Brewer Bytes with Allagash Brewing Co.
An Interview with Rob Tod, Founder and Owner
Posted on 11/8/2012 by Chops
When it comes to bragging rights in the brewing world, few breweries can boast what the Allagash Brewing Company can. They possess the ability to craft high quality Belgian beers... in the United States. As we all know, Belgians are the luxury models of craft beer. They are extremely difficult to get right and require some serious skill to produce. This is why Allagash is so highly regarded in the craft beer world. Their delicious bottle conditioned brews sit on the same beer shelves as the kings of Belgium brewing. This is also why we were quite honored when founder and owner Rob Tod agreed to partake in some Brewer Bytes.

Do you have a fond memory about building your brewery?

Good timing on this question and I'll combine it with the next... We were in our original building (which we leased and is next door to our current facility) from 1994-2007. We just had the opportunity to buy this building and are in the process of moving back in. We're going to expand our experimental, barrel aged, etc beer projects in this space.

The space looks a little different now, but all the original drainage trenches are still there. Walking around and watching it getting cleaned back up was bringing back a lot of memories. I was recalling the week (I)we saw-cut and jack-hammered those trenches out, then dug them out by hand to install the sewer piping. Like most of the early projects, it was long hours, dirty, tiring, and hardly anyone stopped by. So to be honest, I don't look back to "fondly" on some of those days! But, back then I was working with my hands, and involved with almost everything that happened at the brewery, and stuff was much simpler. That part of it I do really miss and look back fondly on...

How do you feel about your overall success today?

I'm thrilled with it, but the pace these days hardly gives me much of a chance to think about it. I don't want to take any of the credit though... we have an AMAZING team at the brewery. I say this all the time: No one shows up, punches in, does the minimum, and leaves. Everyone on our crew is engaged and motivated to make things better at every turn, no matter what they are doing. As a result of all their dedication and effort, we've been blessed with healthy growth. It's one of my primary focuses to always be improving with everything we do, and I think we're on that track.

Where do you see your brewery in the future?

I'd like us to keep focusing on innovation, quality and sustainability, and work on making Allagash a continually better place for employees & their families. We are not motivated by growth for the sake of volume, BUT, the growth we've recently experienced has enabled us to make improvements in all of these aspects of the brewery. For example, we never would have had the resources to install a Coolship back in the 90's, but our increased volume has enabled us launch this program, which has been a lot of fun! We've also recently been able to invest in equipment that makes us more sustainable, and allows to improve quality by looking at things like Parts Per Billion of oxygen (negatively effects shelf life) in our beer at different stages of the brewing process. Finally, it's my hope that we can continue to make Allagash a more fun and engaging place to work, and offer great benefits. In a nutshell, there are lots of things we can keep improving... but increasing volume for the sake of volume is definitely not one of our goals...

What do you feel sets you apart from other brewers?

We have a great crew at the brewery, and we encourage everyone to innovate. We have a small (10 gallon) system. Anyone, regardless of their role at the brewery, who has a beer idea that could possibly be scaled up to a full size batch is able to get some time on the pilot system to experiment with their brew. The result is that we have a continuous flow of new ideas. Giving our drinkers (and ourselves!) new flavor experiences with beer has always been a huge motivator to everyone at the brewery, and this program plays a big part in those new experiences.

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Rob Tod, Founder and Owner of the Allagash Brewing Company
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