Friday, February 11, 2011

Interview with Brad Lincoln, co-owner and brewer at Funkwerks

1. What made you think of starting a brewery?

 Gordon won a Gold Medal at the 2007 National Home Brew Competition for his Saison which he took as a sign to go to brewing school and become a professional brewer. I was looking to start a company where I created something, having been a homebrewer I thought starting a brewery would be a good fit for me. Gordon and I met at the Siebel Institute, a brewing school in Chicago with some courses in Munich Germany. After finishing school I went down to South Florida to look at starting a brewery. While down there I received a call from Gordon who was interested in starting a Saison brewery. 

2. Why in Fort Collins? Isn't the Colorado brewing industry saturated?
3. What was the basis for brewing just Belgian Style beers?
The craft brewing industry isn't showing signs of being saturated. We are seeing double digit growth even in a down economy. Colorado is also still growing and its important to note that Colorado exports a fair amount of beer. Because of laws craft breweries are not distributed evenly. For example Colorado may have 130 breweries but Mississippi only has two. The vast majority of the Colorado beer market is still held by the major brewers like Inbev (Budweiser) and SAB (Miller, Coors). 
We chose Fort Collins because it is probably one of the only places in the United States that you can ask somebody on the street if they have ever had a saison and there is a good chance that their answer will be 'yes'. This is of course thanks to New Belgium for educating the local population for us. All the local breweries have been very supportive of us during our startup phase. In fact I don't know that we could have done it as well with out them.  Another advantage of being in Fort Collins is that we can brew what we want and don't have to brew a pale ale or a stout because several breweries around are already doing this style very well. We have the ability to experiment and from we have seen the Fort Collins culture really admires that.
We choose to brew Belgian styles of beer and more specifically saison because that is what we love to drink. Saison is not going to be the next IPA but we think that there is definitely growth in the market for the style (both inside and outside Colorado).
4. What are your visions for the future?

Right now we are focused on obtaining draft and bottle accounts in the Fort Collins, Boulder, and Denver markets. That said we could see distributing outside of Colorado in the next few years as well. We have Saison in bottles now, and White will come in bottles shortly. We will also have our spring seasonal, Brett Dream, coming in bottles in the next few months. Brett Dream will be a brettanomyces saison. We never want to be a large brewery, but over the next five years we would like to grow to around 1000 barrels.

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