The Lost Vette Brewing Story
A tale of how it all got started …
I guess the best place to begin the story is when I started drinking beer… that was a few years back. Let’s call it the late 70’s! I remember two things about beer back then; 1) we couldn’t get Coors and everyone said it was the greatest beer in the world, and 2) for some reason my stepfather loved Busch beer. If he was playing golf, he was drinking Busch beer. Thanks Dick for teaching me the real purpose of playing golf or at least giving me a great place to start drinking beer!
But let’s fast forward from there to the early 90’s. This is when the brewing and Corvettes really come into the picture. During the summers of 1992 and 1993 I met two guys, who still to this day don’t know one another, that were into this thing called homebrewing. The two guys were Scott “Beer-2k” Osborne and Steve “Funky Boss” Mills. Thank you guys for helping me get started, and for helping me become a brewing ambassador!
By 1994 Steve and Scott had really jumped into making their own beers and knew a lot about the process, where to get ingredients, tips for not screwing it up, and how to drink as much beer as you can produce! At this point I had already asked Santa for a Brew Kit and he (actually she) delivered. It was a Billington’s MicroBrewery Kit that included everything a newcomer needed for their first brew; a glass carboy, a bucket, a can of syrup that was a blended extract of malted barley and hops that you simply added water and boiled, some brewers yeast, and some corn sugar. Let’s just say the beer was drinkable but not something I ever want to repeat!
About that same time (October of 1994) an old friend of mine named Scott “Lumpy” Hudson decided he needed to buy a truck instead of driving around in a car… his 1986 Corvette… in Lubbock apparently trucks carry more clout than Corvettes! He remembered me saying, “if you ever decide to sell it call me first”, so he did. I caught a ride to Lubbock the next day with my ‘golfing’ buddy Brad “JJ” Gray and picked it up. Man what a ride… all I recall is I drove from Lubbock to Dallas in a very short amount of time!
In 1995 I really started to learn and experiment. I made 5 different batches of beer during the first 7- months. My batches were 5 gallons and a combination of all extracts and partial mashes. In December of 1995 I was exposed to the wonderful world of Brew on Premise (BOP) and the “need” to brew in bigger batches. The BOP was a place my ole pal Mike “Hop Head” Moses (a.k.a. the Lost Vette Grainmeister) was a member of in Fort Collins CO. It was called the Beer Store and had 6, fifteen gallon steam-jacketed kettles (large manly grunt goes here!). Mike and I brewed a Brown Ale that was awesome!
Well… in 1996 it was time for a BOP in Texas! Yes, a business plan was developed, lawyers were consulted, and Texas laws were questioned. Although the idea seemed good, Texas laws just weren’t going to make this endeavor easy. Plus, it appeared that Texas beer drinkers really wanted Bud Light, Miller Lite, etc. and craft beers just didn’t have much of a following. Needless to say, I gave up on the idea after several months/years and just kept brewing in 5 gallon batches.
By 1999 Mike “Hop Head” Moses had moved to Dallas. It didn’t take long for the two of us to start brewing more often and 10 gallons at a time (we had 2 large pots on the stove – it made for some interesting times). We had also decided to start venturing into the “all grain” brewing territory. We really didn’t have all the right equipment, but we pieced together mash tuns, laughter tuns, sparge arms, and worked our way through it. By 2005 “all grain” was all we did!
In 2005 a few things happened… my daughter turned 16 and needed a car and “Marathon” Mark White and I were doing a lot of running together (how else can you drink liters of beer and not gain 100 lbs!). Well the Corvette was not an option for a 16 year old, and parking was going to be a problem if we added another vehicle to our fleet. As Marathon Mark and I ran around White Rock Lake one morning I posed the problems for the day… how can I brew in bigger batches and where can I park more vehicles? Not related at the time, but here we go…
By the end of 2005 and into the first part of 2006 Mark and I discussed several solutions to the “problems of the day” questions. I should note that for years Mark headed up manufacturing at Morgan Buildings & Spas, and he also knows how to weld. At first Mark and I had an idea for building a garage using one of Morgan’s standard plans and simply putting together a brewing platform to hold 3 kettles made of old kegs. The old kegs would hold 15.5 gallons and allow us to brew at least 10-12 gallons at a time. As in all good plans, the more you get into it the more you realize you need to find out!
The plan for the garage was a problem. The City has a sewer easement running right down the middle of where we wanted to put the building, and because of a few 100 year old trees in my yard, moving to a new location was not an option. In addition, Mike and I had decided that if we really wanted to brew on a larger scale, 10-12 gallons wasn’t really taking us to new ground. We were already doing 10 gallons using pots and the stove!
Mark and I then went to work a new building design. We determined we could design the building as a one-car garage with a carport, and then design a hinge in the roof that would allow the carport to collapse/fold down. We presented this to the City engineers to get their opinions and they told us if we could get the Board of Adjustments to approve a variance they would be OK with the design. Mark, Mike, my next door neighbor Eddie “Little Debbie” Baldwin, and I presented the design to the Board of Adjustments and passed with a unanimous 8-0 vote.
In the mean time I had done extensive research online about brew systems. I looked at homemade systems, large brew kettle, you name it. When it was all said and done I determined the best way to go was a 27 gallon custom built brew sculpture made by Beer More Beer. Essentially they have been building these types of systems for years and really worked through all the smallest details. The systems are extremely well thought out and all you have to do is choose from their menu of options, put down a deposit, and they hand build your the system. I put down my deposit in April 2006!
In all the design excitement, the realization hit that the Corvette needed to go. The basic reason didn’t change, we still needed more room, but spending cash on concrete, a one car garage and folding carport, permits and variances, and a new brew sculpture really accentuated the issue. Besides, it needed a good home… it only had 80k miles and it wasn’t getting driven much anymore. I should note I also decided to sell my sailboat. It was taking up some valuable space in our existing garage and I hadn’t used it in a long time either. So, out went the Corvette and sailboat… in came the Brew Sculpture and garage with carport (a.k.a. The Brewhaus)!
The last part of the story is the name. It’s not that hard to figure out after you’ve read to this point of the story. I lost the Vette and built a Brewhaus… hence Lost Vette Brewing. LoveBrewing.com was simply a matter of luck. Everyone was asking for updates and photos of the Brew Sculpture and the Brewhaus. A website seemed like an easy solution. I started to register LostVette.com or LVBrewing.com but they seemed overly complicated to tell people and have those people later remember… especially after a few homebrews! Once again simplicity won out… people always seem to remember I love brewing!