5 Questions With Brink Brewing’s Head Brewer, Kelly Montgomery
Winning something once is tough. Repeating that successful feat is an even tougher task. So, when Cincinnati-based Brink Brewing won GABF gold for “Very Small Brewing Company” for a second consecutive year, a lot of people took notice – myself included. As a young operation, volatility and uncertainty are commonplace. Making good beer, consistently, at a profit, is an arduous task that not many can master. Building a loyal drinking base and gaining accolades for your creations become even more difficult as you try to keep your core business afloat. This is what makes the work of Head Brewer Kelly Montgomery even more impressive. To find out more about the success of their small but stout operation, their reaction to GABF gold, and what comes next, we posed 5 questions to Brink Brewing’s Kelly Montgomery.
As a younger brewery on the verge of celebrating your third anniversary, what does it mean to receive accolades like this so early on?
“It means a lot… a whole heck of a lot. It is validation that we’re excelling at our craft and making a name for ourselves (that isn’t fueled by some big marketing budget or trend chasing). It is truly what we set out to do, make quality beer that we are proud of. Winning medals for classic beers styles such as our English Mild and Milk Stout has put us on the map for reviving an appreciation for some less trendy styles. We love that we have people excited to order an English Mild.”
What was your reaction when you were awarded Gold for Very Small Brewing Company for a second consecutive year?
“After coming off the high from last year, we had honestly set ourselves up mentally to come away with nothing (but of course were crossing our fingers for at least one medal). When the 2nd Gold medal for our Moozie Milk Stout was announced we started thinking we might be in contention to win Very Small Brewing Company, but it was definitely still a moment of shock and disbelief that we had pulled it off when it was announced. We likely embarrassed ourselves jumping up and down and cheering as we made our way to the stage.
What do you think attributed to this success year over year? How can you continue to build on this?
“We had 2 big priorities when we opened Brink: Making quality beer and building a community around the beer we create. Those continue to be our biggest priorities and what we find makes us most successful. We don’t put a beer out if we aren’t proud of it and we have grown an incredible local following and community. Our hope is that if we continue focusing on those key elements that we will continue to build upon the foundation we have created in the past 2.5 years.”
What unique brewing benefits do you have as a smaller brewery compared to larger operations?
“We have more control over what we brew and aren’t forced to brew the same thing over and over to go into cans for distro. We remain nimble, and flexible with our brew schedule. We also use many ingredients that would be tough to get on a larger scale. As an example, we use local honey from a neighborhood priest in our “Father G’s Bees Honey Brown” which is an awesome tie back to our community. There is no way we would be able to use hyper local ingredients such as that honey, if we were a larger brewery.”
What comes next? Expansion? New styles? Status Quo?
“Our goal next year is to produce 1000 barrels, which is targeting a 15-20% increase from this year. At that point we will be working our 7 barrel system pretty hard, so we shall see what that means next!”
Given the lofty growth plans Kelly and the rest of the Brink team has, I don’t think they’ll be able to “threepeat” as a very small brewery operation anymore. Cheers!
Photo credit: Photo © Brewers Association.