Published on April 27th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
The Roadhouse Brewing Co.’s Gavin Fine & Colby Cox On Beer, Wyoming, Pearl Jam, Phish & More
The Roadhouse Brewing Co. was born in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2012 as a partnership between chef/restaurateur Gavin Fine and home-brewer/entrepreneur Colby Cox. 2017 was a big year for Roadhouse as the brewer began bottling four of its specialty brews, while also expanding its distribution to out-of-state markets in the year’s first quarter. Ultimately, the goal for Roadhouse’s state-of-the-art production facility is for it to be producing up to 30,000 barrels annually.
Last month on International Women’s Day, Roadhouse teamed up with four other Jackson Hole breweries — Snake River Brewing Co., Melvin Brewing Co., Grand Teton Brewing Co. and Wild Life Brewing — for an “All Women’s Brew Day. As part of the craft brewing women’s-focused organization The Pink Boots Society, the team worked together at Snake River Brewing all day long and served a special collaboration beer, a Mango Unfiltered IPA called “Moxie.” As learned from my Q&A with Roadhouse’s Fine and Cox, this is only one of the special events Roadhouse has planned for 2018.
More on the Roadhouse Brewing Co. — including its soon-to-be-launched Roadhouse Pub & Eatery in Jackson Hole’s Town Square — can be found online at www.roadhousebrewery.com.
Roadhouse Brewing was recently involved with “All Women’s Brew Day.” How did that event turn out for you?
Colby Cox: The Women’s Brew Day was amazing, especially because our team was able to collaborate and engage with other local women who work in and love craft beer. There’s often a perception that this industry is dominated by men, but there are so many women in key roles within Roadhouse and many other independent craft breweries. They brewed Moxie, a Mango Pale Ale, that will be released in mid-April.
Any other interesting events which Roadhouse Brewing will be part of?
Colby Cox: We’re planning a local brew fest for National Beer Day, as Jackson Hole is becoming quite the craft beer destination. We’ll be attending national festivals like SAVOR, Belgian Beer Festival, Aspen Food & Wine and GABF this year, and of course will have representation at a multitude of beer festivals throughout the Mountain West over the summer.
Events aside, what is coming up for Roadhouse Brewing?
Colby Cox: We are opening a new restaurant, Roadhouse Pub & Eatery, on Jackson Hole’s iconic town square this summer. The new space will showcase Roadhouse’s flagship beers as well as new, experimental styles we’ll be brewing on a five bbl brewing system — all paired with elevated gastropub fare. We’ll also continue to expand our production facility in Jackson Hole to bring more beer to more places.
Two things especially stand out, to me at least, with Roadhouse Brewing beers: the packaging and the names. Packaging first, when in the creative process did the unique packaging come about?
Colby Cox: We started brewing commercially in 2012 and didn’t release our first packaged product until 2017, so we had plenty of time and a lot of pent-up creative energy that needed to be released with our move into bottles. Most of the inspiration came from personal taste and my distaste for the marketing graffiti that dominates the shelves these days. I wanted our products to look generally clean, consistent, and approachable. The stubby bottles are just a practical storage device. There is no advantage to a “long neck” and it takes up a ton of room in the cooler, and makes it hard to stack six packs in your fridge- so we nixed those immediately.
On the names, that’s a longer story. We want our products to tell a story about who we are as people. Each beer has its own story, but is also part of the larger story of our company and its founders. I see each beer as a chapter, and all of our products together complete a bigger story about who we are as a brewery. The story is still being written however, so right now we can only give you the first couple of chapters. It will make more sense later, I promise…?
In terms of the names, as an example, where did the name “Family Vacation” come from for a Blonde Ale?
Colby Cox: Roadhouse is all about the collaboration between beer, food, and music. A lot of our names come from musical inspiration. Some have to do with the inspiration behind the beer, and some relate to how we want the beer to inspire those who drink it. Family Vacation is slightly-obtuse reference from Gumbo and the mouse staring out of the window who’s car is trapped in the snow. It’s a bit of a head nod to the millions of people who roll through Jackson every summer on their way to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
Jackson is an oasis for those finishing up a 500-mile drive with the kids in the backseat, before entering the park. Family Vacation is a beer to calm the nerves after that uniquely American experience. So we wanted a beer that was a classic American ale designed to be consumed in quantity. What’s more American than the idea that if one is good, then two must be better? That’s the most honest I’ve ever been about one of our beer names. I think it’s better if we leave it up to interpretation so that people can create their own story of what they think we are talking about.
