Summer of Slowburn
It's been a week since hundreds of beer drinkers and friends, new and old, ventured out to our little brewery in Hvidovre to celebrate Slowburn's opening. To say it was a special day for us would be a massive understatement. It was truly wonderful to receive such positive support from the community, and it meant the world that so many of you came out.
Emotional reminiscence aside, we'd like to share a bit more about the story of Slowburn. Who are we, how did we get here, and where are we going? Big questions, we know, and tough to address in an Instagram post. So we thought it fitting to introduce a blog where we can dive into some deeper, long-form stories.
The journey which brought us here has been full of twists, turns, and hurdles. Ask any brewery owner, and they'll tell you that starting a brewery, while a rewarding endeavor, is not all sunshine and roses. But starting an independent brewery, without investors, on a shoestring budget? That's a daydream reserved for the most naive optimists.
Well, allow us to introduce the three daydreamers behind this project.
From left to right:
Amalie has a background in cooking and a heart which beats for all things fermented. She started one of the first kombucha breweries in Copenhagen and entered the world of beer through homebrewing and continuous sampling. She has worked as a beertender and with craft beer import and distribution, and thought it was about time to apply these skills with beers of her own creation. At Slowburn, she is juggling sales, assisting in brewing, and tackling bureaucracy.
Stefano is a biotechnologist who jumped ship to beer production (lucky beverage!). Before moving to Copenhagen, he worked as a brewer in his home country, Italy. Never forgetting his roots, he focuses on the science of beer, with quality as his mission. He is the head brewer of Slowburn and works like an octopus on everything from recipe development, brewing, cellaring and packaging, to being a regular MacGyver around the brewery.
Andrew moved from the United States in 2010, back when the Scandinavian craft beer movement was still in its infancy. In order to satisfy his cravings for American style IPA, he started homebrewing hoppy concoctions in a shared student accommodation kitchen. At Slowburn, Andrew helps out with several aspects of the business, from recipe development and production, to finance and social media. He's also our resident barrel wrangler and loves experimenting with mixed cultures of yeast and bacteria. Before Slowburn, Andrew worked in the tech startup world, where he served in various engineering and leadership positions.
The summer of 2019 was a whirlwind for the three Slowburn co-founders and the friends and family who supported us.
We signed the lease for our Avedøre location in late May, then moved in just a few weeks later.
With the help of some amazing friends and a big truck, we transported our second-hand brewhouse in mid-June and immediately got to work installing it.
It took an excruciating month to get the brewhouse up and running. We ran into nearly every issue imaginable - leaking tanks (yes, plural), electrical problems, supplier mixups, you name it.
We finally cranked out our first brew in mid-July, and it was a disaster. The three of us left the brewery at 2:30AM, exhausted, defeated, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. Would we even be able to produce decent beer on this ridiculously shabby brewhouse we'd just dumped our life savings into?
We kept at it, though, and with each brew, we became more familiar with the eccentricities of our little brewhouse. We started hitting our temperature, pH and gravity targets, and aside from a few minor hiccups, things seemed like they might be starting to come together.
Once we were reasonably confident that we'd be able to produce beer worthy of serving, with equal parts excitement and nervousness, we announced our opening party for the 31st of August, 2019. Then we did the only thing we could - we kept brewing.
On average, our beers take around 4.5 weeks from brewday to packaging. This means it wasn't logistically possible to iterate or make adjustments to any of our beers before the opening party. We had no choice but to serve the very first batch of each of our beers. We even had to, sadly, dump some beer which didn’t meet our standards.
Now the opening party has come and gone, along with more than 600 liters of Slowburn beer (nicely done, everyone!). Our beers are on tap at some of our favorite bars in Copenhagen, which is nothing short of a dream come true for the three of us. And we're looking so much forward to what's to come.
Over the next few months, we'll be releasing the second batches of our debut beers, along with some exciting new creations. We will also continue to share our experiences running an independent, cooperative microbrewery. We truly look forward to receiving feedback about what you like, what you think we could improve, why you believe Pilsner is the future of craft beer, how refreshing it would be to find West Coast IPA on taplists again, or really anything else!
Thank you all so much for supporting us so far. We can't wait to see where this journey takes us together!