Music, Art, & Beer:
A quick glance at the Furthermore website and graphics reveals an interest in music and the arts. Chris - "Aran has a degree in fine arts. I have a degree in literature. Visual art speaks to both of us and there’s a rich arts community in Spring Green as well as in Madison. That is our major community touch point. The music is sort of me. I’m an absolute music freak. I am in a band. I’m not saying the band is necessarily great, but its part of my life and its nice when you can dovetail your various interests.
But from a business standpoint let’s look at it this way. The minute you start making beer everybody who has something they want sponsored starts contacting you. You have to make decisions about what to support. We like music and we like art. So we’ve sponsored music and art shows. Generally speaking anybody who loves art is well loved by artists. So that doesn’t hurt Furthermore. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the beers are somewhat artful. They appeal to that crowd. If I go to an art exhibit people are going to be receptive. It’s a happy tie-in for us. And generally speaking music is a no brainer because the people who spend money on music are the people who spend money on beer."
Aran - With my art background, I had a natural desire for Furthermore's visual identity to look as though it came right off the gallery wall. I would have to give a lot of credit to Erin Fuller of EF Graphics. When we were doing our graphic pow-wows, Erin would often describe images that I liked as looking more like a wine label or more like Soviet propaganda than a beer label. Chris - We spent lots of time talking with Erin about what we wanted. She showed us what we said we wanted and then showed us what she thought we should have. Wow, did we suck and wow, is she ever awesome. Print Magazine honored her work in their annual design review. We’re perhaps better known for our graphics than for our beer. Two elements of the design are relatively constant, the red circle with the "F" and the use of the arrow. The arrow is, to us, indicative of movement, of progress, of direction. It is a mandate.
The name Furthermore is about our ethos, which is about taking beer to what’s next. We’re always thinking about what’s next, what’s around the corner. That’s our mandate. And it’s different from other brewers’ mandates. There’s a great brewery in Madison called Ale Asylum and they’re all about the four ingredients of the German Purity Law. They make great beer adhering to a fairly simple formula of ingredients. And that is certainly one way to go about it. But for us it’s more engaging, more fun, and more marketable to be a small brand that is doing something distinctive.
Chris - "There’s the thinking about it and there’s the practice of it. The thinking about it is this, as a tiny 1000 barrel a year brewery why would you do the thing that everybody else does very well? I mean there are great nut brown ales in the neighborhood here. There are great pale ales. They’re there and they’re good. So just from a pure market reflection standpoint if you’ve got to try and make your niche, why would you do it with beers that are common? The in-practice side of it comes from Aran’s commercial brewing experience. He worked for ten years at a couple of different brewpubs where he was encouraged to do things that were uncommon. The nice thing about the brewpub context is the ability to really work recipes over. If something showed promise, even if it sucked the first time, he was encouraged to do it again. So Aran’s brewing ethos is one of a very attenuated palate for unusual things. On the other hand, he was also always presented with the customer who said, 'That sucks and I can’t drink it.' So that drinkability factor is very important for Aran. The creativity is high. The lack of adherance to style is there. And yet, it’s important to him that the beer is drinkable."
The forward looking ethos is reflected in the Furthermore beers, a combination of tweaked classic styles and complex stylistic mash-ups. For example:
Knot Stock - A hoppy, black pepper infused, American Pale Ale
Make Weight - “A bastardization of three regionally distinctive recipes that were stacked in unequal measure in order to make a beefy beer which highlights each recipe’s finer points.” This beer is part Belgian, part English Bitter, and part American Pale Ale.
Fallen Apple - A blend of 60% Cream Ale and 40% fresh pressed apple cider. Chris - “It’s the beer we get the most skepticism about. But anytime we go to a festival, it’s the first thing that runs out.”
Three Feet Deep - A peat-smoked Dry Stout. Chris - “It’s actually backward looking. We asked ourselves, ‘If you were roasting malt in Ireland in 1850, how would you do it?’ You would roast it over fire and the fire would have been fueled with peat, which would make its way into the beer. Aran is from Ireland and his grandmother would burn the peat in the fireplace so it’s kind of a nostalgic smell for him."
Running The Brewery:
Chris - "Brewing, accounting, anything that requires particular attention to detail is Aran’s department. Anything that requires general ambition, peculiar thinking, or awareness of the outside world becomes my department. The rest just gets covered by whoever is least incapable. The website is me, as is most of the copywriting for better or worse. I have a distinctive authorial voice which is equal parts self-deprecating humor, likeability, and the desire to make people vaguely uncomfortable. We share an 11x8 office, so when we are there together we don't tend to work autonomously at all. In fact, we have started avoiding being in the office at the same time because such close quarters means we start talking about things and never get any actual work done. We are by no means the best business people, but we’ve combined for a mutual intelligence that allows us to survive in a relatively crowded market. Basically, every decision we make is geared toward insuring the sustainability of the business. We are in this for the long haul."