Wombat, Peeping Tomcat, Bald Grizzly.

Inside reference / makes sense to us / random: Eagle Bear (yes, it’s animals, but it’s special), Mad Haven, Bibber Bibbery.

Geography / Geology related: Savage Peaks, Mile High Hop Works.

We’re not naming the brewery after ourselves, or at least not directly, so that last option is out.

One theme we’ve been playing with is the American Dream idea. Sort of a fun look at the modern American Dream, with some great options for beer names. Golden Retriever Brown Ale anyone? White Picket White Ale? It’s endless.

Another theme we’ve been playing around with is something about a storyteller. A bard, if you will. Some wandering minstrel who travels on foot from tavern to tavern, telling tall tales and listening intently to stories of other travelers, always with a large flagon of mead (or mug of ale, whatever you like) strapped to his one hand, the other gesticulating wildly and he spins his yarn further and farther. Something like the Traveling Bard, Afflicted Minstrel, Fibbing Bibber, Sipping Goose’s Grim Tale Sharing Bench – you get the idea.

We really just need to choose a name. But as I’ve said before, it’s like a tattoo to me. It’s permanent. It has to be perfect. And.. well this just gets into personal aspects of who I am, but I’m not so great at settling.

What are  you thoughts? If you’re reading this, you’re either going to have a hand in the brewery, be one of our many loyal customers, or at least, hopefully, tell a friend about the operation for their upcoming visit to Denver. Take the poll, leave a comment, do both! Just let us know what you think, and hopefully we’ll make up our minds soon. That will be a super exciting post to write!

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The Name.

Naming this beast has been and continues to be one of the most arduous tasks. I’ve honestly lost sleep over it. Yes, the prospect of walking in to a bank and asking for $500,000 is slightly overwhelming. But the name is something different. It’s like a tattoo to me. It can’t be something that I’ll like today but not tomorrow, or the next day, or 20 years from now.

Some people have suggested I forget about naming the brewery and just work on the other parts, that the name will come when it’s ready. And I agree, somewhat. But the idea of the brewery is just an idea until it has a name. All the talk, the planning, the thinking, it all can become real if it can just have a name. It’s the same, at least to me, as if parents would raise a child, and name it after they’ve gotten to know it. It makes sense, sort of, but in the end, the child – and the brewery – needs a name.

And it can’t just be something random. It has to mean something. I could just grab a random noun I like and call it that. But Babushka Brewing Company doesn’t really work (I like that word a lot). If it were just me involved in the brewery, it could be easier too. But people like Kell, Dave, Adam, and so many others who have and will help out need to be a part of the name as well. So calling it PJ’s Brewing Company or That Psych Major Turned Web Developer Brewing Company – and not that I would name it something that lame – doesn’t work because it has no meaning to others involved.

So take me – 25 year old who grew up in Connecticut, spending weekends teaching skiing in Vermont, been in Colorado for 8 years or so, loves to ski, never really spent much time outdoors until moving to CO – mix that will Kell – 25 year old who grew up in Chicago, spent a lot of time in Colorado and Wyoming, definitely with some cowboy roots – Dave – a 24 year old with pretty much the same story as me, who I’ve known since I was 12 – and then throw in Adam – 24 former pro-snowboarder from Vermont / New York – brewing beer in Colorado Springs – and try to come up with a name. And sorry to Adam and Kell for attempting to sum up your lives in a few words, and to everyone else for not listing you here.

None of us grew up in Colorado, but we all love it. I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. But I can’t claim to be a native, or have any ownership over Colorado roots. Therefore naming the brewery something like Denver Brewing Company feels fake. One idea that really does encompass everyone involved is something like Cross Country Brewing Company. But…. oh sorry, I fell asleep thinking about that name. It doesn’t have any punch.

Which brings us to our current favorites, but the fact that we still do not have a name. Drum roll please:

  1. Bear and Eagle / Bear Eagle / Eagle Bear Brewing Company
  2. Mad Haven Brewing Company

That’s about it. There have been almost 200 suggestions and ideas, but we’ve brought it down to those two. For now. Until a better one comes around. And hopefully a better one won’t come around after we’ve chosen a name.

Grizzly Bear being awesome

Grizzly Bear being awesome

The Bear / Eagle variety comes from college. We had a beirut table that the wonderful Ms. Pabst artfully decorated with a bear and eagle in epic combat. It was beautiful. I wish I had a picture of it. We even had a running tally of which side won more games (each of the combating animals could easily be identified as one side or the other of the table). I believe they were even. Engaged in the fight of all time for all of time. It’s sort of an inside joke that my group of friends share, but it still an awesome name for those who had no part in the original story.

Mad Haven stems from a slight nod to my upbringing. The name has dozens of levels of meaning, but Haven is really just from New Haven, the county I grew up in, and Mad from Madison, the town I was raised in. But it also has the contradictory idea of an insane safe harbor. A place to be yourself, no matter what your self might be. The name works for all sorts of beer, as long as the beer is good. A ridiculously strong double or triple IPA? Sure. A fusion of styles (Mexican IPA, for example)? Done.

I personally have slept better since the name Mad Haven came to light, but not everyone likes it. And while I’m comfortable having ideas that not everyone likes, some people who’s opinions I truly value do not like the name. My options are to sell the vision to them, or come up with a better name.

So this story is not over yet. We do not have a name today. Hopefully we will tomorrow.

Edit: This is a great link that was in the “possibly related posts” thing. Should we just hire a branding firm / pay a brand agent in beer to help us? http://brandinsightblog.com/2008/03/14/naming-your-baby-vs-naming-your-business/

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