Stepping inlớn Peticolas Brewing Company in the Dallas design district & spending some good unique time talking with the fine folks that work there, I find myself making a subconscious connection with one of my favorite breweries outside of the state of Texas, New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin. I’m not exactly sure why, but in the baông xã of my mind the connection is there. So it was funny (but not all that surprising) to lớn find out that the brewery’s owner and founder, Michael Peticolas, is a big bạn of their beer (more on that as you read on).
The story of how the brewery was started by Peticolas, a lawyer who had accomplished all that he set out to lớn accomplish in his profession, is a good one. But it’s a story that has been told many times by writers much better than myself, so I won’t venture too deep into that territory. Besides, I’m still trying to figure out why his brewery reminds me so much of New Glarus.
It’s gotta be their friendly “down khổng lồ earth” personality. Our visit lớn Peticolas was like stepping into lớn a buddy’s garage to taste the results of their most recent homebrew ventures while chatting it up about beer…just beer.
What about the fact that both breweries make delicious brews no matter the style? Take a look at New Glarus’ catalog of beers when you have sầu an hour. They’ve brewed at least one of everything at some time or another. Peticolas is well on their way lớn matching that feat và whether their brewing a subtle Kölsch, Scottish malt-bomb, or an imperial tongue thrasher, they nail it.
Or is it that both seem khổng lồ go their own way & bởi their own thing at their own pace?
It’s obviously a collection of these, but I think the main reason for the connection is this: Both breweries seem nội dung with what they are now & are in no rush to be something they aren’t. These are two damn good breweries that make damn good beer.
Peticolas Brewing Company owner and founder, Michael Peticolas, carved some time out of his schedule khổng lồ nói qua his thoughts with Texas Beer Spot; over a few beers, of course
Were any of your beers made for or inspired by your wife, Melissa?
There are probably three different ways I can answer that question:
First, I could say an ESB that she brewed baông chồng in our homebrewing days after I had been brewing for a while. I said, “You bởi vì it” & I walked her through it. So I guess I wasn’t brewing it for her, but I was mentoring her through her own session as a homebrewer.
Then I can say Great Scot! because baông chồng in the home page brewing days when she was more of a malty beer người, that was her favorite hombrew that I did.
Lastly, I would say Royal Scandal. Because once we became a commercially open brewery, that beer won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival 40 days after it was in the market. But right before we won that medal, on our way out to lớn Denver, I told her I didn’t think I would brew Royal Scandal again. She said, “No, you’ve sầu gotta keep brewing Royal Scandal.” And then we won the gold medal.
As a homebrewer before you started the brewery, what were your tastes? What beers did you like?
Well, whenever I brewed the Imperial Red, Velvet Hammer, that was the one that people always said, “Now this beer, I mean you make some good beers, but this one is awesome.”
I, however, was much more on the malty side of things baông xã in those days. I enjoyed more Belgian-style beers back then as well. So Scottish Ale, Porter, ESB, California Common, Belgian Quad, you know, stuff that was more malternative text based than what you see here now in the taproom. That’s probably why it took so long for us to brew an IPA, because I wasn’t a big hop guy. Whereas now, I lean towards the hop beers
Speaking of your IPAs, Sit Down or I’ll Sit You Down is a fantastic beer; definitely one of our favorites. And the name is pretty chất lượng.
That beer name, it’s got a couple things going for it. I’ll never forget when we released that beer and some local guy writing that the beer name was way khổng lồ long. But if you know the story behind the name, when it came time to lớn brew a high alcohol IPA that’s packed with hops, I thought this is the perfect name for it. I love the names that have sầu a story to lớn them. Just having that name at a festival, you’ll see people walk by và they stop. They literally stop and say, “Aaaw! I’ve gotta try that!”; just because of the name.
Sit Down or I’ll Sit You Down, if it’s not our best beer, it’s definitely in our top two. That was the first beer that made me think we make unique beer. I never gave sầu us any credit. There’s a brewery I love sầu called New Glarus in Wisconsin. I had a beer from them called Scream IIPA. I’m drinking this beer one day và thinking to myself, “Man! This might be the best IPA I’ve ever had!” These guys just kill it and make fantastic beer.
