Fireman's Brew, a west-coast based brewery and coffee roastery founded by firefighter and paramedic, Rob Nowaczyk, has been making it's way east. And, after working to create incredibly drinkable brews for over a decade it's about time.
Take a look below to see what Rob had to say when I got the chance to ask him a few questions.
Me: What came first, the beer or the coffee?
Rob: Definitely the beer! When we first started, Fireman’s Brew was pretty much a homebrewer-style operation. Those first batches of Fireman’s Brew were exclusively tested on our friends at parties. I remember my firefighter partner, Ed Walker, and I would literally cut our bottle labels out by hand with an exacto knife. We knew we were onto something when people started to ask where they could buy Fireman’s Brew. After another year of keeping at it, we thought we had hit the big time when we got our wholesalers license and began delivering beer to a few accounts out of the trunks of our cars (Ha!). Looking back at it, those were really fun times, because what we lacked in “how to start a business” expertise, we made up for in good ol’ fashioned firefighter resourcefulness.
Me: How did you come up with naming the beers "Blonde, Brunette & Redhead?"
Rob: I’d like to say that we did a lot of in-depth marketing research stuff, but really it came down to a flash of inspiration. We were making three beers (Pilsner-style Lager, German Doublebock and Red Amber Ale), that went from lighter to darker coloring and it just seemed like a natural fit to call them Blonde, Brunette and Redhead.
Me: Do you plan on expanding the lineup beyond your 3 core beers?
Rob: Absolutely. We’ve been kicking around ideas and R&D testing a few different recipes, but haven’t really settled on one yet. I’d like to get it done within the next year, but at the same time don’t want to rush into anything. What we really feel works for us is that each Fireman’s Brew beer already pairs up well with a variety of foods or drinking occasions (seasons). So you’ve got Fireman’s Brew: Blonde, which is the perfect hot summer, backyard bar–b-que style beer. Then our Fireman’s Brew: Brunette pairs up great in the fall with Thanksgiving dinners, while our Fireman’s Brew: Redhead slides right in the middle and is a great tailgating companion.
Me: Where do you see the company in 3 years?
Rob: We’ve always felt that Fireman’s Brew has the potential to become a national brand. I think for us, in three years, we’d love to have achieved that goal. Our beers are accessible to both craft beer enthusiasts and more casual beer drinkers alike with bold flavors, but easy-drinkability. Plus, we’ve got a brand that virtually everyone can relate to – and a great firefighter community that we connect with no matter where we go.
Me: What is your non-Fireman's "go-to" beer?
Rob: Right now, when I’m not drinking Fireman’s Brew, I’ve been having some of the west-coast IPAs from breweries like Russian River, Stone or Ballast Point. But if I had to pick just one non-Fireman’s Brew “go-to” beer it would probably be one of those beers that first got me interested in craft beers - like Sierra Nevada.
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