Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 loves me, loves me not.

My mood is set to Bliss. My sleep patterns, 6-8 per night. Bags under my eyes...GONE. As many of you know, these things weren't always this way.  As I reflect on all things 2013, I don't know whether or not to A.)quiver in fear B.)jump as high as I can (2-5 inches at best) or C.) both. I'll tell you this much: we are open and that's the daily agenda around here.  No more cryin', no more stress to "get open".  January of last year we had big hopes of opening in the Spring. We had little worries and construction was finally underway. Kids at the playground on the first day of summer. Then, in a act of brilliant defiance, life went, well,  all life on us. Months past, money ran dry, mortgages went late (WAY LATE), and sleep was near impossible. It became quite a long and pretty intolerant year.  " We will open in _________, we promise" became our motto. I could keep doing this in this blog, but why? I can barely remember those times.  This year doesn't end anywhere NEAR failure. For this year, my friends, may just be the greatest year of my life.

It all starts with team and  close family/friends.  I still lay my head on a pillow every night next to my beautiful and amazing wife, Katie.  Trust me, that's number 1 in my life whether or not we opened. I still love her with all of my heart and apparently she feels the same. So that's a win! My parent's would be proud of me even if I started a pooper scooper company (Pick Your Poo?), so I've got that still. Score. We have assembled a staff that has come together as a motley crew of bad-assery and silliness that I am totally in love with.  We know the importance they bring, therefore they are an extension of us. I mean c'mon every Saturday has been dubbed "Cat-ur-day" with them all dawning cat shirts. So good! We got them all Cicerone Certified Beer Server Exam's for Christmas.  They are our first crew and need to be honored as that and eternally thanked.   Brewing beer for a living is not the dream. No, it's having all of the above.  That is what makes me feel all of the freaking pride in the world.  That's the good stuff.

Finally, the beer. Oh the beer. We have made 24 different styles and 30 batches in 4 months.  From local produce, to a documentary featuring locally grown white wheat. From Cabernet grapes in the desert to wild yeast in a date porter. From spices, to barrel aging. The fact that you all show up...BRAVO. We aren't starving artist exclaiming to the world that "No one understands".  The life-blood. And we've only just begun! We know we aren't universally accepted (just read some of our SCATHING reviews!) We also know that we will fall short at times.  But know this: WE CARE MORE THAN YOU COULD EVER IMAGINE. To the "bad review writer" they may think this place is four walls and a register just pushing another product.  To us, it's our legacy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for accepting us and giving us a chance. Much love!

Shameless Plug: Check out our youtube channel!:   


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Good men down, we must rise.

I am en route to the Yarnell Hill Fire 19's memorial. The bus I am aboard is packed with the loved ones of my friend, Garrett, who was a true badass.  I feel sympathy and sadness as any normal person would at this moment.  He was an amazing soul and friend, and his family and friends are now a large part of my life.  This blog however is about Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. and without convoluting things to terribly, I can draw some incredible insight from the situation.  There is a certain brotherhood among first responders that has absolutely astounds me. A true humbling experience that cleanses the soul from any bitterness it may have picked up. I'll tell you this: Hearing how many people have said something along the lines of , " Garrett and the guys talked about your brewery so much, they were so excited about it!"  gives me such a feeling of pride. Hotshot  firefighters and brewers are so similar, but we pale in comparison to their tenacity and heroism. The beards( in the off season), the quasi brash personalities, smelly, and dirty men and women who choose a career based on passion and tireless work.  That's why I respect those guys.  They did it the way they wanted to...the hard way.

  Previously, I wanted to write a blog entitled, " What's taking so long to open?!?!", but it seems so trivial on this July morning that we mourn friends and family. I am invigorated more than ever at the chance to get this brewery started.  Be patient with us, we are so very close.  The key to remember is we all didn't come into this with wads of cash.  We are truly earning this with blood, sweat, and tears. Making sure to protect our brand and allowing it to be 100% OUR direction comes at somewhat of a cost and time is the currency we pay with.  Keep your excitement alive and we will deliver! I promise the sweat is rolling off our foreheads today as we clean and get ready for final inspections.

Today... today I celebrate life and all its intricacies. I hope you all can too, with a fine craft beer of course!

I will miss you my ginger bearded friend.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Yes things suck, but this is the path chosen!

I had half written a post about all things entailing "starting your own brewery" and all that broad subject encompasses. Then came Rob Fullmer's recent post on his blog "Beer PHXation" Read it and ponder a bit and then return...

