- Segment 1: Xavier’s story
What did he do before Terre Haute Brewing Company? Why is taking control of your own life so important? Hear about how he navigated becoming a Certified Cicerone while learning alongside one of our favorite females, Keely Thomlinson.
- Segment 2: The History of Terre Haute Brewing Company
It’s important to have a story and a “Why.” Hear about the birth and channel change of Champagne Velvet & where to find Terre Haute Beer.
- Final Segment: Xavier’s advice for the masses
THBC has been helping the community! How have they been able to navigate Covid-19? Listen in to find out what’s in the works beer wise & what we all have to look forward to?
Ant Blair 0:00
What the fuck is going on in the world right now?
Xavier Ake 0:06
It’s crazy man. I’m sure it’s crazy everywhere, not just here in Terre Haute, not just for the brewery but I mean, any small business whatsoever, I’m sure is starting to feel the impact of this whole COVID-19 business. So
Ant Blair 0:21
how are you holding up x? How are you in your because I think you you’re you and your girlfriend,
are you? You’re together. You live together?
Xavier Ake 0:29
Um, me and my wife. Yeah.
Ant Blair 0:31
Your wife is technically still your girl.
Xavier Ake 0:35
She is yeah, she’s still my girl. Yeah. So we just moved out to Terre Haute back in January, or officially we moved out here in March, but it’s been back and forth since January. And you know, it was going all bright and great. And as soon as we get moved into Terre Haute, you know, all of a sudden, boom, everything just explodes and the world goes to hell. Real quick. So but no we’re hanging in there we’re doing all right she’s spending a lot of time at home thankfully I’ve had the luxury of being able to work at home as well although there’s still a lot of things that in my job that require me to be here at the brewery but I try and and limit my time here as best as possible so
Ant Blair 1:21
right on man in what what was it that you did even before you got to Terre Haute, what was that? What did your previous life look like? For the people who don’t know you as well as I do…
Xavier Ake 1:34
So, geez, I’ve had a bit of a long run career in the beer industry so far. I got my start in the industry as one of the Brewers at books and brews Brewing Company way back when it first opened up. That was my introductory job into this industry. And it was the job that made me fall in love with with the beer industry even more than I thought I already had. Before that I was actually home brewing and brewing homebrew for about a year and a half, two years or so. So most people in this industry get started as home brewers. After books and brews I ended up moving on with Marsh supermarkets rest in peace.
i was the operations specialist for the beer wine and liquor category. And I helped to to manage and develop the beer wine and liquor programs on an operations level for the company, which is great. Went to school for Hospitality Administration with the focus and beverage management, which is how I kind of refined those skills and that was kind of the thing that put me into that slot with that company. From there, I had a great relationship with the folks at Crown liquors. And so as Marsh supermarkets and my time there came to a close. That was a nice little stepping stone and Marcy between Marsh was being able to go work for her Lakers from there ended up moving over to Whole Foods Market. And it was a great I had a good time at Whole Foods picked up a lot of things as far as beer and cheese pairings, which really helped me out for the certified Cicerone exam. They’re just food pairings and beer in general. But the big box grocery store type deal, or the corporate grocery scene just kind of started to bear heavy on me. And then I got to the point where I was like, This isn’t what I kind of want to do anymore, at least on that side. So from there, I ended up taking on a directorial role with a brand new independent liquor store called what’s called Wine and Spirits over in the village of West clay and Carmel. loved that job. It was great. Through that job, I ended up meeting the folks here at Taro Brewing Company by going to the Indiana microbreweries festival back in July of 2019. And From there, I fell in love with this brand Terre Haute brewing kit but I’ve never felt fell so hard for a particular brand. But it was like it was like magic. It was like love at first sight or love at first taste, I should say. So. And then from there, I got to know the head Brewer Anthony Magali, the sales team and the directors here and just kept in contact with them. I always gave huge support to micro breweries, especially Indiana, local breweries, while I was with West clay wine and spirits. They were kind of the the brands that prioritize my shelf space. And then it kind of came to the point where they reached out to me and decided that they wanted to bring me on board and I was like, heck yeah, I’d love to get paid by you guys to sell your book or talk about your beer and just be part of the organization. So right now I take over I run the the marketing I’m the Marketing Manager and the ambassador for the brewery. So events like this where it’s talking to a particular audience or any audience, I kind of get to be the face of the brewery, which is just an absolute honor to be the face of, of your favorite brewery. So,
Ant Blair 5:17
Man, there’s a couple of things in that story that jumped out to me. You said that you’re a Certified Cicerone,
Xavier Ake 5:27
I am a certified Cicerone. Back in September, I went to Chicago to take my CCIE a certified Cicerone exam. I got to a point sometime around June May or June of 2019, where I was like, you know, I keep telling myself Yeah, I’ll go take the CCIE at some point, you know, I’ll do it at some point. And then I finally got to a point hit a really that realization. It was kind of something my dad has said to me. My entire life is, you know, If you’ve just do it well if you’re not gonna like don’t just talk about doing something just go do it take control of it you control your own life you make life what what you will so you know what I need to stop making excuses for myself and pass or fail just go do it you know say that I have done it and through about three additional months of like intense cramming intense studying, went and took the exam September, just right after my wedding anniversary. My wife was absolutely thrilled to go to Chicago obviously.
