Going Back to School for a Really Good Beer

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Behind the review host and small business expert from Yelp, Emily Washcovick, she shares a look at this week’s podcast episode.

Farm Ale Brewing

Thinking about breweries and barrel houses can evoke images of dark, woody interiors with long bars and rows on rows of taps pouring all kinds of beer imaginable.

Farm Ale Brewing is not one of those places, and that’s great.

Housed in an old school building in Eola, Texas, east of San Angelo, Farm Ale Brewing combines the building’s history with a limited selection of quality craft beers, canned and distributed from the inside the school. The history of the building is as important as the beer, according to Farm Ale master brewer Chris.

“A lot of what we’re trying to do is not just be a brewery, but we want to get the school back and restore some of its old glory because it was one of the biggest schools in the area over time. Day.” , he said.

“And I’ve had people here who graduated from out there, and we can accompany them around the building, and they’ll tell us,‘ Oh, that was the science room. This was the living room at home. That was math. That was English. We have old pictures of the graduation classes from 1938 hanging on the walls of the hallway. We’re trying to get them back to where people can go out and have a beer in their first grade class. ”

This dedication to the history of the building is not lost on its visitors, including reviewer Joshua H.

“As someone who makes food blocks and travels with wine, beer and food as main features, I’m always looking for unique, new, new and different things within this domain. And that’s basically what I found. When I went see my first Farm Ale Brewing ad.It’s very different.It’s not being done like any other brewery or brewery where it’s been.Not just where it is, but just the very deep historical nature of the place.And it’s not about just going to have a good beer, there are so many more things around that have made it a really unique story and experience for me to go do a function on the blog.

“The school it was, the history it has, the improvements they’re making there now, what it’s being reused for as a brewing facility, the visits you can make with Chris himself, the food that they have in their old classrooms. It’s all a one-of-a-kind experience. “

In addition to the unique location of Farm Ale Brewing, they also stand out because they dropped another traditional aspect of a brewery: the many, many types of beers available. Farm Ale has made operations small, focusing on the quality of its product rather than the quantity.

“We can make our own beer here. So we don’t just make it here, we can make it here, and then distribute it. We’ve done 70 cases this morning alone,” Chris said.

“We don’t have easy access to the city which has a lot of places, where you can make a lot of different types of beer. And you actually have people walking around saying, ‘Oh, hey, I want that.’ So we make it small. We make it simple. And simply put, it’s not just about having a few draft beers. We also keep the recipe simple. I don’t use anything artificial in our beers. It is completely natural. We have the grain, we have the hops, we have the yeast and we have the rainwater that we collect here at the site. We don’t bring anything that gives an artificial flavor. “

Chris is very careful with his recipes and the quality of the ingredients he uses in his beer, which may make you think he’s a master brewing career, but it’s just the opposite. He is a military veteran with 24 years of service, who just started brewing beer when he came to work at Farm Ale.

“As for bringing my previous experience, it’s really the work ethic that the military instilled. It’s hard for me to say no to something if there’s any chance I can do it. I love a challenge, and that’s really where it comes from, ”he said. “When Jason approached me, asking me to be the master brewer, I looked at him and said,‘ Jason, I’ve never brewed before. ’He says,‘ I’m not worried about that. You’ll learn. ”I was like, okay, let’s go! Because, I mean, you can’t grow if you don’t try something outside of your comfort zone. And that’s really something the military instilled in me throughout the challenges that were thrown at me during the 24 years that I was there. “

Chris has made sure to risk hiring others, just as Jason risked Chris. And it’s worth it, according to the master brewer.

“It’s always been my opinion that if you’re always looking for the right person, you’re going to overlook a lot of people who could be that right person in the future. There are so many people being overlooked in this world. And again, it goes back “In the army. I’ve turned so many people into who they are today. And I could look back on it like, oh, I hope I haven’t hooked them too badly. But I can see they’re doing it very, very well.”

“And that’s what I love here is that we bring people who may not have been given a chance elsewhere. We give them that opportunity. We let them flourish in people who may be instead of the person who they are now “.

Despite his original lack of experience, Chris brews a truly potable beer, created not for the self-proclaimed beer snobs, but for the daily beer drinker. It is avoiding industry trends and instead paving its own path in brewing.

