Interview with Tim Brady, 2016 January 10

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  • Introduction
    Partial Transcript: "I grew up in Arlington, Virginia..." "JMU is what bought me from Arlington to Harrisonburg." "It (Harrisonburg) was much more rural than anything I was used to." "There wasn't the same search for diversity that there was in Arlington..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about his childhood in Arlington Virginia and college education at James Madison University. He says that he studied political science at JMU and that it did not prepare him for his current job. He says that restaurant jobs taken out of necessity helped lead him down the path of becoming a brewery owner.
    Keywords: Arlington Virginia; education; Harrisonburg, Virginia; James Madison University; Pale Fire Brewing Company
  • Working at Calhoun's in Virginia and learning to brew beer
    Partial Transcript: "...a position opened up for assistant brewer..." "...making beer was way cooler than hosting or waiting tables..." "beer is kind of by definition a recreational part of everybody's lives... so beer is looked at positively for the most part..." "I remember that moment where it was like, aw man, you can do this yourself..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about learning how to brew beer at Calhoun's Brew Pub in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He says that what he learned there was a brewery near where he lived. He was excited because he had never thought of beer as being a local thing. He says that being at Calhoun's was a great way to learn how to brew beer. Due to Calhoun's small size he got to participate in all aspects of the brewing process.
    Keywords: beer; brewing; Calhoun's Brew Pub; creativity; learning
  • Working in craft beer distribution
    Partial Transcript: "I got a job in craft beer distribution for a company called Special Beverage..." "My specific territory was Lexington up to Leesburg." "...our job was to tell them why Blue Mountain Brewery, who had just started up at the time, was better than New Castle [Beer], who had been around for 300 years."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about his job distributing craft beer, a job he held for five years. He talks about how tastes changed as he distributed the beers and how bars and restaurants went from having uniform beer menus to having different ones.
    Keywords: Abita Brewing Company; Blue Mountain; Brewery Ommegang; Clementine; distribution; Dogfish Head; Leesburg, Virginia; Lexington, Virginia; Outback Steakhouse; Specialty Beverage
  • Counter culture, competition, the craft beer bubble, and craft brewers getting purchased by corporations
    Partial Transcript: "I don't think that it's anything that hasn't been in our society for a long time... there's always been a counter culture..." "There's the big mass produced Budweiser... then all of the sudden... this counter culture starts popping up..." "I think there is gonna be some major changes in the industry... I think bubble is a term that's really inaccurate..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about the craft beer industry. He says it comes from a counterculture that has always been there. He says that he does not believe there is a craft beer bubble but that the industry will steadily get more competitive. He also talks about brewers that have been purchased by larger brewers like Miller-Coors and AB InBev.
    Keywords: AB InBev; Anheuser Busch InBev; competition; cottage industry; counter culture; craft beer industry; economic bubble
  • Meeting contacts in the brewing industry and starting his own brewery
    Partial Transcript: "Jamie [Long] used to come into Calhoun's... and he would just kind of like, hangout and ask us questions..." "I quit a job that most people would kill for..." "There's always that self-doubt there..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about meeting his business partners and how they stayed in contact with each other because their companies did business with each other. He says that when the chance came up to start a brewing company together it felt like the natural thing to do despite the risks of starting a business and already having a good job.
    Keywords: beer distribution; Calhoun's Brew Pub; Clementine; Pale Fire Brewing Company; Specialty Beverage
  • Starting Pale Fire Brewing Company
    Partial Transcript: "We were somewhat blessed by the fact that the location, the location was never in doubt." "They wanted a craft brewery to go into this space." "We ended up with this really cool industrial building... that kind of ended up in the middle of downtown..." "Well that's something other people do... open their own business or brewery, but is that something I do?
    Synopsis: Brady talks about opening Pale Fire Brewing Company. He says that the owners of Pale Fire's building wanted a craft brewer on site. He says that he initially thought the brewery would never work due to the building's low ceilings. The building owners offered to dig down the floor, and instead they built an addition on to the building that suited their needs exactly. He also talks about getting over his fears of starting his own business.
