Friday, September 2, 2016

My First Beer--T&A Brewing Company

            On July 29, 2016, Andrew Wright had his first beer.

            No, he didn’t just turn 21. 

            No, he didn’t suddenly decide to drink.

            He literally had his first beer. 

            It was a process that started almost two years before.  Andrew and his wife Tea, high school sweethearts and parents of two teenage girls, opened T&A Brewing, a tap room with the motto “No crap on tap!”  This might not seem like a big deal, but Tea and Andrew spent the first year convincing patrons to drink beer other than Bud Light. 
            Andrew had been home brewing as a hobby for about four years.  Then he got sent out of town to work for eight weeks.  This job did not just send him to the community down the road, but all the way to Arizona, with no options to come home on weekends.  This was just too much for a family man like him.  It was the final straw that pushed him and Tea toward brewing on a larger scale and owning their own business. 

            The couple purchased a historic building on Main Street of their home town, Newcastle.  Though the Wrights have heard this structure was originally a hardware store, most locals referred to it as the Bronco Bar, the business it held for decades.  They then gutted the space from front to back, exposing original stucco and brickwork and making room for the brewery. 
            As Andrew and Tea jumped through the numerous federal, state, and local hoops to receive all the required licenses, time quickly passed.  Financial hurdles also acted as obstacles to the brewing timeline, but each time a complication occurred, Andrew found a solution.  Though Tea and Andrew did not have any business partners or financial backers, they did have a lot of friends and family supporting them at every one of these twists and turns.

            This leads back to Andrew’s first beer:  T&A’s 747 Amber—the first in a series of beers Andrew is going to name after those who helped him and Tea make this dream a reality.  The beer’s namesake has a long history with Andrew.  Garrett Borton and Andrew go back a long time…way back.  Andrew and Garrett moved in together as seventeen-year-old seniors, both longing for their own freedom and space away from home. 
            Fast forward nearly fifteen years, and Garrett was one who helped gut the historic building.  He spent hours sandblasting the stucco and brick walls.  He loaned tools, vehicles, and trailers for the moving of the brew equipment.  He may even be a valued customer at T&A now and again…wink, wink.  This helpful energy Garrett has given to Andrew and Tea’s business is shown in Garrett’s time of birth—7:47—proving Garrett’s high-octane, jet-fueled personality, a personality reflected in the amber ale.

            Andrew chose an amber—Garrett’s favorite style—as the inaugural brew because it fits many palates.  It is more serious than a light beer, yet can still be good for non-craft beer drinkers.  Keeping with the high-octane motif that Garrett’s character provides, the ale is nearly seven and a half percent alcohol…yes, basically 7.47 percent. The 747 is “light on the palate for a dark beer with light caramel maltiness and a clean finish.”

            Need any more proof that this initial brew is truly something exceptional?  Keep in mind the entire brew process took nearly six weeks—four weeks in the fermentation tank, one week in the brite tank, and one week in the kegs (carbonating).  That is six weeks of work to create a quality product...that sold out in just half that time. 
Yes, in a mere three weeks after the release, the 747 was gone.  Sold out.  Done.  Drank.  Enjoyed by Black Hills beer enthusiasts.   Enthusiasts that just can’t wait for Andrew’s second beer.