4 Years Running
It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 years running. We’ve made a lot of progress even evolved a few times. We have made a lot of friends along the way, both new and old. We’ve made history here. Soon we will no longer be the lone wolf surrounded by the three brew pubs in Montgomery County. We’ve weathered storms from zoning issues to weather issues and we’re still standing.
I had always wanted to brew beer, even from an early age, growing up hearing stories of family members and their involvement with beer. I often day dreamed and would even start drawing out plans for some sort of brewing system. I kept experimenting in my childhood bed room, there are still stains on the ceiling, still showing up even after running several coats of paint over it. It’s still there, just like my tiny brewery.
The day dreaming never stopped. I remember my commutes to Alexandria, where I worked in a local restaurant. It was a long trek on Metro to Old Town, just steps away from the Potomac River. I would often walk the mile stretch from the station to work, thinking about recipes, calculating cost, and wondered where I would locate it. Every week, I would buy another beer related book and read it cover to cover, sometimes even while walking and narrowly bumping into someone texting on their phones.
I got my first taste of pairing one of my beers at a beer dinner I helped put together. It was a mocha porter, I wasn’t very creative with the name depending on what you think. I named it after the street I grew up on, good old Porter Street, where I had my first taste of brewing. Yes, it was Porter Street Porter. I’d like to find that recipe again.
After I had an idea of what I wanted to do, I started thinking about what would the most economical solution, with my tiny shoe string budget. I was being practical, perhaps too much so, but I was thinking of what I could manage on my own. If I were to do it all over, I’d have approached it very differently.
Distribution was a new lesson. A job I thought I might be able to do just part time became a full time gig. One of my very first stops was Gilly’s. I remember one of the owners saying to me after I introduced myself, “We were wondering when you would come by.” I was amazed someone had heard about me already.
Whenever I move to a new home, I always scout out the closest pub, as similar to pubs I’ve gone to in Europe. The Royal Mile, a Scottish pub, which sadly is no more. They were my second account and much to my wife’s disapproval, I started going there a little more frequently. What I loved about that place was what I called, “The Cheers” feel, where everyone knew your name. My wife knew where I was, so she knew who to call, yes, the pub. The bartender would have a chuckle as he handed me the phone saying, “it’s your wife.”
Some word had gotten out and the phone calls began and my introduction into beer festivals. It was October, it was still warm with just a hint of Fall in the air. There were maybe a couple hundred attending. The scent of bratwurst being grilled for the hungry attendees filled the air. The occasional puff of smoke would tingle my nostrils. At some point I got a break, my wife, brother, and a handful of friends were there to back me up.
I met some of the brewers or other personnel from other breweries. There was Casey from Old Dominion and Fordham, who was a veteran of the Takoma Nuclear Free Beer Festival, and another who turned out to be a neighbor of mine in my small neighborhood in Silver Spring. We’ve been attending since the 2nd festival and we plan on being a part of the next one. Now we’re one of the veterans, each year meeting new brewers. The crowd has grown, even a large attendance last year in the pouring rain.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time, we got our first introduction to the media. First it was a small mention in the Gazette followed by the scheduling of an interview for the Washington Post. The interview went well I thought, but the photo shoot, it was tedious in a humorous way.
I was not used to having my picture taken in rapid succession. The photographer had me posing, at one point I was even leaning on cases of empty bottles. I was told it would be in the food section, buried somewhere toward the middle. Nope, I was wrong. My ugly mug was on the front page of the food section. I don’t know if I’d call this a bad choice, but I was quoted as saying, “Want to start a nano? Talk to me first.” I ran up quite a few minutes on my phone. The calls and e-mails were so frequent, and I did not mind it at all, I decided to start blogging on our website. I wrote about what I had to go through and even included links to the various forms you had to fill out.
I hadn’t thought of giving tours and tastings, but people were getting curious about a brewery in the county, the first of its kind. It started out meager choices, we had the Lord Wimsey and a smoked porter I lovingly named, “Marmageddon,” after my dearly departed bloodhound Marmalade. She never went around things, she went through them. My sweet elderly hound would often end up wearing a chair that happened to be in her way.
Seems like so long ago. It’s a good feeling doing what I’m doing, and with my hardworking staff, we’re making our mark. To celebrate the occasion, we are throwing the third installment of Dog Daze which just happens to be our 4th Birthday Bash. Come join us and hoist a pint.