We Have a Logo!

 

RRBC Logo

We worked with Kiki Hocking at KikiJeanDesign to come up with what you see here. Logo development was a very interesting and educational process for us, as we tend to fall on the scientific side of the brain spectrum. We wanted something that would be recognizable, that would be aesthetically pleasing, and that would have meaning. And we wanted people to be able to look at it, without reading, and think “beer.” One of our favorite brewery logos is from Real Ale Brewing Co. in Texas – very clean, very attractive, and subtle but obvious meaning (for those of you interested in graphic design, the story behind the logo and re-branding is quite interesting, and you can read it here)

To say “beer” we chose to use a row of barley kernels, for several reasons. First, malted barley is an essential component of beer. The other essential components are water and hops (at least according to the German Beer Purity Law of 1516, aka the “Reinheitsgebot”; of note yeast were not part of the Reinheitsgebot). Second, while we love hops (and hoppy beers), we think the beer pendulum is going to start swinging back towards malt, and one of our brewer’s signature beers is a to-die-for dopplebock – so it seemed only fitting to anchor our logo with barley, not hops.

We also wanted to anchor the logo in something meaningful to us, and for that we chose the cross section of a tree. Why? Because Random Row Brewing Company is located right next to the King Lumber Building, in what was likely a lumber yard. We wanted to incorporate the original map of the neighborhood into the logo somehow, but it got too messy – so we will be using the map as a sort of secondary logo.

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Map of the original Random Row neighborhood (most of which is gone)

Here is what our logos look like on a t-shirt (we will be doing a bulk order soon, for those who are interested):

RRBC Shirt - Next Level TriBlend - Blue

Or in a beer hall!

More RRBC Stuff

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We Have a Logo!

A little help from my friends…

We just got back from a pilgrimage to Beer Hound Brewery in Culpeper, VA.  We spent a day with founder and brewer, Kenny Thacker, brewing a batch of IPA.  Kenny’s transformation into a brewer is quite interesting, so much so that it was described in this Money Magazine article.

The main reason we wanted to visit Kenny was to see him brew on his 7 Barrel Alpha Brewing Operation direct fire brewhouse, because we are getting almost the exact same system (ours will be slightly larger, but a little bit less automated).  We also wanted to pick his brain about the ups and downs of starting a new brewery, as he opened in 2014. Hopefully we can benefit from some of the things he has learned over the last year or more.  Oh, and one more thing – we wanted to taste his beer.  Which was delicious.

Below are some pictures we took of the brew day:

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Kevin pouring malt into the mill
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7 barrel brewhouse, kettle on the left, mash tun and hot liquor tank on the right
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7 barrel fermentation and bright tanks
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Kevin and Kenny
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Dustin helping clean out the mash tun
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Dustin and Kevin watching Bob clean out the mash tun

Kenny was beyond hospitable and we can’t thank him enough.  While we are many months away from our opening day and have much work to do, we are continually amazed at the craft beer community’s willingness to help us.  In addition to Kenny’s help on equipment selection, Karl Roulston at Woodstock Brewhouse invited Kevin to Woodstock, VA to learn about their system; several of Random Row’s founders have taken PVCC brewing classes taught by Hunter Smith (of Champion Brewing Co.).  Dave and Levi at 3 Notch’d Brewing Co. have been equally helpful, giving us all sorts of advice and having Kevin over to learn about brewing on a commercial system. Kevin also visited and spoke with Justin at Reaver Beach Brewing in Virginia Beach, Jeremy at Triple Crossing and Michael at Isley Brewing in Richmond earlier on.  Without the help of all these breweries, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

A quick search (ProBrewer, Brewers Association, etc.) reveals that this sort of behavior is not at all unusual.  When we took a brewery tour in Asheville, NC two years ago, we found the microbrewery business climate just as hospitable – and Asheville has a lot more breweries than Charlottesville (especially now that heavyweights Sierra Nevada and New Belgium are there, and with Oskar Blues in nearby Brevard).  We think (hope) that this sort of collegiality leads to mutually beneficial synergies, rather than competition and unfriendliness.  While we are not naive enough to assume that this will necessarily last forever, data from the Brewers Association suggests that there is still a tremendous amount of growth potential for craft brewers, as in 2014 craft beer still only made up 11% of the US Market!

