Rodger with his wife Claudia, who provided the photo
Leaving any job for another opportunity is stressful. Leaving a job to start your own business can be downright scary. The latter is what brewer Rodger Davis has decided to do. He’ll be leaving Triple Rock Brewery tomorrow and taking the leap with his wife Claudia to open Faction Brewing somewhere in the East Bay. The plan started off as a dream when they got married five years ago and it’s taken that long to get the ball rolling. Opening the doors takes a huge amount of determination and cash, which they’ve managed to muster.
With investors behind them they’re currently scouting locations in the East Bay to setup shop. The city of Richmond was an early contender, but their first option in the I-580 corridor off Harbor Way didn’t pan out. According to Davis “The building was perfect. It already had drains cut into the floor, but an oil blending facility was located right across the street. The odor was strong, I was worried about how it might effect the product and it wasn’t conducive for a nice public atmosphere.” That last bit is important because the facility will not only contain a production brewery, but also a taproom for tasting and on-site sales.
As the search goes on they want to avoid close proximity to other established breweries out of respect. That attitude also extends to their business model, which Davis explained doesn’t strictly focus on the Bay Area. “We’re going to sell as much beer as we can around here, but we aren’t going to knock on doors and take other people off taps.” Right now the vision for distribution extends to Southern California, where they’ve already signed on with a couple distributors who might be able to push the product into other states quickly after opening.
That may seem like a huge jump for a brewery that doesn’t even have a roof over it’s head, but Davis plans on producing 8,000 barrels on his 20 barrel system per year. For some perspective, that’s 248,000 gallons of beer produced on a system that’s making 620 gallons per brew session.
Davis already owns the brewing equipment, but he needs to ship it all the way from New York. He explained, “A buddy of mine at Captain Lawrence Brewing made enough money in the last five years to lease a new facility and buy all new equipment. All the stuff he’s leaving behind is now ours.” Davis sealed the deal last October at the Great American Beer Festival and has one more payment to make before shipping by the end of February.
When asked what the craft beer drinker can expect from his new beer, Davis said “You can take the chef out of the kitchen, but you can’t take the kitchen out of the chef. There’s only one way I really know how to brew beer and it’s my way or the highway. At the end of the day I don’t want to make the same kind of beer. I want to use new hops and change things up, but people can expect a simple malt bill and a lot of hops.”
Right now Davis is planning on producing five different beer lineups or series. The first will include flagship styles on a seasonal rotation, such as Pale Ale, IPA, Red, Pilsner, and Stout. Then you can expect big beers in twenty-two ounce bottles. A Rye Wine, Wheat Wine, Barleywine, Double IPA, and Imperial Stout fit this category. The remaining three beer lineups will include a Belgian, Barrel Aged and Sour series. Don’t expect all of this beer right out of the gate. This is a long-range vision. Davis also mentioned that he’d be producing far more barrel-aged beer then what he could manage at Triple Rock, which didn’t have much storage space.
So what’s in the name Faction Brewing? It turns out that Faction was the name of a band he admired during his old skateboarding days. He looked it up in the dictionary while pondering company names. Although the definition is strongly associated with politics and dissension, that’s not what appealed to Davis. He found a more personal meaning and sees the new brewery fitting inside “a niche, within a niche, within a niche” of the craft brewing industry. It’s that simple.
At the moment Faction Brewing doesn’t have a website or any social media accounts to follow, so if you would like more information contact Davis or his wife Claudia at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’ll have time to respond, because according to him, “Come Monday, I can just focus on Faction Brewing.”
Update (1/27/12): You can find Faction Brewing on Twitter