Several new beer-makers are setting up shop in the Miami Valley thanks to a state law that makes it easier to start micro-breweries and distilleries. For Shane and Jacqui Creepingbear in Yellow Springs, a love for beer and a passion for science and art come together to bring you the Vitruvian Brew Company.
Shane and Jacqui Creepingbear are cleaning bottles, getting ready to make some beer. They've been brewing together for eight years, but this is the first time that they are brewing in their new space with professional equipment. After they're done preparing, the real process begins. Shane pours water into the brew kettle and turns the gas on.
“…Just gonna put some ingredients in and boil them in water,” he says, “You add them in at specific times. Malt, hops, water, yeast, enjoy.”
As the water heats up, they pour the ingredients in and stir... it's not long before a nice aroma of fresh beer fills the space.
Starting up a brewery was an idea that they used joke about. It was only after starting their family and deciding to lay their roots in Yellow Springs, that it became more concrete. In April, they moved into a warehouse building and began construction.
“One of the parts that we're really excited about, [the door] opens right onto the bike path,” Jacqui says, “We want to have a nice little patio and a place to lock up your bikes. So you can come on in and see the kegs right there, you can fill up your growler and be on your way, or you can hang out, check out the brew process. So this would be like the general reception area.”
Shane and Jacqui both work and they have three young daughters. Some would think that'd be reason enough to save a dream like this for a later date. But it doesn't seem to be holding them back at all. And neither does the recent boom in the brewery business.
“It's not that we want to complete with Budweiser,” Shane says, “We want to replace them in our area.”
Shane and Jacqui are setting out do things that most micro-breweries would not do. The bottles are going to be hand painted and silk-screened. In an effort to reduce waste they also plan on reusing bottles. You'll be able to buy small growlers and kegs. But the most unique part is that they will be making signature brews for bars and restaurants in the area. One of the first lines that they'll put on the market will be called the Hardwater IPA, on account of the Yellow Springs water that they use. They are making an effort to appeal to the locavore consumer market.
“We want people in our area to drink VBC beer and to know that name,” Jacqui says.
The name, Vitruvian Brew Company, brings us back to the place where Shane and Jacqui met, Antioch College. The symbol that the college uses comes from the Vitruvian Man, a famous drawing by Leonardo da Vinci. It is said to represent the blending of the arts and sciences.
“The idea was meant as an architectural model. Antioch extended it to education, we want to extend it to brewing,” Jacqui explains, “Brewing is a very scientific process. If you want to have a good, successful product you have to market it artfully. You know, people don't want to buy things that aren't aesthetically pleasing.”
The couple is learning how open their own business together while at holding very separate, but important, roles.
Jacqui says, “Right now I'm getting deep into the yeast propagation process. Which is a lot of fun for me. It's some pretty heavy science, and yeast has such an important role in beer, and propagating your own strand allows you to really have control over flavor, alcohol content, shelf life; all these things. It's been really exciting.”
As Jacqui dives into the science, Shane works on the aesthetic side. He oversees all of the marketing work - everything from how they'll appeal to consumers to how the label will be designed.
“He's the art and I'm the science,” Jacqui says.
“Jacqui's kind of like Batman and I'm kind of like Robin,” Shane laughs.
Jacqui replies, “Everybody needs a good sidekick, Shane.
“It's our dream,” Shane says, “This is our thing. So we're making it happen and we're happy to be putting the time in. Securing our future as well.”
The Vitruvian Brew Company expects to be selling beer by the end of this year.