I know this: people like Rob have a cautious approach towards constant growth in an industry that most of us feel we have a place in.  He has garnered respect from me as being one of the most observant individuals in the craft beer industry. I am also very relieved his blog got to me before I rambled on about our current situation.  I had things like "The American Nightmare" and "All those homebrewers getting into this who build a brewer thing probably have no idea that this is an industry of sales and relationships, and your love for beer will , at times, offend people" in my post. Then, after reading his blog, I stepped back and reflected on all the progress that  I have made. There are so many positives because we pushed for this crazy dream. I see the ceiling and floors we chose.  I see the bars and lights that were installed with a vision for comfort.  I see our team tirelessly working their butts off to see this take hold. All the stainless steel was procured from a vision in a garage over a raging 10 gallon boil. I see the logo I fell in love with while backpacking the heart of Arizona. What we have learned certainly wasn't free, isn't free, and never will be free.  The mistakes we made will be made by numerous "dreamers" that will risk it all and not ever receive the advice they should have.  All because they probably just didn't ask the right questions.

The growth of an industry always starts with trends.  When investors feel more confident that the trends are more bullish and are established as a market, well, they pour their money in.  Success stories start popping up and the dreamers start to see dancing pint glasses that "they made".  Honestly, go for it.  I could tell you what a torturous road is ahead, but you don't give a dam.  Look your loved ones in the eyes and BE HONEST.  You will lose more than you will win.  If your business plan doesn't show a 95-99% risk to your own life and your investors money, re write it.  You will lose many close friends.  Your passion will lend to frustration.  You will not be living a dream many many days.  You will go broke.  Give yourselves 2-3 years from the start of your fundraising effort, and please, OH please, learn to not lie to yourself. Then finally, remember that your idea is so played out. So boring.  More craft beer is an amazing thing but everyone else has already done most of the things you have yourself wrapped around as "new" and "exciting".  That's why this is so hard! Your selling something that has already been done!  Learn to be good at that. Really focus on that.

Lets end with this positive note:  The Arizona craft brewing scene is winning. Guys like Jon Lane from OHSObrewery in Phoenix is the kind of guy that is leading an amazing charge for a local craft beer scene without the bullcrap.  Not one brewery we asked for help and/or advice turned their back to us.  Arizona beer is not just trending, it's growing and getting better.  We are all apart of the ride.  Cheers.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Updates and Rainbows

Finally an update!
Here is the deal, we have been slow to give updates because, honestly, we didn't know if we would make it this far or not.  As in... an empty and lifeless building and selling our dogs for money.  We risked it all signing the lease somewhat blindly in September. Ignorance truly is bliss, but we are driven to move forward! Paying rent for a building that's not open is a tough road to go, so we have been plugging away like mice chasing the smell of cheese in a maze.  We can now at least see the cheese ( though it's under lock and key still)!

A year ago today we were filming the Kickstarter video in plans for the nano brewery in Queen Creek. When LA Fitness shut us out, we were dumbfounded. Especially because money was put into that place from our own pockets and no one in that company told us of the special clause LA fitness held.  This is just part of the growth of our business knowledge and toughening of the skin'.  It's like touching the oven and getting burnt.  So instead of avoiding ovens all together we learned to cook! *Terrible called and asked me to stop using their ideas, so I digress:*
  You can piece together the major events in our history from this blog/Facebook, but from Oct-January we were misled, misjudged, misunderstood, misinformed, and misrepresented.  We blame ourselves, and from it we learned a beautiful lesson. That lesson being:  KEEP YOUR PAYING JOBS. Money will fall from your pockets like a hipster changes clothing styles.  Too many people assumed we are living a dream, but we shiver at the thought of the possibility of what may have been, and shoot, at this point I shiver at what tomorrow will throw our way.  Anyways, we have prevailed and construction is well underway.  The contracting company, Heritage Construction Specialists, is plugging away to build our dream.   Honestly, we are the new Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company moving forward and that's just it in a nutshell.

Being the first brewery in Gilbert's history (there was a discussion about this topic, so I will re-word, "we are the first approved microbrewery by the Gilbert Town Council in regards to brewing beer in it's town's limits") we had a few bumps in the road.  Their was a bunch of learning on both sides, and that added to the unforeseen month delay.  They have been a pleasure to work with, so not to worry all was discussed and approved.  Soon, the county health inspection will be underway and the light at the end will continue to brighten!

On a good note: Patrick Ware (formally of San Tan Brewing fame) joined the team.  First things first, San Tan is a company we really admire.  Anthony, the owner, fought the good fight and I really respect the road he has taken and am in awe of his success.  There was nothing but respect when Patrick made a career change from both sides, and I consider it a win for AZ craft beer.  Why don't I brew it all?  I want to build a brand that lasts further than my mind can see. With his knowledge, dedication, and skills, ok and his handsome beard, I believe we have a winning team.  Not to say anyone who does it any other way can't build, I just think I am a wimp and would die weeks into the ordeal. Go to San Tan Brewing with serious admiration for a company who has fought and clawed their way through Lame Recession (I can't call it the "GREAT RECESSION" cause' it wasn't great)  and have built an incredible brand.

Wrapping things up:  I know this blog wasn't as much about this beer as it could have been.  That will come soon enough. Now we continue to build, raise money, spend it, dance, cry, laugh, and soon, oh so soon, BREW BABY BREW.  It's a go, it's real. Next we just have to keep the doors open.  That's a whole different story!