Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Meet the Brewskies!

“What do you do with a great idea that’s too far beyond your financial means? Some might say put it to the side or maybe write a business plan and seek investment.

What you may never hear someone say is “build it fictionally!”

As crazy as it sounds, that’s exactly what Dave Vanz and Jon Wallace have done to open up their first location of The Brewskies: a brewery/bar mix featuring signature and local craft beer. Upon visiting the website some may find themselves wondering if The Brewskies is an actual bar, as all the content will paint the picture as if it were real.”

Dave Vanz took the time to sit down with me and flesh out the vision for their adventure,explaining what it is about The Brewskies that’s so unique in the world of craft beer!

me: I want to give our geeks a feeling for what you envision, personally, beyond the press release… Can you talk a little about that & maybe some insight to how The Brewskies got started?

Dave: I think I've always liked Craft Beer since I was old enough to drink (of course) but I didn't really pay much attention to it or give it its props. But in 2008, I was working in Michigan where I ran a big social network. I wanted an excuse to drink so my buddy and I decided that we would go blog on beers at this place called The Rochester Mills Brewery. They had 13 beers on tap so we ordered the sampler which put 26 glasses on our table. Since it was like a Monday night no one was really there, until this group of girls came in and walked by the table and said "Are you guys alcoholics or something?"(We had all our empty glasses stacked in a pyramid and wouldn't let the waitress take them because we liked the way it looked.)

me: Ha!

Dave: Needless to say these girls asked us what we recommended. It was such a good time we did it again, but then went to another brewery and this time brought this real cheesy photoshopped image of us with the saying "Blogging on Beers with the Brewskies" a couple days later we went back to the brewery and realized our sign was still on the table. When we went to take it, the manager asked if they could keep it because people were coming in asking if they could try the beers that The Brewskies tried.    

  We were shocked as this was only our second blog. We actually didn't believe him, but we left it anyways. As time went on, we kept traveling around Metro Detroit doing this and people started joining us.Honestly it was like a family.                                    
                                Dave: What I didn't anticipate finding was the culture behind the craft beer scene. WE LOVED IT.

me: That's what we love too!!

 Dave: We started to realize the artistic culture behind it. We saw sketch artists doing "sketch offs" at local breweries; we saw local musicians and other creative people and started to realize this was pretty awesome. It was in 2009 that I started to wish there was a place that sold all the best Michigan beers in one location. That's when the idea of opening up our own bar started to cross my mind. After talking to a friend (and brewmaster) he suggested we come up with a signature beer called The Brewskie. The idea started wandering from there.

In the end, our goal was that we were going to go big and open up a location and then open up more in other states. All locations would look the same, but based on which state it was located in, would determine which beers were on tap. So if you went to The Brewskies in Oregon,the atmosphere would be the same, The Brewskie would be on tap, but all other taps would be filled with Oregon beers.

me: Genius. I LOVE this story.

Dave: Our goal was to support the local brewers who weren't capable of distributing out of state. I ended up pitching the idea to the founder of BD's Mongolian BBQ, but he said it wasn’t his thing. So I tried other routes. Unfortunately all routes ended with no cash flow. That’s when my partner Jon Wallace and I started talking. Jon is an amazing sketch artist and was looking for an outlet to draw. We decided that it would be fun to tell the story of The Brewskies through comics. But actually start it from the beginning where we start building the bar.

me: So fun...

Dave: In one of our comics we even have a social media guy come in and pitch the brewmaster on marketing. we want it to be as realistic as possible. (Minus the bird character and the dress up Viking.) Well....I guess the Viking could be real....

me: I love the Viking! What's next?
Dave: I have been to the Renaissance Festival.... so we needed something to make money with...We decided t-shirts would be it.Who doesn't love a fun shirt?

me: Absolutely! Tees are so fun!

Dave: So now that it's online, our realization was that we are not in any particular state; why not still find a way to support specific states local craft brewers like was originally intended? That's when we decided to say that we want to dedicate each month to a specific state. Since we talk about the bar as if it’s real, we'll talk about what beers are on tap. I'll be reaching out to local bloggers and brewers to find out what their favorites are. But the rule is it can't be a big brewery with big distribution.

me: BRILLIANT! This is a seriously fun, unique slant,and a very fresh take on blogs & sites on craft beer!