Ant Blair 6:35
And you know, about a month later got the results back and oh my gosh, there’s there’s video security video footage, it was called one and spirits of my reaction when I read the email saying that I passed. I mean, I was jumping around and you know, dancing power sliding across the floor and, and then the flooded tears came. So that’s probably the Biggest, but it’s not probably it is without a doubt the biggest achievement of my my career in the beer industry and it’s just another one of those nails into the beer coffin for me of saying like, this is just this is my plan for you know for my lifetime my legacy.
That’s dope man. Hey, Cheers to that. Absolutely, man Good work! Can I ask what what did you pass with? What was your passing score?
Xavier Ake 7:26
Um, I think it was about 89 overall action Oh man. Yeah. Which I mean you’re required to get an 80% passing to pass the exam must score at least 75 on the tasting every every component to that exam matters into your your overall score and how it’s weighted. Yeah, one of those like, it’s one of those exams you just, you do the best you can to not neglect one particular area over another. It just so happened Oh, and one one work experience that I forgot to leave out. Was my work at Danny Boy beer works? I took on any boy. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. You know, I just wanted to get back into a more commercial brewery setting to get some hands on experience with draft systems, you know, with with the nature of what I’ve done. over my career, I’ve really not had to deal with draft systems so much. And I approached Keely Thomlinson, the head, Brewer really got out the key, yeah,
Ant Blair 8:24
she’s great. She was great. She’s one of those people I definitely wouldn’t have passed without her guidance. And without her and I and it was one of those like, Hey, I’m just looking for a part time on the side thing as I’m studying for this exam, you know, I’d love to come clean your draft lines, I’ll clean k eggs, I’ll just do whatever you need around the brewery, whatever you need me to do. I’m just trying to pick up and soak up as much knowledge as possible. So and then since then, I’ve kind of become a stickler for draft systems. And that’s one of the big things that uh, that anywhere I go in, and especially here, I’ve implemented programs to ensure that here at the brewery or draft the quality of our draft system and the product that we’re putting out is optimal. So
I didn’t know Keeley even existed in the world.
Xavier Ake 9:12
Ant Blair 9:13
I did not. We were trying to get a female Brewer on our very first OG Beer For Good. We had Eilise Lane from Scarlet lane, and we were looking for another one. And Elise was kind of hit and miss because she was out of the country. So the communication was real choppy. I went to Daredevil. And Michael MacPherson was like, Hey, you should talk to Kelly Thomas and no fit a Danny boy. man went all the way from freakin a daredevil to Danny boy. I was like 45 minute drive.
Oh, yeah. From Speedway to the north side. Yeah.
Oh, yeah. Went over there. And she was wasn’t I? x? I just missed her? I think they said she had left maybe 15 minutes before I got there. But my man, just one guy who was managing at the time I don’t know if he was there when you were there. I think his name was Zenon
Xavier Ake 10:16
Ant Blair 10:18
Yeah. He was there and he connected me with Keeley eventually. And man, she was such a great panelist on the on the OMG beer for good that we did, man she was just she was just real and authentic. And now we played into the how well the panel discussion when so I I’m a big fan of Keeley. I haven’t seen her and it’s I don’t think No, I haven’t seen Keeley since then. We have had some dialogue a little bit here and there.
Oh, yeah, she I mean, she’s an absolute inspiration and she’s been a very prominent figure. You’re in the Indiana beer scene, kind of one of those hidden gems, so to speak, who maybe hasn’t gotten the recognition the that she probably deserves as a brewery but her story is masterful and, and like I said before I there’s no way I would have passed that exam without having a mentor like that. So
right on how hard was it?
Xavier Ake 11:25
Oh, it was, it was extremely difficult. It is the most nerve wracking thing I’ve ever done. So, the exam itself, I mean, you sit in front, the first thing you do is you do that hundred and 50 plus short answer, fill in the blank, no multiple choice exam. And at the very end, it’s when it’s like, after you’ve just gone through thinking that much. They’re like, Alright, here’s all the essays and the kind of like the mini essays I had to write. I don’t think I’m allowed to disclose what particular stuff was on the exam. But let’s just say I had to write an entire essay about a particular dark Irish style of beer. And you’re like, when you when you talk about beer styles, it’s like, oh, no problem, you know, hey, this is an IPA. I could talk about an IPA all day. But then when you are in that situation, and you are forced to, in detail, write an essay about a particular beer styles like Jesus, how can I make this fill up like a page or two? So
Ant Blair 12:33
yeah, I can imagine, I can imagine. After I get done with you, after I get done talking with you, I want to talk to another certified Cicerone. Yeah, Lindsey, Lj, do you know Lj?
Xavier Ake 12:48
I don’t. I saw the The original podcast where she was on your show before.
Ant Blair 12:54
Oh right on. I want to talk to her a little bit later on today. And she’s always like, you need to take your certified exam. That’s what I told you when you were here at the brewery last just know, man. And that’s what I saw on the one hand, I think, yeah, I should get it. But then on the other hand with the way I go about beer, I think the beer judge certification program is more the direction that I want to go.
