For Todd Carey, owner of Uncle Bear’s brewhouse in Phoenix, the process is everything. I am sure that I am not the first person to notice that Carey is incredibly passionate about his process. Craft beer has always been a focus and part of the plan. Forming a strong alliance with Four Peaks, there are no less than four local craft beers on tap.
Carey’s penchant for quality brew was fueled when he was working in San Diego. In September 2013, he went out on his own and opened his own brewhouse here in the Valley. Now for those wary of the rapid openings of local breweries lately, Carey did his homework, hired good people and had a plan. He focused on supplying his own restaurants with beer but quickly grew into something much larger with help from his sales manager Jason Derby. Local bars were eager to partner with Carey and Derby as beers like Mandarin Wheat and Ocean Beach IPA created a buzz within the business.
Did the process change at that point? Absolutely, but the men were prepared for growth and were soon adding more and more tanks to the brewhouse to accommodate the rise in popularity. That growth has them capable of producing 4,200 barrels of beer per year and this year’s new expansions will increase that number to 6,200. For those who do not know that is approximately 12,400 kegs.
Of course there was more to this process than might be expected. Joe Baldwin, who years ago started as a frontof-house host with Uncle Bear’s, worked his way into management as brewmaster. Knowing that Baldwin was organized, creative and had a history of home brewing, Carey knew just what to do with him. All part of the plan.
From there new recipes began to emerge like the Mutt’s Nuts Double IPA and quite a few new seasonals. I do not mind telling you (because I was a judge) that Mutt’s Nuts came inches from winning the Scottsdale Brewers Bowl Trophy last year. It really is one hell of a brew. So what’s the next new exciting beer we can expect to see in the market? Carey says it’s a Peanut Butter Cup Porter. Anticipate seeing this one at your favorite local pub in the next couple of weeks. I know I am excited!
As with any business making its mark on a growing trend, the next step is of course growth in the market. Uncle Bear’s recently signed a major distribution deal here in Arizona, as it had surpassed 150 tap handles in the market all by itself and is planning on canning the Ocean Beach IPA and the Mandarin Wheat Ale very soon. Plan on seeing these beers on local shelves in Total Wine and Whole Foods in the next six months or so.
So what’s left? Looks to me like it all comes down to good people, great beer, passion and a plan… or sorry, a process. Cheers!