Q&A with Co-Founder of Baltimore’s New Full Tilt Brewing
In fall 2011 I moved into a house on Fleet St. in Canton with two friends of mine. While the majority of my time spent living was spent drinking beer, one of my roommates, Nick Fertig, spent his time actually brewing beer with his cousin in hopes to one day deliver that beer to the great people of Baltimore. Now, Fertig and his cousin Dan Baumiller have started their own Baltimore-based brewing company named Full Tilt Brewing. During my stay in Nick’s house, I saw Full Tilt grow day by day and knew that eventually their goal of having their beer on shelves and in bars would be reached. Today, that goal is reached as Full Tilt Brewing launched their first of many beers, Baltimore Pale Ale.
I caught up with Nick to try the pale ale and of course to get the low down about everything that is Full Tilt Brewing:
Congrats on the launch of the Baltimore Pale Ale! When did you start your brewing career and did you ever think you would be where you are today?
Thanks a lot man. Let’s see… Dan and I started homebrewing with a simple kit we bought off of eBay for like $100 a little more than four years ago when I moved back to town from the navy. That year we probably brewed at least one beer every weekend. It was great. As time went on we would expand our collection of brewing gadgets and equipment – it took over my apartment at the time!
Eventually we switched from extract brewing to all-grain once we built a semi-auto brewing system. We then had to move our stuff into a friends garage because the system, we call her Ethel, is much too big to be kept in a house. We’ve been using that for a couple years now. Never would I have guessed that we would be launching a beer publicly four years later.
This whole thing is pretty surreal right now. We had always talked about how cool it would be to have our own brewery and all that, but I think part of me was too afraid to actually try and go through with it. Well Full Tilt eventually took on a life of its own and Dan and I are just going along for the ride right now. We just riding the wave and going wherever this takes us. Not trying to force too much too quick but not hindering the growth either.
We see from your tap handle that Full Tilt Brewing represents Baltimore through and through. What do you like best about being a Baltimore-based beer and how does FTB represent Baltimore?
One of the things we are going to try to do with just about all our brews is really incorporate the Baltimore feel into them. We think it’s a great little city and I thoroughly enjoy residing in Canton. I went out to Denver for this past year’s Great American Beer Fest and found out quickly what Baltimore was lacking… more breweries and brew pubs!
It seemed there was a place brewing their own beer on just about every corner. I think Baltimore is far from this, but slowly growing towards that end. People around here are really starting to embrace craft beer on a daily basis and are ready for more and more craft brews. I think the most exciting part about brewing in Baltimore is that we are one of the few local breweries out there. I think this is a great time to get into the business and it’s going to be a blast growing our business in Baltimore at the same time as people are really looking for more creative and complex beers to enjoy.
I look forward to other breweries opening up as well. Sure, they are competition in the same market but I think more variety is good overall for any industry – keeps you on your toes and prevents complacency. Also, provides for more beer for me to try!
Knowing you, I know the hard work you put into your beer. Aside from taste, what separates Full Tilt from other craft breweries?
The hard work is really what we’re all about. Besides that, the thing that I think separates us is our passion for a better beer and a refusal to settle for something less than the best. We’re not just going to design a brew on paper and say alright, let’s go with it. No, we spend months and months and brew over and over until we feel that we have definitely designed the best possible version of that style of beer. We also want to be involved in the public aspect as much as possible. Already we are going to bars around town and meeting the owners and bartenders. We want to put our faces to our beer. And if our distributor, FP Winner, makes a sale before we can get to a particular bar we will make sure to meet the staff at that bar as soon as possible to show our appreciation for supporting our product.
You just released the Baltimore Pale Ale. Tell us about this beer and what beers we can expect to be released down the road?
Baltimore Pale Ale is an American style Pale Ale. It’s 6.3% ABV and 55 IBUs. It borders on the edge of an IPA with its hoppy character. It has a gorgeous golden color and a very floral aroma of Columbus hops. We went with the Pale Ale to start because we felt it was a style which most people could enjoy regardless of their usual preference.
We are currently developing our next brew, Fleet Street Raspberry Wheat, to be released sometime in early Spring. It is by far our most popular and talked about beer at all of our brew parties we’ve thrown in the past. It wouldn’t be out of the question to expect our pumpkin ale later this year as well.
Certainly you have reached one of your goals, but where do you see Full Tilt going in the next five years? Personally, I can see your logo right next to Mr. Boh on the tower coming into the city!
Haha! Well no one can ever replace the nostalgia of Mr. Boh, but to even but included in the same conversation as something that is such a staple in this town is pretty cool. As I said earlier, we are just kind of going along with wherever this takes us and seeing where it ends up. That being said, in five years I don’t think it would be too unrealistic to have our own brewery aside from the co-op one we are currently working with. Don’t get me wrong, Peabody Heights is a fantastic opportunity for us, but down the road we’re going to eventually want to break off and do our own thing.
How much of the success of Full Tilt Brewing has to do with me moving out?
39.5%! It would have happened regardless, but it sure makes it a lot easier to have that room available for an office. Nice to know that I’ll have some beer left over in the house for myself too!
Where can people find your beer currently?
The beer is being launched at The Americana in Canton tonight (Saturday, December 29th) and will remain on tap there. It is also going on tap in time for the New Year’s party at Shuckers in Fells Point. Besides that there are several other bars we’ve been in touch with and who have shown interest, but until the beer is actually on tap there I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and speak too soon.
You can however easily find where it is available by going on our website (www.fulltiltbrewing.com) and checking out the beer finder map. We’ll continuously update that as we pick up new accounts. Also, the first couple months we are doing all draft beer. We will be launching our bottle line in the coming months as well at which time the beers will be available for purchase at liquor stores or in bars in bottles. Stay tuned for updates on when that will take place!
I know you are diehard Baltimore fan but also a businessman. If a local bar wanted to sell your beer but they were a Steelers bar, what would you say?
Haha! Well first off, of course we would sell them our beer – as a start-up we need all the business we can get! That being said, I guess I’ll just be satisfied knowing that as I sip on my Baltimore Pale Ale it will be celebrating yet another playoff berth while as a Steelers fan is sipping on the same beer they’ll be drowning their sorrows in for yet another disappointing season.
There you have it, just a little bit about Baltimore’s next big thing in the beer market. The beer not only tastes good but it represents Baltimore and those are two things we all love.!
I believe a very interesting man once said, “ I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I drink Full Tilt Brew.” Who can argue with that?
Follow Full Tilt Brewing on Twitter @FullTiltBrewing an also like their page on Facebook
Follow me on twitter @mromanell and Southbmore.com @southbmore1