The next day I came trang chính and poured myself a Sit Down or I’ll Sit You Down. I was drinking it & said to myself, “Man! This beer is as good as the one I had yesterday!” And all of the sudden I stopped & said, “Woah!”
So you finally got around khổng lồ adding a taproom khổng lồ the brewery. Thank you for that. What was that journey like?
Yeah, it was five years before we did this. I mean, it was tours & tastings twice a month. You know why? Because I thought it was important to be here when people come through here. I don’t view us as being in the beer business. We’re in the entertainment industry. When they come to lớn a brewery, they want khổng lồ hear the story & who could best vày that? I can tell the story. I came khổng lồ every tour for four và a half years except maybe two, because maybe I had two events or was out of town. So it took a long time before I thought, “Alright, we’re growing in size, it’s been about five sầu years, và people have asked for a taproom for a while, let’s put a taproom together.
And when we put this place together, we now have sầu five sầu years of history to lớn fall back on and utilize. For instance, there was a big countertop in there that we used lớn put our glasses on & guess what we did with that countertop? We tore it up và welded it together và made it our taproom menu board. These kegs that we use for lighting, those were the first kegs I bought five sầu & a half years ago. The stem that’s holding the kegs to lớn the wood, that was our railing that we used lớn have sầu in here. This pallet wood we have sầu throughout the taproom is all used. That bench has a cupholder that is our original tap handle head. We really tried to bring a lot about who we are & what we vì chưng into this taproom. Again, when I do something I want it khổng lồ be done right. It’s about dong something and being great at it. When everyone zigs, I like khổng lồ zag. So we get that right và everyone’s opening up a taproom. Well, would it have made a splash if I opened up a taproom in 2013? Yeah it would’ve. Would it have sầu been the same splash as it was on December 30th of 2016 with the market having asked for this for another two và a half years? No way. It wouldn’t have had near the same impact. I still believe slow and steady wins the race. I don’t know that a lot of people still believe sầu that anymore.
Any idea when you might add bottling or canning into lớn the Peticolas repertoire?
I could double production tomorrow if I put my beer in a bottle or can. You can’t really talk to anyone else who could say that, because everyone else is already in a package. A lot of breweries are in a package before they’ve sầu even built a brand. I want lớn accomplish things before we make it inlớn bottles. I want to lớn saturate the market. I want people khổng lồ know our beer before we put it in a bottle or a can.
I rethành viên opening a bottle of a local brewer’s beer that I knew I really liked & thinking, “Oh man! This isn’t right. It’s oxygenated.” I would go back & buy the beer, because I know the beer; I love the beer. But what I fear is if someone has never had that beer and that’s their first experience. Craft beer drinkers are finicky. They’re not gonna go baông chồng to that brvà. So I want people to lớn know our beer before it ever makes it inlớn a package. And the best way khổng lồ do that is when it’s in a keg, here or locally.
Is one of the deterrents to bottling or canning the infamous “Texas Shelf” or similar unrefrigerated retail displays?
That’s definitely part of it. I mean, it’s dual faceted at least. Number one is quality. The beer is better in a keg. The beer that’s sitting in a beautiful display in Kroger at 72°F is getting worse, right? It’s degrading. It’s picking up oxygen. It’s not as good of a sản phẩm. That’s part of it. I don’t think the product is as good.
But the other part is distribution. I run a distribution company her. We self-distribute. Delivering a keg khổng lồ the Meddlesome Moth or lớn whomever, it’s a whole different ball game than taking beer lớn Kroger. I mean, those guys when we go in there, they know us. Their making a ton of money on their investment in beer. We’re partners, right? When they sell beer it’s good for us, but it’s also really good for them và we’re one of four taps or 20 taps or so many taps.
When you start taking your can or bottled beer khổng lồ Kroger, your one of 100,000 products in that store? I don’t even know how many. All they care about is, “Man you better straighten out that shelf & you better vị it, lượt thích, yesterday và you better vị it again tomorrow! And it better look awesome.” I just don’t think I have the resources currently to vì chưng it properly.
