Thorny Devil is Australia’s best, favourite Craft Beer

Thorny Devil is Australia’s best, favourite Craft Beer

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Accelerating Toward the Future of Craft Beer

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine caught up with three brewers who took last fall’s Brewery Accelerator course—here are their plans for the future.

LIBBY MURPHY February 22, 2017

Accelerating Toward the Future Primary Image

Last fall, Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® gathered some of the savviest brewers, hops growers, maltsers, scientists, attorneys, bankers, business and marketing experts, and engineers under one roof and invited fifty brewers in various stages of the brewery process to attend a series of workshops, onsite presentations, and training sessions. Recently, we caught up with three of those attendees, all of whom have breweries opening in 2017 or in early 2018, to see how things have changed and moved forward since the accelerator weekend.

Deft Brewing (San Diego, California)

Morris Nuspl and his partner Kevin Malik are in the process of opening Deft Brewing in San Diego, which is set to open in late spring of 2017. Like many pro brewers, they started out of the garage, sharpening their techniques until they were at the point where they felt they could open their own brewery. Once the classes were underway, he says, “Things like the finer points of quality control in a brewery, yeast harvesting, proper malt handling, and setting up formal sensory panels were topics I had not spent nearly enough time studying before this workshop.”

Nuspl and Malik are specializing in classic European styles, which on a small scale has been fairly easy and economical to maintain. But after a workshop by White Labs and a few others by the breweries, they realized they needed to rework some things. “I realized we needed to rework our menu and recipe strategy to facilitate a more realistic, economic, and scalable yeast management program by narrowing down our stable of yeast strains to just a couple core in-house strains with a few other occasional guest stars,” says Nuspl. With the help of Nuspl’s wife, Robin, who is a clinical diagnostic laboratory expert, they will have their own in-house lab to ensure their yeast are working their magic.

Currently, Nuspl and Malik own a 1960s-era former ocean fishing vessel manufacturing shop in the Bay Park/Morena neighborhood and will launch Deft Brewing with a 2+ barrel pilot brewing system, and grow to a 10-barrel system in early 2018. The tasting room will be open and include a year-round outdoor patio with a hops garden. While the construction is underway, they continue to brew for their tasting panels, dial in recipes, and look forward to their upcoming opening day.

You can keep track of Deft Brewing’s progress by visiting their website: deftbrewing.com

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MachineHead Brewing Co. (Clovis, California)

Rob Arabian says he’s looking at a 2018 launch for MachineHead Brewing Co., and when he signed up for the accelerator, he was in the intermediate stages of opening his brewery. “There’s a lot of information out there, and it becomes overwhelming at times to decide which information is relevant to helping launch a startup brewery. One of the most surprising things I encountered during the course of the accelerator was how many other brewers were in the same position as I was.”

Arabian adds, “Having the seminars led by industry leaders both big and small gave me such insight from both spectrums. Let’s face it: every homebrewer dreams of operating a brewery one day, and, why wouldn’t they? It’s the greatest job in the world. However, making great beer is not enough. There must be the right tools for the trade.” He also says the seminar by craft-beer attorney Candice Moon regarding intellectual property was eye-opening. “One of the biggest misconceptions I had about launching a start-up brewery was not knowing the importance of intellectual property for the craft brewer and how it can directly affect us. I learned so much about the differences between copyrights, trademarks, and patents.”

Arabian remains in contact with several others who attended the accelerator and is looking forward to meeting up with them at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C. in April. He is looking forward to his 2018 launch and in the meantime, is getting all his financials in a row. He’s self-funding his brewery and working with a developer to secure a brand-new buildout for the brewery and taproom location. Currently, he’s planning a 10-barrel system, but will finalize that after CBC. Everything is expected to be finished within his expected time frame. In the meantime, J.C. Hill and team of Alvarado Street Brewery have been training and mentoring him. Arabian says, “Words can’t express the value of being mentored by your favorite brewery and the knowledge that is shared.”

You can keep up with MachineHead Brewing’s progress by following Rob on Instagram: @MachineHeadBrewing

Welltown Brewing (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

Jeremy Diamond is opening Welltown Brewing later this year, and when he attended the accelerator he and his partner, Paul Whitham, had already made quite a few plans, but didn’t know exactly what they were doing. “You can self-educate to a certain extent, but there’s a lot you can glean from lots of experts in one place over a few-day span. This was instrumental because we got to bounce ideas off others in our same boat. We also got to talk to brewers like Neil [Fisher] at WeldWerks—he was single-handedly the biggest help to us and sat down with us to answer questions.”

Diamond had already purchased his space, a 9,500-square-foot building built in 1925 in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. There were so many avenues to take with such a large building and so many types of equipment. He and Whitham gained a grain rep, but also realized they were going to change their focus. “We had actually planned to go with a bigger brewhouse and do a bigger production style, and afterward, we realized we didn’t want something we couldn’t handle. We wanted something we could manage and have fun doing. We wanted to be a taproom first, then a production facility.”

He picked Neil Fisher’s brain at the accelerator, remains in touch with him, and is now using the same equipment manufacturer for Welltown that Fisher uses. He says the connections were one of the most valuable parts of the accelerator he walked away with. Currently, he’s working with Whitham to perfect recipes and produce great beer while he’s waiting for his taproom to launch. Their build will start April 1, 2017, and the brewery will open for business later this year. Their location is in downtown Tulsa, and with the focus being the taproom, the bustling downtown location will be great for them. A new law passed in Oklahoma that will allow breweries to self-distribute in 2018, so they’ll keep the beer in-house as much as possible in 2017. Past that, the beers that do best in the taproom will go out for distribution.

You can keep up with Welltown Brewings updates at @welltownbrewing

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