As our company comes to the conclusion of its third year, there’s an nearly endless list of things we could wax poetic about. While the four of us that work here full-time operate as a cohesive unit, we’ve always kept things pretty well-stratified, making for four completely different perspectives on what we’ve accomplished thus far. So rather than write a single, overarching reflection on three years of Brew Gentlemen, we’ve each decided to talk a bit about what’s been most meaningful to us.
MATT • Co-founder / CEO
It’s kind of wild to be sitting here after an intense week of projects, deadlines, and crazy amounts of work. Kind of reminds me of finals week from back when we were in college. Because we started this whole journey while still in school, the lines between the two are slightly blurred; to us, this is the never-ending senior project.
Asa and I made the decision to start the company back when we were twenty years old. We’re both twenty-six now. Building and working on this business has really been our only job post college. As we round the bases for year three, I can only begin to see how much we’ve grown up because of the brewery, and how much the brewery has grown up as a reflection of ourselves and our team.
At the start of it all, we had no idea we would become the brewery that we are now. We had a vague idea of which direction we wanted to go in, and we set sail. We’ve course-corrected innumerable times along the way (rebranded, hired and fired, shifted business plans) but we’re still aiming for our number one goal: to create meaningful experiences.
Where we stand now still feels like the beginning. We will remain true to our core values (ask us over a beer, we still haven’t made that list public) and expand our company as thoughtfully as we can. This is – and always has been – a marathon, not a sprint.
The future of beer, of our company, and of Braddock has yet to play out. We’ll do whatever it takes to make all three of those things a resounding success. Thank you for allowing us to do what we do, and we look forward to serving you.
ASA • Co-founder / Creative Director
One discovers a lot about themselves in their mid-twenties, and one thing I’ve realized over the past three years is that, instead of being a specialist, I’m most definitely taking the ‘jack of all trades, master of a few’ path in life. And while the road to becoming a jack of all trades may be long, small business ownership puts you in the express lane.
Because we’re both a.) fiendishly DIY about everything we do, and b.) a fairly small team, we’ve each been forced to take on an extremely broad range of roles, tasks, and projects over the past three years. A huge amount of our time and resources have been spent teaching ourselves new things, researching the ever-loving hell out of something before proceeding to attack it for the first time.
For myself specifically, that covers pretty much anything that needs to be designed or built. What I really learned in college was how to learn, not how to be the creative director at a brewery – therefore, further self-guided study has become a sink-or-swim necessity. Plunging into new territory armed with little more than an attitude of “I’ll figure it out” has become routine enough that it’s no longer scary. In fact, it’s deeply addicting.
Here at Brew Gentlemen, we embrace continued education of any kind. We will sacrifice bottom line in exchange for leveling up our team’s stats any day. In my line of work, one never knows when a particular skill may be required, so developing an ever-expanding list of them has consumed much of my free time – I’m more likely to be watching a video about furniture building than watching a movie, or reading an article about typography rather than a novel (in fact, I haven’t read a fiction book in years, with the singular exception of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist).
Looking back on our past three years as a company, I’m honestly more proud of how much we’ve all learned than I am of our material accomplishments; the material accomplishments are simply a reflection of that which we’ve learned. Looking towards the future, growth brings with it entire new categories of things to be learned. It’s the unknown unknown. Needless to say, we’re geeked.
ALAINA • General Manager
In 2016, hygge was among Oxford Dictionary’s words of the year. I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on about the Danish concept recently – since the moment I laughed looking at the calendar, realized how quickly the last month blew by, and found myself asking, “How do we slow it all down?”
Hygge is defined as enjoying others’ company in “a relaxed and intimate atmosphere,” and an overall “state of mindfulness: how to make essential and mundane tasks dignified, joyful, and beautiful; how to live a life connected with loved ones.”
Specifically considering our taproom, from day one, we’ve tried to create a space that’s comfortable yet elegant, combining the familiarity of a friend’s living room with the attention to detail and hospitality that might accompany a fine dining experience. Over the last three years, the space has changed in countless ways. Asa is constantly building or repairing, Zach refines recipes and keeps the quality of everything we serve at its highest, and we’re learning better ways of operating with every day of service.
Yet, the environment remains true to its original intent: A space where everyone is welcome, and great conversations and experiences take place. In many ways, the taproom is the heart of what we do – make beer, sell beer – because it’s where the beer can become more than what’s in the glass, and where we can interact with each of you.
Every person that walks in our door makes a choice to visit Braddock, to spend their time with us, and to include Brew Gentlemen in their lives. Knowing so many of you personally fills me with a profound sense of gratitude, and one of the things I get most excited about is finding new and thoughtful ways of making space and time for similar relationships and interactions.
In the gauntlet of daily tasks and checklists, the idea of mindfulness and being connected to one another can, at moments, seem obscure. However, approaching this third anniversary, my mindset has clearly shifted from “How we slow down time” to “How are we making the most of the time we have?” As we plan in decades, think in years, work in months, and live in days, the most straightforward answer I keep coming back to: We’re running a tight team, working together, growing up, and having fun along the way.
ZACH • Head Brewer
Our tiny brewhouse has grown quite a bit over the years: we’ve packed in more fermenters, a bottling tank, a fruit aging tank, countless wine barrels and a couple of oak foeders.
The introduction of our Mise en Rose Collection (our oak-aged farmhouse ale program) brought on an array of challenges I was eager to face, as these styles are my personal favorite to drink and to brew. The production of these wood-fermented beers requires a completely different, more complex thought process than our standard lineup of products – perfecting them takes a lot of time, energy, and learning. I was ready to invest whatever it took to get this program up and running. The program is still a work in progress, but we’re committed.
Being a part of a perpetually changing company with so much growth ahead has taught me how to stay on my toes, adjust quickly, and handle whatever new things come my way. Since working at Brew Gentlemen, I’ve not only learned to adjust to new equipment, new programs, and new recipes, I’ve also had to adjust to working as a solo brewer.
In my past experiences, I worked with a team of brewers with whom I shared responsibilities, ideas, and shifts. It’s been a whole new experience working on my own. I’ve had to work harder than ever before, but with complete autonomy and creative control. Being able to oversee all aspects of the brewing and fermentation processes from start to finish is worth the added workload.
The four of us couldn’t be more different, but we’re confident enough in each other’s abilities to give each other total sovereignty. It’s like we have an unspoken arrangement, in which we acknowledge our individual area of expertise and relinquish control when we need to. Even though we operate with clear divisions of labor, we’ve also learned the how to come together and accomplish things as a team. Brew Gentlemen wouldn’t be where it is today without the unique dedication and perspective we all bring to the table.