“I’m the beard and she’s the engine.” That’s how Nate Artinger explains the dynamic and division of responsibility between himself and his wife, Tiffany, in running their brewery Beard Engine Brewing Company.
Nestled in the small town of Alba, Missouri—which Tiffany is now the mayor of—Beard Engine Brewing Company has only been open a little over a year (yes, they opened mid-pandemic), yet it’s already making big ripples in their region. In the last month they won Best of the Four States: Best Bar and Night Club; Runner Up for Best of the Four States: Entertainment; and Runner Up Best Brewery in Springfield.
When we sat down to chat with Nate, he had just gotten word that their brewery won its fourth award. Their newest accolade? Missouri’s Best Brewing Company.
We chatted about more than just awards. Nate shared their journey to becoming brewery owners, explains why he teamed up with Victory Hemp, and also dishes on their next business venture.
Tell us about your brewery.
We’re in a sleepy town of just 700 people, and we’re sandwiched between two highways. So, from the beginning, we knew we wanted to be a destination brewery.
We’re not too far from our nearest town, but when you come out here, you feel like you’re in a different place. Our space used to be a famous French restaurant called the Old Miner’s Inn and we kept a lot of the architectural feel when we converted it to the brewery. Our Steampunk aesthetic comes from that idea of repurposing.
We serve mostly European-style, malt-forward beers. Our brewery is unplugged. There aren’t any TVs in the taproom, on the patio, or in the beer garden. We have WiFi, but we don’t advertise it. In fact, you can barely get cell service because our building is cement block. We’re all so distracted by our phones that the brewery is our way of bringing people back together. Also, I’m English-Scottish and I wanted it to have that communal feel.
You’re the head brewer. How did you get started making your own beer?
I was a dive bar guy. So was my wife. We drank Miller High Life and I smoked cigarettes. Then I quit smoking, and when you stop smoking, your taste buds come back to life. So, I started going to the neighborhood pizza pub and trying all of these beers from around the world.
After a bit, I decided I wanted to try and make my own beer. At the time I was restoring vehicles and we had an old 1962 Ford that was our wedding vehicle. We sold it and I bought wine-making equipment and converted it to brew beer.
It took off quickly: one month I was brewing one gallon and the next it was 5 gallons. Our friends and family loved my beer, but who doesn’t love free beer? We decided to send it off to be judged, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
From the day we decided to open a brewery, it took us 7 years to open. When you have a brewery you’re never really home and I have a family, so we wanted a multi-use property where we could work and live. We went to so many neighboring towns looking for buildings. Everywhere we looked, there was a reason why we couldn’t be there—from ordinances to square footage, etc. We looked at our space before it even went on the market—it’s the only commercial block in our town and we bought the entire thing.
It also took us so long to open because we have no outside investors. We sunk everything we have into this operation. A lot of breweries open up in debt. We did it in a way that we didn’t open in debt.
What inspired you to use hemp seeds in your beer?
We are pro-hemp, even though Missouri is late to join the movement. Tiffany had anxiety and was taking prescriptions to manage it. Now she’s a strong advocate for hemp.
When it comes to beer, though, no one tells you how to incorporate hemp seeds into your beer. I started by tasting the roasted hemp seeds and decided then that I’d like to see how it goes with a light-bodied beer. We don’t do a lot of IPAs, but hemp and hops go together and a hoppy pale ale seemed like it’d go toe-to-toe. We also played with terpenes, and landed on a combination of hemp seeds, terpenes, and a special blend of hops that’s lemony and piney.
CoPacetic Hemp Pale Ale at Beard Engine Brewing Co.
Our hemp IPA, called Copacetic, is a beer that tastes of pine, lemon, a bit of herbs, and musty/Earthy notes. There’s a slick terpene note on the tongue, too.
Why did you choose to partner with Victory Hemp for your hemp beer ingredients?
I had first reached out to a company in Colorado and they told me that their seeds were meant to go in the ground, not a beverage. Another company said they’d only sell to me for agricultural purposes. I learned about Victory Hemp from one of my brewing forums. I love supporting growing businesses, and I felt like I got that out of your website. Then, when I reached out to Collin in your sales department, he responded right away.
Also, I didn’t know how to get approved by the TTB. I kept getting denied by them and Collin was really helpful there. I didn’t know what to submit to pass through TTB, but Collin did: he knew what was required and the importance of the lab analytics that goes along with it. It paid off—we had no issues with the labeling with Victory Hemp helping us.
You’ve been so successful over the last year and we love that you're a hemp beer maker. Congratulations! What’s next?
Next, we’re opening a restaurant next door. And I might even experiment with some of the roasted hemp seeds I still have. We could use a little hemp on the menu!
Photos provided by Nate and Tiffany Artinger.