The 4 Best Screw Ups of the Year

A year filled with planning and executing has led to growth for our little business. But what happens when things don’t go according to plan? What happens when you experience a week full of Grade-A bonehead decision making? We attempt not to mope for too long. Instead, we push each other to put our heads back down and get back to work (after cracking a few beers and making fun of each other of course).

The bottom line, we are trying our best to show our readers what it’s like to build a brewery from square one; documenting the screw-ups, blunders and miscues along the way with our blog acting as a platform for transparency.

Here is a list of the dumbest things we've done over the past 10 months:

Humble hands sanitizing humble bottles. Sometimes with too much sanitizer. 

Humble hands sanitizing humble bottles. Sometimes with too much sanitizer. 

1. Attempting to build the best possible business requires the best legal representation. Before taking us on as a client, our lawyer needed proof that we could do more than talk a good game. Standing upright and confident, we provided him and “his people” a handful of our best beers to try. Young in our bottling career, we managed to wash the bottles with too much sanitizing agent, transforming the beer into a skunky, bitter homebrew incubator. To put it differently; a KeyStone Ice aged for three summers in the Mojave sun would have tasted better.

The oven felt it needed to catch our six pack holders on fire, not cure ink

The oven felt it needed to catch our six pack holders on fire, not cure ink

2. Frank couldn’t afford to get large design projects printed in college so he learned how to screenprint (“learned” is used liberally). Using leftover materials from Frank’s mom’s classroom, a “how to screenprint” seminar was conducted in our garage. The garage acted as the factory, bathrooms doubled as darkrooms and our kitchen oven worked as our ink curator. Halfway through our first batch of 100 bottles, we realized the ink wouldn’t set because it needed a glass adhesive (that’s why our screen printed bottles tended to peel, and still do). Options: spend boatloads of money on the right adhesive or increase our oven’s heat to help it cure (guess which option we chose?). Input: bottles, cardboard six packs and t-shirts; output: flame-covered clothes and black cumulous clouds of smoke. Our house nearly burned down. Twice.

3. While waiting for our last federal approvals, we brew, bottle and hand out our product to friends in the community for feedback. After handing out samples to Lúpulo and Assembly, we realized our Nantucket Sleigh Ride IPA was actually an under-carbonated, flat version of our seasonal pale ale. SHIT! Sorry Lúpulo, Assembly and other friends! We promise it was only a mistake and our IPA isn't actually that bad. 

4. In September, our childhood friend was getting married in San Diego. With an opportunity to showcase the business we’ve been building, we decided to pour our beer at their wedding. Sounded like fun, except we needed two days of cold storage in San Diego (our mode of transportation was Frank’s Prius, the absolute worst for lugging around five kegs, an abnormally large jockey box, CO2 tanks along with our groomsmen suits). Three minutes into our cold storage arrival, we met their brewer who proceeded to call us “glorified homebrewers” (which is not far from the truth). In their defense, they had no idea who we were, why we were there, and all this followed the accidental shattering of a full case of beer in their walk-in freezer. I wouldn’t like us either.

Of course starting a business is not easy and if it was then everybody would do it. We will continue to make mistakes but like always we’ll persevere, pivot and ultimately head in a straighter line toward our big picture goal.

“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake somebody up” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  

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