We both grew up in Oak Park, IL, and got to know each other as high school freshmen. We’ve been friends and collaborators ever since, with a long history of working together on all kinds of schemes, so we’re delighted to be teaming up on our biggest project yet: New Normal Brewing.
Sam: New Normal Brewing’s story begins in Cambridge, MA just after college, when I started brewing beer at home and quickly fell in love with it. Brewing is a thrilling process, and beer has a magical way of bringing people together and strengthening community. When I moved to the Bay Area in 2011 for work, my hobby became an obsession. I founded BrewLab SF: a homebrewers’ tasting club/delivery service that evolved into a nanoscale brewery, equipment library, technology-experimentation lab, and event space. I continued to hone my skills as a brewer, beer taster, and entrepreneur, and I began looking for the right opportunity to open a community-oriented brewery to expand upon my passion for beer experimentation and communal culture. In 2014, New Normal Brewing was born!
Dvorit: I’d been admiring Sam’s work with BrewLab from afar while living in Philadelphia. I was working in fundraising at the time; building community, managing events, and developing new programs. When I moved to San Francisco in late 2012, I quickly got involved with managing BrewLab’s community of craft beer makers and fans. By 2014, the stars aligned for me to help Sam launch New Normal Brewing as the company’s first full-time employee. It’s an awesome experience to start a business with a close friend… and it certainly helps that I love drinking his beer!
We’re so excited to share New Normal Brewing with you.
There are no other breweries in North Oakland, and not many businesses where families can hang out together. It’s high time that changed! We’ve secured a 15-year lease on a space close to MacArthur BART that’s big enough to support a 44-seat taproom, a 100-seat beer garden (with room for food trucks), and a production brewery. We know the area deserves something unique, so we’re building a very special taproom full of art, with a regularly refreshed lineup of imaginative everyday beers. We can’t wait to get it up and running to start brewing and serving pints across our bar.
Our inspiration comes from the city we call home. Oakland is brimming with creativity and we want to do our part to support its local makers. We’re collaborating with artists on taproom design, product packaging, and events both in- and outside of our space; we hope to always be a hub of creativity and a place where our neighbors and the local arts community feel at home. We’ve also been pouring our beers to raise money for local nonprofits and have loved getting to know our neighbors during the rotating art gallery shows taking place in our space while we wait for our construction permits. When we’re finally open, we’ll be able to do all that and more on an even larger scale.
We’ve put years of planning into this project and the fruits of our efforts are closer than ever. With a Kiva Zip loan, we’re that much closer to making this dream a reality.
Pilot batch brewing (thirty gallons at a time) is at the core of our commitment to creativity and is a big part of what makes New Normal Brewing unique. Our pilot system will help us formulate new beer recipes, test ingredients, and continuously improve the New Normal product line through data collection, sensory analysis, blending trials, and taster feedback. We strongly believe that these efforts will drive our sales revenue—by helping us distinguish ourselves in the marketplace and offer consistently high-quality beer.
We’ve already built some of our pilot equipment, but we still need to build a stand for our brewhouse ($1,200), order five 30-gallon fermenters ($6,500), build a cooling system for managing fermentation temperatures ($1,200), and outfit the system with hoses, fittings, and support equipment ($1,100).