Do you have a favorite of the Roadhouse Brewing beers available?
Gavin Fine: Choosing my favorite beer would be like choosing my favorite child, I just couldn’t do it. You eat and drink with all your senses so for me — like Colby — it’s all about the surroundings. Where am I? Am I eating food with the beer and if so, what kind? Who’s drinking with me? What music is playing?
Colby Cox: I get asked this a lot and my answer changes depending on the mood I’m in. Undoubtedly, Primal Soup (Flanders Red) and Siren Song (Belgian Strong) are consistently go-to’s for me. They are both very complex and simultaneously delicate beers which makes them very endearing. I love hops so I love our collection of IPA’s, but its hard to develop a relationship with a beer that only has a shelf life of 90 days. The beers I have fallen in love with over time are the ones that I nurture for several years before opening them. They develop a personality in my mind over time, and act as a piece of recorded history. I can open a Siren Song from five years ago and I can remember a lot about where I was artistically at that time based on the flavor profile of the beer. I love getting those nostalgic insights.
Your company is based in Wyoming. Gavin, your bio on the website mentions having seen The Beastie Boys at Hammerstein Ballroom in the late 1990s. What is it that brought you out to Wyoming?
Gavin Fine: Like many people, my best friend and I moved out to Jackson after college for a season. We arrived in Jackson in my Buick LeSabre with the intention of staying for a short amount of time and then moving to a major city to pursue a career in hospitality. And, like many who came before and after us, neither of us left.
What about you, Colby? Your online bio mentions seeing Jay-Z at Madison Square Garden and Pink Floyd at RFK Stadium, so I’m assuming you’re an East Coaster originally?
Colby Cox: I am. I’m from a small town in southern Delaware called Milton, which is an old ship building town. I used to love road-tripping when I was in high school and that’s how I came to fall in love with the Rocky Mountain West. I was on Phish tour with my brother and some friends when I was 17, and we ended up driving to Montana to camp and fish for a week. I instantly had this feeling that I had been there, or a place like it, in one of my former lives because it felt so familiar and comfortable to me. More so than where I grew up, really. So my destiny was pretty much realized at that point, it just took me a few years to make it my reality. I moved to Jackson in 2005.
When not busy with Roadhouse Brewing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Gavin Fine: When I’m not busy with Roadhouse or my restaurants, I’m spending time with my family. I’m a Chicago boy at heart so depending on the season, you can find me rooting for my Cubs and Blackhawks.
Colby Cox: Adventure travel is what I love most. I’ve been paragliding all over the world since 2006, and I can never get enough of that. I like going new places, meeting new people, and flying, skiing, eating, and drinking with them.
What was the last concert you attended for fun?
Gavin Fine: Speaking of the Cubs, my last concert was an impromptu performance by Eddie Vedder — who is also a huge Cubs fan — at a tiny venue in Boston after the Cubs won the World Series. Eddie Vedder and the Cubs. My worlds collided. It was amazing, something I will never forget.
Colby Cox: I still go to a lot of concerts. My last one was Phish at Dick’s in Denver last Labor Day Weekend. I’ve seen U2 at Slain Castle in Ireland, Pink Floyd at RFK Stadium, and I’ve been to countless music festivals. I love music. Neil, our director of sales, and I have been to over 300 Phish shows combined, which is why you see a lot of Phish references in our beers. But I love most styles of music and prefer it live and uncut.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Gavin Fine: Go Cubs!
Colby Cox: You are better served by the words of Hesion, “In all things, moderation,” than you are by those of Nancy Reagan, “Just Say No.” Then again, Neil Young said “its better to burn out than to fade away,” which acknowledges neither abstinence nor discretion. I think the key is to be true to yourself, wherever that may take you. And don’t be an a**hole.