6 Bears and a Goat Brewing Co.
Kyle Moore of 6 BEARS AND A GOAT BREWING CO. is this month’s Business Spotlight: a series interviewing makers and designers who use and enjoy our products.
We got interested in 6B1G because their coasters always made us laugh and because we knew the 6 Bears and a Goat name must have a good story behind it. It does! Kyle explains the name – along with what happens when a group of buddies dedicated to community, craft-brewing, and enjoying “retirement” get together to start a brew house.
Your coaster artwork caught our attention because it’s always very clever and funny.
Where do you get ideas for the designs and do you prepare the art yourselves
6 Bears & a Goat Brewing Co., LLC (6B&G) is named after its founders – and the mascots of their respective military service. The six Bears are retirees from the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Goat is a retiree from the U.S. Navy. While we are very serious about brewing beer, we want to have fun doing it, and our name is indicative of that… as is our approach to coaster designs.
We get our design ideas from a number of sources, including our love of puns, rhymes, word associations, old proverbs, Dr. Seuss stories, cartoons, extinct and exotic animals, nautical trivia, cryptozoology, and, of course, bear and goat expressions and sayings.
Our artwork is prepared by people ranging from professional artists, like Sarah Forman, a graphic artist who owns Foggy London Towne and who gave our beer can designs their unique look, to children of visiting patrons, like Miss Abby Grace, who created a masterpiece while waiting for her meal to arrive. We also use old family photos and anything we find online or in the public domain that catches our eye or can help increase our brand recognition.
Are the coasters made for everyday use in your brew house or just for special events?
Do a lot of your guests want to take them home as souvenirs?
All of our coasters are designed for everyday use in the brew house, although we do create specific coasters to use for special events, occasions and holidays. We try to use each coaster as long as possible, but are happy to see them walk out the door as souvenirs – especially if it connects a customer to 6B&G and creates a long-term relationship in the process!
After creating over 100 different coaster designs, the most interesting thing about people taking coasters home as souvenirs is learning which designs they best connect with. One of the most popular designs at the moment is a very simple depiction of 6 bears & a goat using emoticons. While some of the designs take hours to create, this coaster took all of three minutes, from idea to completion. Go figure!
What inspired you to start a brewing company and what do you enjoy most about it?
14 years ago, the same seven owners started Harkcon, Inc., a Fredericksburg-based company that provides customized solutions to improve organizational performance for government agencies and private businesses. When it came time to expand and diversify their business line, the idea for a brewery was born (we’re all former sailors; we needed a place to drink beer and tell our sea stories somewhere ashore!).
Each of the seven of us would most likely have a different answer to this question. We all agree that three of the most enjoyable things about having a Brewery are:
• Taking pride in knowing you’ve manufactured something (beer) of high quality that people enjoy. Said slightly differently, there is real joy in executing both the art and science of brewing beer, then being told by customers that it is a valuable and desired commodity that keeps bringing them back for more.
• The Brewery itself has become a community gathering place; a central hub of activity where folks come to chat, socialize, formally meet and celebrate life. It’s fun to know we are that place.
• Finally, what we really enjoy about the craft brewing business is the people involved. From the seven of us continuing to work together, to our amazing brewery team, to our customers and fans, each person brings a little something to the adventure. It’s great fun and very satisfying to walk through the Brew House and see families or groups of friends enjoying each other over a pint of our beer!
Your beer selection is intriguing and diverse; you definitely offer something for everyone. Are you always experimenting with new recipes and how do you decide what’s next?
In a word, yes.
Our beer philosophy is “simply better brew.” 6B&G’s Head Brewer, a retired Marine (rounding out our military sea service “trifecta”), is a certified beer judge with vast brewing technology experience. He pours his heart and soul into crafting deliberately simple, delicious beers true to style that offer distinguishable but subtle enhancements, enriching our customers’ experience.
