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Brewing local: a Q&A with Memphis Made’s Drew Barton

December 26, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Memphis

In 2013, Drew Barton will be bringing more locally brewed craft beer to the Bluff City when he opens the doors to Memphis Made Brewing Company. Barton will serve as president and head brewer at Memphis Made, which is leasing space at 768 S. Cooper, just south of Central. When Memphis Made opens mid-year with a 10-barrel brewing system, it will initially only be a production brewery, but the Cooper-Young area business will ultimately feature brewery tours and a small tasting room. Barton, former head brewer at French Broad Brewing Company, talked to FuzzyBrew about the process of starting a brewery and his plans for Memphis Made.

You’ve been working on starting your own brewery for awhile now. Can you give us some insights into the process and what it took to get you to this point?

I don’t know if there was a singular starting point. It definitely began while brewing at French Broad Brewery in Asheville, NC. Melodie and I loved it out there but it never felt like home to either one of us. We found ourselves coming back to Memphis any chance we got. We felt a strong pull coming from Memphis. Once we got engaged, we decided to pack up and re-root ourselves in Memphis.

We got back to town and started working on a business plan. We worked on the business plan for what seemed like forever. It was a good year-and-a-half process. We met with advisers at SCORE, SBA, and any business person that would listen to us. We constantly worked on the plan, going over different scenarios on paper. This was one of the best pieces of advice we got during the whole process: make as many mistakes as you can on paper, it’s cheaper that way. Then, as soon as we felt like we had a viable plan, we started meeting with potential investors. Every meeting brought more questions and helped improve the plan.

Then one day we saw a “for lease” sign on the Cooper building we will eventually move into. We toured the building and really liked it. We then met with the owner and talked about necessary renovations to get a brewery in the building. We got fairly grandiose with our plans and our budget was feeling some pain. So, we stepped back and kept looking around town at other spaces in hopes of finding a more budget-friendly space. During our search, we developed more budget slimming plans and returned to the Cooper building with a plan to fit our budget.

So, here we are with financing, equipment on order, and getting ready to begin construction.

Memphis Made

A view inside the future home of Memphis Made Brewing Company

How did you pick your space at 768 S. Cooper, and how do you see the brewery fitting into the Cooper-Young scene?

Since I live in Cooper-Young, the first goal was to find something in the neighborhood. We couldn’t find anything at first due to distance rules regarding alcohol related businesses. Then that “for lease” sign popped up. 768 Cooper met the existing distance requirements and is zoned correctly for a brewery. So after working out budget and design issues, it was a no-brainer. Since then, some changes to the city ordinances have opened up more possible locations, but with the building sitting directly on Cooper it won out as our best possible location.

When we open the doors there won’t actually be doors to open to the public just yet. So, at first there won’t be much fitting in to the Cooper-Young scene. But as production ramps up and the next phase of build-out is complete, the tasting room will open. I think the tasting room will be a natural fit for the neighborhood. The tasting room will have very limited hours, basically enough time to stop in for a beer after work and head on home for dinner or out somewhere else in the neighborhood. There will be growlers available to take home. Hopefully, we’ll get a lot of neighbors walking up to get a growler.

What are the first beers Memphis Made will brew, and how did you decide on the styles to start with?

The first beers to come out will be one-time inaugural beers, and I’m keeping those under wraps for now. Beyond that, a Kolsch and an I.P.A. will be our regular offerings. Kolsch has been one of my favorite styles for years now. While brewing at French Broad, it was the first professional recipe I developed. It’s such an easy-drinking beer and I think it will fit in well with the climate of Memphis. An I.P.A., or Pale Ale, is just a given. The decision to go with the I.P.A. was based on the principle of “go big or go home.” If it’s gonna be a hoppy beer, it’s gonna be full of hops. But it’s not going to be a race to run up the IBUs. The I.P.A. will be flavor and aroma forward with a moderate bitterness to balance it out.

How did you decide on Memphis Made for the name of your brewery?

Memphis Made Brewing CompanyThere was a laundry list of names considered. We wanted it to be something definitively Memphis without being hokey like Blue Suede Brewery. So while trying on different names, the idea of using Memphis Made as a branding tool was introduced. Originally it was envisioned as an image to be used on packaging, like a stamp of approval. Then it hit me, Memphis Made isn’t a branding tool, it’s a brand. It’s unapologetically Memphis and that’s how we feel about this city. We love this city and we’re not afraid to say “I am Memphis Made.” Memphis made us who we are, and we can return the favor and make Memphis a better place.

Just how much demand do you think there is in Memphis for more craft beer, and more specifically, locally-brewed craft beer?

Let’s look at the latter first. I believe there is a lot of room for growth in locally-brewed craft beer in Memphis. The success of Boscos and Ghost River is all you really need to see that.

