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A priest, a policewoman and a lawyer walk into a bar …
That could be the lead-in to a joke, but at Peticolas Brewing Co., it represents the culture that defines the brewery and how it operates.
“Every person is an individual,” says Chris Martinez, head brewer and a former financial adviser. “We all love beer. We have a passion for beer.”
Thirteen of the 14 employees who brew, sell and distribute Peticolas beers, such as Velvet Hammer and Golden Opportunity, did not have experience in the beer industry before being hired. Instead, the group — often called the Peti-“cult”-as — volunteered their free time to learn the inner workings of the brewery.
We talked to several employees about how their roles help the brewery operate and what they enjoy about working for Peticolas.
On mornings at Peticolas Brewing Co., Michael Peticolas starts his day the same way he started his brewery — with passion and excitement.
He asks his brewers about new recipes, talks to his sales and distribution team about different methods for delivering beer, and questions taproom management on how they can better get feedback from customers.
Peticolas says that he is the glue that holds things together at his namesake brewery, because he oversees all operations in its three departments: the production brewery, its distribution business and a taproom. But it’s envisioning the future of the company and implementing new ideas that keep him most busy.
“Planning and charting our path is what I do day-to-day,” he says.
Peticolas says his goal is not to be a big brewery — he wants to be a great brewery. That is why local beer drinkers only see his beer on tap. Peticolas wants to preserve the quality of his beer and believes having it in a can or bottle won’t suffice.
After the beer’s quality, Peticolas believes culture is the second most important aspect of running a successful brewery. He wants every employee to believe that there’s no job too big or too small. He wants employees to contribute ideas that improve the brewery and be unafraid to make mistakes.
“I celebrate that stuff and make sure everyone else understands that we are going to make mistakes,” Peticolas says. “But we’re going to overcome those mistakes, and it’s going to make us better because of it.”
The five brewers at Peticolas do more than just brew beer, fulfilling different responsibilities that go beyond their job descriptions. From brewing and pitching new recipes to posting pictures on Instagram and cleaning toilets, everyone gets their hands dirty.
“We all wear different hats,” Martinez says. “If you’re not a humble person and you’re not willing to do the dirty work, this industry is not for you.”
Part of the necessity for a strong work ethic at Peticolas stems from the way the company brews its beer. Instead of relying on automated machines, all brew house operations are done manually. This requires brewers to physically mix ingredients while they are being brewed, scrape raw materials out of vats once brewing is complete, and oversee the timing of the whole process.
That’s the hardest part of the job for Georgina Solis, a brewer, former police officer and one of two women in the company. Peticolas doesn’t use machines to equalize the physical labor for men and women.
“You have to be up there and use this giant stainless-steal rake,” Solis says. “It’s a workout.”
According to Jordan Pratt, cellarman and former seminary student, teamwork and efficiency are the most important aspects to ensuring the brew house operates efficiently — running a manual brewery requires precision.
Pratt hand-counts the brewery’s inventory and creates a plan for how many beers are needed for kegs every day. The beer needs to get made, he says, regardless of each person’s job or title.
Peticolas’ sales, distribution and taproom management teams are dedicated to being honest, friendly and down to earth. Grayson Hall, head of sales and distribution, says he doesn’t want pushy salespeople; he needs folks who can immediately respond to customer calls and questions.
“We’re next-day turnaround on everything,” he says.
The hardest part of the job? Competing in a saturated market, Hall says. When Peticolas opened in 2011, there were a handful of microbreweries in the area. Now, there are about 60, and that means intense competition for taps at bars and restaurants.
Michael Finley, the taproom and events manager who formerly worked with the Garland Symphony Orchestra, says everyone at Peticolas strives to make sure the brewery embodies the same values as the people who work there.
And that’s Peticolas Brewing Co.’s key to success.
“It’s not just about me,” Peticolas says. “It’s about the role of all of us and how you fit those pieces together to generate the best result.”