In our experience, there’s a craft beer style for every palate. Craft beer doesn’t have to be heavy in taste or high in alcohol content (ABV), it just needs to be well balanced and taste great. We’re constantly researching the craft beer industry, seeking feedback from our staff, customers
and distributor, and experimenting as we look for our next big style or flavor. We’re currently refining our gluten-free beer recipe and working on our first alcohol-free craft beer.
One coaster (with a photo of a seal) reads: “Each 6B1G beer recipe undergoes rigorous testing before obtaining a seal of approval” Can you share these testing methods with us? Is that one of your favorite duties?
The specific testing methods of our beer are the “secret sauce” of the brewing process. Generally speaking, our Head Brewer first makes sure he hits all of his “numbers” with respect to hopiness, alcohol content, color, and so on. Then comes the actual tasting, and again, the Head Brewer (as a highly-experienced certified beer judge) and his team know what a “good” beer is supposed to taste like, and what qualities a particular style must have. If those standards are not met, the beer never sees the light of day. And of course, the most important testing method is paying close attention to the reaction from our customers. Ultimately, our customers rule; if they like it and want more, then it’s
While perusing your website, we enjoyed reading about how much thought and symbolism went into your logo. It truly reflects your values of commitment to service and community. Is one of your brew house goals to create community connections? Do you ever hold special events for that purpose?
patriotism. service. community. These time-honored values were instilled in us as children and reinforced during our military careers, and have become the guideposts for conducting our personal and professional lives. These values guide how we conduct business at 6B&G.
We believe in making a positive difference in our community. We encourage volunteer involvement at all levels within the company, promote engagement and participation in community-sponsored events and activities, and honor those individuals and charitable organizations that help others. We also promote and support local musicians, small businesses, and charities whenever possible.
Creating community connections is important to us. We want everyone to feel that 6B&G is “their” brewery and brew house. Last year, in order to help create this atmosphere, we started a monthly speaker series entitled “Learning Over Beer (LOB) Talks” – our mini version of TED Talks. The hour-long talks, which are free to the public, offer a variety of speakers and topics – something for everyone. The diversity of the LOB Talks has introduced many new customers to the Brew House and created many new partnerships within the region.
We noticed that although you’ve only been in the brew business for a few years, you’ve already won awards and have beer for sale in a long list of regional stores. Congratulations! What makes you so successful?
Thank you. There are an incredible number of amazing craft breweries in the U. S., and we consider ourselves fortunate to be included as part of the business.
Our success stems from the hard work of a lot of people – including our dedicated and highly talented Head Brewer, our professional and
fun-loving kitchen and wait staff; our committed and passionate volunteers and brand ambassadors, and our distributor, Virginia Eagle Distributing Company. Finally, it goes without saying that we wouldn’t be successful if we didn’t have the support of all of our loyal customers.
Why did you choose Evermine for your coasters?
Two years ago, when we were starting out, we decided to use a small number of coasters as marketing material. Luckily, we stumbled onto Evermine early on in the process, and found your Do It Yourself (DIY) “Custom Beer Coasters” tab on your website. The user interface was easy to understand and use, and the results were everything we had hoped for – the coasters had a professional look and feel that we were proud to display.
As we grew, and the demand for more coasters increased, an Evermine representative reached out to us and recommended we establish a business account to save money. This customer focus, along with your commitment to quality and quick turn-around time, made the decision to stay with you an easy one. In the two years we’ve been an Evermine customer, we’ve never had a problem with any of our orders (which, with over 100 designs, can be large and confusing). Evermine is the type of company we like to do business with!
Here’s a photo of the “Hall of Coasters,” a hallway within the Brew House where we’ve framed a copy of each of the coasters we’ve ordered from Evermine.
As residents of Portland, OR, we love a great brewpub. After reading about 6B1G beers, food and events (especially the LOB talks), we wish you were local to us! Plus you sound like the kind of good folk we’d like to hang out with. Thank you for taking the time to write such thorough and interesting answers to our questions. Cheers to you! We wish you much continued success and we look forward to seeing your new coaster designs.