In case you missed it, we’re in the business of storytelling here at GCFL. Outside of busting our asses to pay the bills and to keep this crazy dream alive, we spend a lot of time searching for inspiration. We look for the angle that hasn’t been seen, the underdog that needs to be celebrated, the story that needs to be told. Having been a part of the Burley Oak story since day one, it’s a story we will never tire of telling. It’s also a story that has just begun. Many of you bitter assholes may be thinking that we cover Burley Oak a lot because they pay us to. With the exception of free beers, lots of laughs, and countless good times (though this is worth it’s weight in gold) we aren’t on the Burley Oak payroll. We just genuinely believe in what they are doing – crafting quality beer. But it’s more than just the quality beer (hell, yours truly doesn’t even drink beer), it’s the dynamic of the staff, the loyalty of the customers, and the goodwill the small brewery has generated for our quaint town. It’s the family that is Burley Oak.
If you’ve ever met Burley Oak owner and founder Bryan Brushmiller, than you know it’s not difficult to get him to talk about himself. But what he won’t shut up about most of the time is his business, his staff, and his vision. It’s intoxicating for marketers and fellow entrepreneurs and it’s what makes the small town brewery a continued success. He’ll also be the first to tell you that while he is motivated to build a business that he can one day pass on to his kids, he is also quick to plug his loyal staff – many of whom have been with him since day one – and the Town of Berlin. “Going from not having a job to making jobs for all of these people and having an economic impact on the town – that’s what it’s all about for me. All of us live and breathe Berlin. Our families, this town, that’s what matters.”
Whether it’s Nicky working (quite literally) non-stop, Ian and Adam putting in ridiculous hours to perfect their latest brew, Teddy and her dad, Sully, working side by side with constant smiles on their faces, Bill Todd…being Bill Todd, or the entire team jumping on the canning line to make sure their customers get a promised beer release on time, the staff re-defines ‘staff that feels like family.’ They are family. No job is too small for any single member of the team, and no team member doesn’t know the ins and outs of the others’ lives.
So what is it that really makes Burley Oak unique? Is it the apparel that locals love to wear? The quality of beer? The Monday night charity events? The undeniable vibe of the tap room? Five years of continued success with no end in sight? We would argue that its’s a combination of all of the above. Beer connoisseurs can talk your face off about the intricacies of the hops or the effects on your palette, or whatever it is beer connoisseurs ramble on about, but the true story lies within each and every member of the staff, who come to work believing in what they do, loving what they do, and passing along their passion for what they do to the customer. It’s about a company culture built on producing substance rather than amassing profits. It’s about a business that doesn’t have greedy investors that need to be answered to. It’s the small town American dream living and breathing by the hand-crafted goodness they’ve created.
At the end of the day, Bryan is just a big kid pursuing a dream, but isn’t that what we all are? Don’t we all want to be a part of something that feels good, that inspires, and that is a story worth telling? Maybe you don’t, but at GCFL, we do, which is why we will continue to craft stories whenever we see them. Watching our recent compilation video of 5 Years of Burley Oak was a reminder of why we started GCFL in the first place. We knew that out there, stories were waiting to be told. So Burley Oak, we salute you for being a story worth telling and more importantly, for crafting a beer worth drinking.
Who knows where Burley Oak will be in five years. With plans for increasing their coffee line, adding hand-crafted sodas, and hell, who knows, maybe even distilled liquor (fingers crossed) one day, it’s safe to say success will continue to follow the Burley Oak crew, but what Bryan envisions is more than grand success and riches, it’s happiness for his staff. Opening the Funk Factory, renovating the brewery, producing more and more barrels each year…that’s all fine and good, but without the support of the staff and the town, it’s all for naught. “I don’t want to get bigger,” says Bryan. “I want to get better and have more fun.” And damn if we can’t drink to that.