This post is a little long winded - straight from Aaron (lots of grammar no no's, so get over it and enjoy)
Dark Horse Brewing Company started brewing beer 20 years ago. It was October 1997 when we served our first beer. For those of you that don’t know, Dark Horse started out as a brewpub on Michigan Ave in Marshall. It had the fishbowl brewery out front, a big restaurant and a bar that had liquor and against everything I stood for Budweiser and other macro beers. Well…..Marshall wasn’t ready for a place like that, we had an actual Chef, had items on the menu that you couldn’t find at Big Boy or Denny’s and we were serving the beer we made on premise. The majority of Marshall residents had never heard of Craft Beer and or thought that all Craft Beer was dark, full bodied or really bitter. So it being a struggle, is an understatement and in 1999 we decided enough was enough and closed that chapter on December 31st 1999. That’s when I said I just want to make beer, have a simple fresh good food menu, grow at a rate we could handle, but most important make the best fucking beer we could. I was at the brewpub location the morning of January 1st 2000 loading the brewing equipment onto a flatbed trailer and anything else I was going to use at the new location. The rest of the equipment was auctioned off and the money went to the bank. We started construction on the new location on January 2nd 2000. It took 9 months to get everything done, licenses through and the doors open. 99% of everything was done by all our friends and myself. I had an army of friends that showed up to do whatever they could to help out and have a beer. The only contractors we used was for plumbing and electrical and that was just because the city made us, nowadays we do 99% of everything ourselves including plumbing and electrical.
Dark Horse has changed tremendously over the years and we owe it to all our friends, family and employees that have helped us grow Dark Horse into what it is today. Our first year we made about 400 bbls of beer- In 2017 we will make roughly 25,000 bbls of beer and growing. From 1997 to 2010 we brewed on a 7bbl system and at the end of the life span of that 7bbls system we brewed just shy of 7000 bbls on it in 2009, which was a feat I was told I could never do. Actually, I was told we couldn’t brew 4000 bbls on that 7bbl system. Once I heard that the challenge was on. Our first few years we bottled 1 beer at a time on a 1 head HDP filler, and capped and labeled them by hand. We filled kegs with an octopus, which was a pieces of stainless process pipe that had 5 lines hooked to it and 5 sankey couplers at the end of the lines we hooked to the kegs to fill them. - in 2017 we run a 20 head Krones filler and bottling line and a KHS rotary keg line, plus we are in the process of putting our can line in with hopes of having cans going out the door by the end of 2017 or the first few months of 2018. When we started at the new location we had 1 employee for the first month………..ME- I hired Michelle Swanson first to run the bar and 3 or 4 part time bartenders that worked 1 day a week and then I hired Trent Thurston to help me in the brewery a year later and we ran this way for 2 – 4 years struggling but growing. In 2017 we have roughly 107 employees, offer medical, dental, vision insurance, retirement program, Oaklawn Life Improvement Memberships for employees and family, bonuses, and many other incentives. Back in 2000-2004 I remember laying home wondering where I was going to get the money to buy more grain or even pay for the grain I got on my last order and the worst of all not cashing my paycheck so Michelle and Trents were sure to cash. Luckily I had a wonderful wife that put up with the 14-16 hour days and had a good job that brought home the money to keep a roof over our heads and food to eat. There was one thing I knew and it was that I loved making beer and I loved to see people enjoy it and the things we do at Dark Horse and if I kept up the hard work and that passion I had for what we were doing it would eventually get easier and pay off. It took us 7 years to finally not look at a P&L and see a loss, The get easier part did not come with it though, for 20 years me and my family and all our great employee have busted our asses to bring to the people what we thing is Kick ass products and a place to come to and have a kick ass time and we plan on continuing to do the same thing for the next 20 years. Well, some of us hopefully will be retired before 2037, but we plan on showing all the younger guys and gals what Dark Horse stands for, what the Dark Horse way is and make the same kick ass products and more for the next 20 years. The Vision for Dark Horse is the same today as it was when we started 20 years ago and we plan on continuing that vision and completing every part of that vision because there is still a ton of things planned to do, build, open and to let all our great supporters enjoy – DHN
So now that I have babbled onand on I am going to tell you why after being open all these years I am writing something like this…………..well we figured since we’ve been open 20 years that we should do and or start something cool. September 2017 we invited every brewer that had ever brewed something at Dark Horse whether it be someone I apprenticed under, someone we did collaboration with, past brewer or present brewer or someone that filled in when one of us was gone and beer needed to be brewed during that time. We all met at Dark Horse at 9am on September, 2017 and started the Anniversary Series. Now during September every year we will all get together at Dark Horse and brew an Anniversary Beer. The beer will be different every year, but the same brewers will always brew it…..well we might end up adding a brewer or two as guest brewers, we will see. On or about October 14th every year the Anniversary Beer will be release to the public in the Taproom. On the odd years we will throw a party in the beer garten and taproom, so on the 21st, 23rd, 25th anniversary years we will have parties and on the 20th, 22nd, 24th years we will release the beer at the taproom and in the market. Also on the 21st anniversary year we will start to release bottles/cans and continue to do so every year after. They will be release from the General Store first and then the market after that.
So from all of us at Dark Horse THANK YOU for 20 great years of making kick ass beers, throwing some great and even not so great events, trying our best to make all our patrons enjoy themselves and enjoy all the products we produce, supporting us so our vision can be realized and we can grow Dark Horse into a destination in Marshall and our products found on shelves throughout the United State and around the world. So from all of us at Dark Horse Brewing Company enjoy………….20……our 20th anniversary ale brewed by the following brewers at Dark Horse – Troy craft, Matt Allyn, Russ Beattie, Sam Sherwood, George Murphy, Trent Thurston, Bryan Wiggs who had baby duty that day, but was still there in mind and spirit and relayed his advice at different parts all while in the birthing room scatter brained as his wife yelled at him for doing that to her and the 1000’s of emotions flooded his body and mind as he became a father on that day, which makes this beer even more special to him and last but not least Me – Aaron Morse, but I have to admit, I was there at 9, built the grist bill with everyone and gristed it in with them, popped back and forth from my office and the brew house during mash in, then tried making maple sugar out of Dark Horse maple syrup while popping back and forth to my office and ended up with maple goo that when cooled all the way was hard maple candy, and after that I pretty much was stuck in my office the rest of the day, so a lot of the credit goes out to Troy Craft our headbrewer, he took it by the horns and rocked it out all day and evening until the second shift brewer took over to finish out the last 3 brews of the 100bbls. With that said ENJOY our 20th Anniversary Ale- The first of the Anniversary Series –
20 - 20th Anniversary Ale
9.30% ABV, 35 IBU’s
A creamy tan head moves to a very dark body with a slight ruby hue when the light is just right, nailed it! First aromas of molasses, and black berries, caramel and grape must lead you in for a sniff. Step back take another look and smell again, more dark fruit aromas and layers of candied sugars will have emerged this time around leaving the olfactory yearning for a taste. Immediately upon the first sip flavors of sweet malt and maple combine with molasses and complex honey characteristics making you think you are in for a sweet treat, but wait there’s more. Slight notes of pleasant roasted barley astringency and hop bitterness show their heads to balance this cousin of a monster out. At 9.3% ABV, don’t worry we are just warming up for when the brewery turns 21 next year…enjoy, and stay tuned.
Draft only...stay tuned for Rum BA & Bourbon BA versions at the 4 Elf Party on 12/9.