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Long Time, No Blog!

Long time, no blog!! When we first decided to do the blog I hesitated- when we get busy it'll never get updated, who has time for that?! Yeah, well, I told me so. Barely been a free moment to relax, let alone try to cobble together a coherent post to share! But we're all friends here, so whatever...

We're just hitting 5 months since sharing our first beer with you- the first one served to a customer was Glitz & Glam, our cherry & raspberry-fruited Berliner Weiss, which is fitting since it's as unique as we are and has remained a popular staple since that first pint. Since then we've been honored to pour you thousands of pints and even more tasters, plus loads of Crowlers and growlers, and delivered (literally) tons of kegs to our faithful retail accounts so you can enjoy Eppig beers 'in the wild'. Back at the tasting room, we've been honored to host birthdays, anniversaries, military promotions, bachelor and bachelorette parties, at least one engagement, and sometimes, just a peaceful place to escape- listen to some tunes, enjoy a drink, maybe chat with your neighbor and tell some stories. It's just like home to us, and we hope you feel the same.

During this crazy hectic stretch, we've managed to cram in production of 30+ batches on the brewhouse, over 400 barrels of 20 different beers. There have been one-off beers in collaboration with a local band we've gotten to know and love, charity nights that have allowed us to support several local and national causes close to our hearts, great live music in the tasting room, energizing yoga sessions to kick off the weekends, festivals where Clayton, Nate & Stephanie have been able to meet so many of our ever-growing crowd of loyal friends, and one of my favorite days- International Women's Brewing Collaboration day, when our talented beertenders took over brewing duties, spending the day working together with Clayton & Nate on a tasty creation that we're unveiling this week, with the proceeds benefiting the Pink Boots Society to help develop more careers for women in the industry.

We're just catching our breath and getting used to this, but at times feels like we're the seasoned veterans - we were brewery #130 to open in San Diego, and the count is now over 140! Just as countless members of the industry lent a generous hand to help us get started, now we're able to do the same for 'the new guys'- what a crazy fast circle of life it can be!

There's no rest for the weary so we're digging in for a busy summer, would hate for any of you to miss out on your preferred beer because we didn't brew enough. Festbier, 10:45 To Denver, Schwarzbier, Civility, etc- we'll keep you well-hydrated!

The upcoming months will include many more festivals, our first forays into the highly competitive beer competitions, of course new and creative beers being brewed & released, our first (and second) barrel-aged bottle release, and a few other gems we need to keep under wraps a little longer.

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Great Beer Starts With A Great Team

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Great Beer Starts With A Great Team

We've been rambling on over the last 18 months about lots of things - the Eppig family history, the work that goes into starting a highly-regulated business, raising capital, construction, t-shirts & growlers, taphandles, plans and ideas. Oh, and occasionally, beer. But not nearly enough about the beer. Well that can all change now - we're excited for you to meet our brewing team.

From the beginning, we've had a trusted and critically-important, albeit silent, '3rd partner' (seriously, silly as it may seem, that was how we referred to him in public, where someone might have overheard his name, or former employer, and figured out who he is - it's a small industry/world!). 

It's our pleasure, and a relief, to finally introduce our brewer, our partner, our dear friend. Clayton LeBlanc has been an integral part of every aspect you've already seen of Eppig Brewing, and the beer he'll be producing will demonstrate exactly why he's the perfect fit to manage Eppig Brewing's products and production.

You'll feel like you've been lifelong friends with Clayton after sitting down and spending just a few minutes talking about beer, cars, motorcycles. And when he gets to talking about his family, good luck changing the subject back to beer!

Joining Clayton on the brewhouse floor is the newest member of our team, Nate Stephens. Our Principal Brewer, he brings a wealth of brewing knowledge, both educationally and practically. In just a few short months we've already learned just how valuable an addition Nate is to Eppig Brewing.

His excitement over the exacting details of brewing science can be traced back to his engineering background, and is clearly evident in the finely-crafted and very carefully-thought-out flavor profiles in every recipe you'll soon enjoy.

