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2014: A Brewery Odyssey

By taking some time away from the brewery for the holidays, I had the chance to reflect on everything that went down for us in in 2014, and plan what lies ahead for The Brew Gentlemen in 2015. In looking back on 2014, it’s clear that a lot occurred: Here’s a quick recap of some cool things we accomplished in the past year:

  1. We actually opened. Quick recap: In 2010, Asa and I decided to begin the journey of opening a brewery. In 2011, we got really into craft beer. Like, really, really into it. From brewing to shadowing at other breweries to trying several metric fuckloads of beer, it became our lives. 2012 was the year we graduated and laid the groundwork – we found a space in Braddock, did a goofy little Kickstarter campaign, and generated some buzz. 2013 was spent raising the appropriate capital needed to launch, one of the toughest times in our company history. By May 2013, we had 52 cents in our business bank account and everyone who originally told us they were interested in investing stopped returning our calls. The next six months was an emotional whirlwind as we went from having nothing to raising the necessary funds to start the brewery. By November 2013, we had found a new, much larger building, worked our way through an 18-month DIY renovation, and finally opened our doors the following May. 2014 will always be a special year to us.
  2. We threw two very large, very fun events. Garden Party and Hitchcock Halloween were a blast for us to be a part of, as well as an excellent first round of large logistical challenges on which to cut our event-teeth. Sure, not everything was perfect, but we learned a great deal in the process and can’t wait to put that into practice for all the events we’re planning for the coming year.
  3. We released 38 Beers in 7 months. Yep, 38 different beers. Did you try them all? Our goal was to release 24, so I’d say we did alright. Not every beer was top notch, but again, it was our first 7 months; we learned a lot about how our system works, what you all like to drink (cucumber beer, coffee beer, hoppy beer, and the weird stuff, apparently), and that we should never attempt to brew a gluten free beer ever again, period. We’re going to keep this trend of releasing a lot up, with stricter personal standards so you only get the best.
  4. We opened an event space. We never could figure out what to do with that big chunk of extra space in the building. After a few too many shoulder-to-shoulder Fridays and Saturdays in the taproom, it became clear that more seating and space to throw events was exactly what we needed. In under 30 days, we gutted the room, built out, and finished our expansion project, all in time to throw a good dozen or so events in December. Yea, that sucker has already paid itself off, big time.
  5. We hired two incredible dudes, both of whom are named Zach. Zach Gordon (brewer) and Zach Barbieri (taproom manager) both joined our full-time team in 2014. Zach Barbieri finally coming on full time was one of the most awesome things for Asa and me to see. He’s been with us since day negative-one as a great friend, fraternity brother, and general utility man, and his transition to a full time position with us has been a long time in the making. He’s injected so much life into our taproom and is passionate about all of you having the best experience possible while visiting us. Our second Zach, Zach Gordon, joined us back in October as part of our brewing staff. He previously brewed at Thirsty Dog in Akron, and instantly brought a ton of large-scale production brewery experience to our operation. He’s an insanely talented brewer, and some of our biggest hits (New World Saison, American Bitter, the new updated Business Casual) have been his recipes. Since November, he has been in charge of the day-to-day brewing operations and we’ve seen some great improvements in the quality of our beer. We can’t wait to see what else he brings to the table in 2015 as he transitions to the role of head brewer (read more about this transition, as well as the departure of our current head brewer Brandon Capps, here).

There were a few things that weren’t so spectacular about 2014: building and facility issues, dumping beer, and not following up with some of the things that we should have. Luckily, 2015 presents twelve more months to keep learning, experimenting, and growing.

We’ve got a lot of really big things planned for the year. I highly suggest you sign up for our weekly email updates, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and stay connected. Off the top of my head, we have four large events planned, some barrel-aged beer releases, a documentary that features us being released, another year of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, more fun with food, a couple opportunities to travel, and a lot of all-around good vibes coming up.

Thank you, family, for all of your support over the past year. We say it over and over again, but we absolutely can’t do this without you. Thank you for spreading the word, drinking our beer, and joining us for events. And most of all, thank you for believing in us. Cheers to 2015!

Matt & Asa

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