Industry: Brewing & Beverage
Brewmaster Bryan Selders makes beer that's approachable and flavorful -- and pairs great with chicken.
"Our beers are very deeply rooted in American brewing tradition, but we take a fairly modern approach to them," says Selders. "So they have very nice, modern flavors, but they're gently nostalgic and slightly, un-ironically retro. If you look at our packaging, you can see some nods to vintage brewery packaging. And that's really important to me, especially for this brand."
Selders discusses the brewery's growth: "Production [for 2016] will be about 2,300 barrels, which is a 65 percent increase over last year. Our first year we produced 850 barrels of beer. That's healthy growth, which helps keep our beer under our control, so it's easier to assure great quality."
Since the brewery launched in 2014, Selders has concocted 36 different beers, ranging the gamut from a Baltic Porter to a Berliner Weiss to a wet hop ale to a rye lager. If he makes a beer over 7 percent alcohol by volume (which he does, often enough), he feels like he's pushing it. Selders generously admits, "I don't want to incapacitate people."
His preference is for "simple, thoroughly fermented" beer. "I like making yeast happy," explains Selders. "It's pretty much my job as a brewer."
Selders previously brewed in Delaware at the legendary Dogfish Head. He's made beers reaching up to 23 percent alcohol, which he calls a "fun, technical challenge." Selders says, "I learned how to make yeast do things it doesn't necessarily want to do." He's responsible for developing unique, cult favorites like Namaste, Noble Rot, and Palo Santo Marron (utilizing the brewery's unique, large wooden tank made from palo santo wood). Working at Dogfish Head, Selders gained a broad base of technical knowledge, as well as a "lifelong friend" in owner Sam Calagione. Besides beer, the two even collaborated on a boozy, satirical rap act called The Pain Relievaz.
In 2011, Selders, now 42, decided to switch careers and become a graphic and web designer. He had a stellar first year -- never wanting to put on boots and brew again. However, Selders spent his second year looking for a new brewery job.
Family in Lafayette, a company culture that was the right fit for him, and a "killer opportunity to make beautiful, simple beers and build a brand" -- all those factors brought him to Colorado.
The Post Brewing Company began as the brainstorm of Dave Query, owner of Big Red F Restaurant Group, who'd envisioned opening a chicken-and-beer-centric restaurant. That concept soon developed into a chicken restaurant and brewery. Selders works closely with The Post's chefs, who make a wide range of comfort food -- the restaurant's culinary theme. "We share ideas and really try to help each other complement what the other one's doing," says Selders.
Not only is Selders brewing for The Post's Lafayette, Longmont, and soon-to-open Denver location on South Broadway ("There are a lot of great people down there excited for us to open," he says), the beer is distributed throughout the entire restaurant group. As an example, he's updated the recipe for a Mexican lager called Top Rope for Centro Mexican Kitchen, Zolo Grill, and Lola Coastal Mexican.
But Selders says that the Mexican lager doesn't just go well with Mexican food: "Top Rope and fried chicken are fantastic together."
The Post also makes a spicy chicken, which Selders suggests pairing with Rooster Cruiser Imperial IPA. "It's a big bully of a beer that can really stand up to that heat," he says.
Elkhorn Lager is a dark American lager made from two-row barley malt, two types of crystal malt, flaked maize, and Sterling hops, which give the beer "herbal and peppery flavors and aroma." It's also one of Selders' go-to beers when he's chowing down on The Post's pressure-fried chicken, with its crisp, browned, herb-accented, non-oily exterior, and juicy interior. Selders says of Elkhorn, "Paired with fried chicken, it's totally delicious. You've got these nice, roasty-toasty flavors without being acrid or astringent. Nice round malt flavor. So it's a nice malt-forward beer."
Then there's Selders' yeast-forward beers: The Post Brewing Company won a gold at the 2016 GABF for its saison. Its inviting aromas spring out, and it displays a hint of apricot in its pleasantly-lingering flavor. "We use a French saison yeast strain for this beer, which puts forth very beautiful fruity esters and nice spicy phenols," Selders says. "It finishes dry, very gently tart. . . . There's this nice, soft pillowy malt flavor that really supports a beautiful mouthfeel." The brewery serves it up on tap, as well as bottle-conditioning it. The beer's name, Achtertuin Seizoen, translates as "backyard season" in Dutch, an homage to the days Selders spent as a high-school exchange student in the Netherlands, sharing food and drink with his host family in their beloved backyard.
