As we neared the end of our fourth month on the road, we made the trek from Louisville, KY down to Nashville, TN and met with the owners and staff of Jackalope Brewing Company on a hot Tuesday afternoon. We spent some time talking to them about their business, indulged in some of their brews including Thunder Ann American Pale Ale fresh off the canning line, and then they let us have some of the pizza they had ordered! Jackalope was the first all-female owned brewery in Tennessee and Robyn Virball & Bailey Spaulding have done some amazing things with their business, with the help of Steve Wright who was brought on as a third owner. This brewery was also the first one to use cans in Nashville, comes out with new rotators every 6 weeks or so, holds multiple events throughout the year (including an anniversary celebration and a Bruce Springsteen-focused festival), and also shares their building with a coffee shop. Under the slogan ‘Drink Legendary’ they have been able to brew a plethora of unique beer options for you to enjoy, so be sure to drop in and say hi when you’re in town checking out the capital of Tennessee – America at its best.
After visiting Against the Grain in Louisville, KY, we made the short drive over to Apocalypse Brew Works. Co-founders Bill Krauth, Leah Dienes, and Paul Grignon opened up the taproom (which they call “The Fallout Shelter”) on May 11, 2012 with the 3 1/2 barrel system they are using today. We spoke to Leah, the head-brewer, while sampling their brews and learned all of the information found below – including the fact that Leah is an active BJCP judge. Between the three co-founders, there is over 40 years of homebrewing experience which helped them open the taproom with 10 beers on tap and maintain that number since. Also, if you happen to be in the area when the world gets taken over by zombies, keep in mind that the brewery makes for a nice Apocalypse bunker since they can lock the razor wire laden gates to keep the zombies out; hence their motto “Drink Beer Til the End.”
Although Sixpoint is not open to the public at all, we were able to get in contact with them to set up some time to check out their Brooklyn facility in the Red Hook neighborhood on a Friday afternoon. Most of the staff was there working away, but everyone took some time out to say hi to us, gave us samples of just about every beer they had at the time, and even offered us a slice of pizza. Most of our time was spent with Jamie who walked us through all of the areas of the brewery, including the second floor break room/ office/ kitchen/ bachelor pad area; the view of New York City from the roof is incredible. The experience there was top-notch and I cannot thank everyone we met enough for being as kind as they were. We were also told that some exciting news is on the horizon in regards to their Brooklyn facility, so make sure to look out for that!
We visited River Horse Brewing Company in NJ on National Beer Day, however they were not open to the public so we were given a private look at the inside of the brewery while the staff told us all about what makes River Horse unique. It was obvious that they work hard to make a great product rather than get wrapped up in the glamorous media side of brewing. The head brewer Chris said: “It’s fun and it’s great; I love it. There’s nothing else I ever want to do or plan to do, but we’re working in a factory. We’re not ‘too cool’ for anything, ya know?” All of the beer we sampled was straight forward, clean, & well-done, all of the staff were great to talk to and humble, and the facility has plenty of room for expansion. Gotta love the art on their walls.
After spending a few days in Lancaster, PA with the guys behind The Blind Tiger Podcast, we made our way over to Tröegs Brewing Company on Friday 4/4/14. We learned a lot about the brewery during our visit by talking with Jeff Herb, their marketing coordinator, while sampling a flight of all the beers on tap, followed by taking a detailed tour of the facility with Andrea Bernardo, their brewery tour coordinator. Tröegs is always blending the organic and mechanical aspects of brewing. John Trogner (one of the owners and the brewmaster) is big into the brewing and tech side and is always looking for new equipment, while the other owner and John’s brother, Chris Trogner, does more of the business side.
We ended up sleeping in our van again as soon as we crossed into the state of New Jersey coming from Delaware, then visited with the brewing staff at Flying Fish Brewing Company in Somerdale, NJ on the afternoon of Friday, 3/28/2014. As we walked around with the brewery manager, Barry Holsten, we found out that Flying Fish is the most sustainable brewery in the Philadelphia Region. They built into energy saving features in all areas when they moved into their current facility, including: converting to high-pressure steam for sanitizing instead of chemicals, using ‘solar tunnels’ that allow sunlight to light the warehouse to augment energy efficient lighting, have 470 solar panels on the roof, use recycled cardboard with low levels of one color of ink to package, and do not distribute nationally so that fossil fuels are not burned.
After our visit to Blue Mountain on Thursday, 3/13/14, we took a scenic drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains over to the brewpub that serves as a basecamp for Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland, VA. Devils Backbone has incredible views in the valley where they are located close to the Appalachian Trail and was awarded Small Brewpub & Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year in 2012 as well as Small Brewing Company & Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year in 2013. We lucked into our visit there after running into COO Hayes Humphreys over at Three Notch’d Brewing the night before, who set us up to meet with head brewer Jason Oliver and assistant brewer Aaron Reilly.
Our visit to Blue Mountain on Thursday, 3/13/14 was a unique one, in that we visited both the brewery/ restaurant Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, VA as well as the production facility Blue Mountain Barrel House in Arrington, VA. Both facilities have taprooms, fields of cascade hops, incredible views, and awesome beers, but are also distinctive in their own ways.