Xavier Ake 13:24
Sure. Yeah. I mean, both of them. Both of them, they hold their, their weight, and they’re very much credible programs. And yeah, I say just do whichever one you feel is gonna be most beneficial to you.
Ant Blair 13:41
I feel that and I plan to, yeah,
yeah. And I personally would say do both.
Oh, yeah. See, you’re gonna be that guy.
Unknown Speaker 13:49
So our head Brewer Anthony Magali, he is a certified beer judge as well as the certified Cicerone. So here at Terre Haute Brewing Company, there’s two certified Cicerone working under One house, which is I think you have some higher chances of winning lottery.
Ant Blair 14:05
Truth, man, you know, and that’s the thing. That’s the thing, Xavier that I think right now is going to make the difference between the breweries that make it through this COVID-19 thing and the ones that don’t. It’s things like you just mentioned. Hey, our Brewer is a certified beer judge. And he’s assessed around. He knows how to brew beer. So the beer, the beer is going to be good. The beer was good before the beer is good. Now the beer is going to be good later. And people associate that brand, your your brand with the fact that is good beer as some breweries who were, they were just riding the wave of everybody’s just want to drink craft beer, and their beer quality might not be so good.
And that’s one of the things that drew me to this particular brewery was that attention and care to quality and not not trying to cut corners on expense, if that makes sense. Oh, yeah, bro. This is no, this is a bit of a story that I didn’t tell earlier but back when the brewery opened up back in 2016 or reopened back up after a bit of a lull period. I came in with my with my wife and we are like, Oh, do you know the brewery the Terre Haute Brewing Company actual Taro Brewing Company reopen you know, let’s go try it. Let’s go check it out. And when we came in the the beer was okay. It wasn’t it wasn’t like it was undrinkable, but it was it was okay. And you know that kind of serviceable? Yeah, I mean, it was it was drinkable beers like it’s not bad beer. It’s it’s drinkable beer. But that kind of left that impression on me about the the taro beer scene. And then fast forward about three almost four years later to July of 2019 at the Indiana micro brews festival, I’m the kind of person who I won’t let one experience dictate my entire planned experiences or unplanned experiences. And you know, I meet these guys brand new head Brewer Anthony galley. And you know, I see the packaging one, the packaging was absolutely stunning. And then, like, you know what their beer was, I don’t it wasn’t memorable from what I could remember, but I’ll try it again. And that was just the deal was sealed. I tried the beer and I was like, well, this is not. This is definitely different beer than what I had three years ago.
So well, I will tell you x when I visited you and I’m gonna circle back to the history of Terre Haute. Brewing Company that when I stopped through and you like Pete my undercover game the history of terror Whoa, man, it blew my mind. I those some of those crawlers that I wound up taking with me I left with my homeboy who hosted me when I went to St. Louis shout out to my man LB. And I left that wango Tango with them. And I left a couple cans I left the can of the the one that I’m drinking right now. The the coconut, the toasted coconut velvet cream, vanilla milk stout on nitro. That was fire.
Xavier Ake 17:42
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Unfortunately with the canning. Our current canning, mobile canning service doesn’t offer Nitro capabilities, but we he has mentioned that he is planning on planning on doing Something around that realm for is 2020 years so hopefully we’ll see something be able to can some nicer beers but no promises
Ant Blair 18:08
that that would be friggin fantastic to be honest I will say one of my one of my favorite Nitro canned beers is a Firestone Walker Nitro Merlin
Xavier Ake 18:17
Oh yeah, that’s Firestone Walker is solid brewery. Yeah, they’re so good.
Ant Blair 18:24
Yeah. Well, so that, that whole thing happened and I gave him some of those beers in, you know, St. Louis. I got a lot of beer in St. Louis. And he’s like, man, that Mango tango is Good. Now it’s like I know that’s why I’ve got two crowlers! Shout out to my homeboy, brother Trent. Happy beer day. I think it’s national beer. It is National beer day today. Yeah, cheers, man.
Cheers, cheers national beer day
It is man and go figure that I’m having a conversation with you on national beer day.
I actually made an Note to mention something about that at some point.
Right on man.
And that’s how we’re approaching our Facebook and Instagram posts for today’s with the release of two pilot batches.
right on. Well, I want to ask you about that a little bit later on. Sure. The finish that idea I took that the other crowler of wango Tango that I had, and I shared it with my homeboy, the good Deacon brother Trent. He’s a assistant Brewer while he was an assistant for at a local brewery and he’s going to be going to a new brewery here in the next couple weeks, which I’m really excited for him for that. And he I get a lot of beer Intel for him. He’s a beer nerd, a beer history nerd. And he liked that wango Tango too. He’s like man, this is a good beers. good, solid, clean, clear. Nice head retention nice had all of the basic components of a well made beer. I saw in every beer that I tried in the flight, every beer that I took home in the crowler and every beer that I had in the can
Xavier Ake 20:08
Well, that’s great to hear. I mean, that’s it’s it’s an honor to hear that. And to hear that consistency is carrying through and so many different formats.