Walking into The Post, customers immediately see food being prepared in front of their eyes at the open kitchen. The conversational level is pitched. Between customers, servers, bartenders, and cooks, there's a bee's hive of activity. A bar with 12 beers on tap sits near the front; tables are situated throughout. It's the making of a comfortably chic brewpub experience in eastern Boulder County, which is "a little rougher around the edges [than Boulder], blue-collar working class, more salt of the earth," describes Selders. "Lafayette is awesome!"
But, if you don't have children (who are welcome in the front hall), and you want a little more subdued – yet by no means pulseless -- experience, take a trip back into the past in the back room at The Post. It has a retro, Elks Lodge-meets-VFW feel. Its muted lighting and shuffleboard table in the back remind Selders of Walt's Place, his late grandfather's bar in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Some of The Post's award medals hang down from mounted antlers.
The Post Brewing Company is actually located within a former VFW hall: VFW Post 1771. Everybody in town knew the building from weddings and special events as "The Post," so the founders decided to keep the name.
One of the The Post Brewing Company's tap accounts is now with that very same VFW post, which moved to nearby South Boulder Road. And while some might suppose that the vets are strictly Bud-Bud Light, Coors-Coors Light drinkers, Selders says, "They're plowing through a keg of this saison right now."
And, although Selders is referring to those very same veterans, what he adds might just apply to Colorado beer drinkers as well: "We've broadened their horizons."
Favorite beers: Selders calls himself "a big aficionado" of American corn beers. In addition to praising Straub from Pennsylvania, he calls Lord Chesterfield Ale by Yuengling his "summer beer of choice."
Selders says, "Lord Chesterfield Ale -- beautiful corn beer. It's actually a lager (but we don't have to tell anybody). . . . So after we moved from Delaware, I no longer had access to Lord Chesterfield – unless I went there to drink it and brought it back with me in my checked bags. But, I'm a fairly resourceful guy and I can make things, so Ol' Zippy Premium American Ale is a beer based loosely on the sensation of drinking Lord Chesterfield. It's not a clone; it just fills the void in my life. . . . It's crisp, snappy in its hop character, and just utterly refreshing."
He adds, "Using corn as an ingredient in beer has a rich history in American brewing -- and it's a really great ingredient. I mean, it dries things out, it makes things refreshing and crisp, but it also offers this beautiful, subtle sweetness in the finish of a beer that you can't get without corn. And I don't think it's responsible, as American craft brewers, to kind of turn our shoulder and have disdain towards such a traditional American ingredient. I think we should embrace it and use it for all it's worth."
Challenges: "Finding our place for growth in a crowded market is a little bit challenging," says Selders. "And finding the right story by which to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the brewers in the state is a challenge. And I think we're making great progress in doing that, and we're able to offer unique beers within our story that we're telling."
Opportunities: "Identifying our space in the craft beer market and capitalizing on it," says Selders. "That's our greatest opportunity. We've got a great brand, delicious beers. A great team behind us to support us -- both with our in-house sales force as well as with our distribution partners getting behind our brand. It's a huge opportunity for us. And, really, one great thing that helps us is that we have a network of 10 other restaurants in the state to be brand ambassadors for us, as well."
Needs: Selders is a technical, lab-minded brewer; the first piece of equipment he bought for the startup was a microscope, not brewing tanks. He purchased some of his lab equipment -- dating back to the '80s, yet still perfectly usable -- secondhand at a CU auction, so Selders wants his corporate office to know the following: "I need a new window in the lab, because it's really drafty and allows dust and contaminants into the workspace. The good thing is we haven't seen any cross contamination on any of our microbiological tests. . . . But it still sucks. But, in addition to that, since it's winter, it gets really cold in there, and it [messes] with some of our instrumentation. And that's not great, it's not ideal. So I need a window. Get me a window."
He adds, "Really, not that many needs. I'm not that needy. I'm resourceful. I find things that I need inexpensively, and try to make good choices."