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Why Trillium Said Yes to Beer Camp Across America

Guest post contributed by Esther Tetreault, co-founder of Trillium Brewing Co. alongside her husband JC.

Visit Beer Camp Website

Every day starts like this:

4:00am—Tell our 3-year-old to go back to bed

6:30am—Beg our 3-year-old to get out of bed

Next comes one crazy hour of controlled chaos trying to get two kids fed, dressed, and out the door with lunch in hand to two different schools. Then JC and I head off to one of our two breweries, most often in recent months to our new production facility in Canton, MA.

Trillium Brewing Company celebrates just our third anniversary in March this year. JC and I have done a lot in six years of marriage. Our family and the friends we rarely see think we’re nuts. (I don’t know that they’re wrong.) Every time we hit a major milestone—you know, like having a child or opening a brewery—someone asks us if we’re going to take time to breathe or relax. Yeah, right. We should, I know, but it seems like we’re always “on to the next…” I know we can’t keep it up, but for now, our decisions feel right for us.

We say “no” a lot. I’m usually the one who relays the message, and I hate it. But I know what we have the capacity to handle and what our priorities are. When Sam Calagione called to ask us to be a part of his team for Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America, we were in the middle of building out our second brewery and watching our target completion date evaporate in an endless string of expensive change orders. That call should have been a “no.” We didn’t have the time or mental capacity for anything else! Instead, we said “yes.”

Esther pours beer in the Trillium taproom.

For a long time JC and I have had our heads down, working to build a future for our family and business. As our family at home and at Trillium grows, there seems to be even more pressure to succeed and get it right. It’s just the two of us and we have felt very isolated. Our friends are proud of us, but they don’t really understand the challenges. You know who does? Other brewers. That’s why we said yes to Beer Camp.

Not every brewer knows what it’s like to bring your sick kid to the opening day of your new brewery because she’s in the 24-hour fever window and can’t go to school, but every brewer has:

  • Felt the punch in the gut of getting shorted on a hop contract
  • Babysat the glycol chiller overnight
  • Gotten a call from the alarm company in the middle of the night (a night you’re actually sleeping) for some unknown error code
  • Pulled out tools to DIY a broken piece of critical equipment you don’t have the time (or money) to fix professionally
  • Committed their life, and those of people they love, to their deep passion for creating a product that brings people together

JC and I knew that we’d have to move some pieces around the board, but we felt that joining Beer Camp would be worth it. We’ve met and spent time with incredible people who get it—people who’ve been exactly where we are now or are right there with us in the deep, people we can call/text/email for anything now and make our world feel bigger and warmer.

The collaborators for Pat-Rye-Ot Revolutionary Pale Ale. Click here to check out the beer.

That Sam Calagione had even heard of Trillium was unbelievable to us, and we felt incredibly honored to be asked to participate in a project with craft beer legends like Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head and Stoudts, to name a few. These are genuine people who choose to be welcoming and inclusive rather than competitive and exclusive. These are people we can look to as models of what we want to build with Trillium and they’ll be more than happy to share their experiences with us.

Not every brewer is going to get a call from Sam to join Beer Camp Across America, but if you do, you say yes.

March 2, 2016 - 8:23am