18 Nov 2012 @ 11:27 PM 

Someone brought it up to me again the other day: You should get back to blogging more.

And, you know? I agree… for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s cathartic. It’s a nice release to be able to commit thoughts to words and publish them, even in a vanity forum like this blog, but also because there are a lot of topics that I’d like to see discussed in the world at large that I feel like I can at least introduce, and hopefully see out and about.

However, what with this whole “owning a brewery” thing, my time is often pretty limited and when I write it takes up a LOT of time – not only because, regardless of how fast a typer I am, it takes a long time to get things out, but because I’m just enough of a nerd to not want to write a blog post unless I have a complete thought. You should see how long it’s taken me to put this post together … or, maybe you can see it.

What’s more, often I only really think about writing when I’m upset about something and I don’t want to have the reputation (any more than I already do) for being the angry, ranty brewer guy. I am often not angry, and so I’d like that to actually come through on my blog. However, I REALLY like turning convention on its head and really looking at why it is we do what we do. Nobody ever made progress by doing the same old shit over and over again, and I really like applying creative problem solving to things that don’t necessarily appear to be broken. That often comes off as angry – or at least hyper-critical. But I don’t want to come off that way.

So, I’m going to try something new: Podcasting. There are a few reasons for this.

1) I can talk faster than I can type, and while part of me wants to make sure that there’s a complete written post around a podcast, that seems to me (for now) to be faster than setting down words to an entire post.

2) I can do it in a lot of different places. There’s no reason I can’t record a podcast while I’m working on something in the brewery, or in between tasks, whereas writing needs to take place in basically one or two environments where I have a computer and a long time to sit in one place.

3) It’s a lot easier to tell my tone when you hear my voice. If I don’t sound angry, I’m probably not angry. Not always the case, but normally true.

So, we’ll try this out. The podcast will serve two functions:

To educate. I’ve taught a Certified Cicerone Study course a couple of times over the past year and it’s very popular, and while I think people are generally interested in the Cicerone program, I think most people just want to learn more about beer – and so I’ll be doing little bits of education. Everything from how beer is made to how tap lines are cleaned to what the ingredients are and how they’re used. I’ll try to do this in a very non-technical way so that it’s easy for anybody to understand. With any luck there will be something for everybody to learn.

To inform. Since I’ve started Mystery, I’ve learned a LOT about the industry that I never would have thought about as a drinker and a fan of the industry, and I think it’s worth discussing some of those things… things like: Why the three-tier system is actually pretty great. Or that bars often don’t take care of their own draft systems. Or how AB-InBev is going to crush us all and how you’re going to help them.

And it will staaaaaart now.



Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 19 Nov 2012 @ 01:58 PM

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 01 Jul 2011 @ 10:12 AM 

If you stopped by the blog over the past couple of days you might have noticed a few strange things afoot. For a while, we were down entirely and once we came back up, you weren’t looking at TopFermented at all, but an old beer blog from 4 or 5 years ago called “The Brew Guide” which had a short, disjointed life.

But, we’re back and better than ever on a faster server. Will you notice anything? Probably not, but I sure as hell will. So now that we’re back up and running (and I get to replace my fried computer this weekend), expect some more content coming through in the next couple of weeks. Seabass and I will be shooting another video session in which I hear we’ll probably be talking about packaging and I have a few visits to NC Breweries coming up. In fact, I have a LOT of those coming up all the way through July and August.

Oh, and hopefully we’ll have some Mystery Brewing news to share within the next week or so, too.

Until then, welcome back for the first time to the place we’ve always been.

À votre santé,

Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 04 Jul 2011 @ 02:25 PM

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Categories: blog, meta
 25 Jan 2011 @ 3:14 PM 

And before you ask me to never use the word “sluice” again, here’s a lovely picture of a sluice from Wikimedia Commons:

I would also like to relay that “sluice” is a surprising safe Google Image search.

We will now carry on with our regularly scheduled blog post.

So, what’s coming down the sluices!?

I’ve been conspicuously silent across both this blog and Mystery’s blog (where this, incidentally, is being cross-posted, if you’re reading this at Mystery’s blog, you may want to check out Top Fermented), for the past couple of weeks and that’s primarily because my days have been turned into a twisting mass of odd jobs, manual labor, staring at the wall waiting for inspiration, and alternately burying myself so deep into work that I forget to eat. A good chunk of this has been keeping me away from writing.

But it hasn’t been keeping me away from the computer. More on that in a sec.

I’m on a more regular schedule now, where I’m actually spending 3 days a week “at the office” so you should be seeing a few more blog posts popping up here and there.

