Cover Story Notebook: Share Your Knowledge

In a ongoing series, Brewer will take a small note from interviews of some of the cover stories it has run and give a small tidbit that didn’t make the issue, but is still worth diving into.

Perhaps you have gotten to that point in your brewery’s “life” where you have become the veteran of your area and all of a sudden you are meeting new brewery owners or people that want to open their own. How will you handle it?

It seems that for the most part the mantra of “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and the sharing of information and passing on knowledge to others is fairly common.

It was “extremely helpful” for Todd and Suzie Ford, co-founders and co-owners of Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing.

On a trip to the West Coast, the Fords fell in love with Hiwa, the Coconut Porter from Maui Brewing.

“We wanted to replicate it on the home brew level and when we opened we looked into doing it on a production level,” explained Todd Ford. They contacted Garrett Marrero of Maui and got some tips on making the beer.

“It’s a big, big challenge,” Ford said. “When you do it on a small scale, it’s fun, but when you are toasting coconut for two or three days, that blew us away.

“Then we won a Silver in that first year at GABF, Chad and I ran over to the Maui crew to tell Garrett, and I ended up talking to his mom about it. It was so nice to see how helpful the industry is.”

For the Fords, it was people like Marrero, the folks at Dogfish Head and Hugh Sisson at Heavy Seas.

“These people are rock stars to us,” Todd Ford said. “For them to come and help us out and tell us the challenges they had when they were our size and what they did to get through it.

“Everything we have done, Hugh has done 10 or 15 years before us. It’s great, great knowledge and people are so willing to share it.”

Ford said he wasn’t sure that it will remain that way.

“Maybe the bigger guys may start to not want to share that knowledge,” he said. “That’s sort of a shame, and I get it, but it would be a shame if it starts going that way because that is something that has really encouraged our growth in the past few years.”

It was that shared load of knowledge that endeared the Fords to the industry.

“It’s so different from the industries that we were all in before,” Suzie Ford said, herself working in the banking industry prior to NoDa while Todd was a pilot. “It’s not collaborative, it’s very competitive. So it was very refreshing to have Olde Mecklenburg and John Marrino come and take a look at our plans and answer questions about the city.

“He realized it was going to help him as more people could start to realize what craft beer really is.”

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