I’m freaking out as my book is coming due at the end of the week, so I’m taking a semi-related break to refocus my mind. I had the opportunity to chat with Brewco’s brewer, Kevin Pratt, about a lot of things – especially the rehabilitation of Santa Barbara Brewing Company’s much-maligned image.
I won’t give away everything, you can always buy my book if you want more (obviously it’s not out yet), but here are some fun gems from our conversation.
“I wouldn’t say we have the reputation fixed, but we’ve turned the corner on the reputation to where we don’t get dismissed quite as easily. I’m seeing that reach a little further and a little further. The reach is down to Los Angeles and a little down to San Diego. We’re I’m hearing form people in the Midwest where people want to come out and see this place as much as they want to see our two competitors. If I’m on equal footing with those two guys, that’s’ a very happy place. They’ve kept their quality consistent, and ours haven’t been. We’ve turned the corner where we are at least consistent.”
“The hardest thing any brewer can do is walk in and try to take over a brewery with a bad reputation. It’s second only to walking in after an award-winning brewer has left to start their own brewery. What have you heard from Pizza Port brewery lately? They’re still making fantastic beer, but it’s not the same. It’s because the names are gone.”
“A brewer can leave for a month and nobody will really notice. Then after about two months they’re wondering, why isn’t there any beer and how come nobody’s seen him? Here, I have to work the overnight. I get here after we close, and I can leave before we open. A brewday, not necessarily, I take more time with that and I like to be seen. I don’t really disappear so they know I haven’t run off.”
–On the previous brewer, who had been gone for over a month before anybody even realized he wasn’t brewing anymore.
“There seem to be, really, three types of brewers. There are the ones who are real dedicated, stay in one place and end up in ownership or management. They just keep doing what they do and don’t listen to critics, don’t worry about trends, and don’t do anything but make good beer. That’s it, that’s all they’re interested in. They want to sell it, and they want to be profitable. It’s a business with all of the efficiencies of that business.
“Then you’ve got the rock stars that somehow develop a cult following. Sometimes they want it, sometimes they don’t. sometimes they cultivate it. Oftentimes, they’re very inspired and they hit a cord with a certain vocal group of beer aficionados, or the hopperazzis as I like to call them.”
–We didn’t get to the third type of brewer… we went on a tangent about the hopperazzis.
Speaking of the hopperazzis:
“I’m all for exploring and trying to gather and taste those kind of things, but realize that taste is the operative word. But for some of them, just the mere bottle, unopened, and the ability to trade it is the badge. I find that deplorable. I find that to be really deplorable. That’s what that group of people are trying to do to define what craft beer is. Some kind of artistic, tradable investment, and it isn’t. sure there are things out there that go past anything that’s been tried in living memory of what beer is, or even written memory of what beer is and those are exciting places to go. But on the other hand, they’re not the only places to go.”
Alright, back to work for me.