The adults in the Eppig Brewing family are just holding on to the majority, as Nate and his wife Danielle will be welcoming their second child this fall.

We're also proud to announce our sponsorship of the Sunset Water Polo Club, one of Nate's passions and a non-negotiable term as we were inviting him to join us.

Next up - BEER!  Seems like it's been on a distant horizon for so long, and now we're just weeks from our first brew day. I'm getting thirsty just thinking about it!

 

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Wait, What?

Throughout this entire crazy amazing journey there is one point that needs to be made, many times over - the craft beer industry is incredibly uniquely inclusive. The openness and camaraderie we've experienced is unheard of, and has helped make our progress possible.

From the early days when it was just a quick question, from a drinker to a bartender, on to discreetly quizzing a brewer about the reason they picked a specific brewhouse manufacturer or where they sourced their prized hops, to today. We can now legitimately offer ourselves up as the latest entrants to the trade, eagerly poised to open our doors in a few short months!

Universally, without hesitation -from industry veterans to equally anxious rookies - the response to any variety of inquiries has been: 'Let's pour some beer and we'll talk' - the questions are answered, contact info exchanged and plans made to stay in touch as we make our way through this convoluted maze of our highly-regulated industry. We learned quickly to take those offers sincerely, and have stayed in touch with so many invaluable industry connections. 

At first my first thought was 'Wait, what? You'll tell me what went wrong when you did that? And how you solved it? Just to be helpful?' It didn't seem natural. Legal & accounting questions, equipment & material acquisition concerns, timing of permits & licenses - no subject is off-limits. 18+ months since those first questions and conversations, it's something that continues, and continues to amaze- an unimaginable aspect of the industry that is hard to appreciate until one is immersed in it.

It's invigorating (& nearly inconceivable!) to see how our colleagues celebrate our progress with us- not competitors, but teammates, helping strengthen the craft beer industry. Together.

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Brewery, Ignited

Brewery, Ignited

One piece of advice we've gotten over the last year, from dozens of well-meaning (and, admittedly, correct) friends and colleagues - remain flexible. Cliché or not: never have truer words been spoken. We've reached expert level on pivoting, rolling with the changes and finding Gumby levels of flexibility- and we haven't even opened the doors yet! We understand and have come to expect constant change as we get things rolling.

In what will qualify as the most-unexpected shift (to date), we made a bid on a short-cut to the dream. While not usually a fan of short-cuts, as there is a reason this is difficult or everyone would be doing it (lessons to be learned, sweat & tears, that whole line of reasoning), this one was hard to ignore or shy away from. The opportunity to move in to a ready-to-brew facility, without the hundreds of thousands of dollars in architecture, engineering, construction and equipment costs? Sign us up! And as luck would have it - we did just that. It was not overnight - we had a crazy roller-coaster of ups and downs as the process played out. Trust me- we've had a decent (or more) share of disappointments as we've twisted and turned our way through this entire maze, but that has just made us appreciate success and progress that much more.

Eppig Brewing has been selected from a competitive field of entries for a Brewery Igniter location in the heart of North Park, San Diego - one of the most beer-centric neighborhoods in a city that is arguably the Capital Of Craft Beer in the country. As fellow North Park residents, we couldn't ask for a better location to introduce our beer to our neighbors and fellow craft beer lovers.

Now a lease has been signed, celebratory drinks have been consumed and we're 100% committed to this dream! Construction on the facility began in March. The building has, at times, looked like it could be condemned, a bombed-out shell, a graffiti-covered flophouse, and more recently, an industrial building with some character, that almost looks like it could be a brewery in the near future! Walls have been removed, foundations have been altered and reinforced (full tanks of beer are heavy!), new electrical and water lines have been run in from the city utilities. With the floors in place, new steel and wood support beams are replacing the decades-old originals, walls, windows and doors are next. Finally - the brewhouse & tanks will be delivered & installed. The property owners are experts at this type of renovation, and they're aiming to wrap up the construction in a couple months. With Brewery Igniter's support, we'll be one of 3 breweries setting up residence at this location, making Eppig Brewing centric to San Diego's newest craft beer destination, at 3052 El Cajon Blvd, Suite C. We'll see you soon!

