Slouch sits down with Jamie Rice, Justin Waters, and Kyle Branigan, the guys behind Milkman Brewing. Milkman made a name for themselves at last month’s Pittsburgh Brewfest, taking home top honors with a Peppercorn Rye that had everyone in the local beer community talking. They discuss the trials and tribulations of starting a boutique brewery on a shoestring budget, their philosophy about creating recipes that push the boundaries of beer, the upcoming first Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, and a lot more.

If you want to support innovative brewing in Pittsburgh, check out Milkman Brewing on the web, consider donating to their Kickstarter campaign, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.


This is a repost of content from earlier in the week, as iTunes was not updating the podcast correctly.


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  1. I know one other brewpub that operates with a 2.5 barrel brewhouse, and they struggle mightily to keep even 2 or 3 beers on tap, when they’re supposed to have 4 or more.

    With the system these guys are planning, how do you make contract brews for bars, restaurants, etc, but also have it on-hand at the brewery for all the people you’ll be giving away/selling growlers to? Will there be separate beers for growler take-homes from the brewery? And if you’re selling growlers, does that mean you’ll also be selling pints in a taproom?

    I rather like the “five hour brewer lecture” incentive; haven’t seen that before.

  2. As far as making such a small operation work effectively, it really comes down to fermenter space. We are starting with 4 3 bbl fermenters, but are ready to expand that amount to meet demand. The only problem with this is it takes more of our time, but it is a sacrifice that we feel is necessary to keep the debt burden as low as possible while anticipating an eventual large-scale expansion. Current Pennsylvania laws do not allow us to sell pints in the taproom, but that is possibly changing if the General Assembly of Pennsylvania’s House Bill 242 passes. This will allow sales by breweries for on-site consumption, and in any package (so pints, tasting flights, and fancy Belgian chalices will be allowed).

    As far as special “available only at the brewery” beer, we plan on always having new things in development, so what better way to test the test batches?

  3. I hope you don’t mean you’re going to test the test batches by selling growlers of them to people? Personally, I like the idea that a beer I get from my local brewery has had a LITTLE bit more time to round into something the brewer is happy with. I also feel like as a business owner I’d want to only be offering the stuff I deemed to be “great success.”

    I hope that bill will pass. It’s outrageous that so many states have legislation on the books preventing breweries from selling their beer, even if it’s straight out of the freakin’ bright tanks.

    Judging from what I know with this other brewpub that uses a 2.5 bbl system, you guys are going to be doing a LOT of brewing if people like these beers. I know the brewmaster at the place I’m thinking of brews every single morning and still isn’t able to keep half his beers on tap.

    1. We would never sell something that we weren’t proud of ourselves. What I mean by testing is once we are happy with the beer being produced, we will then put it out on our taps and see what the reception is. Justin, Kyle, and I like crafting beer, but we also like drinking it, and if we didn’t like something we’ve made we would never put it out for others to try. There are plenty of shitty beers to go around, we don’t need to contribute.

      Meeting demand with the small production that we have may prove challenging… That is a problem that I would rather have rather than making a lot of something that no one wants.

  4. That’s what I figured you must have meant. Sounds like you’re planning on an almost Sam Calagione-like experimental setup. Any plans for self-chewed, saliva-enfused chicha brews on the horizon? You realize that if you don’t do that, you’re really not pushing the envelope of “craft.” These are the rules. I don’t make ’em.

    How many brewers do you guys have? I hope you’ll be able to delegate responsibility effectively on the day-to-day brewing.

    1. There are 3 of us who are sharing equal responsibility in brewing and paperwork, the latter of which pretty much sucks, but it is the cost of doing business. Once we are nose to the grindstone things may change, but doubtful. We have some drive to turn this into our full time jobs at some point.

      As far as the beer goes, we are making some pretty out of the box things, but no beer made with the semen of elephants or the blood of tigers at this time. Tiger Blood does sound like something that should be done eventually though (and the lawsuit with Charlie Sheen would bring some attention our direction), but I am thinking something involving a virgin sacrifice should be even sooner.

  5. You should be careful of even joking about that, or you’ll have those people who were pissed off about Lost Abbey Witch’s Wit down on you for defamation.

    I suppose you could subvert it by having it be a MALE virgin sacrifice, but that lacks a certain aesthetic.

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