Turtle Stone Brewing is the creation of Ben Battiata and Becky Pederson from Vineland. During a recent conversation with Ben, I had the opportunity to learn about Turtle Stone, its origins and future.
Originally conceived five years ago, the idea of opening his own brewery is something that Ben has approached with a strong passion. The seeds of most breweries, especially those in NJ, all come from the same origin – too many macros around. When every bar, restaurant and liquor store you head into showcases adjunct lagers, those with a sense of taste and creativity are left wanting more.
A home brewer for over a decade, Ben noted that “There was not enough quality beer around which left me wanting an alternative to what’s typically available.” What’s the next logical step? Starting brewing your own!
In Native American mythology the turtle is viewed as an element of the earth, sometimes referred to as a stone or the base of nature. This concept has always played at the front of Ben’s mind when thinking about what to name his brewery. The name Turtle Stone seemed to be a natural fit – and the brewery was born.
After a long design and research period, Ben and Becky purchased a 15 barrel system about two years ago. Because a location was not yet available, the team delayed the delivery of the system until the logistics of a location were finalized.
In the past few weeks, the majority of the procured equipment was delivered (although they are still in the market for a packaging system). Of the 9,000 square feet currently available at the new brewery location, Ben plans on utilizing about 5,000 for the building of the “assembly line”. The remaining space will be used for a barrel aging area for limited edition brews as well as a location for visitors to experience the brewery.
The team is striving to begin brewing in December of 2011 with an estimated goal of 1,500 barrels brewed annually.
Deviating from a Pale Ale which at times seems like the standard flagship for new breweries, Ben plans to brew a Blond Ale as his flagship. The 5.5% ABV ale incorporates locally grown ingredients including honey, jasmine flowers and green tea providing a very floral craft beer experience.
Other Turtle Stone product visions include a craft brewed with local strawberries, vanilla beans and cocoa nibs (a play on Neapolitan ice cream) and a Fall seasonal sweet potato beer with spices and maple syrup (based on a potato casserole made annually by Ben for his family during the holiday season).
Being huge promoters of the local agriculture, Ben and Becky will strive to use as many grown ingredients as possible. They are even toying with the idea of growing hops on an 80 acre plot of farm land that they own.
The one common thing that I’ve found among New Jersey brewers, Ben included, is their overwhelming sense of community. Wanting to give back to the local area is an understatement as Ben is striving for more. In a place where craft beer is not easily available, Ben hopes to use his products to convert macro drinkers to truly innovated, creative and flavorful beer.
The goal is to be able to create something that will put something in people’s mind about good craft beer.
One of the biggest hurtles in front of Turtle Stone is the installation of their equipment including the purchasing of a bottling system. Creative artists at heart, Becky and Ben developed a campaign on kickstarter.com where they are trying to raise $30,000 to help them with their dream. (Click here to learn more about Kickstarter – http://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq)
Some information about Kickstarter from the www.kickstarer.com website: Kickstarter is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.
When I inquired why they chose Kickstarter as their “funding platform”, Ben replied that the website tailors to the creative spirit and since “Craft beer is an art” (as Ben so eloquently put it), the website was a perfect fit.
Check out the Turtle Stone Kickstarter campaign and creative video (made by Becky) here ==> http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tsbc/get-turtle-stone-brewing-company-brewing
And read more about their decision to use Kickstarter here ==> http://turtlestonebrewing.blogspot.com/2011/09/what-is-all-this-kickstarter-talk-about.html
Despite the need for packaging equipment financing, Ben and Becky are extremely enthusiastic about starting operations by the end of 2011 and bolster the type of attitude that New Jersey should be proud of. They are creative and business savvy people looking to bring the world of craft beer to their home of Vineland, not to make money – but to spread their craft beer love to the local community.
And that is something that I am very proud to talk about – both as a lover of craft beer and as a local New Jerseyan.
Follow Ben and Becky’s story on their blog.