“Time flies,” says Jason Shifflett of Brothers Craft Brewing. It’s hard for him to believe that five years have passed since the three Shifflett brothers first opened the brewery in December of 2012. Brothers Adam, Jason, and Tyler started the business as a way to collaborate on a shared passion, but the “brotherhood” has evolved to include a large and supportive community in Harrisonburg. And that’s what their 5th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, January 13 is all about.
Even with distribution set up from jump street, the Shiffletts knew that the business wouldn’t exist without the support of the local community. “It has always been—and continues to be—home that grew this business,” says Jason. “We see a huge following in Northern Virginia because of JMU alumni and connections to Harrisonburg all over the state. It’s not something we take for granted.”
Brothers Craft Brewing got their start at the beginning of a massive wave of breweries and the timing of their inception has been more than beneficial. As newbies, they relied heavily on the advice of distributors and retailers, organizations like Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance (HDR), beer lovers, and other collaborators to make the business model work. “We didn’t have the competition that exists now and that gave us the luxury of time. Time to figure things out as we went,” Jason says of the early days.
Much of that advice paid off at the right time. “We secured placements in some of the chain stores early on. We were lucky to get those when we did because they are much harder to come by now,” says Jason. “It’s no longer just about making good beer like it was 5 years ago. Now it’s a very complex business.”
Brothers just rounded out the state distribution network, entering the Williamsburg, Hampton-Roads, and Virginia Beachmarket in the last 3-4 months, keeping them busy and focused. “We want to take care of all of the markets we are in without biting off more than we can chew,” says Jason when asked about what the next five years hold. Smart growth is important to the Shiffletts and with the number of new brands entering the market every day, they want to stay focused.
Another local collaboration with designer Matt Leech, has also been invaluable for the brewery and for marketing the product. “He’s done an amazing job of giving us both creativity and consistency. That guy is awesome.”
“Our partnership with HDR has been instrumental to our success over the years. The events and promotions they do get folks in our doors and they always make room for us in their programs,” says Jason. “We’re celebrating our 5 year anniversary on Saturday by paying it forward to HDR as they celebrate their own milestone of 15 years.”
You’ll find a number of community partners at the event that have stood by Brothers’ side over the years. “We’re tying the event to local partners we regularly work with. HDR is doing a collaborative cask that will be tapped at 5pm. We’ve got great bands, Mashita food truck, a silent auction with some of our favorite downtown businesses—VA Momentum, Walkabout Outfitter, Shenandoah Bicycle Company, Friendly City Food Co-op, Court Square Theater, Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn to name a few,” explains Jason. “It’s basically a way to give back and celebrate everyone who has supported us, team up with downtown businesses, and raise some money for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.”
The celebration, which runs from noon until 11 pm also includes the release of a their 5th Anniversary Mole Stout featuring traditional Mexican mole flavors—cacao nibs, vanilla, cinnamon and chiles. The event is family-friendly and everyone is welcome.
Cheers to five years!
Written by Kirsten Moore. Kirsten is an entrepreneur, connector, writer, designer, and food lover. She is owner of The Hub Coworking in Downtown Harrisonburg, co-founder of Sub Rosa Supper Club, founder of Taste. A Food Company, and most recently, creative director and owner of The Project Studio, a firm that transforms clients' stories into compelling designs, words, and events. She is a life-long resident of Harrisonburg and currently lives downtown with her husband, Chris, their three boys, and two dogs.