Hop Sauce Festival 2016

We had a great time at the Hop Sauce Festival on Long Beach Island, NJ! It was a beautiful day and we loved introducing Backward Flag Brewing to everyone attending. Thanks for your support! Here are a couple pics leading up to and at the event!

Who’s the brewer?

Brewing Kettle
Brewing KettleJan 19th 2016 will mark 4 months since we’ve opened our doors. It already feels like a lifetime. In just a few months our little brewery has started to take on a life of its own. While we still continue to find ourselves stressed and struggling to keep up with the day to day, it has just simply become the new normal, we’re learning to become one with the chaos. A lot of things are changing. Everyone is naturally falling into a defined role, everyone is starting to take ownership of their position in our tiny little company. We are also learning how important each one of those roles are. We are a team and we find our strengths in each other.  This is not intended to come across as some pep rally preaching or imply that we spend our evening’s high fiving and hugging it out….in fact, we spend a lot of time yelling at each other and throwing things. But that’s what a family does. My point is that there isn’t a single individual responsible for the successes or failures of our brewery.
It happens very often that, after taking the first sip of freshly poured pint, a customer will ask “who is the brewer?” Taken at face value, the answer to that question is pretty simple. But that is not what that question is really asking. I believe when someone asks “who is the brewer?” they are really asking “who is responsible for creating this beautiful thing in my glass?”  In that case the answer is “we are.”
Everything that happens in a brewery is done to ensure that at the end of the day you are able to pour yourself 16 ounces of perfection. We all handle different stages of the process. Take any of that away and you no longer have your perfect beer. Recipe development, brewing, fermentation, carbonation, cleaning and serving. A different person is responsible for each of these elements. I’m not sure that in a larger brewery they would be so willing to give the credit of their final product to the server in their tap room, but regardless, it is just as much the truth there as it is here in our small corner of the brewing world. It is unfortunate that you rarely see magazine articles about the guy or girl that spends hours scrubbing fermenters and brewery floors. Or the person who carbs and packages the beer. These people are very much responsible for the magic in your glass. These are the ‘brewers’. Not everyone may agree with our definition of a brewer, but that’s ok.
We always strive to educate anyone who comes through the doors of our brewery. Not to say that our customers are not already highly educated, but everyone can always learn something new. Maybe we’ll add our redefined belief in what a brewer is to our curriculum. The next time someone asks “who’s the brewer?” in our tap room, don’t be surprised to hear “we are” as the reply.  If you have a more specific question, well now we have a conversation.  Cheers!
  • Torie

Special Coin Presentation

Ian Brenner Special Coin Presentation

We believe in many traditions here at Backward Flag Brewing, one of those is the military tradition of awarding a special coin to those who should be recognized for actions that go above and beyond what is expected. We started this at the brewery with our Coin Holders club and we recently had the pleasure of presenting Ian Brenner with a coin for his recent actions in saving a women’s life.

You can read about his heroism here: http://www.514amw.afrc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123464328Ian Brenner Special Coin Presentation

Small Success

BFBC-Window-300-225Here we are. On September 19th we opened our doors and exposed ourselves to the world for the first time. Any fly on the wall that may have overheard any of the conversations leading up to the decision to open on that day would have been convinced that we didn’t want to open at all. It’s an odd feeling, being torn between the excitement of finally seeing your dream come to life and being scared to death that the public will tell you that you have wasted your time. But the doors opened and we poured our beers for family, friends and many of the locals who wandered in. As the day progressed we got the sense that people were really enjoying the space we have built and the beer we have brewed. When the evening came to an end and the last person left we stood in silence for a few moments processing what just happened. We opened a brewery. Even if it only lasted for one day, we opened a brewery and that cannot ever be taken away from us.
Over the last few weeks we have dumped much more beer down the drain then we ever thought we would. Maybe that’s the price of inexperience and a shoestring budget. It’s never a good day when we make the decision to toss a batch, but we tell ourselves these are just growing pains and just like all things we’ll make it through to a better day. Recently I was telling someone about all of the beer we have tossed away and the feeling of failure that comes with each ruined batch. They stopped me and said “If you are dumping the beer then that means you’re not serving bad beer to people, and that’s a good thing.” I guess he is right.
We’ve been open for about 4 weekends and we have been meeting a lot of amazing people. We set out to build a brewery based on the values of community and we see that coming to life every day. Frequently we have customers come in and offer to donate furniture, services and their time to the brewery. We have people who tell us how happy they are that we chose their town to open in, others tell us that we have inspired them to follow their own dreams. There are days that we are baffled at the reaction and emotion we seem to be stirring in people. We just make beer. But then we remember the inspiration we found in other breweries and the stories they told that made us chase our dreams. It all starts to make a little sense.
We get a lot of questions about expansion plans, when we will be in bars, restaurants, stores and if we want to be the next Sam Adams. We have plans for the future, they’re not very big, but they’re there. Things don’t always have to be bigger to be better. Right now we are taking a moment and enjoying the fact that we have succeeded in our first goal to simply open our doors and make people happy.
Even if those doors were to close tomorrow we have succeeded. Cheers!

