There must be something about Columbus that makes musicians want to become professional brewers. Earlier this year, Dan Cochran, the bassist with the band Big Back 40, launched Four String Brewing Co.
Now, The Spruce Campbells, an indie psychedelic pop band, is looking to launch the Spruce Campbells Brewing Co. You may have already spotted their beer around Central Ohio, as the band has had a few of its brews made at the new Zauber Brewing Co.
Spruce Campbells also showed up at a recent beer tasting at Brews Café in Granville. This, of course, leads to an obvious question since there’s no such brewery with a state license: Who is Spruce Campells Brewing?
Turns out, it’s a happy accident in the process of becoming a real brewery. Band member Jason Matthew Kusowski and friend Rick Durham really enjoyed homebrewing and thought it would be cool to provide beer for an event. So they brought some of their beer about a year ago to an outing that included several local restaurant and bar owners.
Those owners loved the beer and asked where they could get it. But the answer was nowhere. That’s when the idea of going into the beer-making business popped up.
“We’re more of this idea that’s grown faster than we’ve expected,” said Kusowski, who works at Brews Café.
Spruce Campbells beer isn’t available in any bars or stores right now. Kusowski said Zauber Brewing intends to upgrade to a 15-barrel brewing system and that’s when Spruce Campbells would start brewing there on contract for the general public. Technically, the Spruce Campbells beer is now considered Zauber creations.
In the meantime, Kusowski and others are refining their beer recipes and focusing on marketing the brewery. (Oh, and they also are still playing music.)
The band Spruce Campbells spends “hundreds of hours” perfecting its sound in the studio and the goal is to spend the same amount of time perfecting its beer before its brought to the market on a commercial basis, he said.
“I don't mind taking my time if the end product will be better because of it,” Kusowski said. “I don't release music until I am 100 percent happy with it, we plan to do the same with beer.”
But while you might not see the actual beer, you may spot Spruce Campbells Brewing stickers and glow-in-the-dark T-shirts around the area. They want to build up interest in the brewery.
“It’s going to be like the world’s longest drum roll,” Kusowski said with a chuckle. “I don’t want to do this and then have people say the branding sucks or the beer is average. We don’t want to put out any beers that we ourselves don’t want to drink.”
So what do the Spruce Campbells want to drink?
Kusowski cited Three Floyds, Southern Tier and Russian River as personal favorites.
“Style wise we specialize in more bizarre beers,” he said. “Beers that don't easily fall into one category. We started out by making beers we really liked but couldn't find anywhere, and we don't plan on changing from that model.”
He cited a blood orange, tangerine white ale and grapefruit India pale as examples of Spruce Campbells beers.
“We like stuff that’s a little off the cuff,” Kusowski said.