With all of the arts-oriented festivals and events coming up here on the Shore, from Art X to the National Folk Festival to the 10th annual Brews on the Beach, we decided to take the time to celebrate another lesser-known but exceedingly valuable form of art: the art of craft. Beer, that is.
Here, in these “Art of the Craft” profiles, we sit down with talented local brewers and find out what draws one to this particular art form.
In Delmar, De, 3rd Wave Brewing Co.‘s co-owner and brewery manager Lori Clough fell into the world of craft brewing after she couldn’t find work lounging on the beach as a suntan lotion tester.
How did you initially become involved in the brewing industry?
My business partner [3rd Wave co-owner Suellen Vickers] and I had been homebrewing for awhile. We enjoyed it, it was fun and we could see that the industry was getting bigger, and Evolution was moving out of this building. The opportunity presented itself, and if we didn’t buy it, someone else was going to buy this brewery.
I can’t say that it was a dream of mine, but once we started talking about it, it did become that… My dream was always to work for a suntan lotion company and test lotion all over the world. I’ll just go lay on the beach, like ‘yeah, this one worked good on this beach.’
What have you learned since becoming a brewery owner?
I learned that I can do more things than I ever thought I could do, and that there are so many good people in this industry… I learned that I’m more resilient than I probably ever thought I was, as far as mean things online — Comments on Untappd or something, I’m just like, that does not upset me.
When we first started, I would go to things with John, because John was my only employee at the time. John and I would do all the events and people thought I was either his mother or he was the owner, they’re looking at me as a 50-something year old woman. If you do see women in the industry it’s the younger 25, 30, 35-year-old women. You also wouldn’t see the owner pouring beer at events. But I did all the events for years, and I still will do some.
I’ve learned things about myself, the industry, about having a good work ethic and putting out a good product, and to hire and support good people.
What advice would you offer someone aspiring to open a craft brewery?
Right now the industry is saturated. My advice would be to open a brewpub, so you have a restaurant to fall back on. That would be my advice. Pay attention to the trends of the day. I’ve tried to discourage a few people from sinking their life savings into opening a brewery. It’s a tough business and if you don’t have a lot of backing support, a lot of financial backing, it’s a tough business.
What’s your favorite beer that 3rd Wave makes?
I like the BeachBreak apricot wheat. Overall, the Big Reef Porter.