What’s in a Name? Part I

Are you curious yet about what we will be calling ourselves as professional brewers?
Well, don’t hold your breath…

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I promise that this blog will be the first public place that we announce our commercial name, but we aren’t ready to do that just yet. One reason is that our vision and branding MAY be location dependent. What that means is that we know HOW we want our brewery to be run and WHERE we would like for it to be, but in reality, it may just not work out that way. Of the several locations that we are pursuing, each has its own personality that may or may not work with the name or names that we would like to use. I know that is vague, but at some point in the future it will make more sense. Alas, don’t fret. You will love the name and branding when we do reveal it.

In the meantime, allow me to spin a tale about the original naming of our homebrew operation and in a subsequent post, the renaming of our homebrew operation.

When Pearce and I first started brewing together, we knew that adding a name to our operation would make it seem like it was more than it really was; a hobby. But we also wanted to immediately add a little credibility to what we “might” do in the future. That being said, naming anything these days is next to impossible if you ever plan to use terms or phrases or names that are actual people, places or things. Basically, if you think of something that isn’t a gobbledegook mash-up of non-words, a minimum of 5 people have already had the thought ahead of you and have bought every instance or combination of letters that would make up a decent domain. This reminds me of the SNL skit about Dillon Edwards Investments

Pearce and I have our own ideas about what makes a good name, but we agreed that we wanted something that represented our love of the coast, the history of our area and was also a subtle nod to our faith. Talk about a tall order. Well cleanliness is next to Godliness and any good brewer knows that the art of brewing is 10% recipe, 10% skill, and 80% cleaning and sanitation. Our research for the right name led us to a historical item that was once used to clean the wooden decks of ships. The item was known as a holystone, a porous type of sandstone, that legend says was first gathered from the ruined church of St. Helens Cathedral on the Isle of Wight. A holy relic used for cleaning and purification?  It represented our coastal heritage, our dedication to brewing sanitation standards, and had just enough veiled faith context as to create intrigue. How perfect! We adopted the name Holystone Brewing and started making our presence known. That is until we decided to change our name…

true-holystone

Stay tuned for the next episode of Planning to Brew where we talk about the death of Holystone and the birth of a new name and brand. You will not want to miss out on that story. Speaking of not missing out… Have you subscribed yet? Just add your email address and we will notify you whenever there is a new post. Scared of spam and other nefarious things from giving out your email addy? Fear not. We will never spam you or sell your information.

Until next time my friends…

Getting Our Hands Dirty

I have gotten some really great feedback recently from readers and people following our journey. The recurring feedback from numerous folks after last week’s post about taking a brewing course was that “school learning” is no substitute for hands-on experience. I could not agree with you more. You guys just didn’t give me a chance to tell you about it yet…

IMG_2596I met Chris Winn from Tradesman Brewing this past year. He was one of those guys that would show up in People You Might Know on Facebook. One day I checked out his profile and realized that we had SEVERAL friends in common from SEVERAL different social groups, the most glaring being the cycling community and the local beer community. I was wondering how we had so many mutual friends and had not really crossed paths. As if his ears were burning, I got a friend request from him and accepted that same week.

Not too long after that, I reached out to him and asked if he ever needed any help at the brewery. My schedule was flexible and I was willing to come put in some hours. He told me that I was welcome anytime. The first time I went was a week after Thanksgiving. Pearce was out of town that week so he wasn’t able to make it, but I went ahead. I met Chris at the brewery at the butt-crack of dawn that day, and he and Scott (co-owner and head brewer) proceeded to put me to work. From sun up to sun down, they let me do as much as I was willing, which was everything at that point. Even though the day was long and the work was not easy, I knew that the smell of grains cooking and converting was a future I would be happy with.

So for the past few months, Pearce and I have been putting in hours when we were able. Chris (and Eulie and Scott too) has been teaching and giving us opportunities to learn the business from the ground up. Brewing is such a small part of actually running a brewery and we have been learning about all of the aspects. Crushing, mashing, brewing, cooling, transferring, propagating, pitching, fermenting, harvesting, cleaning, sanitizing, crashing, carbonating, kegging, packaging, distributing, ordering, managing, travelling and especially tasting… I even got to go work the World Beer Festival in Columbia, SC with these guys.

The beer community in Charleston is really awesome and it seems like almost ALL of the brewers and beer folk in this town are great and willing to help each other succeed. I want to thank Chris, Scott and Eulie for giving us the opportunity to get our hands dirty and learn more about the business that we want to be a part of. If you are local readers then please stop in at Tradesman and give a high five to the crew for being so awesome and willing to let us be a part.

Old Fool in the Old School

I realize that neither Pearce nor I have any formal training as brewmasters. You probably have thought to yourself, “What are these yay-hoos gonna do once presented with large scale commercial brewing equipment?” Well, you are right. We don’t know how to brew on commercial brewing equipment. But we aren’t afraid to learn either.

Currently, Pearce and I are both enrolled in an online course from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and being administered through Blue Ridge Community College Craft Beer Academy in Hendersonville, NC. Some people may ask why we would go through a semi-regional community college in order to get a certificate in brewing through an internationally recognized organization whose mission it is to advance education and professional development in the science and technologies of brewing, distilling and related industries… Well there are a couple of reasons. The first is that neither of us have the extra time, nor the extra finances, nor the capacity to get into the Siebel Institute and World Brewing Academy. The second is that most of the other courses are taught in person out in Oregon or in the North East. But the true kicker that caused us to choose this particular course is that the class is taught in conjunction with and under the supervision of Oskar Blues Brewery. All of our class videos are actually filmed at the OB location in Brevard, NC. Oh yeah… we also get to go spend a day working at the OB brewery at the end of the course. Hands on experience at one of the coolest breweries around could not be passed up.

oskar_blues_brewery_2014

And by the way… This course is not a cakewalk. I was talking to my wife the other day and telling her about the section I was studying on Yeast Husbandry and Handling. Sounds dirty doesn’t it? I was throwing out terms like propagation, flocculation, cropping characteristics, subculturing onto agar slopes, and autolysation as a cause of “meatiness.” She looked at me and said, “Your beer conversation has become so much more refined. Careful or you will fall into a less desirable social standing among your peers because of your perceived beer nerdiness.” I have paraphrased. She may have just looked at me and called me a dork.

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So, at the end of this course, we will both have the opportunity to get a General Brewing Certificate from the IBD. But guess what. That still doesn’t make us brewmasters. We are well aware of that. But we both are voracious learners and we understand that when starting a new business, it is best to know the business from the bottom up. We will be more prepared in the commercial realm than if we were trying to do this having only been homebrewers. The more you know, amirite?

With that being said, and if you have actually made it to the end of this post, I would like to tell you that we have had several SUPER exciting things happen over the past couple of weeks. We have had super strategic meetings with municipal staff, legal experts, financial institutions and advisors. I am hoping to make several important announcements in the next month or so that may answer some questions about the ifs and whens and wheres of a commercial brewing endeavor. Make sure to subscribe in order to be notified when we post.

Thanks folks. Be well.