I am starting my own brewery!
The reason I waited so long to make the announcement is that I wanted our website to be ready so that I had something of substance to attach to my announcement. So, fellow gluten-freeky homebrewers, let me introduce you to Ghostfish Brewing Company!
I guess I should rephrase my wording above, because technically I wasn't the one to "start" this brewery; my two business partners, Randy Schroeder and Brian Thiel, already had the name and most of the business plan in place when they contacted me. It's actually a pretty neat story, so let me back up a bit to tell it proper.
Flash back to May of 2013. My life was essentially in chaos. I was graduating from a 4-year Master's of Science program in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which would have be cause for celebration, except that I had no intention of entering practice as an acupuncturist--over the course of my program, I had become entirely disillusioned with both my school and with TCM in general, and felt I could not in good conscience enter the field as a practitioner. To make matters worse, I was breaking up with my girlfriend of four and a half years, with whom I shared an apartment and a dog, and had been talking about marriage and children for quite some time. The two things in my life that had been receiving about 90% of my focus and dedication were, essentially, crumbling before my eyes.
Gluten-free brewing was my life raft. I didn't know how, but I was determined to make a career of it, no matter where I had to move or how many kegs I had to scrub. I was planning an epic road-trip across the entire USA, planning stops in every city that had a brewery that offered at least one gluten-free beer. I intended to bang on doors, hand out bottles, and basically beg for any sort of work. I expected a long and difficult road with lots of failure and rejection.
What I didn't expect was for the clouds to suddenly part above me and the perfect opportunity to fall right into my lap.
I'll never forget the moment I got the e-mail. I was in the apartment I once shared with my (now ex-) girlfriend, having just finished moving all my stuff out, and sharing some whisky with her as we shared a eulogy for our dead relationship. In a lull, I pulled out my phone to check my e-mail (because that's what I do in lulls, apparently), and there it was: the innocuous subject "Greetings from Seattle", from a stranger named Brian Thiel.
I scanned over it briefly at first, expecting it to be spam or some kind of misdirected mass e-mail…but then I caught the words "we've been following your blog, Brewing Beyond Barley", "we are starting a gluten-free brewery", "Ghostfish Brewing Company", "we think you could be the missing piece in our brewery", "would you consider moving to Seattle?", and I had to stop myself and go back and read the message more carefully. Could it be? Was I being offered…a job? In the heart of a city I'd only visited once, but had fallen immediately in love with as THE PLACE I would most like to live out of all the places I'd ever been?
Well, long story short, I quickly got the impression that Brian and Randy supplied the skills in which I was lacking…Randy has a long history running various successful construction/contracting businesses, and Brian has a long history working for one of the largest beverage packaging companies in the world (and thus has a plethora of contacts in the brewing industry). After I drove up to meet with them and let them sample some of my best beers, it became an obvious slam-dunk for all three of us. We shook hands in mid-June, and by August I had found an apartment in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood and was preparing my move. Now here it is December, and we are two-thirds of the way toward our funding goal and preparing to begin site selection for our premises in January.
I know we've still got a long hard slog ahead of us before I can kick my feet up as the brewmaster of a successful gluten-free brewery, but this really does feel like the most uncannily-serendipitous event that's ever befallen me. Fate, divine grace, providence, luck, or just a really good coincidence, I don't really know what's behind it…but it's a dream come true, nevertheless!
So…I suppose this is gonna have to be my final post here; as a professional brewer, I can't exactly give unbiased reviews of my "competition", and my recipes are going to have to be protected a bit, at least until we're up and running. That said, I expect to be blogging up a storm over at ghostfishbrewing.com, so I encourage y'all to follow me there!
Oh, and don't worry, I'll still be trickling out some non-production homebrew recipes on that blog, too…I may be saving my very best for Ghostfish, but that doesn't mean I don't still have some dang good recipes to give back to the homebrew community that has nurtured me. Remember, once a homebrewer, ALWAYS a homebrewer!