Ant Blair 20:17
Yeah, man. And let me tell you this x when I after you showed me a good time at Terre Haute, I the space is fantastic. I’ve never been to Terre Haute ever in my life. I thought that was taking me I didn’t know where to hell, Google Maps was taking me bro.
It was taking you to a very historical city.
Man for real though. But when I got there, and you told me about the history of Terre Haute, man that freaking blew my mind, but I will tell you this. It’s set me up for my St. Louis trip, which I can talk to you about later on. saying all that to say talk a little bit about if you can talk a little bit about it. Just so much History of Terre Haute Brewing Company mind blowing.
Xavier Ake 21:04
Yeah, so in a nutshell, one, the city of Terre Haute, back in pre Prohibition era was the Sin City that was the nickname for Terre Haute. It was the place to get some of the best booths and go to some of the best brothels in in in the country. But Ontario Brewing Company specifically I mean, so our brewery was established back in 1837. And when you put that on on a calendar and a timeline with all the other breweries who are currently open and operating right now, that makes us the second oldest brewery in the United States
Ant Blair 21:41
Behind Yuengling Yes. Older than Anheuser Busch,
older than Anheuser Busch older than Miller Coors. I mean, yeah, it’s it’s an it’s an absolute honor to work and be a part of this organization who is the second oldest brewery in the US We may not have consistently operated since 1837. There have been so many historical blips prohibition being one of the biggest ones that a lot of places didn’t recover from. But I mean, 1837, that’s about 180 years of history in this city, and that this brewery holds. And it’s to me I see it as always a challenge to uphold a particular standard, because it doesn’t mean anything to be the second oldest brewery if you’re not putting out a quality product. So, but yeah, I mean, the breweries established in 1837 it’s changed hands many many times over about 180 years. And you know, we’re here now and very much modernized. A modern craft brewery is kind of our, the the niche that we’re going for and that we enjoy doing.
What does that mean? When you say a modern craft brewery as opposed to a craft brewery does not mine and helped me
So there’s I would just say it’s just a choice of terminology. So I mean, any craft brewery who’s putting out a, a high quality, small, smaller batch product, I mean, you’re you’re a craft brewery. So any of the craft breweries that are recognized by the Brewers Association, anything like that. Just kind of how we, we use the word modernize to kind of reinforce the fact that hey, we’re not making just like one particular beer like we did. Throughout most of our history as the brewery we’re, we are a craft brewery we have modernized to meet that need of craft beer.
Got it? So thank you. Please continue with the history.
Xavier Ake 23:45
Yeah, absolutely. So Well, one of the fun things that we’ve had the opportunity to take advantage of is the Indiana Historical Society. They’ve been able to provide us with many, many, many pictures. We’ve been able to utilize those and put them out on media. But one of the things that we came across that was just stupendously interesting. Was Taro Brewing Company. Back in, I think it was the early 1900s was the ninth seventh or ninth largest production brewery in the United States servicing all 48 states, Alaska and Hawaii. Were not states at the time. But you’re looking at over 100,000 barrels produced annually and about 3000 plus employees employed at this particular brewery at one given time.
Ant Blair 24:37
God damn x you’re kidding me right?
Huge, huge production output. So for your viewers who may not know, but may be familiar with champagne velvet that’s brewed by Apple and Brewing Company. We were actually the brewery who produced champagne velvet. That was a Terre Haute Brewing Company creation. Now since then, I think was back in 2006 the rights were sold off to upland at that point. And they they kind of took over the the, the rights to that brand to the champagne velvet brand. The recipe is super different than what it was way back then. That same recipe would not translate very well it wouldn’t be a very good beer to drink. Why? Why is that x? Just the efficiency of ingredients and how ingredients have changed over the years since then. We do a lot of things differently we have access to a lot of higher quality ingredients now than what were back then. A lot of the the we have a lot more precise scientific technology now than we did back then. So just wouldn’t be the beer would not translate quite the same. But yeah, and so upon Brewing Company, they now have the rights to the champagne velvet label and no hard feelings on our part to upland by the way. They’re they’re really great friends of ours. Were We’re in constant communication. And they’re one of the breweries that we’ve talked with a lot about doing some sort of collaboration. So into in this in this collaboration to do kind of a callback to that velvet, that champagne velvet label. So right on, they tuned on that as COVID-19 begins to clear up a bit. So
yeah, that is a thing.
Yeah, like most breweries prohibition kind of killed the brewery, it opened back up after prohibition and tried to try to make its way along, closed down again. But back in the 1960s, the brewery finally opened back up and consistently produced until about roughly the 19 1990s, where it kind of hit a rut, closed back down for about two decades, and then reopened back in 2016. And we’re currently opening open and operating right now, even through COVID-19. We’re making our way through it. So
Man, that’s a real that’s a real rough, real concise tidbits of history for for the brand for the brewery as a whole. So, I mean hundred 80 years. There’s a lot of history. That’s a lot of history, man. And just to just to clarify, the type of beer that Terre Haute was pushing out at a time it was all lagers, right?