Dave: If we find unique things about the brewmasters,we may even feature them in our comics. like we did in this one with Ray Sherwood from Sherwood Brewery who kinda resembles Rob Zombie (or at least that’s the joke)

“Every month out of the year, TheBrewskies will celebrate the craft beer culture out of a specific state. Their support will focus on smaller breweries whose distribution isn’tthat of company’s like Samuel Adams, Bells Brewery, etc.

Serving their famous BrewskieBurger and a variety of other menu items, The Brewskies is built to become a favorite gathering place for those who fancy the local craft beer culture.”

me: Fun!

Dave: While this is all fictional, we hope to actually learn more about breweries across the states and at the same time teach others about them through comics. Our dream is still to open up a reallocation. We're hoping this fictional adventure will actually lead to that.

me: I think it's such a cool idea.

Dave: Thanks :)

“With art already being a staple in the craft beer scene, this is a perfect blend to begin building the future of The Brewskies. And with beer and food obviously unavailable to sell, they will start with custom-designed apparel to celebrate the company and the craftbeer culture.

Brewskies Apparel will feature the main characters in the comics along with fun crafty sayings that any beer lover would enjoy wearing.

me: What can we do to help? When do you get your tees ready?

Dave: We're working on one right now…

(secret conversation ensued, wherein the tee’s theme was revealed to me…)

me: LOL. Mum's the word. What else can we look forward to on your site? Do you have anything slated for Oregon yet?

Dave: Somebody was on our group page fighting over July (for Oregon) but a guy from Michigan had already called it. Then another guy from Washington said Oregon and Washington should do September and October. Since we weren't ready yet, I was thinking about making Oregon in November...

me: Yes, probably Oregon geeks looking for July since we do Oregon Craft Beer Month in July, though September would correlate with Fresh Hop Harvest...

Dave: We hope that when we sketch people in our comics or talk about specific local beers that the supporters of those people and beers will enjoy the recognition and share it with their friends. It's a grass roots effort. Although I want this to grow big, there's nothing but creative ideas building this and we like it like that. It's pure human innovation with no corporate strong hold.

me: We're alike in that way with #pdxbeergeeks! No underlying corporate purpose - just people getting together over local craftbeers! Just 'cause we love it.

Dave: In many ways it was a blessing the investor I talked to didn't take it. He wasn't passionate about craft beer or art; he was just a smart business man who'd made it by serving delicious food. What I appreciated was that he said he liked the idea, but it wasn't for him

me: So this is an opportunity to grow it from the ground up, with support from other people who truly love craft beer and supporting local!

progress is being made over at The Brewskies!

Dave: Exactly. We look at The Brewskies as a Craft Beer Family. Our hope is that people will identify with what we're doing and in some way turn around and say "I'm a Brewskie.” We want people to be a part of this. My friend in Washington is sending me his top favorites when it comes to local beers. We're asking people on Twitter. We want people to share their love and support for their local watering holes

“Although this might not sound fictional,the story in fact is. All the way from building the bar, hiring marketers, and deciding which craft beers will be on tap, the entire journey of the bar will be told through comics.”

Dave: Everything inside of me wants to be working in the craft beer world.

me: And I want to go into community building with craft beer full time. Ha! Small world!

Dave: I've been trying to do the same thing with craft beer community building. One thing I like about this project is that it's giving me more reason to network outside of my living area with craft beer.

me: I am telling you, this craft beer world is soooooooo small, it is like a family. I love it.

Dave: I think you've just become a Brewskie.


Dave: I can now call you sister Emily. HA!

me: ...and you're an honorary #pdxbeergeek!

Dave: YAY!

Thanks so much to Dave of The Brewskies for taking the time to chat with me. Keep an eye on these guys!

The Brewskies have an ever growing presence online – and as they create and expand their virtual brew pub, you can visit them at or find them on Twitter and Facebook.