Ten Year Talk With Marble Founder Ted Rice
What was the biggest obstacle you ran into when starting up Marble Brewery?
Thankfully, I had some great partners to help me start up the business. At that time, it was easy to find used equipment. We found a brewery that went out of business in South Bend, IN. Working with Jeff and John (note: Jeff Jinnett and John Gozigian, initial partners in Marble Brewery), who had experience in setting up the front-of-house side, my focus was really on sourcing the equipment and making great beer. They handled all the licensing so I was able to concentrate on what I was good at. One of the biggest obstacles was the ability to meet demand. We were adding equipment as fast as we could and ran out of space. But as far as obstacles when actually opening, I can’t recall anything major. We were pretty blessed.
In an IPA town, what made you think Double White (inspired by Southhampton Double White, brewed in Ted’s hometown Long Island, NY) would work?
I never knew Double White would become what it has become. It is a style I thought was unique to the southwestern landscape and a style that would work well in this region. We followed our passion on this one and it’s turned out to be a unicorn for us. It’s a beer I continue to drink on a regular basis.
Do you want it known to the world that you also drink Dos Equis with lime on a regular basis?
You know, that’s totally fine with me! For awhile there, I was a total snob and would turn my nose up at mass-produced industrial lagers. But when you are so deep in the industry and every sip is a critique of what you’ve done or what other brewers have produced, sometimes you want to take a step back to a simpler form of beer that is still satisfying and rewarding. It’s like taking a little vacation from the workplace.
Over the years your role has shifted from brewing and being hands-on in every facet to more of an overseeing position with day-long meetings and big-picture focus. Do you ever miss just being alone in the brewery and lugging around sacks of grain?
No. So, I started out washing kegs in 1996, and I think the last time I physically brewed a batch of beer was sometime in early 2014. I had many years of running breweries from A-Z. But at this point in my career, at the stage I’m in, I’m still hands-on in many ways. I can steer things in the back-of-house from equipment to layout to process to recipe design. Then there’s the front side with regards to service and ambiance and design element. And then there’s the distribution side as well, going out there and talking to customers, talking to buyers, talking to distributors. So it’s really about being more diversified these days and I’m really enjoying my current seat.
Where do you see Marble 10 years from now?
I think first, it makes me think of how it feels to be 10 years old. We’re still a child, I suppose, when you think of the history of brewing and the other leaders in the craft industry who have been here a long time. When we first found 111 Marble Ave., I thought 5,000 barrels brewed in 5,000 square feet would be a good balance of production to square footage and it seemed like a good amount of beer to me. When I brewed at Chama, we maybe did 1,600 barrels. So when we brewed 5,000 barrels in our first full calendar year in 2009, I guess I got a clue that things were going to steadily take off. I never envisioned Marble, it was never my aspiration to have Marble become some worldwide dominant brewery…but you never know, maybe we will be (laughs), because people love our beer. Back in 2008, when we first opened and we were packed with customers the first night, I never saw us with two breweries, three taprooms, 130 employees, and selling as much beer as we do. In 2017, we sold 20,000 barrels of beer, which is not that much when you think that some of the largest craft breweries sell about a million barrels. But we’re on the up and making our impact in the southwest region. In ten years? I hope we continue to make great beer and love what we do and prosper because of that.