Well friends, 2014 is off to a roaring start. Starting off the event season was the World Beer Festival, in which our collaboration porter was met with rave reviews, and many proclaiming that the coffee vanilla version was the “best beer of the festival.” Our first anniversary party was also a smash hit, with our estimate topping above 1,000 people coming out to taste our beers and purchase The Finisher. The Finisher sold out as quickly as we could fill and wax the containers, and has been met with excellent ratings and even more excitement about upcoming releases. We have seen a marked uptick in attendance to the tasting room since then, probably as a result of the publicity and excitement that the release garnered, and more people in town finding out about our tasting room. We are excited to see our friends, neighbors, and those we’ve never met coming down, touring the brewery, and trying each new beer we craft; and we have expanded the tasting area into the front part of the brewery to accommodate the increased number of Columbians that have found Conquest to be a great place to meet people and converse over a lovingly crafted pint. So; where do we go from here? Well in the immediate future, the answer is Greenville! Heather and I spent the day (Tuesday) traveling around the beautiful city and meeting the proprietors of some of the fine establishments there, and we have a launch date there for our beers set for the 20th of this month! We are also slated to (finally) begin bottling operations in the next few days, and will have bottles available at least at the tasting room, if not citywide, by the end of February. Thank you so much for your continued support of Columbia’s craft brewery… and stop by for a pint! We’d love to see you!
We are growing! We have new hours in order to better serve you!
Well friends, it has been quite a while since I have updated the blog, but now that I am full-time here I will try to do better in the future. So, where to begin? As you probably know, we have been producing beer since the end of January. The debut at the World Beer Festival was very exciting, and it was wonderful that all of you embraced us so readily. Our beers have gotten better since then, as we have learned our new system and perfected our recipes; and now that we are on full-time, we are able to produce not only more beer but also a larger variety.
Bi-Polar High Roller is back out for its second run, and this one still has the burn of the first batch, but has more chocolate and a creamier, fuller mouthfeel. For those of you that like pepper beers, we will be making an imperial version at some point soon that will be much hotter than this one, and more complex. We will probably base it off of the Brutus recipe. Speaking of, Brutus was tried for the first time by many of you last night at the Liberty beer dinner, and was very well received. We hope you all are enjoying drinking our beers as much as we are enjoying making them.
Der Alte Fritz, our new rye brown ale, should be hitting pubs, restaurants and growler stations this weekend or early next week. This beer is somewhat like an alt, somewhat like a brown ale, and a bit like a porter, with rye and a large late hop addition that gives it a bright hop aroma atop the nutty, roasty and spicy character of the malts. This beer was developed almost solely by Matthew and I have to admit I think he did a great job. I hope you love it too.
We are brewing a test batch today for a new beer to be unveiled at the start of football season… and our smaller tanks will be in next week for even more limited batches and experimental beers (aka CYCLOPS). We have several types of hops in the cooler that we haven’t even used yet, and several new yeast strains including a farmhouse blend, trappist ale, German lager, hefeweizen, and others that we will be testing out soon in the CYCLOPS line, and developing even more delicious beers in the coming months.
We are beginning to partner with the area food trucks at the tasting room, and the first dinner-and-a-pint night will be tomorrow, July 27th, at 6 PM, with The Wurst Wagen. We are hiring more help for the tasting room so that you can get served faster and better, and we thank you so much for your continued support for us and giving us the need to increase our staff. None of this would be possible without you, our friends, fellow craft beer lovers, and loyal customers. You have hundreds of beers to choose from every day, and we are so grateful that you continually choose ours.
If you haven’t been by the tasting room this week, it has gotten a facelift; gone are the dark green walls, and here is the new look that’s (we think) classier and more comfortable. Those of you that frequent the tasting room will be happy to know that we are also getting some audio engineering done to bring down the noise level, and maybe even put in some music!
So thus begins the whirlwind. For the next several months, we will be coming out with at least one experimental beer a month, and often two or three. We will be at Brew at the Zoo, the Free Times best of Columbia party, and who knows where else. And come football season… well, who knows. We are excited to meet many of you that are coming from out of town for games, and we PROMISE we will have more staff and better organization than we did on opening day. Columbia, you overwhelmed us with support that day, and showed us just how excited you are about finally having your own local brewery. We will continue to make the best beers we can, and brew as many different and exciting beers as humanly possible. There is much, much more to come. We have only just begun.
Well, here we are, it is 2013, almost 3 months after we expected to be open and sharing our beers with you. And yet, here we are, still awaiting some licensing, still anxiously awaiting the big announcement of opening day. People ask me every day, several times a day, “What’s going on with Conquest?” And every day I still have to shrug my shoulders and say, “still waiting…”
I do want you to know, however, that we are not idle. We are still working hard at the brewery, many hours a week, to try to make sure that everything is ready when we finally can open the doors. And I am still spending hours in front of a computer screen trying to make sure all of our batch scaling calculations are done perfectly, all of our TTB paperwork is waiting on them and not me, and that I have done everything possible on my part to make sure that we are producing beer as soon as possible.
So, what’s going on with Conquest? Well, we have our federal license, we have fulfilled all of the state requirements that we know of over the last few weeks, and we are fully expecting to have the remainder of our permitting completed within the next week or so. We are also hoping to get the permits in time to be able to appear at the World Beer Festival on the 19th. For those of you that are good at mathematics, you have calculated that we have very little time. We know. That is why we are hoping and praying that the wait finally ends this week. And truly, we have little reason to believe that it will not. So, friends, I hope to write another blog post on Friday to announce to you the scheduled grand opening day. Stay tuned, and thank you for patiently waiting this out with us.
In truth, it has been a long, long time since the beginning. The beginning could be said to have been but a few short weeks ago, when the lease was signed and we had a building to call our own… or it could be said to have been when we reached our fundraising goal, or when we distributed our memorandums, or when we came up with the idea of Conquest Brewing Company. It could even be said to have been when we formulated Sacred Heart. Or when we named it. Or even the first time we brewed together, so many years ago.
But truly, the beginning, like so many other things, retains its own unique personality as it flits from one place to another in our memories, as we wonder if there were ever a point when we weren’t opening a brewery and simply waiting for the next thing to happen, or making it happen ourselves.
In truth, it has been a long and arduous process of refining recipes, seeking endless advice, soliciting endless help, learning endless patience. Brewing, brewing, brewing, tracking dirt and mud throughout my wife’s otherwise clean kitchen before and after replacing the floor and remodeling. Failed batch after failed batch, leading to tweaking, perfecting, working on each individual beer to make it absolutely divine… much like we will doubtless have to do as we begin on our new system, and then, God willing, our 15 barrel system.
We would like to thank God, first of all, for allowing every puzzle piece to settle gently into place throughout the planning and execution stages. Secondly, our wives, who have stood by us, encouraged us, scolded us, cooked for us, put up with us, and loved us every step of the way. Becky and Jessica, we love you. Thirdly, our gracious business consultants and attorney. You have helped exactly as much as you know. Fourthly, all of our investors. You have made this possible, and thank you for believing in us. Fifth, we must thank Chuck Maier for his incredible artwork and continued support and inspiration. We would also like to thank Edward and Morgan Westbrook of Westbrook Brewing Company in Mount Pleasant, SC, for their encouragement, support, help, and guidance. And finally, we would like to thank you. Whomever you may be, reading this blog, anticipating our opening, excited to come meet us, try beers with us, help us, critique us, whatever; thank you. We hope that we can meet and surpass all of your expectations for Columbia’s first production brewery. We salute you.
Joseph Ackerman, President