What am I grateful for on the eve of Thanksgiving, 2014? For my family, friends, and that I’ve been able to pursue my passion for beer and brewing in so many ways. What an incredible transformation we’ve seen in recent years! Since my first book came out, more than 1,000 breweries have opened in the United States. I’m often asked, will I update The Great American Ale Trail, maybe write a sequel? I think so, but not this year, because I’m currently doing something I’ve wanted to tackle since my first batch of homebrew: opening my own brewery.
Wolves & People, named for a game we played on our family farm as kids, is that dream, that brewery… a meeting of wood barn and wild yeast, entropy and industry, passionate study and blind chance. A farmhouse brewery using well water, wild airborne microflora, farm fruits and produce, Wolves & People is the culmination of everything I’ve worked for since my first article ever published, on Orval, in 1998. Paying my first down payment with a bag of filberts (seriously), I managed to get a hold of the old copper clad brewhouse from Heater Allen, which is now installed in our 1912 barn. We plan to focus on saisons, wild ales, and all manner of sour beers aged in wood barrels formerly used in area wineries. My inspiration: the amazing Cantillon, of Brussels, Belgium, which I first visited in 1997, mainly. But many breweries I’ve toured and written about since then have filled my head and heart with the goal of creating my own place.
For the past seven months I’ve been working every spare minute to get this project underway, and it’s been among the most challenging efforts I’ve ever undertaken. In fact, it was far more than I could handle alone. Thankfully, I’ve teamed up with Jordan Keeper, former head brewer of Jester King in Austin Texas, who moved up here October to help me realize this dream. Both of us have spent the past two months cutting and hauling, all the while dreaming of beers we’ll create here on the farm. Fun? Sometimes. Hard work? Words can’t suffice. It has been grueling. But we’re getting there.
The barn restoration is underway. We’ve poured concrete, tested new drains, ordered a hefty glycol chiller. We even homebrewed a pilot batch yesterday. Locals are getting pretty excited about us opening up (Spring 2015, by the way).
But we also learned we need a whole new roof on much of the barn, which will cost a LOT.
You’ve heard of Kickstarter. Enter Crowdbrewed, which is like Kickstarter for the beer industry. And there are only 4 days left in our Crowdbrewed campaign, which is now almost 2/3 funded. We’re so grateful for the support we’ve received, but we need more help to get up and running. Please consider a donation of $5, $25, $50… whatever you can manage. We also have very some juicy rewards at the $500 and $750 level remaining. To help us reach our goal, and due to unforeseen demand, we plan to release 25 (more) Cellar Society memberships to help us reach our $60,000 goal (a mere fraction of our opening costs, by the way). Those will go live on Thanksgiving, Thursday the 27th, at 12 NOON Pacific Standard Time. There are also other beer-in-reserve options remaining. Thanks for your support, and keep checking our campaign page for news and updates. Cheers and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!