Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Brew & A with Twinpanzee Brewing Company

Twinpanzee Brewing Company is a brewery in planning for Fairfax County, VA.  The Better Beer Authority has interviewed some big, established breweries this year such as Sixpoint and Stone; but we wanted to reach out to head brewer and founder Antonio to what it is like to start a brewery during its inception and see how things are coming along.  Twinpanzee just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finance their dream.
image courtesy of Twinpanzee

Better Beer Authority (BBA): You’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund Twinpanzee Brewing Co., a nano-brewery in planning in Fairfax County, VA.  Do you have a specific site located yet?

Twinpanzee Brewing (TB):We're currently still looking at sites all around the Fairfax County area and hope to have a home for Twinpanzee Brewing Co. before September. We were initially tempted to start a brewery out in Fauquier or Loudon Counties, but decided to work really hard to start Twinpanzee Brewing Co in my hometown county of Fairfax County.

BBA: How did you start brewing?  

TB: I started brewing in 2006 (after the birth of my twin boys) with one of those small Mr. Beer kits. The Mr. Beer kit was a great way to learn the basics about brewing along with learning the importance of being very clean.  Once I tasted my first homemade brew, my thirst for more information just grew and I started reading as much as I could about home brewing. The online version of John Palmer's How to Brew was my early bible in feeding my knowledge of brewing. Within a year my wife bought me an all-grain kit from an online store as my Christmas present, which opened new doors in flavor combinations and controlling how and what you brew. The more I brewed, the more I learned and the more I wanted to try out new styles and new flavor combinations.

BBA: At what point did you decide your beers are of good enough quality to compete in the craft beer market?

TB: Back in 2012 & 2013 I had been partnering up with a buddy to buy brewing ingredients for my homebrews.  Because of my friend's generosity, I was able to try out new styles of brews and tweaked some of my recipes.  Each batch of beer was split 50-50, which allowed him to not only enjoy his half, but to share with his friends and family.  I shared my half of the beer with my own friends and family. The more people that tried my beer, the more feedback I received which helped me to update and refine my recipes.  The overwhelming response to my beer was "your beer is good".  The wife and I sat down one night while enjoying some a few homebrews and thought, "If our beer is that well received, why not try to go pro?".  Opening a brewery has been a dream since I first got into homebrewing and seeing the look of enjoyment on people's faces as they drink my beer is something I truly love.

BBA: How did you get into craft beer in the first place?

TB: It was trying my first Sam Adams lager in college that made me realize there's something more flavorful than a Budweiser or Milwaukee's Best.  Back then I didn't know the term "craft beer", but I did know the beer I was used to drinking paled in comparison to that Sam Adams brew.  My love of craft beer developed further after I finished graduate school and I traveled around Europe for over a month. I still remember being wowed by the amazing beer offerings from small historical breweries in Belgium and Germany and was amazed at the history and art of brewing. 
Antonio, the twins, and Antonio's wife

BBA: According to your Kickstarter video, you’re going all in.  What will make Twinpanzee stick out above other up and coming local breweries?

TB: Twinpanzee Brewing Co will be different from other local breweries in the Fairfax County area because we have deep roots in Fairfax County and are one of the few self-funded minority & family owned breweries in this county. I'm deeply rooted in this area as I was born, raised and educated in Fairfax County and I continue to live in the area with my wife, parents and twin boys.  Twinpanzee Brewing Co will be as unique as we will constantly create new brews with unique flavor combinations that have had us jokingly describe some of our creations with the phrase, "Reinheitsgebot be damned!".  Because we live in Fairfax County, we will also continue to work and give back to our local community, schools and charitable organizations.

TB: One of the perks you can get from pledging $2,500 is a private dinner party for two with “decadent home made Moroccan food made by a real Moroccan….”  I must say, that is quite a unique offering; is there Moroccan heritage in the family?

TB: We most definitely have some Moroccan heritage in our family: My beautiful wife is from Morocco and is one of the BEST chefs I have ever met.  She can cook up some of the most delicious traditional Moroccan meals and has one of the most discerning palates that she can successfully reproduce almost any dish/style of food. She's my first level of quality control and has helped me tweak and improve my recipes as well as coming up with some ideas for unique brews.

BBA: You are hosting a tasting event in Arlington on July 12.  How many of these have you done, and what do you take away from them?  Are people giving honest critiques?

TB: Although the July 12th event is our first official Twinpanzee Brewing Co tasting event, we have been pouring our beer for thirsty beer aficionados for many many years.  Just a month ago, we were invited to bring our beer to a friend's party where the esteemed Ambassador to Belize was the honored guest. The Ambassador, his family and friends all enjoyed our beer and provided their thoughts on our tasty brew.  We love honest feedback and critiques.  Each time we share a beer we ask for honest feedback, as it is an essential way to continually learn/hone our skills.  We believe that the only way to make your audience happy (and to keep them coming back) is to set aside your ego and listen to both positive and the negative critiques.

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