“Many craft breweries have the stigma around them where they have to go hops, hops, hops. More hops is better. While, in my personal opinion, I want to taste the beer. I don’t want to taste hops. And so we’ll get it. a lot of people here, even with our IPA.I’m told they’re not an IPA drinker, but they love our IPA.And people argue that technically it’s not an IPA, but I ‘still give them the flavors. I’m giving them the aromatics without that kind of blow to the face or the lingering aftertaste, and a lot of people expect it, which is why I considered a catwalk IPA or an IPA for people I don’t like. IPA.

“I’ve only been brewing beer for a year. I’ve learned everything I know here talking to other brewers in the area. We just did the first Fredericksburg Craft Beer Festival. And I met a group of brewers for the most part. Texas And they say, “Hey, okay, who taught you?” I thought, well, you know, I went through it three times, and I found out from there.

“I still have a lot to learn. But it’s nice to see people come in and enjoy the beer. The premium Josh mentioned earlier is actually the first beer I created on my own. And again, hops are super , super low. It makes it very drinkable for a large audience “.

If keeping the beer menu simple works, it follows that the food menu could also be kept simple. While maintaining high quality, working with a smaller menu also allows Farm Ale Brewing to have a great purpose on the ingredients used, not only for their quality, but for the impact these options have on companies in the around him.

“We actually do here what we call source verification. So we know exactly where the beef comes from. We’re not going to Sam’s to look for it. There’s a little place in Marfa, Texas called Marfa Meats where we get “All our meat, be it burgers, steaks, pork chops. And we can trace every ingredient we use, not just in our beer, but in our food to where it comes from.” dir Chris.

It is a mandate that comes from the owner of Farm Ale Brewing himself.

“This is one of his huge priorities because in the way he has grown in the business world, he not only wants to make his own business a success, but he also wants the smallest businesses in his area to succeed. So use this area as much as we can. If it’s not from a farm, here’s our own garden from which we’ll take it out and cook it in the restaurant, and then he’ll use everything he can in the area. “

According to reviewer Joshua, attention to detail and quality are seen in the food served at Farm Ale Brewing.

“I would say the quality of what they have is definitely unsurpassed. It’s not just a good meal for a bar. It’s just a good meal period. Whether it’s meatloaf, fried fish, a good smashburger. Their fries. “They’re great. Their nachos are crazy. And I think going with that, they’re definitely more on the hyperlocal side, keeping it as close as possible. You’re tasting what’s in the area. Even the menu itself is written on a blackboard, and it’s usually six or seven items long, which tells me we’ll do six or seven things very well each time and not worry about try to please.everyone with everything.We will only do a few very good things, every time.And so it has been.

“There’s no detail intact. We make a great beer in a good place, but then we’ll eat the average. It doesn’t look like that. Everything is well above average. Everything is awesome.”

And as if the food, history, and quality of the beer weren’t enough to get people back, the customer service on offer is worth going back to.

“It’s a shared feature of all employees where you can say you’re welcome when you come in and they’re happy to come back. They’re ready to see what you’re doing, how you’ve done it. Been, what they’re doing, what’s going on. I want “It’s really like going back to the school house and picking up where you left off. You know, it’s that cozy, friendly feeling where you feel like you. Belonging there. You’re one of the group or one of the crowd.” that there is something special about it.

“They’re all in their own unique way of doing it. You know, it’s a handshake, once in the back, they just ask you how things are. ‘How’s your son? Where’s the woman?’ That goes a long way with so much subtlety, but it takes a long time to make you want to come back. “

Your small business may not be brewing beer, but all businesses can use some of these findings from the success of Farm Ale Brewing:

  • It’s okay to do some things and do them very, very well. Farm Ale keeps food and beer menus limited, rather than trying to please everyone with many things done only moderately well.
  • Hire people for their potential, not necessarily for their actual experience. You will be able to train them yourself and develop quality employees who are loyal to you and your business.
  • When historical spaces are used, it is worth honoring that history. If you stay true to the original purpose and the people who built it, your space enhances the charm of your business, making it memorable.
  • Your business can support other small businesses. Using local vendors for ingredients and inventory will create your business and yours at the same time, creating a winning formula for both.

Listen to the next episode to listen directly to Chris and Joshua and subscribe to them Behind the Review for more information from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Soundcloud

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