Also popping up should be the fruits of (some of) my labor, so here’s a little preview of what to expect in the next couple of weeks:

Educational Opportunities

In case you haven’t heard, myself and a couple of excellent friends organized and hold a monthly beer Meetup here in the Triangle in NC called Taste Your Beer for lack of a better, more inspiring, name. It’s been received pretty well and people seem genuinely excited to learn more about beer – not how to make it, but how to enjoy it, and just more about beer in general. So when I heard that there were upcoming Cicerone exams coming to Raleigh, I had the idea to make a study group for it.

However, after thinking about it, I thought – why limit this to just people who want to become Cicerones? Lots of people want to learn about beer but don’t necessarily have the desire (or the work experience and wallet) to become Cicerones. That’s why, starting in February, I’ll be offering beer education classes at my location at Mystery Brewing. It’ll be an 8 week class meeting once a week (with a few exceptions) covering beer from ingredient cultivation to serving and food pairing including off-flavors and style samples. It will cover the Cicerone exam content thoroughly so if you, like me, want to take the Cicerone exam in April or June, then this should act as an excellent study guide. However, if you just want to learn about beer then that’s cool, too.

Look for more information about these classes popping up in the next few days. We need to get going soon to be ready for the Cicerone exam AND the World Beer Festival.

New Website

With a new brewing company comes a new website. The blog over at mysterybrewingco.com will soon be going away for a more robust website with some features that I think will be fairly interesting to people. Among them are the normal kind of website things: discussion boards, a news feed, info about the brewery, social media and that sort of crap. But here’s a little preview of some of the other things I’m working on (not all of which will be up and running immediately):

  • A check-in point/badge system specifically for Mystery Brewing. Think FourSquare, or Untappd except you actually have the chance to get REAL REWARDS if you earn the right badges: Discounts on brewery merch, beer, private brewery tours, beer, t-shirts, beer, stickers, and probably, at some point, beer. This should launch with the new website, even if beer won’t.
  • A Mystery beer genealogy tree. I am quite proud of the fact that all of my beers started as homebrew recipes, and I am telling you now that they are all going to evolve over time. Recipes I have now may spawn other recipes in the future. This beer genealogy tree will be a way to find out how all Mystery beers are linked together, batch to batch over time. It will serve as a means as helping people find out both what they enjoyed about a beer and what new beers they might enjoy. Once all the equipment drops into place and Mystery beer starts hitting bars and restaurants, this will also serve as a way to track which batches of which beer are out in the public and where you can find them.
  • An ongoing art contest. I am a big fan of the arts in general. I went to an art school for my undergraduate experience and was, shall we say, intimate with the art school, even though I was only a performing artist, myself. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase art through Mystery. In specific, I will be announcing an ongoing art contest of sorts through which artists of any sort – professional, amateur, painters, web comics, whatever – can submit artwork for use to represent beer in our repertoire. The artist who’s work is chosen will receive money in return for the use of the art, as well as a royalty for every piece of (non-packaging) merchandise sold using the artwork. (Since we won’t be in bottles for a good long time, we’re talking posters, t-shirts, etc.) More details on this later in the spring, but artists, start thinking Evangeline.
  • Weekly updates on progress in the brewery. Things are starting to pick up speed and while anybody who is part of the classes up above will be able to see things starting to pop up around them, a lot of people don’t know what exactly is going on in there, so we’re going to get into some detailed updates on how we’re progressing toward getting beer on the market, even if that update is why progress isn’t being made. Back when I started Top Fermented, this is one of the things I really wanted to do is get into the nitty-gritty of what goes on behind the scenes when a brewery is opening. For the most, especially when it’s come to financing, I’ve felt like it was either a little boring or getting into detail would get into confidentiality issues with my partners. Now that we’re moving past getting money and into (*whimper*) spending it, I feel a little more like I can let people behind the curtain. Prepare yourselves to see week after week after week of.. ermm.. well… pictures of an empty cement box. Yaaay!
  • More from me about the industry in general. I’ll be folding Top Fermented into the new website. It’ll still exist on the original domain and function independently, but it will also be integrated into the new website as the brewer’s blog. It means no more separation of sites and it should mean a more rigorous update schedule. It might also mean that I piss more people off that I probably want to retain the respect of as I voice my opinions, but.. ermm.. well.. that sucks.

    Okay – this part isn’t nearly as exciting to you as it is to me. Still. I’m excited.

Kickstart-y Goodness

And no, that doesn’t mean that I’m starting another Kickstarter project (yet), but Kickstarter backers will remember that there are still homebrew recipes to go out, Irregulars memberships to revel in, beer dinners to eat, and video chats to watch. I haven’t forgotten, and there will be movement on a couple of these things soon.

