Craft beer success

Craft beer success

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What do surfing, pizza making, science degrees, and brewing beer have in common? Not much. But 3rd Wave Brewing Company, Delmarva’s first and only all-woman owned brewery may not be here without all three.

 

Like many of us who grow up on the Delmarva Peninsula, Lori Clough and Suellen Vickers once had summer jobs in the coastal resort town of Ocean City, Maryland. Back when Lori was managing the same pizza joint where Suellen was flipping pies, they had no idea they were embarking on a lifelong friendship that would take them from surfing pals, to drinking buddies, to brewery owners.

 

Between their time at the Dough Roller and when they opened the 3rd Wave Brewing Company in Delmar, Delaware, Lori and Suellen’s lives took them to different places, but they remained close and caught up over swells and beers when they returned home.

 

Lori went to Ireland for 5 years where she put her medical sciences degree to use engineering gluten-free food. Although not her calling, her time abroad afforded her the opportunity to travel and, more importantly, taste foreign beers with big flavor profiles.

 

Meanwhile, Suellen was getting advanced medical degrees of her own and establishing a pediatric orthodontist practice. Some of the most vital experience early in her career came while attending industry conferences in California and Colorado where she developed professionally, and fell in love with the local craft beer cultures.

 

After Lori returned to the states, she and Suellen were sipping pints in what was then Evolution Craft Brewing’s taproom- when they overheard some guys discussing homebrewing and learned about the nearby Xtreme Brewing shop. By the end of that day they picked up their first beer kit.

 

Kits are cool for most beginners, but when your background is in science, you want to control the chemical reactions in the brewing process. Lori did two kits before eagerly jumping into all-grain brewing. Getting help along the way, she honed her recipes and was soon consistently making an IPA and a Porter her friends loved. Lori and Suellen talked a lot about what to name their brew before coming up with ‘3rd Wave’, an ode to surfing lore in which the third wave is said to be the best in a set.

 

Lori homebrewed for 2 years and dreamed of having a brewery, but her job as a UPS driver seemed more practical. At least until Suellen called from Evolution one day to not only say the brewery was relocating to a bigger facility nearby and the building- including 80% of the equipment inside- was for sale, but also asked if Lori wanted to buy it. She was serious, and a few weeks and a huge leap of faith later, the two closed a deal to open 3rd Wave.

 

The local community was sad to see Evolution move on, but thrilled to have 3rd Wave replace it. Evo’s owner, Tommy Knorr, not only left 3rd Wave much of the equipment it initially needed, he also provided the team invaluable guidance. In addition to answering questions, lending ingredients, and helping with equipment, Knorr suggested contacting Iron Hill Brewery for help finding a Brewmaster. Lori did, and met John Panasiewicz, a local guy with a laid back personality and exceptional beer knowledge who has been in charge of 3rd Wave’s creative beer program, which features rotating sours, fruit beers, and other experimentals along with the classics, ever since.

 

With John manning the helm of Delmarva’s only all-woman owned brewery, Lori is free to focus on growing the business. And grow it has. In just a couple years 3rd Wave has gone from 2 employees to over 6, its beers are now on taps throughout Delaware and Maryland, 6-packs are coming early this summer, and Lori and Suellen have long-term plans to transform the surrounding property into a production brewery and beer destination along the heavily traveled Route 50 beach corridor.

 

Until then you can find the two catching waves, making great beer, and pouring pints for their local community. Lori is adamant that, regardless of how much 3rd Wave may grow in the future, it will always be the hometown brewery and vows to never change the taproom. The same taproom where she and Suellen used to enjoy Evo brews. The same taproom where they discovered homebrewing. And the same taproom where locals and visitors now congregate for “good friends, good waves, and great beer.”

 

Knorr suggested contacting Iron Hill Brewery for help finding a Brewmaster. Lori did, and met John Panasiewicz, a local guy with a laid back personality and exceptional beer knowledge who has been in charge of 3rd Wave’s creative beer program, which features rotating sours, fruit beers, and other experimentals along with the classics, ever since.

 

With John manning the helm of Delmarva’s only all-woman owned brewery, Lori is free to focus on growing the business. And grow it has. In just a couple years 3rd Wave has gone from 2 employees to over 6, its beers are now on taps throughout Delaware and Maryland, 6-packs are coming early this summer, and Lori and Suellen have long-term plans to transform the surrounding property into a production brewery and beer destination along the heavily traveled Route 50 beach corridor.

 

Until then you can find the two catching waves, making great beer, and pouring pints for their local community. Lori is adamant that, regardless of how much 3rd Wave may grow in the future, it will always be the hometown brewery and vows to never change the taproom. The same taproom where she and Suellen used to enjoy Evo brews. The same taproom where they discovered homebrewing. And the same taproom where locals and visitors now congregate for “good friends, good waves, and great beer.”

 

 

 

(http://shorecraftbeer.com/riding-the-3rd-wave-of-success/)

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