Its Worth It

I wilbfbc-emptyl open with an apology to anyone who may have anticipated this journal to be updated on a more frequent basis. I know it was my intent when I started it but that leads us right into today’s post.
As many know at this point already, if you have been following our other media outlets, we have received our final license from the State of New Jersey and are now legal and can brew and hopefully we should be opening our doors soon. We also recently came to the end of a very successful Kickstarter campaign (thank you to everyone who supported us!)
It has been an insane few months and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. We thought we would be ready to brew the day they handed us our license but that was not the case. Just like we thought we would start digging trench drains the day we signed the lease on our building, again, not the case. There are so many other variables at play around us every day. Every day is honestly a balancing act, usually time and money are the most extreme things on the scale.
We are all still serving in the military and still have those obligations to answer to, that unfortunately frequently eats into the precious hours we need to be pouring into the brewery. We also have young children that are also deserving of any time that we can give them. The days always seem to blur together now. On Monday mornings when I start the week at the day job someone will always ask “what did you do this weekend?” I usually find myself blank minded and unable to recall what exactly I did. I usually just simply answer “brewery stuff.” I’m pretty sure that to most people that means we stood around and drank beer all weekend. In fairness, that’s only partially true… Somehow we are making it work, I am now a firm believer that the idea of there being only 24hrs in a day is a myth. And we haven’t even started brewing yet…
Money is a beast that never smiles. Money and time appear to be friends. The kind that are always conspiring against you. One of the biggest tricks to the start of this business so far is to get the doors open and start serving beer before we run out of money. Anyone who has ever started a business like this will tell you the same. We could definitely have made our dollars stretch further if we would have bought different equipment. But we made a decision early on that we would never skimp on quality when it came to anything that touches our beer. This is why you will see a pretty pricy keg washer sitting in the brewery area but our tap room is filled with stacked pallet wood tables and couches we found on the side of the road…. We could have been brewing a week ago but we didn’t have the money to buy a few of the hoses and other small parts (that cost a lot of money!) that we needed. We were able to free up some space on one of our maxed out credit cards to buy what we needed. I’ve convinced myself that this is normal for the stage of business we are in. If you know otherwise please just let me keep living in my fantasy. We should be brewing next week…
In addition to the time and money balance there is also the factor of our inexperience. We are not people with 20 years of brewing industry history. We are a couple of military professionals who had a dream and decided to take the steps to start living it. We are now trying navigate the mile high stack of taxes and regulations associated with a business in the alcohol industry. We are also trying to learn how to set up bulk malt orders, and hop contracts without sounding like morons. We also have to learn how to be t-shirt and glassware design experts and retailers….
And yet we continue to move forward. Here at the brewery we frequently ask each other if we still think its worth it. No one ever hesitates to say “Yes.” Every time I receive an email from someone who tells me we are an inspiration, or that they are happy to have a brewery in their town it makes it worth it. When my three year old daughter tells me she wants to make beer like mommy and daddy, its worth it.
Early this morning I walked into the brewery to get some paperwork done. Before I sat down I walked around and looked at everything we have done. The beautiful bar that Chris built. The walk in cooler our friends help us unload and build. The kegs that almost tumbled off the back of the truck that are now sitting ready in the cooler. The shiny taps in place ready to pour for the people I see walking around outside. Its definitely worth it.
Thanks for having faith in us.
Cheers to us and those like us!
-Torie

Community

BFBC-04-KEGSA lot has been happening in the last few weeks. Sitting here looking back and trying to recap everything is like looking into a tornado and picking out familiar objects. One of the most exciting days so far has been the day our kegs arrived. I think if there is a single item that universally says BEER its a keg…and these ones are shiny and have our name all over them. It was also a moment of feeling helpless. We are small and struggling with a tiny budget, so no, we do not have a fancy forklift. Instead we rely on the delivery company to show up with an adequate lift gate to unload the equipment…this one did not. Lift gate yes. Adequate, no. I watched as the careless driver (who, unfortunately seems like he’s going to be a regular delivery guy) struggled with our freight, seemingly careless to whether our shiny future made its way safely into the brewery or tumbled onto the ground. I had seen another business across the industrial complex moving supplies around with multiple forklifts in the past and I ran over hoping they could save us. Without hesitation and without question the man I talked to jumped into one of their forklifts, drove down, unloaded the truck and placed everything safely into the brewery. Words cannot describe how grateful I was and still am for that. A perfect example of COMMUNITY. One of the biggest reasons we decided to open this brewery wasn’t to just brew beer, its about people. Its to promote and be a part of the community that surrounds us. Recently we’ve had the pleasure of working with some great companies that are full of great people that believe in the same things. If you follow our social media outlets you’ll see us occasionally give a shout out to some of the companies we work with. If we promote them its because they do great work and are excellent examples of community. As we continue to move forward the list of people I want to share a pint with grows. Tomorrow when you wake up go out and do something beer worthy for your community. Cheers to us and those like us!
– Torie

Welcome

Welcome to the Backward Flag Brewing Journal! If you’re reading this I can only hope that means you are interested in what we are doing and support us. We’d like to thank you in advance for getting us to this point. I plan to update this journal as often as possible to keep you in the loop with all of the different things we have going on at the brewery.
So far if you’ve been following us on social media (if not, what are you waiting for!?) you know back in late February we signed the lease on a 2300 sq ft space in Forked River (FOR-KED for the locals, everyone else tries to pronounce it as FORKT…remember the locals are ALWAYS right) That was a very exciting day for us. We thought things would move at rocket speed after that but not exactly…the space essentially remained untouched for the first month while we ran around screening plumbers, electricians, draft architectural drawings, revising the drawings…revising them AGAIN…zoning, permits…federal paperwork…state paperwork… But here we are, work has officially begun. We checked in last week on the guys from Affordable Plumbing Services as they were cutting into the floors to install the new plumbing and trench drains. It was an awesome feeling to see progress being made, we even shared a little of our test batches with the guys. There was something very satisfying about sitting in the bare bones soon to be brewery and watching the guys that are helping us make it happen enjoy a little of what we put our heart and soul into. It was definitely a good day. There is much more to follow in the days ahead and we are looking forward to each one of those days. Cheers to us and those like us!
-Torie