    Keywords: craft brewing; Harrisonburg, Virginia; Pale Fire Brewing Company
  • Putting together a business plan and raising capital
    Partial Transcript: "Putting together the business plan... was daunting." "What I didn't realize was how many resources there are... out there." "They offer all kinds of free counseling and assistance... they even put together a board of faux investors..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about coming up with a business plan for Pale Fire Brewing Company. He says that the Small Business Development Center and his job at Calhoun's helped him acquire the network and know-how to create and successfully pitch a business plan. He says that his pitch focused on explaining how a craft brewery could be as strong an investment choice as a mutual fund.
    Keywords: business plans; Calhouns; Harrisonburg, Virginia; investments; investors; SBDC; Small Business Development Center
  • Picking a beer distributor
    Partial Transcript: "So, I think outside looking in, its easy to look at craft breweries... and kind of look at them as all the same..." "Our thing was more geared toward super attention to detail... and more geared towards tradition..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about selecting a beer distributor to work with. He explains that each brewery has its own direction and that they must pick a distributor that understands the brewer's product and approach to beer in order to understand and sell their product. He talks about his distributors.
    Keywords: appeal; beer distributors; brewing; craft brewing; running a business; Specialty Beverage; Virginia Eagle
  • Building the Pale Fire brand
    Partial Transcript: Tthe basic idea behind it was that creativity is kind of like a perpetual motion machine...one person's creative output inspires creativity in others..." "Pale Fire itself is named after a Vladimir Nabakov book, you know, 'cause the world needs a Russian literature themed craft brewery." "The most important thing was that the name sounded cool and was easy to pronounce."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about the inspiration behind the Pale Fire brand and explains its connection to art, artistry, and creativity. He explains the literary origins of the "Pale Fire" name. He says that it is important for a brewery's name to be easy to pronounce.
    Keywords: branding; craft brewing; Pale fire; Pale Fire Brewing Company; Vladimir Nabokov; William Shakespeare
  • The artistic connections to the Pale Fire brand.
    Partial Transcript: "Why can't we just go out and do it ourselves and that there were examples out there of people doing independent music...books...why can't we?"
    Synopsis: Brady offers more thoughts on the connections between art and his brewery. He says that discovering independently produced music and books as a teenager led to him developing the mentality necessary to open a brewery. He says that he admires people who produce and share what it is that they want to produce and share.
    Keywords: Dischord Records; DIY; independence; Pale Fire Brewing Company; punk; Washington DC music scene
  • The role of government in Pale Fire Brewing Company
    Partial Transcript: "Is it frustrating when you need a government approval right now and it takes four weeks... but you learn to put it in four weeks ahead of time..." "I'm actually fine with it, it is a heavily regulated industry... it kind of makes sense to me why its all there... necessary pain in the butt..." "There's hurdles to cross in any industry."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about regulation and other forms of government involvement in Pale Fire Brewing Company. He says that regulation can be a hindrance, but he's glad that it's there, and that a particular grant program offered by the state of Virginia actually drew in some investors who were not yet sure if they wanted to invest in Pale Fire Brewing Company.
    Keywords: grants; heavily regulated industry; incentives; investors; laws; licenses; regulations; SBDC; Small Business Development Center; taxes; Virginia
  • Craft brewing trade associations in Virginia
    Partial Transcript: "[Trade associations] have done a lot of good stuff..."
    Synopsis: Brady briefly talks about craft brewing trade associations. He says that before Pale Fire Brewing Company opened the Virginia Craft Brewer's Guild was instrumental in passing a law that allowed production breweries like his to operate taprooms on site. The law allows his customers to visit them and his company to profit from selling beer at full retail prices.
    Keywords: beer distributors; laws; regulations; SB 604; Virginia; Virginia Craft Brewer's Guild
  • Selling beer in the Pale Fire Brewing Company taproom
    Partial Transcript: "I think its about twenty percent sold right now, through the taproom... but that number will probably shrink down to three or four percent." "We're not even a year old yet..." "We get asked all the time, do you use local hops... right now the answer is no... it's an issue of infrastructure..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about selling beer in his taproom. He also talks about the hops industry in the state of Virginia. He says that while hops can be grown in the state of Virginia the infrastructure is not there for it. He says that the labor costs of hop production remain too high and that he lacks a way to keep local hops shelf stable year round, however he is excited for the possibility of using Virginia grown hops.
