A BREWERY 30 YEARS IN
(Interview with a Bonemaster)
by Rich DiVerniero
It was the late 80s when I brewed my first beer, a mimic of a popular Irish stout. I remember reading the classified section of Field and Stream magazine, seeing an ad for homebrewing supplies and saying, “Wait, you can brew your own beer?” The beer landscape at the time was nothing like it is today. If you wanted something other than a pale, bland lager you often had to seek out imports or, like I did, make it yourself. From there, it was decades of reading, learning and practicing… a series of trial and error experiments that eventually led to a brewing diary packed with handwritten recipes and notes (many beer-stained) that I still utilize today. This hobby that was born out of necessity eventually became a passion.
Well, then life took over. I was off to medical school, where I worked hard for four years while still brewing beer and drawing brewery plans many nights instead of studying. I married my high school sweetheart, had kids (5 of them), went through residency, became an orthopaedic surgeon (had to work with power tools somehow), built a practice and a life and continued to love and brew beer, while also learning the importance of family. Marrying into a big family came with benefits, one of the best being my brothers-in-law. As the years went by, our family sat around countless tables having countless discussions about life, the most popular theme being starting a family business. We considered everything from car washes to ice cream stores, but we always came back to the same thing, a brewery.
Fast forward to the early 90s. I was still brewing beer, but it was time to enter the real world. A do-it-yourselfer from birth, I was attending graduate school while working full time as an auto mechanic and running a custom golf club repair and assembly business. I had a few potential career paths in mind, one of which was opening a production brewery in my home town in New Jersey. At the time, the craft brewing industry was in its infancy and I had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor. Then, I received an acceptance letter to medical school and my choice became clear. I was going to open a brewery! Well, maybe not. In reality I had no resources for what seemed such a big dream, so I listened to my dad who said, “Son, go to medical school, you can always open a brewery later”.
In 2012, the State of NJ made some monumental changes for the craft brewing industry and the future became clear. Now, WE could open a brewery! I formed a partnership with my brother-in-law, David Doe, who possesses a skill set totally different, but complementary to my own. While I’m more of nuts and bolts, hands-on guy, Dave is a financial wizard. He has a brilliant business mind and is a distinguished leader with many years of financial management, accounting, marketing and business operations experience. With a beautiful wife (his high school sweetheart) and three children of his own, the concept of family grew.
Ok, let’s open a brewery! Not so fast. How do we do that when neither one of us has any commercial brewery or taproom experience, nor do we have any intention of quitting our very busy day jobs? Wait a minute, FAMILY. Another brother-in-law, Alan Doe, living in Florida with his wife (yep, high school sweetheart) and two children, has restaurant, bar and taproom management experience spanning decades, that ranges from a hometown nanobrewery to “the happiest place on Earth”. How perfect to have a specialist in launching new restaurants and bars for the biggest family resort in the world right here in our family! Now, what about commercial beer brewing? Sure, we can crank out the best 10-gallon batches around, but that won’t go very far in a busy taproom. We needed someone with the experience and expertise to help make our dreams a reality.
Enter brewmaster AJ Stoll. A rock star in the brewing world. A virtuoso with hops, barley and yeast, and although he’s not family by blood or marriage, he has certainly become family by passion and commitment. His achievements include over 100 medals in international brewing competitions, among them 4 gold, 5 silver and 6 bronze medals at the Great American Beer Festival as well as gold, silver and bronze at the World Beer Cup. According to the noted brewing authority Beer Advocate, AJ Stoll “…is a genius. He has created one of the most memorable collections of artisan beers in America and, perhaps the world.”
So, there you have it. It’s been a long time coming, but finally the dream really is about to become a reality. We have a very simple philosophy at Bonesaw: Do it right, do it with passion, and surround yourself with the best people. We believe that like family, flavor runs deep.
We are Bonesaw Brewing Co, Craft to the Core, and look forward to bringing you the Cure for all Ales.
Rich, Dave, Alan and AJ