Founder and “CEOwl” of Owls’ Brew, a tea crafted for cocktails, and sister company, Brew Lab Tea, creating artisanal custom tea blends, Jennie Ripps sits down to answer a few of our questions about herself, craft beer, and Owl’s Brew Radlers.
In 2014, Jennie was selected by the Specialty Food Association as “15 under 35” among food and beverage entrepreneurs. Jennie is a graduate of Cohort Seven of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program, and is a blogger for the Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” and “Taste” sections. She is the co-author of WISE COCKTAILS: A DIY Guide to Crafting Tea-Based Cocktails.
When did you first decide to get into the beer industry?
We initially launched with Owl’s Brew Mixer, a craft cocktail mixer fresh-brewed from tea and botanicals. Each of our mixers was designed to pair with liquor, beer and wine. Maria, my business partner, and I found ourselves mixing Owl’s Brew with beer quite often! We always knew we wanted to create a ready-to-drink and mixing Owl’s Brew with beer was fun and refreshing and different, and we wanted to bring that to market. We started experimenting and playing around with different wheat beers, amber ales and stouts and figuring out what we wanted our radlers to taste (and look!) like.
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from your start-up phase?
Before Owl’s Brew was an actual product, we used to fresh brew tea on site for parties and events. One time, at the last moment they wouldn’t let us use the kitchen, so we returned to our hotel room. Have you ever tried to brew tea using a shower as a faucet? We have! The tea was delicious…the housekeepers may have been less than impressed with us.
What’s a typical day on the job like for you?
It varies day by day! One day, I can be in a certain market where our beer is doing crew drives with wholesalers, and another I can be in our office in NYC working with our team on various sales, operations and marketing projects.
...standing out in a way that is distinctive but also authentic can be a challenge.Click To Tweet
What are the biggest challenges facing craft brewers?
Craft beer is an amazing category, but it’s also pretty saturated. I think standing out in a way that is distinctive but also authentic can be a challenge.
What do you want for the craft beer industry as a whole?
As a whole, I’d like to see the continued use of real ingredients, and increased transparency in terms of ingredients. I think it’s important we use good, clean, whole ingredients. Beer is a pretty amazing product in and of itself – but as flavors proliferate (a trend I applaud and am part of!) I think it’s important to know where they are being sourced from.
What’s in your fridge at home? What other breweries do you admire, both locally and from afar?
Dogfish Head – they started to really incorporate unique ingredients from the very beginning.
Aside from craft beer and teas, what are your passions in life?
I love traveling…being with my two little children…and building a business. Usually travel gets knocked out of the equation by the other two!
Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
Although tea and beer seem pretty far apart, I think it’s pretty “rad” (pun intended) that they are two of the most ancient beverages in the world, and two of the most widely consumed. People have been drinking both for millennia. It’s been an amazing journey to create blends that can truly pair — and to have the opportunity for the liquid to prove out the concept that the two can truly be combined.
Be sure to check out our last piece about Owl’s Brew, where I reviewed their three year-round radlers!