WOW.

This Saturday at 10:37am (give or take 20 minutes) Bryan, Amanda, and I sat and listened to the announcement that Firestone Walker had won bronze on the 5th and final category we had entered beer into at this years Great American Beer Festival. 

"Well... That's that." 

You don't realize the elasticity of time until you think about moments that have happened and how you remember 3 years of thinking in a matter of 3 seconds, OR minutes go by and you have no memory whatsoever. 

All I remember was hearing Firestone Walker and then everyone around us suddenly start screaming in our faces.

Hi Charlie! (Photo 2015 © Jason E. Kaplan)

Hi Charlie! (Photo 2015 © Jason E. Kaplan)

"SILVER MEDAL FOR WOOD/BARREL-AGED SOUR GOES TO 24 FRAMES PER SECOND. OUR MUTUAL FRIEND BREWING. DENVER, CO!"

 

The next 12 hours were a blur. I may or may not have cried while standing in the porta toilet, texting my wife (I heard a hot tip from a friend that it was the only place with useable cell signal). AND THEN we did our best to get as much 24FPS into peoples little 1oz tasters as possible.

Since we opened in 2012, everything has been a rollercoaster. We thought (very naively) that we could build our own VERY scrappy 1 barrel setup. Wrong. In spite of our spectacularly rough start, we had a lot of support from a lot of people who drank our beer because they liked us. They kept coming in. They were honest about our missteps, but champions of our gains.

We eventually made enough money to buy our 3 barrel brewhouse, and not long after that a 7 barrel brewhouse. It certainly elevated our quality, but we still had a lot of work to do. In 2015 we've had some incredible humans join our little family (David, Michele, Nico) and everyone (including Jan, Mitch, and Bryan) have been working long hours to make OMF the best brewery it can be from self education to taproom and brewhouse improvements. 

Winning a medal is proof to us that we are doing something right. But after the dust of this weekend has settled, it is more than anything a bar set in front of us. It puts a little voice in our heads saying "silver is good, but..." and "imagine the possibilities and potential in front of you." and "whoa. hopefully you can get all the ingredients you need to make a lot of that beer that just won." 

This win is a culmination of nearly 3 years of figuring out who we are and what we want to do about it. That couldn't happen without all of you, who have supported us with the feedback and encouragement that provokes us to make/serve the best beer we possibly can every day. Thank you.

With Gratitude,

Brandon

 

You Should Get a Hobby

By Mitch Leavelle

If I had a dollar for every time a hobby of mine opened up new opportunities for me, I'd have exactly two. Two dollars. 

Fifteen years ago, I worked all summer long to buy my first electric guitar. I had already been playing clarinet since I was in third grade, but I had been getting into hardcore, punk, and ska music at that time, and I really wanted to start a band. For the next four years, I played that thing every day after school while most of my other friends were going to the movies or playing video games. I broke up with a girl for cutting into my guitar playing time. After several attempts, I was able to start the punk/ska band I had always dreamed of, and by the time I got out of high school I was ready to motivate them to get on the road. Over the next six years, I traveled around the entire country many times, met a ridiculous amount of incredible people, including those who would eventually motivate me to move to New Orleans, and I was able to spend every day doing what I loved.

Two years ago, I brewed my first batch of homebrew. It was an imperial stout extract recipe my brother Bryan sent me. He had just started Our Mutual Friend with a couple of his buds and was trying to convince me to start brewing my own beer. Me and my roommate, drummer, and best bud John soon got addicted and were brewing a five gallon batch every week, enlisting our friends to help us bottle everything on Saturdays. We were learning new things, teaching others, and bringing people together. It brought our heads out of our normal, every day grind at our demanding jobs. It got us off our asses on the weekends when we would have been sitting around watching Netflix all day. Needless to say, we loved it, and as every homebrewer does, we started kicking around the idea of starting a small brewery of our own. 