And more.. much, much more.

If I’m running into any sort of problem, lately, it’s the fact that I have more ideas for things to do than I have resources and, frankly, spare neurons for processing. The important part that my next blog post should be a snark filled rant about some sort of craft beer segment piece and not one of these lame update sessions.

But! The future is bright and there’s beer there. Join me!

À votre santé,

 24 Jun 2010 @ 9:38 AM 

No shit, buddy. You start starting a brewery and then you fall off the face of the blog? Way to show dedication. Hell, you showed up for the Session that you hosted and then.. what? Posted a few pictures of a half-done tattoo and fell into obscurity? Good work!

Okay. Touche. I’ve been absent. My bad. In truth, I’ve been working on a few articles and just haven’t had a chance to finish them up (though I did get one out – non-beer related – for Intrepid Media) and.. and.. I haven’t forgotten about you, internet. It’s not you, it’s me. I swear!

In fact, just to get things rolling again before I drop my bomb post about craft market dichotomy, let me give you a couple of posts from OTHER blogs that I’ve found interesting, lately.

Nate at Thank Heaven for Beer wrote a great piece yesterday about HR 4278 and why reduction of excise tax on small brewers is NOT a stimulus package, and why it is, actually, fair. This follows up another great post (with equally great discussion) about beer reviews and whether or not they’re legit if they used terms you can’t recognize.

Seriously – if you like to read about the craft beer industry, go read both of those pieces AND all of the comments. They’re well worth it. Thoughtful pieces, thoughtful commentary.

Ken at The Hop Press wrote a really neat piece about Sierra Nevada’s use of a Gas Chromatographic Mass Spectrometer w/ Olfactory to pick up really specific fruit flavors and aromas from new hop varietals. It’s a really fascinating piece. I enjoy the implications of what it means for the future of flavor in craft beer, which I would like to define as: “More awesome is yet to come.”

And as for me? You just watch and wait. And then take me to the cleaners in the comments on my next post.

Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 24 Jun 2010 @ 09:38 AM

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 17 May 2010 @ 2:17 PM 

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears!

Eyes. Whatever.

I come here today to fulfill the final item from my first post of the year which is to say, I’ve launched my brewing company.

I’ve ended up doing things a little differently than I had originally thought I would. I started off the year thinking about going the nanobrewery route, having been sufficiently convinced after the long conversation on that post that it was a feasible startup strategy. I lack a garage, which, frankly, seemed like a huge detriment. Renting space means rebuilding space and if I’m doing that, brewing 1 bbl at a time seems a little ridiculous, so I scrapped that idea.

What I ended up finally settling on is starting out contract brewing. A few decisions went into this, one of which is that I can get started, now, while I’m still working my day job. You can tell me that it’s possible to do that while starting my own brick-and-mortar packaging brewery, but I’d argue semantics with you and then I’d remind you that I don’t have a partner in this project to share the workload. It’s me, baby.

I’m planning on doing a form of contract brewing that’s called “Alternating Proprietorship.” What that means is that the brewery that I contract with actually allows me to go in and brew the beer myself. Other breweries you may have heard of that are using (or have used) this concept are The Pretty Things Ale Project or Mikkeller. I can’t say that I purport to be as awesome as either of these formidable examples, but I’ll certainly try my hardest.

Since non-traditional startup seems to be part of my burgeoning oeuvre, I’ve also hooked up with a micro-investment site for part of my startup funds. What that means is that you can be involved in the startup of the company in small amounts. $10. $20. $50. Whatever. It’s a way of getting as many people as possible involved in the company as I can, a way for me to start building a community around the idea of the brewery, and also a way for me to able to give back to people who help with the startup funding.

As you can imagine, this isn’t nearly as much money as I need to actually start the company. I’m also pursuing traditional investment strategies, but this is exactly what it purports to be: A kickstart, a way to get the idea off of the ground and moving. It’s enough money to get me licensed and to get beer into people’s hands at least once.

I’d love to have thousands of people involved: a community built brewing company. It’s my dream. I hope you can join me. And tell your friends! There just might be beer available for everyone involved somewhere along the line.

I’ll post updates here occasionally, but aside from this post (and that nice little widget on the upper-right you see there) almost everything about the brewery will be happening over on its own website, and I’ll be keeping Top Fermented set on snarky commentary.

And now just ask yourself: What better possible way to celebrate American Craft Beer Week is there than funding a brewery?


Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 17 May 2010 @ 02:58 PM

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