In July 2013 Dan Rassi, Ronn Friedlander and ‘brew master’ Mike Labbe tried out a new single-barrel pilot system. Reporting on their blog that it “brews beautifully” they then promised public tastings in the future. This was before they’d even tried their own beer. At the time their brewery was in the early stages of construction and it was known as TBD. When they invited people to check out its progress though the name had changed to Aeronaut Brewing Company.
Over the next few months they continued to bring people up to speed. In November 2013 their experiments with fermentation wielded some unexpected results when “a really nice, if unwelcome, pellicle” appeared on a homebrew. “So now we’ve harvested it” they said “and brought it into our culture collection as Aeronaut’s first wild yeast strain”. This of course led to more experiments; to more homebrews. By January 2014 they were actually approved for brewing by the TTB. Meanwhile construction carried on in earnest. Hey, we haven’t even said where! Originally it was going to be in Florida. In the end they transported an entire 1500-pound brew house to Massachusetts and set it up in the city of Somerville. It was quite a task as you’d imagine. Having promised to start production in Spring 2014 the team sweat blood to finish construction in time. They just made it, with the Aeronaut brewery finally opening in May.
It turned into quite a space too. Run by Dan and Ronn, as well as their co-founders Benjamin Holmes and Steve Reilly, Aeronaut was intended to be more than just a brewery. It was a place where companies which shared their ethos could work together; companies that cared about having a close relationship with growers. Thus the space is also occupied by a coffee roaster called Barismo and the farmer’s market Something Gud, among others. The public are welcome to drink Aeronaut’s ever-changing beer at their on-site taproom (or bar to you and I). The building regularly hosts bands and artists; there are board games everywhere including giant Scrabble; and as a point of interest it’s built next to a rock climbing gym. Hmm.
Aeronaut are responding to a particular trend among drinkers – the desire to have new beers and new experiences. They realise that people are ready to try beers which may have never been thought of before. “We built a laboratory that allows us to isolate and examine new species of yeast” says Ronn “We can not only capture never-before-brewed-with strains, but we can characterize them and identify them in-house”. It’s impossible for them to tell how each experiment will turn out though. All they can do is jump right into the deep end and see what comes back up with them. So far the response has been good, with Aeronaut’s taproom regularly filling up with pleased drinkers. Of course they spread to the other areas of the building – good business for all involved!
In short they’re succeeding. They’re giving something new to beer lovers; they’ve created both a business and a public community; and they’re continuing to expand with gusto. To Aeronaut!