Additionally, we note that with SABMiller and AB InBev tying up to create a $106 Billion “Behemoth” it is probably, more than ever, in the best interest of locally-owned craft brewers to work together to produce high quality, constantly changing products that benefit the local economy.

Taking this philosophy to the extreme is  Jim Koch, who founded the Boston Beer Company (maker of Sam Adams) and more recently started the Brewing the American Dream project – the goal of which is to provide low interest rate loans as well as a wealth of professional advice, coaching, and resources to promising startups in the food and beverage, hospitality, and craft brewing industries.  In what other business would the industry leaders go out of their way to finance their “competition”?

A little help from my friends…

What Does Random Row Mean?

A lot of people ask us about our name. We chose Random Row Brewing Company for several reasons. First, and foremost, it pays homage to the neighborhood roughly contained between West Main, 5th Street, Preston Ave, and 4th Street, about one block away from us. This neighborhood has a fascinating, but sad history, and is familiar to families who have lived in Charlottesville for more than one generation. Rather than try and paraphrase (and inadvertently distort the truth, which is worth re-telling accurately), we’d rather send you directly to some worthwhile source(s). The most complete accounts of the history of the Random Row, which would eventually become Vinegar Hill before it was essentially bulldozed to make way for the Downtown Mall, can be found at the Vinegar Hill Project website, on this UVA Website and also at UVA’s Visual Eyes Project.  For an even more complete account, talk to people who’ve lived here a while – it wasn’t that long ago this happened.

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Aerial Map of Random Row / Vinegar Hill from 1954.  Notice that virtually all of this has been destroyed.

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Four houses, long gone, located about three blocks from where our brewery is now located.

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Aerial Map of Random Row / Vinegar Hill with Jefferson School visible.  You can still see the Lewis & Clark and Sacagawea Statue, but that’s about all that is the same.  Houses and/or small businesses occupied most of what would go on to become the Federal Courthouse, the Omni, the new Marriott Residence Inn on West Main, the Staples Parking Lot, McDonalds, etc.

There are a couple of other things we like about Random Row. One is the alliteration. Everyone loves alliteration (and assonance). We think the name Random Row will make our high school English teachers proud. Another is the allusion to numbers and randomness. As mentioned previously, the majority of our founders have some sort of scientific background. We love numbers. We also love the concept of randomness – one of our founders is bordering on obsessed with randomness (and highly recommends you read Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicolas Taleb, to learn more read the author, see his personal website here). And, as much as we hate to admit it, life sometimes feels random (especially when you are starting your own business), and without a doubt, there is an element of randomness to the production of beer, although the goal in brewing is to reduce as much of that randomness as possible.

While we work very hard to control absolutely every element of the brewing process, at the end of the day, the old adage is true – brewers make wort, yeast make beer. Beer is made by yeast, which are living organisms. They cannot be controlled the way you control your microwave, your garage door opener, or your air conditioner. They have to be cared for, and fed, and allowed to reproduce, but ultimately, they do what they want, and complete understanding of yeast behavior is not possible. Thus, the most important element to the production of beer, is in many ways out of our control (ok, maybe not random – we still haven’t figured out how yeast make decisions yet, or if they even think it all; preliminary data suggests that they think mostly about how they can screw us over on our next batch of beer, but we are still figuring them out).

And this is why, when you come to our brewery and ask for a “Random Row,” we will pour you four random beers, in a random order, and we won’t tell you what they are.

with added annotations, we added these, so their accuracy may be a little off
Vinegar Hill c. 1960 with added annotations, we added these, so their accuracy may be a little off

 

What Does Random Row Mean?