Back in 2010 while running a liquor store Kristin and I owned in Longmont Colorado called Mother's Liquor, I bought a home brewing kit from a little home brew store nearby called The Bald Brewer. The intention was to brew some beer for fun in the back room of the liquor store and maybe give away a few pints out the back door to our friends in the area. I never ended up having any time after all at the liquor store to do anything with the kit whatsoever so the kit sat, complete with all the ingredients to make a Stout, in the back room until we sold the liquor store in the summer of 2011. The kit ended up in our garage back in Chandler, Arizona and eventually on the moving truck when we relocated to the Seattle area in 2011. For two more years the kit sat in my garage in Snoqualmie Washington without even much notice.
In the fall of 2012 while sharing a pitcher (or several) of Mack n Jack African Amber Ale at The Joker Pub in Issaquah Washington, with my good friend Dwight Farrington, we got to talking about home brewing. Dwight had done a ton of brewing back in the day and nearly went pro. The stories were phenomenal and had me absolutely interested and enthralled. I remembered I had a home brew kit at home along with a turkey fryer and a pot and we, in our drunken state, decided we were going to go back to my house and brew that Stout that had been sitting in my garage for quite some time. We didnt brew that day but we did brew a couple weeks later.
After one brew session in my garage I was hooked. Over the next several weeks the passion grew to obsession. I spent nearly day and night researching the art of brewing, reading every article by John Palmer I could find. Within days I was going from brewing my first batch on an old turkey fryer gas heated single pot system to designing and building my first “real” home brewery with all the bells and whistles.
I started searching for kegs to convert to keggles and couldnt find any locally in the Seattle area. I called Kempton who was living in Flagstaff Arizona and finishing up his college days at NAU. Kempton, was basically focusing on hosting parties with his Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) brothers and building his screen printing and apparel company and had plenty of access to used kegs. Kempton boxed two kegs up and sent them to me in Washington.
I had discovered The Electric Brewery website and was committed to creating an all electric home brewing system and the kegs from Kempton were the first key pieces I needed. I also had discovered Brewer's Hardware and all the amazing TriClamp fittings and pieces they sold and was ordering parts left and right. Suffice it to say I had a package coming from Amazon or Brewer's Hardware or Ebay or Northern Brewer etc. nearly every day of the week. I was also spending a lot of time down at Larry's Brew Supply in Kent Washington, these guys have been doing this for years and were incredibly helpful. My favorite quote from them as I was down there bombarding them with technical questions was, "just remember even if you #@!#@ up the recipe, you still make beer."
Kennedy jumped in and started to assist and build out a Brewtroller to power and automate the heating and brewing process. We were ordering parts from oscsys as well to build this crazy thing. By the fourth batch I was brewing all grain recipes using my newly designed and built all electric 3 vessel brewing machine. Kennedy had completed the custom designed circuit panel and brewtroller and we were in business. Speaking of business, I knew at this moment that this would be the next big Bushnell family business and I needed Kempton to move to Washington to make it all happen.
It wasn’t long before I had convinced Kempton to come up and brew a few batches with me. His first batch didn’t go so well and he blew up a few heating elements on the brewing system and we had to discard the entire grain bed, couldn't have metal flakes in our first beer together. The science and artistry of it all already had him intrigued. I think he knew from the first brew day that this was going to be his life's work. The next day he rounded up some new heating elements and did it all again, this time with complete success. We made the beautiful American Amber we still brew today aptly titled 'Bofuss'. It is a reference we came up with to affectionately refer to the beer both he and I, ‘Bofuss’, brewed in our garage that day.
By the summer of 2013, Kempton had moved to Washington and we were brewing 2 to 3 times a week perfecting our home brewing craft. Kempton would brew often while I was at work and we would age it and then keg it into corny kegs and give it the neighbors to dispose of by drinking it. We couldn't possibly drink all the beer we were brewing at home all by ourselves. We were making some top notch home brew beers and recipes though. For Halloween, 2013, we setup two stations outside our house. the first station was for the kids and we had candy galore, the second station was for the parents and we had 2 taps on our newly created jockey box, one serving our home made Dirty Shirley Blonde Ale and one serving our home made Dunkadelic Milk Stout. The neighborhood loved it and I must say we had a great time serving beer to the trick-or-treating parents.
THE BUILD OUT...
More of the story coming soon...
Enthusiasm Director, responsible for advertising, sales, marketing and branding
Kempton likes to market and is the artistic one of the bunch and is blessed, or is it cursed, with the Bushnell’s itch of launching and building family run businesses. Kempton and I built a fully functioning screen printing and trophy business his freshman year in college and he took it and ran with it. Before we knew it, this little garage project turned into a full-fledged business, producing well over 25,000 apparel items in 2012 alone. He is the design guy as well, so if you don’t like one of our labels or color schemes, he is the one to chat with.
Executive Chef, responsible for recipe creation and back of house operations
Kristin is my much younger girlfriend and although she isn't an entrepreneur by nature, she has been with me through several different ventures from 365 Athletics to the ACYFL, to Mother's Liquor, to Kasia Homes and now Bushnell Craft Brewing Company. Coincidentally, she has a degree in Culinary Arts and Sciences and Restaurant Management from Scottsdale Culinary Institute. She loves cooking, baking and hosting parties and events.
Technology Nut, responsible for all engineering projects
Kennedy has always been an engineer in training, messing with computers, building his own circuit boards, developing web sites, writing software, well, you get the idea. In high school Kennedy created his own software company called Kamilon to support the various Bushnell businesses including a credit card processing software suite tied into PayPal to support online transaction processing and his own iTunes like media player. He even created the fully automated circuit control board for our home brewing system and the one we use in our commercial brew house today.
HMFIC, responsible for the vision, direction and keeping the wheels on the bus
Me, I like to start, build, operate and sometimes sell businesses. Bushnell Craft Brewing Company is my final frontier and will be my crowned jewel. I have never had so many aspects of a business that I have found so intriguing as the beer brewing business. From the chemistry to the engineering to the creativity to the process design to the marketing and branding, the challenges and rewards are everywhere.
At the end of the day it is about our customers and tap room patrons, do they love our beer? Do they love our food? Do they love the tap room and tell their friends and family about the great place we are building called Bushnell Craft Brewing Company? Are they joining the 144 Club so they can forever be embedded into the fabric of this brewery? We will always stay close to the people, the process and to the craft. Like you have probably heard us say around the tap room, "We're gonna be famous for something, we sure hope its beer."
Tons of fun, challenging and rewarding things to do and figure out and new frontiers to conquer. Never before have I had so many of my families specialties and affinities represented in one operation. Yup, I get to do this all with my kids and one day with their kids. Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily ...