We thought a lot about the name of our brewery and went through a few names before finally settling on Autumn Arch Beer Project. We had simple criteria - needed to have an interesting personal connection, needed to reflect our love of details and deep knowledge, and had to be beautiful. #Easy
Except it wasn’t.
At some point in your life, someone has said to you “Tell me something interesting.” I say that often to my 11 year old son, partially for my own entertainment and partially because I am intrigued by what he finds interesting. But I often think about what actually makes something interesting. And I think what makes something interesting is the same for most people.
It’s detail and specificity communicated (somewhat) well.
So let me tell you something interesting about our brewery’s name.
In my late 20s, I was in need of a thrilling extracurricular activity. I wasn’t in the position to get a sports car or quit my job to roam the earth. But I knew some people who were into rock climbing, and I had even done some of this in my youth, so it wasn’t unfamiliar. I decided to pick it up again and subsequently dove in 100%. Ropes, harnesses, and carabiners were acquired in earnest, and I tackled indoor gym climbing during the week so I could crush real cliffs on the weekends. Epic trips were made to NY and WV, but the most fun was had at a relatively local Pennsylvania crag.
Autumn Arch is the name of a climbing spot in central Pennsylvania that my brother and I frequented. As I got into outdoor rock climbing, I would often ask Dann to come along. He spent a lot of his youth climbing boulders and was already really strong, so he made a good partner. Climbing seems like it’s a constant thrill ride, but let me disabuse you of that notion - a lot of climbing is preparing equipment, belaying, and setting anchors, something Alex Honnold doesn’t really do, and those things take time to do well.
So there’s a decent amount of hanging around, talking, and catching up - and that’s just as much part of the climbing experience as scaling the insanely steep cliffs. Climbing on Saturday mornings is how Dann and I bonded as adults. Autumn Arch is the connection to great beer because it was the prelude to us home brewing together.
When we got into brewing beer at home several years later, it didn’t take long for us to dive deep into the science of how raw materials and process impact flavors, color, aroma, and mouthfeel of the finished product. Because of this, our beer went from “okay” to “great” in just a couple years (and I won’t lie - there were several lousy batches of beer mixed in there). #learning
For example, take the standard IPA. We started out with a malty, amber colored IPA with relatively mild bitterness and it would have been described by the casual observer as “thin” or “meh”. By modifying the grain bill (eliminating stupid crystal malts, adding some pilsner and flaked oats), adjusting mash temperature down a few degrees (a few degrees makes a big difference), and being more selective with our hop additions, we arrived at a nicely hopped, bitter as hell, bone-dry, resinous IPA.
There was a lot of experimentation in between those two points. And that’s the essence of the “Beer Project”. Constant experimentation to achieve perfection.
And lastly, we like to think Autumn Arch Beer Project is a beautiful name. So that tied the knot for us. We were married to it and onward we march to brewing great beer in Delaware.
There it is. The good and interesting stuff is in the details.