Xavier Ake 27:22
Yeah, it was, I mean, it was essentially your domestic American lager. So just crankit out on par with Miller, Coors Budweiser. I mean, it was one of those brands, which is again why we kind of put the the modernized craft brewery to where we’re just to distinguish that we are doing something different. So
Ant Blair 27:44
right on and what blew me away was the the artist’s rendering of the old school Terre Haute brewery was it four blocks?
So So yeah, the entire Terre Haute Brewing Company campus took up about about two and a half, three city blocks on ninth and poplar. There’s a see if I can. I don’t think I have an image of that on my computer. I could
that would be dope if you could screen screen share that man.
Let’s see. Oh, it’s kind of a cut concise, condensed picture, but that might work.
X gon’ give it to you, come on!
Xavier Ake 28:34
All right, can you see that?
Ant Blair 28:35
Oh, yeah. Good work man, good work!
that’s that’s a little bit of something. I need to get this file so that way I can use it for situations like this, but you know, there’s the whole bottling facility you can kind of see it start here in the bottom right hand corner. Yep. Where that horse and carriage are. There’s a whole nother building that goes back and off to the right that so this image was rendered, to show what our entire campus would look like with this brand new bottling facility, which is where this starts. This was the entire main brew house right here. You have a multi facility right here, which fed into the grain silos, which then led into the brew house into the mash tuns where we started to do big bulk beer. This building has since been tear torn down, these silos are torn down. This bottling facility is still there, and we actually use it for storage. Fun Facts on this entire big building right here is that it’s now since been been torn down. There’s a bit of a strip mall right through here and then there’s a CVS that’s pushed back right over here. Then you have the CVS parking lot and the CVS parking lot was placed there strategically, because they could not build over the hallowed ground where the the aging sellers were. So there were sellers that were underground. And they couldn’t put the main building above those sellers. So they had to book a parking lot there. And to just kind of give a grandiose, or to kind of give a sense of scale on how largest brewery was, is this building right here, this small building in the bottom left hand corner. That’s actually where I’m at right now. That was the old cooperage and woodworking facility. And I mean, we’re pretty decent size building, we’re able to fit a 20 barrel brew house in here with about five 520 barrel fermenters and 520 barrel Brite tanks. I mean, there’s there’s a lot of equipment in here. But for this size building compared to this entire campus right here, just kind of a sense of kind of gives that sense of just how massive the operation used to be. And it’s very humbling nowadays, when you look at this like man, how could we have sustained that? That’s that’s a crazy venture right there. So,
man, thanks for pulling that up. freakin fire right there. The one thing that I wanted to see that wasn’t on that rendering was the railroad tracks that ran through
Xavier Ake 31:08
Oh, yeah. I mean, actually, was that you can actually see it. I will put that back up there. So, right here, between the multi facility and the main main building, you can kind of see this see this train car that’s hanging out there. This train car led all the way out to the railroads. Terre Haute is very much known for its railroads. It’s actually a term here in Terre Haute to be railroaded. It’s purely a ocean term.
Ant Blair 31:39
Are you freaking kidding me right now.
To railroad it is a term that that developed from Terre Haute.
How about that?
Yeah. But I mean the the brewery is putting out so much you had it had its own railroad coming in through the facility to one drop off and gradients for production and to take beer away to distribute out around the country.
When you told me that that blew me away I was like man, you know Terre Haute with frickin baller and if they had it like that yeah
Xavier Ake 32:13
oh yeah, If railroads are still running all over the place I can’t tell you how many times a week I’m driving down one street and like oh my gosh we’re sitting in a behind a train for about 20 minutes.
Ant Blair 32:25
So hashtag facts, man. Yep is again that whole sense of scale looking at that picture and the logistics and I think about it. When you drive into Indiana. The sign says the crossroads of America. It’s not very hard to comprehend that Terre Haute was killing it on a distro game because they had next door and frickin everywhere they needed to go
Xavier Ake 32:53
yeah trains going up to Chicago trains going down south trains go on West trains going east, Tennessee. Under what direction? People are getting their Terre Haute Brewing Company beer, sir
Ant Blair 33:05
Oh, that is freaking mind blowing man.
Something like this gives us a goal to you know, why can’t we do that at some point again?
You know, it’s funny that you went there with that. That’s a great segue into what does the future of Terre Haute Brewing Company look like? Even that, what is the what is the future of Terre Haute Brewing Company look like? And what does your future within that look like and then in the midst of COVID-19.
So, kind of what our plans were for the 2020 year were to increase distribution, sales and distribution around the state of Indiana, Indiana is you know, it’s our home state. It’s where we are, we may be on the far western side of it. Deanna, but you know, kind of our goal is to once again be Indiana’s darling brewery on all of our cans I don’t think I ever can available at the moment, actually. Yeah. So on the top of the can it says an American original, it does say that we take a lot of pride in our history. But you know, our big focus for 2020 has been on sales and distribution and just trying to extend our reach within the state of Indiana. And you know, it’s it’s one of those taking it a step at a time. And just building that foundation. First and foremost, we’re an Indiana brewery. We want to take care of our state here in Indiana, and our community. And you know, that’s who we want to really open our beer up to a consistent, fantastic product. And then from there, there has been some some small talks about where do we start moving to next. And you know, we’ve been compiling data especially data provided from the Brewers Association. On kind of what some of our next steps could be, as far as sales and distribution outside of the state of Indiana, but you know it, it’s absolutely a goal an absolute long term goal, but it’s a goal to to be a national brand. And to be able to walk into any store at any state you go to and say, Hey, you know, can I get some of that Terre Haute Brewing Company beer? Do you have any of that? So, just already for me, you know, in the in the short time that I’ve been here with the brewery just to go walk into a store and see the brand that I worked for the brand that I represent on a shelf. It’s great. It’s a it’s extremely great. So
where are you what stores are you in right now?