How vày you sustain success as a brewery?
First, it’s all about the beer. The beer has khổng lồ be awesome. All we really care about is the quality of that beer. All of the other stuff follows; all of the branding, all of the merchandising. We developed a reputation very early on of unique beer. What inspired me was not the breweries that had one good beer out there, but the ones whose entire lineup was good.
So with each new successive sầu beer, we’ve sầu got to lớn measure up khổng lồ what we’ve been before. I want lớn be known for making a consistently world-class example of that beer.
We’ve sầu been in business now a little over five sầu years. We’ve sầu built a reputation in five và a half years. But guess what, it takes sometime 10 seconds or 15 seconds khổng lồ ruin it. It can happen at any time. The example that just came to my mind, look at United
You always have sầu to lớn be mindful of it. It’s constant: you write your plan, you implement your plan, you figure out what worked, you make changes, then you write your plan, you implement your plan, figure out what worked….
So you’re always re-evaluating what you’re doing.
You seem to lớn keep a hefty back-stoông xã of verticals? Is that just personal preference? What drives that??
Yes, I always think it’s cool when I can have sầu the same beer two years apart, just lớn see what age does to lớn this beer, và then one three years apart. Again, I believe we’re in the entertainment industry. It’s something I enjoy, so it was something that I wanted to bởi. We had that foresight immediately to lớn say let’s hang onto this.
Now some beers don’t age very well, so we don’t age them. But some beers really vì get better over time. I mean, the Great Scot! ages better maybe than any other beer we’ve got out there and we still have 2012, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, and now ’17, so we’ve sầu got a six year vertical that we can vì chưng of just that beer. So I think it’s delivering a cool experience to be able to say, “Hey, this is the same beer, and this is what it tastes lượt thích now that it’s six years old.”
Then some beers, it’s just a natural consequence. The beers we’ve brewed for anniversaries, we only have available here. I want to lớn give sầu people who come here something that’s quality, something that’s different, a reason to lớn come here. So a beer like Blaông xã Curtains we only sell here, we don’t go through the same volume, so we’re happy lớn keep it. That give us the ability to age it for several years.
Does barrel aging fit into your plan at all? Specifically Sledge Hammer?
Barrel-aging is huge and people definitely ask for that. It think Sledge Hammer would definitely do well. I think we have several. Blaông xã Curtains would be fantastic in a bourbon barrel. I think it’s just one of those examples where everybody’s doing it & if everybody’s doing it, I don’t necessarily want lớn vì chưng it. I think some bourbon aged or barrel aged beers are really good và some are just barrel aged lớn be barrel aged & they suck. They don’t taste any good.
So if I vì it, I’m gonmãng cầu bởi vì it and it’s gonmãng cầu be awesome. It’s gonna enhance the beer & not make it worse. I think there’s a way to do it and there’s a way khổng lồ bởi it right. It’s something we’ve sầu talked about & we may bởi it. I’m not saying we never will. But I’m not chomping at the bit khổng lồ vị it, because I think it’s overdone. And it’s overdone improperly by a lot of people.
So you have Community right here, Noble Rey, Texas Ale Project, Bisiêu thị Cider, Pegasus City is opening soon & Four Corners is right across the river. Dallas definitely has a beer area going on here, right?
It’s funny; one guy said to me, “ Hey, who had the bright idea to open up a brewery in the kiến thiết district?” And I said, “Hmmmm…who did have that idea?”
You couldn’t brew beer here before we opened up. I mean, I helped change the law in this district lớn allow us khổng lồ brew here. I live in Dallas, I love sầu Dallas. I wanted my brewery in Dallas. So when there are obstacles, it’s about how you can overcome those obstacles. It’s not about what happened, it’s about how you respond to what happened. So when I was told you can’t bởi vì it, I said there’s gotta be a way khổng lồ vị it. And there was. You change the law. You can vị it if you just go through the process and know how.
I definitely take a little bit of pride in having the foresight to open a brewery down here & maybe be someone who’s at least partially responsible for getting other people khổng lồ brew in the area.