We're baaaaaaaack....

Oh hi there! After many months of running a brewery and losing hair, perhaps it's a good time to get this blog back up and running. We've basically been using Facebook as our blog platform but that is about to change. 

Facebook will continue to be a big part of our Internet presence, but mostly for short and to-the-point items. Or silly things. Mostly silly things. The blog will be our long form platform for news, updates, longer silly things. Mostly longer silly things.

We're still cleaning up the old posts. The migration from the original Wordpress blog to this SquareSpace blog was less than ideal but nothing we can't handle. Time to bring out a CSS can of whoop ass. 

Stay tuned. We'll have lots of news coming up in the next couple of weeks. Really big stuff. Big. We'll have a newsletter sign up, blog post email notifications, all the things a real business should have.



On The Eve Of The Beginning.

Well here we are. All the years of planning, stressing, multitasking, fixing, solving, sometimes breaking down and crying (literally, and more than once), writing, calculating, reevaluating, re-planning, iterating, and formulating come down to the next couple of weeks. My pale ale is about to be transferred to the bright tank. From there, it goes into kegs, then out to my distributor, with a few kegs staying with me for self-distribution to bars near the brewery.

I'm excited, exhausted, trepidatious, elated, stressed, worried.

This brewery isn't just a business to me. It's a journey. It's the realization of a dream. It's knowing that incredible focus and hard work can get you to your destination, which is really just the beginning of the real journey. It's the financial future for me, my wife, and our two crazy, wonderful boys. It's personal. Very fucking personal.

It's a Hail Mary pass. There are no second chances.

This brewery has taken me to places I've never been psychologically and emotionally. It has stretched me beyond all the limitations that I've always held onto so fiercely all my life. I've overcome incredible doubt and the constant second guessing of what I should've done, what I could've done, and what I'm doing now. Never have I worked on anything this demanding, with this much intensity, and this long in my 47 years on this Earth.

What happens now? Will the first batch of beer live up to my expectations? Will it live up to the expectations of all the great people who've followed me or supported me all of these years? Will I disappoint? Will people be forgiving if I do? Should they be? Am I just a self-hyping, run-of-the-mill craft brewery?

I do not yet know. What I do know is this: I will never stop trying to make sure my beers are as good as they can possibly be. I will always try to be my own worst critic. I will make mistakes. I've made quite a few already. I will try to learn from these mistakes and I will try become a better brewer, a better business owner, and a better person because of them.

I will tweak recipes and processes over and over until I figure out how to make the best beer I know how to make. I will run this business in a highly ethical and honest way. I will become an important part of the community that has embraced me so enthusiastically.

But even that might not be enough. I just don't know. I'll be damned if I'll ever give up though.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me get to this, the eve of the beginning. I stand on the shoulders of so many giants in so many ways: family, friends, other brewers, investors, all the amazing volunteers, and so many more.

To those of you out there who have been so supportive of me over these five-ish years, thank you. Most of you I've never met. Many from other parts of the country or even other parts of the world. You've sent me emails, posted comments here and on Facebook. You've tweeted, retweeted, shared, favorited. Those things might seem trivial in a world of social media clutter, but they sure as hell mean something to me, a millisecond of caring. So thank you a million times over. You have no idea how important these things have been to me on this journey.

To all of you whom I've actually met, thank you. Thank you for introducing yourselves and saying all of those wonderful, encouraging things. That too meant and continues to mean the world to me.

I will repay all of you by making the best beer I know how to make and hopefully spreading some joy to you and yours in some small way.

After all, I think that is what this is all about.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Gary Gulley Chicago, IL March 7, 2015.

So Here We Are.

The first brew day. This is what opening a brewery does to people. What an adventure. The first beer has been brewed and now the hard part begins. Let's discuss.

First, as you've no doubt guessed, my ability and desire to blog has declined in direct correlation to how busy I've been. As much as I'd like to fill in all the details in the past year, I just don't have time, which is a shame, because there is a LOT to share.

We brewed this past month, the beer, a pale ale I've been working on for a long time, is in the fermenter, it's ready to be dry hopped, conditioned, and carbonated. The brew day was not without its challenges. I decided to brew 10 barrels (20 kegs), which is half of what my brewhouse can produce, and a fourth of what my fermenters can hold. Even though I knew this would create issues with wort production and fermentation control, I decided to go through with it in order to kick the tires of the system and figure out some of the basics of my process.

It was a great day, lots of help, lots of support, lots of friends texting and coming by to wish me good luck. We learned a lot, solved numerous problems, and the next brew day should go a bit more smoothly. It will take time to dial in my recipes for the brewery for things like mash efficiency, hop extraction efficiency, variations on water temperature through out the year, water chemistry tweaking, and on and on. But I feel I have a very good understanding of my brewing system and how to get water, wort, and beer from point A to point B. That's a good start.

I can clean and sanitize all of my vessels very efficiently now, thanks to all the training I had at Metropolitan Brewing. So that's a good thing, because I'll be doing that a LOT. I have a good understanding of how to best handle and use the various cleaning and sanitizing chemicals that every brewery uses. Some are quite nasty and require good safety protocols. Again, Metropolitan guided my way on this back during my internship.

So I'm a couple of weeks away from introducing my first beer to the Chicago market and that's where the real work begins. Brewing beer is just one part of this journey. Now I have to ship it, sell it, market it, maintain it, efficiently operate it, and grow it. I'm a bit nervous, but I'm up for the challenge.

The next step in this enterprise is a tap room. That is going to be a long process to navigate through more permits (including Chicago alcohol ones), construction, and god knows what else. I hope to have it up and running this year, but knowing what I know now, things in Chicago can take a very long time.

I want to thank everyone for their kind comments (the stupid ones were never approved, you should've seen some of them, jeez.) and words of encouragement.

This blog will live on as one part of the upcoming new Alarmist Brewing website. We'll be transitioning to a proper business site with information on events, beers, and goings on of the brewery. It will look dramatically different, like even almost professional!

Stay tuned, but for the latest and greatest news for now, check out the Alarmist Brewing Facebook page.


Gary Gulley, Chief Alarmist