So we have a relationship with Lesko a wine and spirits. We just began to move into a lot of the fresh times around Indiana for all of your Indianapolis viewers fresh time in broad ripple. We’ll be putting an order in and they’ll be carrying the beer. We’re in a lot of local stores here out in Terre Haute. See Louisville we’re definitely out the speedway area playing field discount liquors shout out to to the vendors out there playing field discount liquors. We have just started moving in with big red liquors and a lot of their you know, their their bigger craft beer stores. So those are some of the places that you’ll start to really see our beer popping up a little bit more.
And then about the cork in Columbus, Indiana, man we we got we have 12 locations, man!
the cork, actually I’ll write that down right now. I always keep posted notes.
I might know somebody if you need to connect.
Yeah, I will always take it. But yeah, you know, we’ve one of the things that I that I’ve done is divvied up kind of Indiana as a whole and the court might be on a list. But you know we’ve divided divvy definitely give it up central Indianapolis or Central Indiana which is kind of the big spot for beer in Indiana. into quadrants and, you know, trying to tackle and approach a lot of these different accounts at, you know, at a particular time, so, yeah, you know, even through the face of COVID-19, we’re still putting a lot of effort into sales and distribution, and won first and foremost trying to take care of our accounts, who have been lifelong accounts, so to speak, and then finding opportunities to bring new folks in and build new relationships. And that’s the big thing that also draws me here is and the kind of person I’ve always been, especially coming from the beer buyer side and, you know, making the purchasing decisions and bringing in different breweries from around the state around the country is those relationships are super important. And we absolutely don’t sacrifice the we don’t take that relationship for granted. You know, it’s all about building that Win Win relationship with you know, suppliers and vendors and and different accounts so if that makes sense it was kind of a long roundabout way to say that but you know building relationships with our vendors and our community there that’s a big deal to us. So
Oh, and as it should be right you know, though that’s that’s where it starts it’s I think you have you’re in a unique position with the history of terrible Brewing Company that’s something that man there’s there’s not a lot of breweries who can pull from that history to create a compelling story and you know you’re in the marketing game with Terre Haute with so you know, they talk about story selling. And well, you have a story man, that’s what makes you know Yuengling so popular and Anheuser so popular and Miller and those old brands, they can pull from that history and create these stories and tie them into modern narratives that resonate with people. They support their brand. And they continue to grow.
Absolutely. And, you know, coming from that buyer perspective, and that was one of the things that, you know, definitely made me valuable here is that I came in with the perspective of a retailer. And, you know, that’s one of the one of the big things that I would always ask the folks who would come in and pitch a brand that maybe I wasn’t carrying is, What’s your story? Why do you guys do what you do? What motivates you guys? What are your guys’s goals? Short term long term? It’s breweries that have a sense of direction, in I mean, this goes for anything, not just beer, but you know, if if a particular brand doesn’t have a sense of direction, then how long is that brand really going to be around? And what keeps them motivated to stay innovative, and continue to push the bar push to the limit?
Right. Thanks for Throw me so many softballs man. A great pitcher. Why did this Terre Haute Brewing Company brew the beer that they brew? And what’s their hopes? Why?
So, you know, the big thing is, you know, one, like most breweries out there, you know, we beer that we brew the beers that we really like to drink. But to we, you know, we just we like to brew beer that’s fun and, like the beer that I’m drinking right now, it’s it’s one of our pilot batches and in the COVID-19, the wake of COVID-19 pilot batches have been a big deal for us. But you know, it’s a sour what it’s a sour West Coast style IPA with pink guava and elderberry. And that, you know, everything that I just said there seems to not come together. But when you actually put mouth to glass like it’s, oh my gosh, it’s, you get a lot of those complex top characters. That bright, citrusy You know Piney, but then you get this explosive fruit character and it’s just fun in the glass. I didn’t think it would work and like sour and IPA that sounds counterintuitive when the sour just a man when the sour just essentially bitterness and, you know, there’s there’s always a new plane, there’s always a new direction to go. And that’s what I love about beer is that, you know, just when you think you’ve got your set standard core styles, and like that’s, that’s the standard that’s right there, somebody else is coming in and going, No, we’re gonna make this because we want to make this and don’t get me wrong. I mean, we, we like to make some beers that are very much to standard style. But we don’t let that limit us in making the beers that are just super fun to drink and just exciting. So the why we brew the beers that we do. I mean, the the simplest, easiest way to say it is they’re good beers Anthony, our head Brewer and this is where I’ll try not to speak too much on his behalf. But, you know, we we brew the beers that we do, because of the history that we have, and being able to continue on that tradition as a powerhouse American brewery, who is absolutely attentive to the quality that we put out. I mean, that’s, that’s absolutely motivating. I can’t tell you how many times I just I like to go out and talk to our guests in the tap room or, you know, out in the market, I just I like to hear their feedback. And we have that history, we have that standard to uphold, and we want to take 180 years to 200 years and from 200 years to 225 years and so on. So just being that that that darling brewery of one Indiana to the US and continue on continuing on to carry can Doing to carry on a tradition?