When we and other breweries open in Memphis, it should help bring better awareness to craft beer in the area. People learn a lot about beer when they tour breweries or meet local brewers, so I think having more people brewing locally will help drive demand. Meeting and talking with people about beer is part of our mission. We want to educate them about fresh beer made in their neighborhood.

In general, more craft beer in the Memphis market is somewhat dependent on state-level decisions. Currently, Tennessee has some of the highest excise taxes on beer. This has actively driven breweries out of the state and at times kept them from even entering the market. The newly formed Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild is currently addressing this issue and hopefully can help level the playing field. Once that happens, I think the craft beer market in Tennessee will open up. So, everyone reading this, go check out http://www.tncraftbrewers.org/ and support their efforts.

Memphis Made Brewing Company announces plans to open brewery in Cooper-Young in 2013

December 19, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Memphis

Memphis Made Brewing CompanyMemphian Drew Barton and his wife Melodie moved to Asheville, N.C., in 2005 so he could pursue a career in craft brewing.

Barton got hired at French Broad Brewing Company and worked his way up to head brewer.

Barton moved back to Memphis in 2010 and has been working to establish a craft brewery in his hometown and his neighborhood, Cooper-Young.

Today he made it official, announcing plans to open the doors of Memphis Made Brewing Company by mid-2013, bringing more local craft beer to
the Bluff City.

“Our philosophy is simple: local is fresh, and fresh is better. Our mission is to expand the boundaries of beer for and from our community,” said Barton, Memphis Made president and head brewer.

Memphis Made will be leasing space at 768 S. Cooper, just south of Central, and will produce beer for sale at bars and restaurants throughout Shelby County.

Memphis Made will brew on a 10-barrel system and it will initially only be a production brewery. But Memphis Made has plans to ultimately open its doors for brewery tours and a small tasting room.

“We’re in the process of ordering equipment and working with contractors to get things moving along,” Barton said. “There’s a lot to be done, but we’re taking our time with it to make sure we get it right.”

Barton is one of the founders of the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest and is a member of the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs homebrew club.

Memphis Made will join a growing craft beer scene that includes Ghost River Brewing and Boscos and new addition High Cotton Brewing Co., which is under construction at 598 Monroe.

Cooper-Young Farmers Market to feature homebrewing demonstration on Sept. 24

September 14, 2011 By: mike Category: Events, Homebrew, Memphis

Cooper-Young Community Farmers MarketThe Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest is partnering again with the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market to teach people in Memphis and the Mid-South about making their own beer.

The Farmers Market will host “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Homebrewing (But Were Afraid to Ask),” the second in a series of homebrewing demonstrations, on Sept. 24.

Homebrewer Clark Ortkiese, of the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs, will lead the demonstration. The event starts at 10:30 a.m. and takes place at the market in the parking lot of First Congregational Church, at the corner of Cooper and Walker.

In addition to the demonstration, homebrewing kits from Midsouth Malts, a homebrewing supply store at 741 N. White Station, will be for sale. And tickets for the second-annual Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest, coming up Oct. 15,  will also be sold.

On July 9, Drew Barton, a Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest committee member and former head brewer at Asheville, N.C.’s French Broad Brewing Co., gave a brewing demonstration to kick off this educational series.

The Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market takes place 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on every Saturday from April 30 to Oct. 29.

 

Learn how to make your own beer Saturday at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market

July 07, 2011 By: mike Category: Events, Homebrew, Memphis

Cooper-Young Community Farmers MarketIn addition to the homegrown blueberries, beans and beets, there will be beer — homebrewed beer — at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market this Saturday.

Drew Barton, a Memphian and former head brewer at Asheville, N.C.’s French Broad Brewing Co., will lead a homebrewing demonstration from 9:30 to 10 a.m. and then from 10:30 to 11.

Barton will be brewing a batch of beer using malt extract, which is perfect for people interested in getting into the hobby.

The event is called “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Homebrewing (But Were Afraid to Ask)” and is being held in partnership with organizers of the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest, which is coming up Oct. 15.

“We were looking for a way to partner with the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, an organization that has a local focus similar to ours,” said Andy Ashby, beer festival chairman.

“Homebrewing is a great way to learn about beer and education is one of our festival’s main focuses. Selfishly, we figure the more that people homebrew, the more they’ll enjoy craft beer, meaning more local bars will carry it!”

Barton, a committee member for the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest, will also answer any questions about homebrewing, commercial brewing or beer in general.

In addition to the demonstration, homebrewing kits from Midsouth Malts, a homebrewing supply store at 741 N. White Station, will be for sale.

The Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market takes place 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday in the parking lot of First Congregational Church, at the corner of Cooper and Walker. It runs from April 30 to Oct. 29.