You’re just set on cans right now?
We’re just doing cans now. I’m sure, in the future, and I’m not even sure how long, we’ll start doing maybe specialty beers in 22s.We’re pretty committed to 12-ounce cans, but the canning line also has capacity to do 16-ounce and 18-ounce cans.
Any trouble finding cans?
No. The only issue with that is that you have to buy a minimum amount, and so storing cans can be more the issue than finding them. Basically, you can’t order small amounts.
Who do you get them from?
We’ve only ordered once, and it was through Rexam, which just got bought by Ball.
It’s just the storage has been the main problem.
Do you guys do sleeves, or you do printing on the cans?
Printing straight on the cans.
Do you like that look, that feel?
I do. I much prefer it. I’ve seen some pretty good sleeves out there, but I prefer the printed on.
What’s new with the beer these days? You guys and gals doing anything unique or different or something that excites you?
We’re just starting to ramp up our creative process, because with the pub, it was a 10-barrel system. We’re in a college town. The pub was always really busy, so we, a lot of times, found ourselves in a rut, trying to keep up with our labor offerings. Since we’ve gotten the production going out here at The Rock, which we’re not even quite up to steam yet, we’re just barely getting started, but it’s loosened up the pub production schedule enough to where, now, we’re finally starting to do fun beers, creative beers.
We got a barrel-aged beer that we just did, a Winter Braun. Braun is what we call it. It’s a brown. We also do distilling, so we partnered with a local distiller. We’ll make them wash down our brew house, and then they’ll distill it and age it. Then we’ll get those barrels back, and so now we have a barrel program going, which is cool.
That’s very cool.
It’s fun to be able to tell some of our brewers, “Hey, why don’t you come up with a recipe, and we’ll brew it.” We’ve been able to do that a couple times. We had an Australian that was working here for a while. We were able to say, “Hey, create a recipe. We’ll brew it,” and he made an Australian-style pale ale.
To me, that’s been the most fun, to be able to let the brewers get creative.
How big is your operation? How many employees do you guys have?
As far as brewing goes, there’s one full-time pub brewer. We’re actually really lean right now, and by design. We’re trying to keep our costs low. We haven’t even sent out our first cans yet, so we’re trying to get some cash flow going before we start hiring people.
Out here, at production, there’s probably five of us. Really only six people making beer.
That’s pretty impressive.
Yeah. It gets crazy, for sure, sometimes, but like I said, it’s short-term. We’re just trying to get going here.
Cool, and your capacity, you probably have enough to ramp up further?
Our building is quite big, as far as the production. The pub is 10 barrels. That’s not going to change. Out here, we occupy the center part of this big building, about 10,000 square feet, but then there’s two other lease spaces on either side of us that are short-term leases that, if we need to, we can grow into. As far as our current footprint, we can grow to 60,000 barrels in that footprint before we would need to go to our lease spaces. We have quite a bit of elbow room.
What are you doing now? How many barrels?
We are selling 2,000 barrels alone, just through our downtown pub. But when the Rock’s tasting room opens and distribution is in full swing, we expect to do 10,000 easily.
You guys distributing?
Yeah, we wanted to dip our toe in the water and at least win some tap accounts, and we capped it at 30. We’ve had so many disruptions in production, with the moving of the pub, and there was a lot going on downtown. A lot of that has fallen off. I would have to ask our sales guys what we’re at right now, but I think it’s even below that. Our tap strategy has been very liquid. I think now that we’re starting to get into a more regular groove, obviously, we’re going to let him go and see what he can do, but yeah, it’s pretty anemic right now.
Hopefully, that’ll change with the new line.
When do you think you’ll be shooting those out for sale?
Tentatively, our first PO pickup here at the brewery is December 1.
Okay. Just in time for the holidays, huh?
Yeah, and I keep telling people, Look for us in the New Year, basically.
Who have you gone with for distribution?
It’s Pacific Beverage. It’s actually a Bud house here, local Bud house.
Big beer versus craft, is that a discussion that you have at the brewery at all, or is it just something like: “It happens out there. What are you going to do? You can’t control it. You can’t change it, so don’t worry about it,” kind of situation?
Yeah. I don’t think about it much as a brewer. I’m sure the sales team thinks a little more about it, and there’s definitely some strategy that has played into that, so one of the beers that we’re rolling out is a blonde ale, and that’s strategic. That’s not coming from a brewer. That’s trying to capture some of the mass beer business out there. It does play into our strategy, but as a brewer, I never think about it.
Is there a technique or a style or an ingredient that’s got you interested or excited you could share with us?
Nothing proprietary or anything like that. I put off the whole session IPA thing as not that good, because being on the West Coast, we’ve had pale ales, hoppy pale ales around forever, and to me, they’re almost redundant. Then I started differentiating with just the new hop varieties. Once I started thinking about it that way, it made more sense to me, and so we rolled out a session IPA with Citra and Amarillo. Obviously, everyone’s doing those beers now, but it finally captured my imagination enough to sign onto it, and it’s actually one of our more popular beers now, too. It’s funny. We’ve been doing a Nitro IPA for probably 15 years, and it’s interesting to see that now starting to take off. We were doing that for a long time, and now it’s a thing.
You guys did it. You launched it.
Yeah. I’m doing a lot of projects that I’ve never been able to do, just because of time restraints, like I’ve spent some time in London. I like cask ales. I want to do a cask ale night at the pub. We have a Randall, a robust one. It’s a big, stainless one that you can pack full of stuff. I want to do a Randall night once a month, where we maybe go to the farmer’s market the night before, find an interesting ingredient and pair it up with a beer and do something different every time, just to keep people, their interest piqued. As far as cutting edge on the horizon, I don’t know. I can’t say that we’re pursuing anything at the moment.
What trends do you see out in California?
East Coast IPAs are starting to get traction now on the West Coast. We want to do an East Coast IPA but via Australia, because we have a strong Australian connection. Some of the partners are from Australia. We want to do an East Coast-style IPA using all Australian hops.
Nice. Feel like I just asked you one zillion questions, Steve. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer them.
No problem. Thanks for contacting us.
Thank you, and don’t work too hard.
Thank you, and take it easy.