For years, the outdoor industry and the craft beer industry have been carrying on an illicit love affair which has spawned multiple successful breweries across the country. But after this year’s Great American Beer Festival, it’s clear that one love child from the booming relationship is ready to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
The faces and minds behind Melvin Brewing in Jackson, Wyoming are on a roll right now. In September, the Melvin crew brought home a gold medal for their Chchchch-Cherry Bomb, a bronze medal for the Melvin IPA, and the “Small Brewpub of the Year” award at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony—which is huge feat—considering the brewery has been operating out of a 180 square-foot space since it’s inception in 2009. The story of Melvin Brewing begins with a self-proclaimed “SKID” (ski kid), afflicted by a heavy case of Peter Pan-syndrome, who becomes the owner of a small thai restaurant in Wyoming, allowing him to snowboard all day and work at night. Eventually wanderlust called, and Jeremy Tofte, co-founder of Melvin Brewing, packed up his things, sold his restaurant, and headed out on an epic surf trip around the world. But Wyoming was never far from his mind, and Tofte would eventually be lured back to Jackson to try to revive his former restaurant which had reached a low point after the change in ownership.
As a last ditch effort to save the once popular eatery, Tofte sold his car, which netted him enough money for a twenty-gallon system that he installed in the prep area of his restaurant’s kitchen. Now operating on a three-barrel system, Tofte and his team are in the process of finishing up the installation of a thirty-barrel system on which they’ll continue to brew beers that can be found on tap at the Thai Me Up as well as a few select bars in outdoor adventure towns across the country.
“We have a really bad business model,” said Tofte who is an avid outdoor enthusiast. “It’s called just sending beer to places that we can surf and snowboard.” Aside from taps in Wyoming, Melvin brews can also be found in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. The brewery is also working on plans to distribute to Alaska in the near future to ensure routine Heli-skiing trips each year. Along with securing more draft accounts across the United States, Melvin Brewing is also working with Boulder, Colorado-based company, Wild Goose Canning, to start packaging select Melvin beers in twenty-two ounce bottles and twelve ounce cans to send out to states they are currently distributing in. And if that isn’t enough, craft beer fans in Bellingham, Washington can expect to start patronizing a second Melvin Brewing brewpub location which is expected to open in Bellingham in the spring of 2016. And with winter in Jackson just around the corner, of course the Melvin crew is also busy constructing a quarter pipe up against the side of the brewery. But even with all of the big plans on tap for the near future, Tofte and his crew continue to make time to explore the beautiful and enticing mountains that surround their brewery and call and inspire them around the globe.
“Everyone that likes the outdoors like we like outdoors is into quality,” said Tofte. “Quality of life. Quality food. And quality beverages. We just want the best in life.”