The idea of starting a brewery is a thought that runs through many home brewers heads. For myself its something that keeps me awake at night. The following is how my addiction to craft beer became.
The first craft beer I ever had was Magic Hat #9. I didn't like it. Not that the beer is bad its just that many things were wrong about this experience I had. Not to sound like a snob, but... I drank the beer right from the bottle, not only did this reserve the true flavor and characteristics of this beer but I didn't know what to expect, I thought beer was supposed to taste like the yellow fizzy stuff that everyone is marketed to believe is beer.
I ended up working for a liquor store for a few months next to one of my apartments in Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. We had a whole section dedicated to craft beer. This was in 2009-2010, so the scene was still up and coming not nearly as big as it was today but I remember stocking the shelves of brands such as Delirium, Three Floyds, and Goose Island. Customers would come in talking about certain beers and when hearing what they had to say about these products really drew me in. I decided to buy some of the brands I saw people buy on the regular because I didn't know how to shop for beer. Man I didn't even know what ale or lager was, let alone IPA, Belgium Tripel, Stout... I brought home some bottles one night so I could give them a try and the boss gave me some beer glasses to use. This is the moment that forever changed my perception of beer.
I couldn't believe the complexity, flavor and the deliciousness of the beers I drank. I soon made it a mission to try as many craft beers that I could. I didn't like them all, but the experience I had of discovering something new was like showing someone in a third world country what the internet is for the first time. I had opened Pandoras box.
I needed to grab some gardening supplies one day and was referred by a friend about this home brew and gardening shop called Brew and Grow. I remember the first time walking into this store it was like I felt like I was doing some illegal. It was on this dingy dead end road which it seemed like I could of gotten mugged there at any moment. You walk up these stairs and you can smell the humidity in the air due to the hydroponic systems they had running in the shop. The store was tiny and I didn't know what to think of it. I had come only for plant food, and had no clue home brewing was a thing.
I frequented the store and later ended up getting a job here when they opened up a new location. I knew a thing or two about gardening and was very much into craft beer... So I thought.... I remember watching the guys brew here and the amazing smells from the mash and boil.... I was sucked in.. I wanted to know how to do this... I took home some books and just indulged in learning everything I could about how to make beer.
I had finished reading How to Brew by John Palmer, bought myself the brewing equipment with my paycheck.. which at the time was not the best financial choice for myself, though I do not regret it and I happened to find a clone recipe for coincidentally Magic Hat #9 in this 250 Clone Brews Magazine I got and dove right in. My first beer was a success. I couldn't believe I had made such a delicious beer. I was hooked. Maybe it was beginners luck, I couldn't tell you but batch number 2 was not so great... I never to this day have seen a grey beer but somehow I managed to make one, but that did not stop me.
Hours spent reading, researching, fine tuning, test batches, you name it. I wanted to create my own personal expression of these styles of beer which I would share with my friends, and family. A customer came into Brew and Grow one day and told me of this home brew competition at this joint called Hamburger Marys where you pour your beer for people and they vote for their favorite beer. I had never showcased my beer to anyone other than friends and family so I decided to enter... They needed 5 gallons of beer and I had no beer on hand so I had to brew something, and quickly. I only had 3 weeks till the comp so I brewed up a 6% IPA with 66 IBUS, 6 hop varieties, and used 6 different malts. I wanted to brew something edgy but also cool to talk about the idea behind it.
I remember showing up to the venue nervous as heck. Not sure what people would think. Am I just making a fool of myself? What if they don't like it?.... The night went on and people loved the beer. There were at least 20 other booths and the crowd was just soaking up my beer. It was this huge feeling of relief and excitement. I loved talking about the beer to people and they really enjoyed the story behind it. I ended up serving all 5 gallons of my beer to the crowd before the awards even started. I won two awards that night. The first for most economical brew because I would donate the spent grain to this lady who had chickens and the most meaningful one to me the Peoples Choice. The people liked my beer.
Excited about the win I knew from that moment that I wanted to open a brewery. I continued to educated myself and still do to this day. There is always so much to learn to enhance your skill set. I am currently training to become a beer judge because it can only enhance my brewing. Knowledge is power, never limit yourself. I make it a mission to educate every customer I come into contact with so they can enjoy craft beer to the fullest extent.
Opening a brewery is more than just making beer. Its about passion, creativity, salesmanship and hard work. While producing that perfect beverage to enjoy with every memorable moment. The mission of Armada is to produce a fleet of world class beer styles and also to educate you, the consumers, about new and current craft beer styles. The styles that we produce will be classic, new wave, edgy, ancient, and creative. There are no boundaries, the sky is the limit. We want to open up new horizons to every customer to experience the beauty that is Craft Beer. This is Armada.