Most of you have already heard my big announcement through my social media outlets (twitter, facebook, untappd) or I told you in person. For a very long time as a homebrewer I have dreamed of going pro. I was always on the lookout for brewery jobs in the area. I’ve turned down beer related jobs where I’d have to move away, because of I can’t be too far from my son. I also worked for years in the legal field. It wasn’t fulfilling work, I often hated it, but it paid well. To walk away from that for a hot, sweaty, potentially dangerous and low paying job wasn’t something I could do. Then things changed. I found myself no longer employed. I was offered something part time in Maryville. I took it while I waited for another corporate job I had lined up to start. I wasn’t excited about dress codes, middle management types and sitting at another desk for 8 hours a day, but the money was right. As I waited I took on more and more hours at The Market. I started to realize that the cost of living in Maryville was less then Knoxville. Things aligned and I found a house. Everything started coming into place and I realized that I could scrape by on less money. I turned down the corporate gig to alternate between pouring beer and being a register jockey. On the side I was still doing my social media work for Superfly Fabulous Events. I took on a few other clients here and there. I threw together a few easy websites. Christopher at Bluetick Brewery approached me about taking on the role of their Social Media manager and event coordinator. Unfortunately there was no pay involved, but I knew once the brewery started making money, this “job” would eventually become a paying one. I took on the extra responsibilities, because of this but also to help out a good friend and potentially great up and coming brewery. While this was going on, I was aware that Blackberry Farm was looking for an assistant brewer. I’ve actually known that for months, but didn’t apply. From the first posted job descriptions, it seemed they were trying to find someone fresh outta brewing school. They had a few assistants come and go for whatever reasons. I know the brewmaster, Ron Downer through the homebrew club and his reputation. He’s been brewing professionally since before myself and most of my peers were born. I was encouraged to apply for the position and I did, thinking nothing would come of it. Then I got a call from Ron. Could he and brewery manager Roy come talk to me? They came down after a shift of mine at The Market and offered me the job and told me when I’d start. I was honored by this but mostly in shock. Was something I wanted to do for a very long, long time finally happening? Was I really going to be the assistant brewer somewhere? I went and did orientation at the world famous and very prestigious Blackberry Farm estate. The next day I reported for work at the Brewery.
I can’t post pictures or say to much about the brewery. Because the status of the guest that stay there (celebrities, politicians, etc) I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I can say that it’s a really small brewery, and a true farmhouse brewery. The windows look out to a yard filled with poultry, sheep, lamas, and pigs. The brewing process is very hands on. Every beer is hand bottled and labeled. Every one of the beers is bottle conditioned, none are kegged. Ron is strict on details and cleanliness, as he should be. I’m not there to make suggestions, tinker with recipes or be creative. I’m there to work and learn. I work 3 shifts a week. The rest of the time, I still work at The Market.
I’ve been spending as many hours as I can at Bluetick Brewery. So has friend and recent South College Brewing Science Program graduate Chris Coada. The Federal Brewer’s permits finally arrived giving the brewery permission to produce and sell beer. Christopher and Chris have been working hard piecing together the big system and testing it. They finally brewed on it and there is approximately 200 gallons of IPA fermenting now. The brewery has been sitting closed on Sundays. Christopher works hard and then disappears into the woods for a few days. I convinced him to let me open it up from 12-7 for Sunday Funday. It’s also going to be Small Batch Sunday. I’ll brew my own beers under the Bluetick name and license. Chris Coada brought his pickup truck to my house and we loaded up my 55 gallon Blichman system, kegs and fermenters to use at the brewery. So starting May 18th, I’ll be brewing 1 barrel batches of my recipes. This makes six 5 gallon kegs that we are going to split. Three will stay at the taproom and 3 I will sell to local accounts. My dream of walking into a bar and seeing my beer on tap is finally within my reach. To me, this is the most exciting thing to happen recently.
So what am I hoping for the future? Honestly I would like to see Bluetick Brewery thrive and make money so I could work there fulltime and be paid what I’m worth. My job would be to set up events, set up at festivals, to network, to promote and to occasionally brew. All of which I am good at and enjoy. Until it hits that point, I will stick to Blackberry Farm, work hard and learn as much as I can. I’ll still be at The Market on certain days ringing up customers, pouring and selling beer. Almost as happy as a man can be.
To change gears, CurtisFest happened a few weekends ago. It was very small and intimate and truly felt like a family get together. Everyone knew each other or at least felt like it by the end of the fest. There was incredible bottle shares. I hardly left the “Brew Mob Lounge” that we set up. I saw a lot of friends I hadn’t seen in awhile and hopefully rekindled some friendships that had died out. When the fest ended, I went out afterwards. The first time in months I hung out in downtown Knox, even though I probably shouldn’t have. I’m not going to say much more about that other then I’m glad I did though.
Last Friday was Hops for Hope, another small intimate beer festival. This one took place at The Lily Barn in Townsend, TN. It was a fund raiser for The New Hope Advocacy Center. I volunteered and set up my Randal full of hops and strawberries and ran Lagunitas Pale Ale through it. Many of my beer industry friends were in attendance. The whole event was fun, but sometimes it’s all about the after party. A row of cabins was reserved for the brewers and reps at Dancing Bear Lodge. We all met up afterwards. Evan from Foothills had some killer beers to share and so did Lauren from Cherokee, Cynthia from Eagle, Donald from Blackhorse, Dave from Saw Works, (Redacted) of Casual Pint. There were many other people there, some I had just met, some of which I didn’t know. There was serious drinking, drunken dancing, hot tubs and ridiculous amounts of fun into the early hours of the morning. I promise y’all the embarrassing dance videos are erased (except for Morgan’s, we’re gonna make that one viral, lol). As for the rest of what went on, the general consensus is, what happens in Townsend stays in Townsend ;)
With everything in my life right now, I can see it getting harder to carve out time to work on this blog. There’s some edits I want to make, so general design changes, etc… I still put aside and hour a day for running. Monday evenings are booked with the run at BBM. Other days are taken up by my son and work. I’ll still try to write because it gives me an outlet and a way to organize my thoughts about what I see and experience in our craft beer culture. I also know I have more readers then I ever expected to at this point because I see the stats. Sometimes I still don’t believe people read this.
With that said the only beer focused events on my radar is Asheville Beer Week from May 23-31 ending with Beer City Fest and Knoxville Craft Beer Week ending on June 21 for Knox Brew Fest. June 20th is going to be our grand brand launch at Bluetick Brewery. We are planning an epic party for that where we introduce our beers to the world. I am hoping to have a couple of my small batch series on tap for the event. If anything happens, or I find time before then, I’ll write and let you know about it. Check back later, I’ll try to upload some pictures in the next day or so if I can find the time