Behind the Brand: Farm to Glass

CM was invited into this farmhouse and following is an excerpt of our meeting with Phil and Greg.
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BY: LILIANN PARAS | PHOTOGRAPHY: LORI DONNELLY

Phil and Keri Petracca and Greg Taylor recently opened Source Brewery in Colts Neck and are grateful for the overwhelming positive response from the community. Set in a restored historic farmhouse, the owners emphasized Source is more than a business, it is their home. Visitors are welcomed in to experience what Phil calls the beer drinking trifecta: great beer, great environment and a great staff. Scaling up from five-gallon batches in Phil’s garage to brewing more than 300 gallons at a time is an impressive accomplishment. Source is fulfilling the goal to deliver an unforgettable beer drinking experience. CM was invited into this farmhouse and following is an excerpt of our meeting with Phil and Greg.

WHERE THEY LIVE

Phil: I live with my family in Howell. I have three wonderful kids. My daughter Bella is 16, and I have 8-year-old Enzo and 5-year-old Cruz. My wife Keri is expecting, so we have something else brewing here at Source.

Greg: I’ve been a resident of Asbury Park for just over three years.

LIFE BEFORE SOURCE

Greg: I was fortunate enough to do some traveling throughout Europe in my late teens and then again while studying abroad in college. I got a taste of some world class beer that shocked my senses and opened my eyes to the possibilities of what beer could be. I was instantly bitten by the curiosity bug that ended up sending me down the craft beer and brewing rabbit hole that I am still delving deeper into each passing day. I studied business management at Penn State then decided to enroll in the oldest brewing school in the US, the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago. I went on to get my master brewers degree at the Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany and began brewing at Weyerbacher Brewing company in Easton, PA shortly thereafter. (Greg is an advanced level beer “Cicerone”; comparable to a wine sommelier).

Phil: I have an untraditional path to brewery ownership. I spent twenty years in tech, and while Chief Product Officer for a global biometrics company, I developed and successfully commercialized a technology that focused on beer dispensing at home or on the go called Fizzics. In the beginning, there was a lot of socializing the technology directly with consumers at beer festivals and trade shows. During those days at Fizzics, I also visited a lot of breweries to introduce Fizzics and Greg was the brewer at one of them, Weyerbacher Brewing in Easton, PA. Shortly after my meeting Greg, he called and asked to join me on my Fizzics journey, and we’ve been coworkers ever since. We also immediately started brewing in the office, I think subconsciously I wanted a professional brewer in the office (laughs).

Greg: I’m glad I was working that day!

THE SHARK TANK EXPERIENCE

Phil: Shark Tank had strong interest in Fizzics because we were a key example of how you could democratize innovation and bring products to market. Fizzics had raised over 1.5 million dollars through crowdfunding platforms Indiegogo and Kickstarter, and successfully scaled sales to national retailers Target, Best Buy and Amazon in one short year in business. It was an amazing success story under my leadership. We ended up facing all six sharks and received a two-million dollar deal from Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner. Lori was influential in getting Fizzics into Bed Bath and Beyond and we appeared together on QVC several times. In minutes we would sell out of all the product we had. Lori was an amazing Shark and businessperson to work with, and I’m grateful for her support and friendship. But, as internal struggles with my partner grew, it was decided that I would follow my true passion, the beer, a reality. On my exit from Fizzics, I asked Greg to join me, and as you can see, he was right behind me.

THE BREWERY IDEA

Greg: We were deeply embedded in the New Jersey craft beer scene and wondered, “What is this area missing?” We noticed there were no breweries in this area and most breweries in the state are located in industrial warehouses or strip malls. Only a few were kid friendly, and fewer had any accommodations for dogs. Family and balance are a focus at Source. The first floor taproom welcomes families with kids, the second floor mezzanine and rooftop terrace are reserved for adults, and the beer garden and grounds are open to all, including dogs.

Phil: We have visited amazing breweries not only in the US, but around the world. The lasting impressions had common denominators; they focused on “beer first”, community and they all sourced ingredients locally. Colts Neck was at the top of our list based on the strong agriculture backbone and access to local farmers in close proximity for sourcing ingredients to incorporate into our beers. We also have the ability to donate our spent grains to local farmers for a completely sustainable business. We found this 130-year-old barn and it looked like it would fall down. But we fell in love with it and are proud of what it is today.

UNIQUE ASPECTS

Greg: We focus each day to deliver a truly one-of-a-kind drinking experience at Source. Beer to us isn’t just flavor and aroma in a vacuum. I can’t separate my favorite beer drinking memories from the places and details of the surroundings of where I was when I was drinking them.

Phil: The design of our draft system and overall curated experience was influenced from our past study of the way the body perceives texture, aroma and flavor. Every single beer is poured in its own curated glassware, at its designated temperature, carbonation level, and most importantly the ideal amount and density of foam. Although we are in a 19th century barn, we are brewing on an oversized ten-barrel automated brewhouse with rakes, and the cold side of the brewhouse features 120 barrels of fermentation with dedicated lagering tanks, serving tanks, and an American Oak Foeder. We are state-of-the-art.

THE BEER

Phil: At one time Keri and I were big wine drinkers and for the most part wine is a single ingredient—a grape. The focus was on the region of the grape growth, the terroir had a big factor on the finished product. I shifted from wine to craft beer for the infinite amount of flavor profiles. All styles are broken down into two categories:ales and lagers, but within those categories, and ways to produce the beers and use locally sourced ingredients. Source is showcasing the essence of Colts Neck, the terroir in our beers, from our filtered well water, working with local farmers for ingredients, and the historic farmhouse our beers are crafted in.

Greg: When designing a beer, I typically envision the flavor profile I’m looking for in the finished product and then work backwards to put all the pieces together. We focus on four main categories of beer at Source:Lagers, IPAs, Farmhouse styles, and Stouts. There are many people trading up from mass produced, commoditized beer to local craft beer every day, and we want our community’s first experience at Source to be positive to help encourage that trend. We want all of the other breweries in the area to do well so we can all collectively elevate the craft in New Jersey. Phil: (laughs) We live beer. We put people and beer before profits; if we do a good job, the latter will come. So far, the support has been amazing and we are truly grateful.