This week's topic is beer. Aslan Brewing Company would not be Aslan Brewing Company without beer. It is the heart of what we do and it’s kind of ironic that it takes place in the center of our facility. If you didn’t know this already, two of the four owners of Aslan are brothers. And the two of them together work to make sure that our heart is healthy. There’s no room for bullshitting when it comes to production and the advantage of having two brothers work closely together is that you eliminate the possibility of nonsense.
Boe is a man consumed by wanderlust and Frank is consumed, well, by beer. Frank is the head brewer and original founder of Aslan. Boe deals with production, inventory, sales and financial health. In other words, he makes sure that we have enough beer to go around.
Let’s talk about Boe for a second. In the beginning of this business, Boe was one of the carpenters that helped physically build this place. Then right as they were about to open, they put him on sales management.
The reason why he wasn’t one of the spear heads of the company was because he was out of the country living the traveling dream. He’s probably been to more countries than all of us combined and is the epitome of our employee wellness program. It’s a given that on his days off he’s shreddin' some waves somewhere or going on an epic road trip in his sprinter van.
As a Kinesiology major with little sales experience, Boe said that it’s amazing how much Google can teach you. Since then, he’s organized the production line of the beer that comes in and out of here. As well as created one of the most organized Excel spreadsheets I’ve ever seen in my life.
Boe is also the person who sits down with distributors to let them know how much inventory we have. On his spreadsheets, he has a conversion on how much is available in distributor talk (amount in cases) and in brewer talk (amount in barrels) so that he can seamlessly communicate between both sides.
So to make it a little easier, here’s a simple diagram made by our wonderful Austin Martin. It’s to illustrate how production, inventory, sales and financial health all affect each other. So you have to set up each one out on this constantly moving conveyer belt. How much we’re making on certain beers will affect how much people are ordering which then affects how much inventory we have. The cycle continues with being ahead of packaging and brewing so that we have enough beer to distribute. On top of that, there’s a difference in ingredients cost for each beer. And the list goes on. Let me tell you, his job is by no means easy, but he’s killin’ it.
In order to step into Frank’s world, you have to climb stairs onto a brew deck that sits about 15 feet off the ground. When I was standing on the brew deck and was looking into these tanks, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. Frank thinks it might’ve been because it’s 95 degrees up there but what I described was this feeling of seeing something so much bigger, up close. It felt like I’d taken a ship and was viewing the Earth as a bouncy ball.
This beer is the veins of Aslan and I was watching it in it’s most vulnerable stages, boiling in these huge vessels. It hadn’t even been fermented yet but I knew that in two weeks time, it’d be consumed by the plethora of people that visit this place. And to think that it starts on this 6 x 25 foot deck. Also, I’m serious about it being 95 degrees up there. It is so damn hot that I feel like it cleansed my body of all it’s toxins. I swear that’s why Frank has such amazing skin.
This brew deck acts as a studio for Frank’s art. He said that brewing beer is his artistic expression and this is where he expresses himself. He spends most of his 10-hour work days on this deck, creating a system to boil malt that induces level-headed wort (sugar water) that’s then boiled to it’s final stage - the addition of hops and other flavors. From there, it gets sent to the fermenters, but of course these processes are so much more complex than that.
Today he had a double batch of Batch 15 going, which means he was brewing two batches of Batch 15 back-to-back. So in two weeks we’ll have roughly 120 barrels of Batch 15. Two batches produces 60 barrels of beer which equals 1,860 gallons of beer. Isn’t that crazy?! So whenever Frank is brewing he can’t leave the brew deck. It’s like having pots on the stove and having to monitor each pot to make sure they don’t burn.
What’s funny is that Frank started out brewing beer in his parent’s basement. He spoke about how he literally had no experience but he knew that he wanted to brew and that’s what he did. He taught himself most of what he knows now. He researched, asked questions, and just did it.
When I explained how this beer was the heart of Aslan, he didn’t want to accept credit to being that huge of a contributor to what Aslan is now. He said that what really propels Aslan forward is the eighty people who are all pulling in the same direction. You need all of the people that compose this place to make it work efficiently.
“One person could never create something like this on their own,” he said. And it’s funny that he says that because when it really comes down to it, Frank started Aslan Brewing Co. He was the person who founded the LLC with Jack as a co-member contingent on Frank’s ability to prove he was a serious brewer. Granted, it only took a few weeks for Jack to see Frank’s work ethic and drive, so they became official business partners and the rest is history.
Something that Frank feels prideful of in his process of artistic release (making beer) is that we brew beer the way we do because we think that it’s best that way. We’re not following popular demand or trends because we’re doin’ our own thing.
An example he used was our Batch 15 IPA. Batch 15 has been unfiltered since the beginning of time (almost four years ago) and it’s turbid because Frank felt like that’s how it would be best represented. But now that unfiltered beers are becoming more popular, it’s interesting to see how people once criticized how turbid it was to now liking the look of it.
Another example is how we have a canning system in house. If we really wanted to, we could can one-off beers because that’s what a lot of trendy breweries are doing. But Frank says that we won’t do that because it wasn’t in our original plans.
When we got into the sphere of how much Aslan has grown, he talked about how it’s like a life journey.
“Every journey has its joys and its frustrations. But this is heartfelt. We’re trying to show people what beer should be,” he said.
When you see how you can take people from different backgrounds with little experience that strive toward a common goal, you really begin to believe that anything is possible.
“Although everyone’s brewing beer, everyone is doing it differently. Because beer is an art. It’s a consumable art,” Boe said.
And there’s something to be said about the art of being able to effectively communicate. Boe connects with Frank on when to brew different styles so that they don’t fall behind. The two of them together are a commendable team and things wouldn't run smoothly without them.
Frank doesn’t think we’ve perfected our beers but he hopes we never think that they’re perfect because there’s always room to improve. And if we thought our beers were perfect, what else would we do?