As my niece's due date creeped closer, I knew I had to move to Denver. I made a quick decision, left my life in New Orleans, and headed towards the Rockies. Being in warehouse management for several years, that was the first job I took. I would come into OMF on weekends to brew my five gallon batches and sometimes cover shifts for bartenders or shovel out the mash tun for my brother when he was too tired to do it himself. After about six months, They offered me a job making beer with Jan and I walked out of that dirty warehouse within two hours, both middle fingers in the air, and started here the next day. This couldn't have happened if I didn't start making beer beforehand. I would be useless in here if I never got up off my ass to make my own beer. Aside from all the less tangible positive reasons to unglue your eyes from the screens, consider what doors may open for you down the road by cultivating a new skill and learning more about the world around you. I'm living proof that things most consider to be a "waste of time" or something you "do for fun" can eventually lead to much, much more than that. 

Plus, It's real fun. 

Local Ingredients

By Bryan Leavelle

I don’t work the bar often, but when I do, I’m always surprised by the amount of people who walk in our door on a daily basis that have absolutely no idea we source all of our grain from within Colorado. Even fewer people know that we roast our own specialty grains in house, and fewer still know about our recent partnership with Front Range Hops, which has given us the ability to brew 90% of our beers for 2015 with Colorado-grown hops, making those beers 100% Colorado products. 

After my initial surprise, I usually think to myself, “Well, no shit, you dummy.” After all, we don’t talk about it enough. But since it is so overwhelmingly important to me, I decided to sit down and write about it here.

Back in my home brewing days, I used to be an audio engineer. I toured the country for half the year and sat at home the other half. This gave me the time to take up my favorite hobby, home malting. When I first started getting into it, it was extremely hard to find quality raw grain. I usually ended up sourcing it from feed stores, and my first few batches were so high in protein that no amount of cold crashing or fining could make those beers clear. I searched and searched, and finally hooked up with Colorado Malting Co. I had been asking my LHBS to hook me up with them, since they were carrying their malt, but after numerous requests with no follow through, I finally decided to contact them myself.

That week, they showed up at my house and hand delivered me 300 pounds of raw barley and wheat. Since that day almost 4 years ago, excluding pure O SHIT necessity, I have never used another brand of grain in my beers. 

Fast forward to this past August. We have now been doing business with Jason, Josh, Fud, Tim, Bobby and the rest of the Cody family for a couple of years, and these are hands down the most valued relationships I have formed since signing the lease at 2810 Larimer St. All of the collaborations we have done with them, the late night hangouts when they make deliveries, and listening to Matt and Josh talk German philosophy (in German) are some of the best of times I have had at OMF. But I’m getting off track. Back to August.

Every year, they throw a big party on their farm in Alamosa called “Gerste Gemütlichkeit”, or Barley Party. This year we met Ed from The Front Range Hop Company, a small but staggeringly important operation out of Longmont. They are the first and only hop distribution company in Colorado that owns and operates their own hop processor. This means that they are able to buy hops from Colorado farmers, who do not have the ability to pelletize and package their product for long term storage, and sell them. 

To me.

As I already mentioned, this year we will have enough local hops to cover 90% of our brewing needs. We have already been using them since October, and like the malt we get from Colorado Malting Company, they have their own unique flavors and aromas that set them apart from ingredients grown out of state. I feel so lucky and proud that when you, our customer, sits at the bar at OMF, we get to show you what Colorado tastes like. As the year progresses the beers brewed with 100 percent Colorado ingredients will take up more and more of our tap list. Together, OMF and our customers are quite literally supporting local agriculture as much as humanly possible. 90% of the money you spend on us, and the money we spend on OMF, goes right back into the Colorado economy. And that feels really, really good.

It has been said that nothing worth doing is ever easy. Having to pay twice as much for ingredients, roast those ingredients, coordinate with smaller operations, and constantly being on the lookout for new places to source more ingredients are all things that need to be dealt with on top of actually running a brewery, which by itself is enough to give a man a goddamn chronic migraine. But I don’t get migraines. I don’t stress out about it. Because every time I write a check to these people, and every time we get to add “All-Colo” to the beginning of the name of one of our beers, I know it’s the right thing to do. One day I hope that it is the normal thing to do, and that I will have to find a new way to make it hard.