Meet House Beer, the lager made by millennials for millennials

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What happens when a bunch of surf buddies decide they want to create a new lager made specifically for millennials? Well, for House Beer founders Brendan Sindell, Derek Wilson, and Keegan Gibbs, the result was crafting one of the most drinkable beers on the market.

The crew grew up drinking Coors Lite, but quickly realized that the brand didn't feel relatable to them. Craft brews on the other hand, were too filling and intense in flavor to pound back on a night out or sip on during dinners. It was then that Brendan Sindell had a realization straight out of "Goldilocks," to find a lager that felt just right or a beer that could mirror the same drinkability as the heritage brands they grew up on but made with the quality ingredients found in craft brews. Sindell quickly brought on Derek Wilson, his half-brother who was working as a real-estate agent at the time, and long-time friend and photographer Keegan Gibbs to turn this idea into something tangible.

The trio soon took it upon themselves to break into the beer industry, one that left very little playing room for newcomers. Without any prior experience, the group began to create House Beer from scratch. As Keegan Gibbs notes, it was this naiveté which led to their brand's success; "If we would have asked the right questions really early on about the beer industry and brewing, I think it would have held us back. If we know what we know what we know now, then, I doubt we would have pursued this. But it was our naiveness that has allowed us to take on this beast."

They met with brewers, taste-tested countless batches of lagers, and after months of trial and error, created an iteration that was so good it won the Best American Lager Award in the Mayfair Competition Homebrew Contest in 2013.

Fast forward a few years later, and House Beer can be found at Whole Foods, Jon & Vinny's, Ace Hotel, and beyond. The brand has been breaking new ground in the alcohol market, in part thanks to their mission of simplicity. Their signature American lager will remain as the only liquid on their menu. They refuse to use any ingredients that aren't organic or up to their high quality standards. And their minimalistic packaging is easy on the eyes. These choices are a testament to House Beer's core values of creating a no-frills, delicious everyday beer.

And after one taste, it may just become your staple brew of choice.

We recently sat down with House Beer founders Bredan Sindell and Keegan Gibbs to talk about how three Malibu surfers concocted the perfect beer, the most surreal moment in their careers, and more!

#OnOurRadar is a feature that showcases creative minds and up-and-coming talents. To see more of past interviews, click here.

What were you both doing before House Beer?
Keegan Gibbs: I was making art and doing photography commercially and conceptually. I also was doing documentary films and working with brands on marketing.

Brendan Sindell: I was in grad school and was working in finance for a few years. We launched House Beer when I was still in grad school.

What was your relationship with beer like before starting the brand?
Keegan Gibbs: We didn't have any. It was just the thing we drank. We started with drinking Miller and Coors Light and then as it progressed we started drinking some of the better craft beers.

Brendan Sindell: We didn't have much exposure outside of drinking it.

So when did the spark go off in your head when you decided to create your own lager?
Brendan Sindell: It was a few years ago. I was drinking a Coors Light on the beach and I was talking to someone about the industry and how everyone was going craft. While we appreciate craft and what everyone is doing, we wanted something that was more along the lines of your major domestic beers. And with craft beers, all the ingredients are very heavy, high in alcohol, tend to be very filling, and crush your palate so that you can't really have multiple in one setting. And no one was really bridging the gap between the two. So we just decided to do it.

What really went into creating the perfect House Beer?
Brendan Sindell: The beer took about a few years to create the right liquor before we launch. We were in business for two years and prior to that was another two years figuring it out, finding brewers, and working with them to create the right beer that we wanted. There was a lot of trial and error, but we were lucky to work with people who have done it before. We wanted to create a certain type of beer, but we also wanted to build a brand that was a representation of our lifestyle and generation. The majority of beer companies do not not strike a chord with our audience. And the craft beers are so specialized that they're not really reaching us as well.

Keegan Gibbs: I think what's important to acknowledge is the fact that the major domestic guys are throwing massive marketing dollars and our millennial generation can see right through that BS. It's just unauthentic. So we wanted to make a beer that our generation can call as their own. So we were drinking Coors Light, but why were we? What were they doing for us as entertainment, or reaching us, or educating us, or even creating a brand that we relate with?

Brendan Sindell: And a liquid!

Keegan Gibbs: And the liquid as well. House Beer is a much more mature quality than what a Coors Light would be.

