Cowbell Brewing Co: A Simple Retirement Project…

  • January 19th, 2017
  • By Steven Sparling

Blyth Cowbell Brewing Co. began as a simple retirement project, with the emphasis on retirement. Something we would do to allow my family to be part of the economic resurgence in our hometown and one more part of the destination vision being crafted in Huron County. And it must be fun. We planned to renovate a vacant building on Blyth’s main street and open a small craft beer brew-pub with some interesting outdoor second floor seating. That was the plan.

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So, how the heck did we end up where we are now? 111 acres, authentic timber frame architecture, seating for busloads, a state-of-the-art brewhouse, centrifuge, managed and structured supply chains, hops selection trips, closed-loop technology, carbon neutral operations, creative Food and Beverage operations, a retail store, Greener Pastures, a future distillery, and so on. Darned good question.

Some observers tell us that Cowbell Brewing is “bold, audacious – even visionary.” We are humbled by comments like these, and often we are not sure what to make of them. But, thank you. Cowbell is a fast-evolving, high-energy culture in which each of us relentlessly challenges ourselves and one another. We plan fearlessly and we work to execute in endless exciting loops of ruthless positivity. We celebrate our wins, we learn from our mistakes, and we move onward.

Cowbell bears little resemblance to the thinking when we started charting this journey almost seven years ago. We recognize that we are blessed to be part of something that is born out of a convergence of opportunities, surrounded by a growing team of remarkable people. Together, we have the courage to make things happen.

But perhaps most of all, we ended up here because we hold ourselves to a merciless standard, because nothing less will do. We say it all the time, “The world does not need another brewery and it sure doesn’t need another beer, either.”

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But the world is ready for a different kind of company, a true social entrepreneurship. A family-friendly, accessible, memorable destination experience, and yes — truly great craft beer. And craft sodas, nitro coffees, and soon, spirits.

We believe we are sharing a remarkable journey. We share ideas, collaborate, and dream out loud, but dreams are tough to realize without hard work and fierce discipline. And Emerson, whom I often quote, would take it one step further and offer that, “Nothing great is ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” Well, at Cowbell, we have enthusiasm by the truckload.

So, 2016 is in the books, the year that started when a show cow named L’Oreal starred in Cowbell’s announcement video. That was followed by 1005 enthusiastic people (the census population of Blyth) who helped celebrate the launch of Absent Landlord. Along the way, we worked through a basket of challenges and opportunities as a contract brewer and rolled out the first two Founders’ Series beers and the 12-month Renegade Series. Our rambunctious and fun-loving events team seemed to be everywhere during the summer, fall, and pre-Christmas seasons.

This is a business that demands the best from ourselves and one another in a marketplace that will reward nothing less.

We continue to recruit remarkable people (it’s always about the people) in support of the comprehensive approach we are taking to this start-up that we believe will be worthy of being called a destination. We are building a business, certainly, but we are a unique business, a true social entrepreneurship that will allow us to be part of something really special – and maybe even remarkable. How great is that?!

Thank you for your support. We look forward to seeing you at the Cowbell Farm this summer!

Onward.