Far back through miles of farm roads, just past the curve off 169, and right after my cell service went kaput, I found u4ic Brewing. (LPT: It’s pronounced euphoric, which made far more sense when someone said it aloud to me.)
There’s something nice about driving past your cell service to enjoy a beer–although doing so alone, on a night with temps below 0, and well after dark probably wan’t my wisest life choice. Let’s just hope I don’t receive a chiding text from my father when he reads this.
I found the front door by the illumination of a single floodlight and the moon, and opened to find a spacious taproom filled with locals. The beertender easily talked up all the beer, but I ended with her final recommendation of the 2 Step Viper Russian Imperial Stout. At a rocking 8% ABV, I naturally ordered a smaller pour. Every ounce was worth it, and it made me dream of developing a higher tolerance so I can explore a little more on these road trips. In my conversation with the friendly woman behind the bar, it was quickly revealed to me that she is married to the head brewer, a man sitting next to me at the bar who I had assumed was a passionate regular that likes recommending beer to strangers.
The night quickly turned into a full-blown tour of the brewery, which held far more than meets the eye. Jeff, the head brewery, showed me a mill purchased from James Page Brewing, told me stories of his brother’s brewing equipment, walked through the remodeling of an old bottling line to fit their needs, and explained to me how he custom built just about every part of his brewhouse (which positively astounded me…I can’t begin to conceive of how someone could build a control panel for handmade fermenters).
Adjacent to the brewhouse is a large walk-in cooler that houses the brewery’s 13 bright tanks. Along with seven fermenters, these bright tanks allow u4ic the flexibility of filling kegs to order. It’s really quite a sight to see, and hearing the mastermind explain his unique methodology reveals the scientific, engineering nature of a brewer’s mind.
All of this is only the beginning for u4ic. The owners have purchased the remainder of their building–an old creamery–for storage of a 30bbl brewing system (along with an in-house food truck and a small engine repair shop because, ya know, versatility).
When I asked Jeff for advice, he told me, “Never underestimate yourself. You get beat down and think you’re basically cooked, but you get through it and another day comes, and you do it all over again. If it’s something you really want to do, you’ll do it.”
In its early days, u4ic experienced its fair share challenges, and it took some serious tenacity and drive from Jeff to make sure his brewing dream became a reality. Hell, the guy has been brewing since before I was born (even though his wife confessed that most of his early beers needed a chase, considering the extremely limited homebrew ingredients available); if anybody was going to make a brewery happen, it was him. Now, the nice folks of the tiny township get to enjoy some great beer from a (very) local brewery.
Sitting at your own bar on a Thursday night, watching people enjoy the product of your hard labor and innovation, must make all the living up to estimations seem worth it. Career goals, meet drinking goals.