What is hard for you guys to step into a market that is so saturated?
Brendan Sindell: I think that goes back to us not having much experience in the beginning and not knowing the industry. Being naive has helped us because if we knew how powerful these companies were and what it took to start a beer company, we probably wouldn't have done this. But there was definitely strength in our naiveness right there. But you're right, the beer market is very saturated. There hasn't been a new domestic lager for 50 plus years and everyone who is entering the industry now is all craft. But that's still only 20% of the market. If you take 100 consumers, only 20 of them are drinking heavy craft beers. the rest are drinking major domestic and imports. And we're actually the only ones going in there trying to bridge the gap and create a better version of those domestic beers. While it is saturated, we're the only ones doing what we're doing.

Keegan Gibbs: We're really trying to own that second category that lies in between the domestics and crafts.

You guys are only brewing one lager; why is that?
Brendan Sindell: It really goes back to our story and why we decided to go into this business in the first place: it's because that's what we want to drink. We're not here to chase fad, whether it's a cider or an IPA, that's not what we want. We want a better everyday drinking beer, plain and simple.

Keegan Gibbs: We do not want to overcomplicate the choices that are already there and just have that one go-to beer that you can always go back to. If you are a craft beer drinker you can have your craft beers but when you want to have something light at the end of the night or at a barbecue, you can go and have a House brew.

Breandan Sindell: It's something you can take to the beach, but it's also something you enjoy with a burger or pizza. So it's really dynamic.

How long did it take you to find the right iteration of beer?
Brendan Sindell: Long.

Keegan Gibbs: It took us about six months to a year to find an iteration that we really liked. Then we had to take that from a small homebrew system in a garage and then upscale that into a full production at a brewing facility, which was a whole new set of hurdles we had to then figure out how to attack.

Brendan Sindell: It's like baking a dozen cookies in an oven and then having to bake 20 dozen cookies in a different kitchen. You don't just multiply the flour by 20. Things aren't linear.

What was that moment like for you once you got the right taste?
Keegan Gibbs: There's been a couple moments. That homebrew, we all were in one of our living rooms and drinking with the brewers and we took a sip, and then were like "That's it!" And then a year later after going through some brewing issues when we were first trying to scale up, we'd get a batch and after it was done fermenting and cracked open a can and it tasted the same. We had a few moments of that.

What have been your biggest hurdles while creating House Beer?
Brendan Sindell: I think scaling was one and then finding a brew partner at a contract brewery that actually cares about the liquid. You can go to a handful of these contract breweries in the country but at the end of the day, they don't care if you're a small guy like us. We're not keeping their lights on, so their attention to detail is probably not all there. So finding one that really cares about the product their putting out was tough. But we found one in Denver.

Keegan Gibbs: They're young guys who are super cool, very passionate, and very educated about brewing. It's nice to have people that we trust and vice versa.

What is the biggest thing each of you has learned from this process?
Brendan Sindell: Literally everything. I know now more about brewing process than I ever though I would. Everything from brewing beer to building brands to building a company, it's all very new to us.

Keegan Gibbs: Pretty much every single bit of information is new to us so it's been really fun.

What do you think consumers don't know about their beers that they should?
Brendan Sindell: Let's put it this way, people who drink major domestic beers probably don't know what's actually going into those beers ingredient-wise. And people who are drinking craft and only craft, and look down on people who only drink domestics need to realize how hard it is to make a very clean larger. It's way harder than any type of IPA, just because if there's any flaw in the beer itself it can't be masked by hops or specialty grains.

What do you hope consumers will takeaway from House Beer?
Brendan Sindell: It's us. We're the biggest differentiator. We're just the little guy, but we're putting the best ingredients into this.

What has been the most surreal moment in your career so far?
Brendan Sindell: It was initially after we first launched walking into a bar. Now I'm kind of immune to it, but when I walked into a random bar and someone I don't know at all is sitting there drinking your product.

Keegan Gibbs: That was still me last night. We were at a bar and there was some random dude and he ordered a House Beer. It still catches me off guard!

#OnOurRadar is a feature that showcases creative minds and up-and-coming talents. To see more of past interviews, click here.

And for more beer news, watch the video below!

Brits Lose Taste for Lager, Turn to Ale

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