Pipe Dream Brewery – Selecting our Launch Beers Part 1

Kingsley Toby and Brian Holter from Pipe Dream Brewery.

Hey everyone!  First I wanted to introduce myself.  My name is Brian Holter, and I am one half of Pipe Dream Brewery, a future Los Angeles craft brewery.  The other half of Pipe Dream is my longtime friend and co-founder/brewer Kingsley Toby.

For now, Kingsley and I are homebrewers who are trying to make our hobby into a business.  One of the many decisions we have made on this path is deciding which of our recipes we will launch our brewery with.  As any home brewer will tell you, a home brewer’s lineup of recipes they brew is usually between 15 and 30 different recipes, if not more. That’s a lot of variety, but I think it’s typical for a home brewer to be curious and try many different recipes – sometimes you may only brew a recipe once even if it was great just out of curiosity.  That’s one of the many luxuries that you have when you’re brewing as a hobby.  Brewing a beer with saffron infused truffle shavings may seem pretty cool when you are looking at brewing 5 gallons of it at a time, and maybe it tastes fantastic – but when you look at brewing 400+ gallons at a time you have to think about the business aspect of the beer at some point.  You have to think about if it really makes sense to make that crazy beer, especially if you have never made it before – are there enough people out there who want to have MULTIPLE Truffle Saffron beers?  There is definitely a time and a place for brewing some wild beer like that, but it’s not necessarily the first beer we want to offer to the public, nor would it be a regular recipe we brewed.  Those first beers are what we refer to as our “Launch Beers”.

We have 12 beers that we brew regularly, but probably 20 other recipes that we have brewed off an on for 7 years.  We want to be known as a brewery that crafts ales to be full of flavor and are approachable to beer geeks and beer novices alike.  Over time as our brewery becomes more established we will hopefully have earned the luxury of having a customer base that is interested in Pipe Dream producing seasonal or experimental batches, but at the beginning it’s going to be extremely important that we focus our production on a select few beers while we try to establish our brand in the market.

This is going to be a multi-part series where I discuss how we decided on the beers we are going to launch with and what those beers are.  How many beers should we plan to launch with?  Do we want to be known as a brewery associated with one beer?  2 beers?  10 beers?  Do we think people will want something strange like a Fruit beer or something classic like an IPA?  Do we want to release an IPA like everyone else?  There are a lot of good talking points, and I will take you through our decision-making process along with a breakdown of our selections.


Also – A special thank you to Bernie Wire from Friends of Local Beer for the great pictures!

About Brian Holter

Brian Holter has been an avid homebrewer since the winter of 2005. Together with Kingsley Toby he is a founding member of Pipe Dream Brewery, a future craft brewery located in Los Angeles, Ca.

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