Brewing in garage with a single burner? What could go wrong?

1st Republic Brewing Co. ownersA few years ago the co-founder of one of the most profitable companies in the world said the story that their business was started in a garage is a bit of a myth. Regardless of Steve Wozniak’s statement about Apple, the garage of Steve Jobs' childhood home is now designated a historic site.  

Two Vermont Veterans are long way from having the success of Apple’s co-founders, but the story of them starting out in a garage is very much true (and their product is much more enjoyable than an apple).

“One of the reasons we started a brewery is because we were making so much beer in the garage we had no place to put it. We said ‘what are we going to do with all this beer?’” said Shawn Trout.  

Today 1st Republic Brewing Company, owned and founded by Trout and Kevin Jarvis, is no longer headquartered out of a garage. The brewery is in a 3,000 square-foot facility on River Road producing about 800 barrels of beer a year.  

Trout is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and Jarvis is a Vermont National Guardsman veteran who served in Iraq. Although the two are both from Vermont and served overseas at the same time, Jarvis and Trout did not meet until 2011 when they worked at the same company.  The two hit it off becoming quick friends and soon started homebrewing with a single burner system out of Jarvis’ garage in Fairfax, Vt. where the company officially started in 2013.

Jarvis is the one who had experience homebrewing.

“It’s something I tried with my dad years ago. And my first batch was pretty bad,” said Jarvis. “But as I got older I felt I needed a hobby so I decided to try homebrewing again and I stayed with it. Now I have much bigger homebrewery,” said Jarvis.

The two spent a lot of free time in that garage honing their skills turning out more and more batches of beer.

 “When we first started thinking of starting a brewery our minds went in a million different directions, the ultimate goal was to make this a full time job which is has, so I'm very excited about that.  It’s been a huge learning experience, not only from the beer making side, but also on running a full-time operation, it has been a priceless experience so far,” said Trout.

As the company has grown, the owners have stayed true to their homebrewing roots as 1st Republic Brewing Company is also the state’s largest homebrew supply shop.  The company sells everything from hops and grains to kettles and burners. Customers can visit their store in Essex Junction or shop online.

The company recently hired Alyssa Fowler, its first employee outside of the minority ownership and a homebrewer herself.

“It’s as if they wrote the job description with me in mind,” said Fowler who was a frequent customer before being hired. “It’s been really fun working here so far. You’re never having a bad time talking to people about brewing beer,” said Fowler.

Outside of the brewery the owners are active in the community, Jarvis and Trout contribute to the University of Vermont Children's Hospital, Passion for Paws, the Travis Roy Foundation, a local wounded warrior integration organization and local sports teams.

“We're a small business but we're trying to make big, positive impacts within our community and state, said Trout. “This dream of ours has only happened because of the great people in Essex Vermont and the surrounding area who stop by and enjoy a beer with us every day.  We love seeing everyone’s faces every day, and them enjoying our beer is what makes it all worth it.”

For their entrepreneurial success, 1st Republic Brewing Company has been named the 2018 Vermont Veteran-Owned Business of the Year by the Small Business Administration.

“Military service can translate very well to the private sector,” said Darcy Carter, SBA Vermont District Director. “Veterans were taught leadership, motivation and work ethic when they served. These qualities are necessary to be a successful entrepreneur.”

In addition to Jarvis and Trout, 1st Republic Brewing has two minority owners, David Jarvis and Mike Drake, who are also veterans and work at the brewery.

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