Interview: FiftyFifty Brewing co-founders Andy Barr and Alicia Barr

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What was the most recent beer that you brewed, and what was your approach?

Andy Barr: The most recent new beer that we did was a farmhouse ale. We didn’t even come up with an interesting name for it.

Alicia Barr: It’s called Farmhouse Saison Ale, mostly because the full-time clientele we have up in Truckee may not be as educated and expansive in their beer styles. We could have named it something very Belgian and fancy, but we felt like that wouldn’t have been as approachable to people who aren’t familiar with the styles. By calling it Farmhouse, you kind of get an image in your mind of a farmhouse ale, and you can tell the story of a saison, how it was brewed for Belgian farmers back in the 1800s and it kind of creates a good story for that beer, for people that have never tried that style. And it’s actually become a very good seller, because it’s approachable.

Andy Barr: And it’s a one-off beer. If we end up doing it over and over again, we may end up doing something more creative with the name.

What’s a brewery that you would like to collaborate with, and how come?

Andy Barr: You’ll say Sierra Nevada because you’re from Chico.

Alicia Barr: I was actually going to say The Bruery, from Orange.

Andy Barr: Well you have to. You have to talk about The Bruery. Yeah, we’d love to. I’d love to collaborate with someone on a sour.

Alicia Barr: Either Cascade or The Bruery. Cascade from Portland, and Bruery down here in Orange both do excellent sours, and that’s something we haven’t delved into yet.

Andy Barr: Well we have some experiments running, but it’s not our expertise. We have a really strong background barrel aging. That’s the Eclipse line, which is bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts, but we haven’t done sours. I think that would be a very cool direction for us. We’ve done some very cool collaborations in the past. I think it may have been eight breweries on a product called Collaborative Evil, which was basically like a Belgian dark strong, loosely based on our recipe, and then each of the breweries, minor changes in ingredients, and minor changes in the way. It was really fun. I think collaboration is a good way to go in this industry.

Alicia Barr: That one was really fun, because we took it to the GABF, as well as all the other people that collaborated, so you would see people going around and checking each one off their list. It was a good way to generate traffic and cross-marketing between the eight breweries.

Andy Barr: Somebody got a medal. It wasn’t us that did.

Alicia Barr: Somebody did, yeah. It was Triple Rock, out of Berkeley.

Where and what do you drink when you’re not working?

Andy Barr: Wine, mainly. When we come to a beer place, I’ll normally drink a good sour, if it’s on the menu, and then I’ll probably gravitate to an IPA next, and then probably a real light session pilsner. At home, we drink wine.

Alicia Barr: I’m kind of the same way. I’m a sucker for Sierra Nevada. I grew up in Chico. Especially this time of year, when Celebration Ale comes out, it’s the first thing I see, if I see it on draft, I love to get it on draft. Usually I look for something I can’t find in our area, just because, in Northern California, you don’t get a lot of Southern California beers. That’s always really fun to come down here and see what local breweries down here are putting on tap. I’ll usually look for something that I can’t find in my own neighborhood.

If you could only have one more beer, what would be in the glass, and how come?

Alicia Barr: Can I pick one of my own beers?

No, I forgot that caveat.

Alicia Barr: Okay, if I could only have one beer…(to Andy)…You’re going to hate me for this, but I’m going to say Oude Tart from The Bruery.

Andy Barr: Why would I hate you for that? It’s really good.

Alicia Barr: It is really good. I’m going to say the Oude Tart from The Bruery.

Andy Barr: I’d pick something from Cantillon.

Any beer in particular?

Andy Barr: No. Surprise me.

Where would you drink it?

Alicia Barr: I would drink mine sitting on a lake shore in the summer.

Andy Barr: Then I will pick the beach, in the winter, on a cloudy evening.

Alicia Barr: Next to my husband. Did I mention that?


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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[…] stouts that take a full year to create, set the stage for beer enthusiasts at FiftyFifty Brewing. Cofounders Alicia and Andrew Barr named the brand to represent a work/life balance, and have been crafting that dream for 14 years at […]

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