    Keywords: agriculture; growth; hops; sales; taproom
  • The relationship between Pale Fire Brewing Company and Harrisonburg, Virginia
    Partial Transcript: "... I think one of the things that's attracted me to this industry... is that knowing people and getting to know people... comes really natural to me..." "Before we opened up a brewery, I still liked meeting people in bars..." "That relationship between brewery and consumers is something that we do naturally, because that's the kind of people that we are..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about his company's relationship with Harrisonburg, Virginia. He says that he does not like to view it in marketing terms because he feels his personality lends itself to meeting people and forging new connections regardless of whether or not he ran a brewery. He says that the town of Harrisonburg's willingness to try new things and the presence of James Madison University have both helped his brewery.
    Keywords: Harrisonburg, Virginia; James Madison University; Pale Fire Brewing Comapny; relationships; success
  • Pale Fire Brewing Company and Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance
    Partial Transcript: 'Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance has been hugely important." "I don't know another organization... that's been as important in revitalizing downtown Harrisonburg." "I think what Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance does really well is find those success stories and make sure people know about them..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about the revitalization of downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia. He says that their location in the downtown area was never in doubt, but that the revitalization project has been a massive help. He talks about his future plans for the brewery and how he would rather use it as a way to support and create a certain lifestyle and culture in the city of Harrisonburg and the state of Virginia rather than following a model of endless growth. He says he wants to enjoy life and have a successful brewery.
    Keywords: consumer culture; growth; Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance; Harrisonburg, Virginia; New Glarus Brewing Company; Pale Fire Brewing Company; revitalization; shopping malls
  • Families and the Pale Fire Brewing Company
    Partial Transcript: "We are very kid friendly, we've got a very big space..." "It plays into a concept... which is a community meeting space..." "Kids are welcome, but I like the idea that they're coming into an adult space..." "We're not a daycare center either... we are at the end of the day an adult space that kids are welcome in... it's worked out really well."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about children and families coming to Pale Fire Brewing Company's taproom. He states that he likes it as it emphasizes his idea that they should be a meeting space for the surrounding community. However, he says that he will not buy toys are create a children's area because at the end of the day he views his taproom as a primarily adult space where children are welcome.
    Keywords: children; families; Pale Fire Brewing Company; taproom
  • How owning a brewery has changed Brady's beer drinking habits and Pale Fire's Quality control
    Partial Transcript: "I don't think it has changed how I drink beer..." "I started brewing when I was twenty-one." "I like dry and hoppy...' "(quality control) is one of the foundations of our business model..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about his favorite kinds of beer to drink. He talks about the importance of quality control in Pale Fire Brewing Company's beer brewing process. He says that he takes great pride in his brewery's quality control process and how they even go as far as working with the chemical composition of their water depending on what kind of beer they are brewing.
    Keywords: beer; brewing; carbonation; chemistry; criticism; drinking; fermentation; hops; quality control; saison; Salad Days Saison; success; tasting; water; yeast
  • The average work day at Pale Fire Brewing Company
    Partial Transcript: "Mine is not as regimented as Jamie and the brewers..." "My days can start anywhere between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m and they can end anywhere between 3:00 p.m. and midnight." "Whenever the days get really long, I ask myself what would I rather be doing and I haven't thought of anything I'd rather be doing"
    Synopsis: Brady discusses his average workday. He says at this point there is no such thing for him as an "average" work day and that he is in every day of the week. Despite the sometimes grueling schedule he can't think of anything else he'd rather be doing.
    Keywords: accounting; events; Pale Fire Brewing Company; scheduling; work
  • Relations with other craft brewers and innovation in the craft brewing industry
    Partial Transcript: "All the smaller independent breweries are kind of like brothers in arms." "I think the industry by nature kind of attracts cool people..." "There's a lot of open dialog..."
    Synopsis: Brady talks about the sense of companionship that independent and craft brewers feel for each other. He thinks that this dynamic is part of what makes the craft beer industry special and that it has contributed to the craft beer industry's success. He also thinks the openness to sharing within the industry is a major driver of innovation and cites Dogfish Head Brewery sharing their invention of the Randall as an example of this collaborative innovation.
    Keywords: AB InBev; Anheuser-Busch InBev; craft brewing industry; Dogfish Head Brewery; independent breweries; innovation; Miller Coors; Randall; sharing