On a cool afternoon about 12 hours before the tropical storm formerly known as Hurricane Irma blows and pours its way through Atlanta, leaving hundreds of thousands of Georgians without power, there are a few dozen folks cheering on the Falcons to victory over the Bears. Scofflaw Brewing Co.’s taproom in Westside Atlanta is busy, but not bonkers, perhaps owed to the fact that a lot of ATLiens are out buying water and generators.
In the breezy lot out front, Good Beer Hunting grabs a picnic table with Scofflaw president/co-founder Matt Shirah and brewmaster/co-founder Travis Herman to catch up on a big first year for their company. In addition to being one of the fastest growing breweries in the U.S., Scofflaw caused quite a stir with a Facebook post in mid-August that depicted the brewery’s entire team flipping off the camera. The photo was paired with a self-described “rant” from Shirah addressing some negative feedback his brewery had received from people online. Here’s part of it:
“BTW, other craft breweries have these issues. Exploding cans, srm/color variances, haze variances…give them a break. Don’t think this is professional, well that’s good cause I am not a professional, I am a fucking scofflaw. #webrewbeerforgeorgia”
We talk a lot about the post in the conversation below, including the fact that it was inspired, Shirah says, by the employee of a Scofflaw competitor. But we also discuss the ins and outs of buying hops, the difficulties that come with hyper-growth, the steps Scofflaw is taking to ensure consistency going forward, the difference between Shirah and a lot of “business douchebag types,” and much more.
“We’re a little yin and yang,” Shirah says early in our conversation, referring to he and Herman’s respective styles. “He’s quieter about it and I’m much louder about it, much more soapbox-y.”
Indeed, throughout our conversation, Shirah leans over the table and speaks directly into the recorder when he wants to emphasize a point. Herman, on the other hand, often stays quiet, opting to let his partner pontificate on the brand. That yin/yang model played itself out on Facebook, too. Whereas Shirah was the inspiration for the middle-finger post that went viral in the beer world for a couple weeks, Herman was the impetus behind the follow-up post that, while not exactly apologizing, made it clear that perhaps the first one was a tad hasty in its execution.
The following conversation was a fairly sprawling and tangential one that lasted nearly two hours. As such, it’s been edited for clarity and flow. It’s also one of the most interesting, unique, and truly unfiltered Critical Drinking interviews we’ve ever published.