Well, I’ll tell you if you if you can combine tradition with fun. That that seems to be a winning combination.
Well, that’s where I think we’ve really got, we’ve really honed that in a bit is you know, we’re, we very much pay attention to our roots and our that are proud of what we do and that tradition of being, you know, that American brewery and then bringing in that craft innovation. It’s just been it’s been great.
Let me ask you, How have you been able to operate currently in the midst of the whole COVID-19 thing? How What have you been able to how have you been able to support your staff, keep your staff fine. I see. on social media, like most breweries you’re doing carry out some are doing delivery. How has Terre Haute been able to navigate this up into today?
Xavier Ake 44:13
Yeah, so, as I mentioned earlier, pilot batches have been a big focus of ours. One the cost of making pilot batches is significantly cheaper than doing a full 20 barrel batch of beer. We were fortunate enough to have really stepped up our production and catch up on a lot of our core products. So as COVID-19 came in, we were pretty well stocked up on our on our install are pretty well stocked up on our core brands. So the the tabs are continuing to flow on those. But pilot batches have been a real exciting way to continue to spice things up and be different and offer different options from week to week. So it’s not the same stale bland like man, I just had madam brown Seven days in a row and I’m tired of drinking madam Brown. You know, that’s four pack seven days. So but you know, we have these final batches that that we’re rotating through and today we’re releasing two pilot batches. We typically release one a week now, before COVID-19 we were doing every other week was a pilot batch release. But we have set ourselves up in a position to where we can effectively release a brand new pilot batch a week, but we’re doing two batches. So the first one being that West Coast sour IPA. And the second one being an ESB, which I got really excited about,
Ant Blair 45:46
Oh, you got that man for real?
Putting crowler together. But that ESB I geek out over traditional styles. Well, you Yeah, when brewing I mean, I’ve always been a German style Brewer. That’s just kind of my personal traditions. But yeah, so we’ve got the carry out option we’ve got the curbside pickup, you know, if you don’t ever want to walk into the brewery, you don’t ever have to walk into the brewery. But the big thing being pilot batches, we’re doing daily specials, kind of taking it day by day on what we’re putting out as far as specials go, some of them have repeated quite a bit, especially the successful ones that seem to have gotten a good response. Like on Thursdays, we typically do wholesale pricing on all packaged beer all of our can pack can package products. So you can come in get in mix and match of any six four packs for like 52 bucks. I mean, that’s for craft beer that’s dirt cheap, or cheap. Yeah. Especially on you know, the more so to speak premium, premium brands I say in quotes, premium brands of craft beer.You know, we we’ve been able to offer some of those great deals to folks.
So how is the community supported? small local businesses in this time in Terre Haute?
Yeah, the community response has been just outstanding. There have been many different groups that have come through and come along, to say, like, Hey, you know, we’re just going business to business, local business, a local business, trying to put a little bit of our money into it by coming to purchase, which has been absolutely flattering. Unfortunately, I can’t remember off the top of my head, what organization what business it was that put it together, but we were tagged in a bingo card, on Instagram, and I repost it on to our story. But an organization was doing some sort of giveaway if you went to all these businesses and got a bingo on these businesses and our business was one of those that was listed as a local business. It was a local business bingo essentially today advise you to go get a purchase from that particular organization. So nice. But yeah, community response has been great. And you know, we’ve been trying to get back to the community as much as possible as well. I’ll photos, so about I think it was two weeks ago now. We had a bunch of food that we had prepared. And we decided to shut down our food operations and just go strictly to beer. And, you know, the last thing that we wanted to do was let all this food that we had prepared go to waste. So I took time it took it took a day to put all the food together, and I’m talking about like big trays of food, multiple big trays of food. We went to one of the local fire departments that’s right up the road from us, drop them off food, drop them off beer. The police station, the Terre Haute Police Department dropped off a lot of food and beer for those guys and gals and then went to Regional Hospital. Terre Haute Regional Hospital on the south side as well as union hospital on the north side of the city. And you know, the big thing for us was just to say thank you to these organizations who are the biggest pillars of the community, and to just show our appreciation and our thanks for everything that they’ve been doing during this crazy time. Because, you know, it may be stressful on us as a local business, but these are the organizations that are carrying on our way of life and protecting our way of life.
That’s right. That’s right. And a cheers to the front line. responders mean that man talk about being in the belly of the beast man.