 

 

Beer. Fucking Phenomenal Beer.

We still have ‘real’ day jobs, so we often don’t get to work on Eppig Brewing until the sun has set, work well past midnight, holidays, weekends…  It’s surprisingly easy to stay motivated when you you’re following your passion, and lucky for us, that includes brewing and tasting beer! Our recipe test batches have commenced, and some genuinely amazing beer has come through the homebrew pipeline- the first batch, an incredibly tasty stout, was a relief. Not in the sense that 'whoa the beer is good' - we knew that, our partnership was based on exactly that level of expertise. No, it was that, after 12+ months of living and breathing the reincarnation of Eppig Brewing with every decision, dollar and drop of sweat the 3 of us were pouring into this, there is beer. That single focused goal we're working towards. And it is fucking phenomenal.

Reinventing Eppig Brewing

Reinventing Eppig Brewing

It takes more than money- there's actual work to be done to turn our vision into a reality, and to bring our brand to life…

We decided on the name Eppig Brewing months ago- naming the brewery after Stephanie’s family, whom owned and operated breweries in Brooklyn, New York prior to Prohibition (and, discreetly, during). So now begins the process of creating a brand that can build on this history with a modern twist.  After the past few months, naming seems like the easy part. On to forming the legal framework for our company, lots of hours with very skilled attorneys and that is taken care of. Next is the critically-important logo, and after considering nearly 100 variations - this is the one!

 

Paperwork filed to ensure our name and logo were protected, and 7 months later (which makes nearly every other aspect seem speedy) our trademark is now licensed! Then there’s the branded merchandise giveaways - everyone loves freebies. Basic placeholder website, Twitter/Facebook/Instagram accounts- check. The people you absolutely must involve in your dream, it's a crazy diverse collection of industries. A team of lawyers, a CPA, bankers, engineers and construction experts, graphic designers, brokers of real estate & equipment, suppliers of barley & hops, just to name a few. Now we're in need of merchandise samples-thankfully Stephanie considers this “shopping” and took over that task! Moving forward with equipment options,  location scouting, and above all else- beer.

Plunging Off A Cliff

Plunging Off A Cliff

It started with a drink (several, as happens under such circumstances) at a killer jazz bar in a revitalized industrial area of Santa Barbara, on a weekend visit when Stephanie and I were searching for answers to some vague, frustrating questions. Among them- do we continue down the career paths we're on, plugging away at our day jobs for another 20, 30, 40 years? Or leap (plunge?) off the cliff in search of the next chapter? Neither of us are fond of the easy path, and pretty quickly we were sprinting towards the edge of the abyss.....

Fast forward a couple weeks, and I'm sitting at a bar - one at the heart of the San Diego craft beer revolution - for a chat with a friend, about beer, over a beer. He's solidly embedded in the industry, having worked at every level of beer production - from bartending to keg washing to leading a team producing thousands of barrels of award-winning product every month. My rudimentary amateur questions about starting a brewery weren't nearly as cryptic and mysterious as I had imagined in my mind, and this friend pretty quickly caught on to the idea I was asking about. The conversation continued over another beverage or 3- the beginnings of a partnership & friendship that formed the foundation for J&L Eppig Brewing, LLC.

Now we have a team - 3 partners. 3 wholly different backgrounds, experiences, ideas and approaches, which now are being merged into one focused goal. (We'll get back to that) In the mean time, there is a lengthy laundry list of tasks to accomplish, far too long to list here. It started with creating a business plan and financial projections - the lifeblood of any cash-poor partnership, in a capital-intensive industry. How do we solve the problem of needing upwards of a million dollars, when we have, well, let's just say, significantly less than that million dollars? And so our search for investors commenced - and let me tell you, if you've never searched and scoured for money to launch your dream - it's YOUR dream, not the dream of the people with money. We had the illusion that, as we need money to make beer, and people love beer, obviously they’d offer up their money to help us make beer! As you can imagine things don't quite work that way. Definitely, we do had a collection of close friends who did just that - and we're eternally grateful for that undying support.