[OSBURN ON TAP] From home brewer to craft brewery

Jim Koch started the Boston Beer Company with a tattered, old, family recipe from the 1800’s. Louis Koch LagerOsburn on Tap by Chris Osburn was the original name of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, the most well-known of the twenty plus beers made by Koch’s famous brewery. The first batch was brewed in Koch’s kitchen in 1984. Right away he knew he had something great and wanted to share it with the World. Only a year later, on Patriots Day, Koch walked around the city of Boston and handed out bottles to bar owners. People liked it and his business grew from there. That’s the short story of how one of the most famous Breweries in America began. With one recipe and the passion and determination to get others to enjoy something that Koch already loved.

Since then, the craft brewing industry has exploded in the U.S. Still, there is room for fresh ideas and new innovators to bring them to the table…or bar. Twenty-somethings Jon Mervine and Chris Spinelli are two such innovators out of thousands out there.

They met as economics students at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York but quickly realized that they had more in common besides their major. “We would study together for tests and homework, often times leading to the bar for a good pint of beer.  We enjoyed beer and tasting all the different styles of Microbreweries we could find,” says Spinelli.

This led to their first foray into home brewing in the summer of 2009. “We started home brewing with a kit. After a few batches we really enjoyed it and moved to all grain.”

By the winter of 2010, they felt that they had the skill and knowledge to make their love of beer into more than just a between classes hobby. They formed the brewery, Roc Brewing Company, and are currently in the process of moving forward with the tenacity and drive that will be needed to survive in such a competitive market. “We’re entering in at a time the craft beer market is having a renaissance,” Mervine said, showing excitement for the job at hand.

“Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head are pioneers of their own, but as clever and creative as a hop bomb can overload the palate, a robust porter or bitter can sooth any soul,”

They hope to open up their craft brewery by the spring, but that won’t stop them from making home-brewed batches of the styles they plan to sell at the new facility. “We will be focusing on traditional style craft Ales. Mostly English styles and some American styles,” says Spinelli.

“We decided to start a brewery simply out of our love and passion for brewing.  We are both business minded people.  I have always wanted to work for myself someday and why not do something I love. “

Spinelli and Mervine are not alone. Theirs is just one of many stories of passionate young people who refuse to settle for bland, yellow, fizzy water. There are countless others out there who are also starting from scratch. Many will fail, but some will succeed. And without these people willing to put themselves and their livelihood out there, new beer discoveries can never be found.

*This article originally appeared in the fall on drinkingmadeeasy.com


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