Posted By on Feb 3, 2016

What is inspiration? According to someone named Webster, inspiration is, “something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone.” Karl Marx once said, “Everyone has a goal which appears to be great, at least to himself, and is great when deepest conviction, the innermost voice of the heart, pronounces it great. … This voice, however, is easily drowned out, and what we thought to be inspiration may have been created by the fleeting moment and again perhaps destroyed by it. … We must seriously ask ourselves, therefore, whether we are really inspired about a vocation, whether an inner voice approves of it, or whether the inspiration was a deception, whether that which we took as the Deity’s calling to us was self-deceit. But how else could we recognize this except by searching for the source of our inspiration?” This is probably a proper place to start this examination. I was recently asked in an interview for an up-coming article in a favorite Pittsburgh publication, “Where do you find your inspiration?” I was stumped and hence provided what I recount as a very poor answer. I believe it was along the lines of, “I’m inspired by what I drink from other breweries around the country.” Well, no shit Sherlock. Grandma Moses was quoted in her obituary as saying, “I’ll get an inspiration and start painting; then I’ll forget everything, everything except how things used to be and how to paint it so people will know how we used to live.” Looking back, I think this properly explains my answer. In brewing, we have a habit of getting lost. In the science. In the art. In the process. But more than anything, in the end product. Sometimes tracing the inspiration back is a futile task. I’ll start brewing; then I’ll forget everything, everything except the brewing process. Inspiration for CoStar Brewing comes from everything, everywhere. We’ve brewed a Cream Ale inspired by early memories of what Dad used to drink. We draw on experiences from a yearly Mountain Bike trip to Asheville and the western side of North Carolina. Outside of our labor of love, we love the outdoors. We love cooking and finding new, fresh, and local ingredients. We enjoy building things whether out of clay and earth, through a piece of wood, or pen/pencil/paint and paper. We love music. We love craft. And I don’t think this is an uncommon portrait in the Craft brewing community. But you can see, there is A LOT to get lost in here. So...

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This is a question that we get asked every day and it can become a programmed response of, “Not much. Just brewing, trying to make good beer… You know the usual.” And this couldn’t be further from the truth. Being the smallest guy out there and having full time jobs outside of the brewery, we don’t always do the best job of telling our story. It comes in spurts. So what have we been up to over here at CoStar? First and foremost, the question we get asked more than any other is, “Are you guys going to expand?” The simple answer is, yes, absolutely. The more complex and real answer is, yes, if and when the right time and partners come along…. Or the bank comes through. Ask anyone who has started a brewery. The story has been told a million times so I’m not going to waste your time here dwelling on about the drudgery in the investment and monetary side of opening. The short story is breweries are popping up everywhere and money isn’t grown on trees. And not everyone who has money is the right person to be the investor in a brewery. We want nothing more than to be able to replicate our recipes on a large scale and then swing behind the bar and pour you a pint. We’ll get there, we’re just not in a hurry to be the “Next Big Thing.” We want to do it right which means we can’t answer that first question with any specificity. We have a business plan. We have numbers. We have a CPA and a lawyer. We’ll get there. Secondly, while we do focus on doing simple and honest beers as well as humanly possible, we have been allowing ourselves room for some experimentation. We are passionate about the idea of getting a beer right and then pushing it a little bit further. Last year brought us a few pomegranate experiments, a failed orange lager, a failed ginger experiment, two new IPAs that we’re proud of, and our first open fermented Belgian Strong Ale attempt. This last one is in the final stages of aging and getting ready to go in a keg. Assuming that goes well… stay tuned for where it will appear. There is only 5 gallons (Yep, we’re still small and our experiments are even smaller). 2016 is bringing us a new fermenter which will be dedicated solely to lagers so prepare from some new brews, but we have to find the next inspiration. We’ve managed to close out 2015 and start 2016 with some pretty good notes. We’ve successfully resurrected...

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I’ll have a “Good Beer”

Posted By on Jan 18, 2016

I was recently out at a bar where the mass light lager trend prevails. However, noted a few lone soldier independent full flavor bottles of ale sitting in a tub of ice behind the bar. Now, I’ve been at this game for a good while, and I can usually identify a bottle without having to actually read the label, but this time maybe the light was too low, maybe I had imbibed one or 4 before this establishment, or maybe I was just too lazy. I couldn’t identify every bottle in the cooler. I was forced to ask the helpful bar hand, “What good beer do you have behind that bar?” I immediately regretted my wording. What the hell is “good beer.” What does that even mean? Ugh… Here we go. I intended my phrasing of “good beer” to mean of a craft non-mass produced rice and corn adjunct beer, maybe of a local ilk. But how was the bar tender to know that? Everyone drinks their swill of choice for a reason. To plenty of hard working, salt of the earth folk, the light lager is very good beer. To some, good beer is only that which comes out of a rare 750ml bottle. However, I have noticed a distinct trend rising among beer drinkers. To the newly initiated beer drinker, more often than not, “good beer” is high ABV beer. This is exactly what this bar tender assumed. I asked for “good beer” so I must mean the highest ABV he can find. The bar tender slowly removed about 8 different brands of recognizable and acceptable alternatives to the mass light lagers. However, he only offered two choices. Both double IPAs in the 8% to 9% ABV range. As I previously stated, I may or may not have imbibed 2 or 4 brews before arriving at this particular moment in time. I was not prepared to engage a big beer with a substantial kick for my rear end. I was prepared to sip on a brew, maybe even the same beer for the rest of the night, but I wanted to make it the rest of the night. Not have to make the early call due to a spinning room. I’m not sure why, but more and more, I see this occurring. From what I’m offered at a bar, to discussions on beer forums, to what’s reviewed in literature, I see that everything that is highly venerated as “good beer” is high ABV. Why can’t the average 5-6% ABV be considered note worthy? When did beer get to be a big swinging hot dog contest of extremes? I...

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For those who were at the Big Pour and were wondering… No, we did not participate this year. This wasn’t out of some esoteric ideas about beer fests, protest, or that we are not doing well enough to be a part of this past weekend. We’ve loved Big Pour the past two years. In fact, we’ve enjoyed every beer fest we’ve ever done. Meeting people face to face and getting their feedback and input is invaluable and we try to incorporate every piece of information we get at these events. However, if you know us very well, we have our limitations. Some of these are self-imposed (trying to really nail a style before doing creative versions of it) and some are the fruits of our own success versus size (supply and demand). Those who know us, know that we operate out of a two car garage sized, officially licensed brewery. We operate on a glorified home brew set up, 10 gallons at a time into 42 gallon fermenters with individual temperature control. We hand keg, hand clean, and hand deliver every drop of fermented beverage brew. We were founded on a simple passion and with individual investments of personal money from each of the brewers, zero debt. There is no board, no corporate control, and no approval process in our brewing. We do it the same way we did it when we opened 3 years ago, from the heart, by us, for us, while trying to keep it fun. We strive to continue these principals while balancing the need for growth. We recognize the garage can only take us so far, and three years into this venture we are probably close to these limits. Three years ago we were able to keep beer on at two or three tap rooms around the city. Now we have far more demands than we can fill and are humbled by the stature of some of the restaurants and bars seeking us out. So let’s put this to rest right now… we are trying to grow and expand to where we can have a tap room and invite people into our brewery. This brings us back to the Big Pour and beer fests in general. Typically an event like this requires at least 2 full weekends of brewing. Yes we can still only brew on Saturdays as we all maintain full time jobs outside of the brewery. That amounts to 12 sixtels. That’s half a month’s production and takes that beer away from loyal customers. These beer fests also expose us to a broader and passionate new audience. On the plus side, we...

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