Xavier Ake 49:47
Oh, yeah. Oh, one of the organizations I didn’t mean to leave out was so my the unit that I’m with I’m a National Guardsman and you know, it even for the National Guard that This has affected a lot of the the soldiers and who are community, their community soldiers. And one of the things I was able to do was open up food for the for my unit, and put it out to my chain of command to say like, hey, if there’s any anybody in the unit who is struggling a bit or just needs to come get a meal or so for their family come by the brewery, it’s, you know, there’s no charge to them. So,
Ant Blair 50:28
that’s what’s up. And I believe that companies who are able to sustain themselves right now, as much as they can, I believe, I think they should do things like what you just described, and if you’re able to sustain your business, there’s some business out there that just can’t do it. There’s some businesses out there who can support those first responders you know, those people who are out there protecting the way of life as we previously knew it. Before COVID-19, we have to support those people. We have to build absolutely individuals, everyone, we have to support those people because those people are literally putting their lives on the line right now.
Oh, yeah, I want it’s one of those that no matter how hard our struggle may be as a business that it does not compare to, you know, like the nurses and the doctors who can’t go home to their families, because they’ve had to completely isolate themselves. Same thing for the the officers and the firefighters and any sort of first responders all the way over to the, you know, to, to social workers, and, you know, those who work with children too. So, absolutely, man, and kind of a bit of a segue on that is, you know, we looked at that and, you know, we said, well, what else can we do and without revealing too much, we might have a little special thing that we’re doing and releasing this week or two special things that we will be releasing this week. But it is community inspired and essentially going to be finding opportunities and building funds to give back to the community in some way shape or form. So
well you have whenever you can release details you had you have a comrade in The Mo Head Y’all Show you know Beer For Good we try to do good shit around beer. Oh yeah. So hey, you know if you if you need some assistance and promotion or whatever, man, you know, reach out.
Heck yeah. Yeah, definitely stay tuned on our on our social media. But let’s just say there’s there’s two beers that we have sitting around, that we typically wouldn’t have packaged and took an opportunity to package them to four, you know, to do Good with beer so beer for good there you go
so x man as we get to the end of our conversation our time together, I always ask what do you want to leave the viewers and listeners with a final thought anything it could be a quote it can be, you know, some some positive especially right now in the midst of all this people are seeing all this bad news people dropping dead freakin unbelievable what’s going on in the world right now first thing that you can leave our viewers and listeners with that they can take with them and hold on to
Xavier Ake 53:47
Yeah, absolutely. First and foremost. You know, take care of yourselves take care of your family. Don’t go out if absolutely need to go out. I mean, that’s coming from business right here. Don’t go out. If you are any way, shape or form, you know, thinking I could be sick or I could be exposed, don’t go out, you’re putting everybody else at risk. On an even more positive note, being a small local business, whether it’s Terre Haute Brewing Company or not, go support your local businesses go support your local breweries, your local restaurants, any local business that you can afford to support, go out and support them, whether it’s buying a four pack, buying lunch one day, anything to that nature, because, you know, I think the statistic was somewhere around you know, about 40% of our economy is small local businesses. Don’t quote me on that. But you know, about 40% of our economy is small local businesses. And, you know, with the whole COVID-19 outbreak, that’s a huge piece of articles. economy and a huge piece of you know, your individual communities that you cannot have once things start to return to normal. And if you don’t have them, how are we returning to normal? Without your your local staple businesses?
Ant Blair 55:17
Well said x, absolutely go out and support local business be safe about it. Yes. And be safe about it. And I will encourage people to be aware of how that local businesses even handling that, you know, are, are the local businesses that are open? Are they practicing the whole social distancing thing? Are they what what what are their cleaning practices and sanitation practices? I’m not opposed to support local business. I’m more in favor of supporting local businesses that’s trying to be part of the solution to not just open so that they can keep money going through the cash register out for their patient. Just as much as they need their patrons to look out for them.
Oh, without a doubt, you know, one of the things that we’ve implemented is, you know, one of our employees wear gloves and change gloves wash their hands regularly, but, you know, so that way people could bring in their own outside growlers, we set out a bucket that’s just full of sanitizer, so guess dump their buckets and they can come in and get their growlers filled and we put them through we put the Growler through three Bay sink even after they’ve gone through sanitizer. We have bottles of parasitic gas to like lined all around the brewery to spray down anything anybody’s come in contact with so yeah,
absolutely. See and that’s what’s up that’s why I fuck with Terre Haute, one of the reasons anyway, cuz I know y’all keeping a clean space. Well X it has been awesome to see you again. It’s been so long and I ain’t gonna lie I was. I didn’t take out the beer for good event that we were going to have Terre Haute I didn’t take it off of my outlook popped up and I’m like, God damn it.
Yeah, I was gonna say I think that was supposed to be this Thursday. The ninth. Yeah, Thursday the ninth.
Yo, man. I was heartbroken after I walked in and I saw that space I was like, Oh, this is gonna be so dope. I mean as soon as we posted people were like buying tickets I was like yes gon’ be hype!
Oh, no, hey, it doesn’t have to be a complete wash when all this blows over…
That’s right. We’ll have that & we gonna party like its the weekend after prohibition after all this
You already thought about it! But it’s good to see you. I’m happy to hear that you’re doing okay. Your family’s doing okay. You know Terre Haute is hanging in there, you know, doing what they can to help the community out all those things are good positive things to know in here and share with other people. It’s it’s been great man. I really enjoyed doin this conversation .
Hey, thanks for having me on here.