Monday, February 2, 2015

Gypsy brewing: Interview with Marie Fox of Gunbarrel Brewing Co

I recently found out about, gypsy brewing that is becoming a trend among young brewers who don't have a place to showcase their wares.  I sat down with Marie Fox, who is co-founder of Gunbarrel Brewing Co at Ozo's coffee shop in Boulder. You can find Gunbarrel Brewing on social media but there isn't a physical building yet. They gypsy brew in Grandma's House in Denver, a "collective brewery" where other aspiring brewers are on tap. Despite the noise of the coffee shop, Marie gave an in depth interview about their (her and Jamie, husband) life history with beer.

What is your background and how does that transition into brewing your own beer?

Well I would say that beer has kind of been there for both of us. We've been a couple for many years and through most of Jamie's home brewing experience. Jamie has been brewing for 15 years now and it has always been part of our world. Jamie just finished his post doctrine at CU Boulder and was looking to see the next steps for him. Over a conversation and a beer, we came up with this idea.

So what was his post doc in?
 [I kinda of chuckled at that!, to me that's different from brewing].

Marie: He has a PhD in experimental psychology and then went on to do his post doc in Neuroscience. So while they are different, they are quite actually the same. There is quite a science in brewing as well. so all of those things he learned through out the years, like setting up experiments and running them correctly, the science world speaks to the brewing world. We were quite surprised how many brewers have a science background.

[I was amazed by that myself.]

So what made you decide to actually start a brewery instead of getting a job as a brewer somewhere?

Well I have a very entrepreneur spirit and have owned several companies myself. And I come from a marketing, hospitality background. We saw some new breweries opening in the area and we thought to ourselves, "hey we can do this". We been sharing our home brew with family and friends for years and years with many of them saying that we should open a brewery or we should sell this (home brew) or how can they get more. And we always said that we have our jobs and our lives but then this small window opened up which gave us an opportunity and we said "we're going to take it!"

So you're "gypsy brewing right now?
Yes we are. We are currently brewing at Grandma's House in Denver. It's a really neat brewery that I'd love it if you would come to our opening.  So we'll have are first tapping ever this Saturday (Jan 24) and then we have subsequent tappings coming up in February.  We have three weekends in February lined up right now so our beer will very much  available to the public.

What kind of beers are you going to brew?
We like to show our versatility so each of the tappings are going to be 2 beers. The first beer is a Gosa, which is a German tart salt beer, we really enjoy this style ourselves and the other is a rosemary pale ale which is one of our signature pale ale recipe that we have brewed for many years and dry hopped with rosemary.

To get back to Gypsy Brewing, how did you get in contact with Grandma's House?
I had heard about them just through the media when they first opened in October 2014, there was a buzz about them at the time. I knew they would be opening as a collective brewery, and were looking for brewers like ourselves who might be interesting coming and brewing on their system and selling the beers on their tap line in their taproom. It gave us an opportunity without a taproom of our own to get our beers out to the public. I just gave them a call.

So your brewery is called Gunbarrel Brewing, have you found a place in Gunbarrel to set up your brewery?
We have not but we actually live in Gunbarrel. The name was a really good fit for us, Jamie is a hunter and it spoke to the literal meaning of the name and also the location. We don't know where we will be because we are really specific about what we're looking for in the space.  We would like ti to be in Boulder County.

So that's in the near future and you'll just be brewing at Grandma's House?
Or another brewery but for now we don't a specific time line. We have been looking for a space since last March (2014), but we want to take our time to find the right space. There isn't a ton of real estate in Boulder County right now so we're not in a hurry.

There are a few breweries in Gunbarrel?
Yes, Finkel and Garf, Asher Brewing, and Avery Brewing will be there soon.

How long have you lived here in the Boulder area?
We've been here for 5 years and we come from Vermont. A lot of our beer style chooses and preferences come from that Vermont influence which lately has been talked about having it's own "terroir" of beer that you can't find in the rest of the country.  Some big names in Vermont brewing are the Alchemist, makes Heady Topper that colossus IPA and Hill Farmstead Brewery. They have there own palate so is a little different. We tend to brew, especially the pale ale or IPA, in the Vermont direction.

So is that part of your niche, having the Vermont background?
No, we just take that with us in our thinking and in the way we present ourselves as a company. And in the way we choose our styles to brew.

We talked about the collective brewing at Grandma's House that at any one time there will be a beer on tap from the other companies. They feel triumphnat about getting their beers out to the public, Marie and Jamie have been working actively on their brewery for a year now.
I mentioned if Gunbarrel brewing would be interested having an event with Barley's Angels and she said they were working on an event with Denver's Girls Pints Out in March.
I ask all my interviews, if Colorado has reach a brewery saturation point
with specifics to the Boulder/Denver area. She didn't feel there was a saturation with the new neighborhood breweries opening up that is serving their local area.  It's like saying there's too many restaurants, everyone has a different palate. They are thinking about definitely canning or bottling in the future. Marie mentioned that at first they will probably self distribute their beers.
I enjoyed talking to Marie and hope to be able to taste Gunbarrel Brewing's beer at Grandma's House soon.

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