Hanging out in Colby Cox’s garage is kind of reminiscent of high school.
There’s a recording of a live Phish show playing through the stereo. There’s the one guy (Adam Chenault) who keeps going to the fridge for beers and pouring them for the girls.
“Try this one,” he says. “It’s more of a Belgian style. That seems to be what you like.”
We all just stand around, talking, while we sample different beers and get our buzz on.
I say “kind of like” high school because there is one major difference. This is no ordinary, lawnmower-storing, pool-table playing hangout spot. This is a small brewery, with a fermentation tank, bags of grains and empty bottles awaiting a homemade brew.
But soon, these two will move their operation from this Indian Trails’ garage to the west bank. Cox, 34, and Chenault, 29, are the duo behind Roadhouse Brewing Co. and it’s new in-house brewery at the Roadhouse Restaurant and Brewery (the name is changing from Q Roadhouse).
Both picked up homebrewing years ago.
Cox’s introduction came while still in high school in Delaware, where he worked for his buddy’s Dogfish Head Brew Co. on the bottling line.
In 2007 he began making his own beer.
These days, medals from homebrewing competitions hang on the garage wall, over a replica of the same system used at Dogfish to make craft beer.
Chenault’s introduction came at 22, just after graduating from University of Maine. He brewed his first batch using a five gallon bucket in a dorm room.
“The first beer I made was probably so bad I spit it all over the room,” he says. “But I probably drank it.”
The homebrewing movement is one that is growing nationally.
The American Homebrewers Association doesn’t keep statistics about just how many of its members are from Teton County.
But Cox guesses there are least 100.
“We had one homebrewers meeting a couple of years ago, and more than 50 people showed,” he says. “Since then I have met 20 or so others. There are quite a few.”
About 18 months ago, Cox and Chenault began brewing together.
To put it simply, they brew beers they like to drink and can’t find here in Wyoming (though, if you’re looking for anything, chances are Cox has it in his beer cellar). Namely, Belgian-style beers.
During one of many homebrewing sessions, they hatched an idea: Let’s start a brew pub.
“But what we didn’t want to do was run a restaurant,” Chenault said. “So we thought ‘Who does like to run restaurants.’ ”
They took the idea to friend Gavin Fine, who has successfully pioneered other ventures such as Rendezvous Bistro, Il Villaggio Osteria and his latest Bin22, a wine bar in town.
It didn’t take much convincing, Cox says, for the Fine Dining empire to decide to add an in-house brewery to its offerings at the Roadhouse. They renovated part of the restaurant, and brought in top-of-the-line equipment, now encased behind a glass wall. Brew beer just steps from the dining room.
“It’s every homebrewer’s dream to be a professional brewer,” Chenault says.
The brewery will be opening its first taps by the end of the month, and plans to be in full swing by mid-March for a grand opening, Cox says.
Roadhouse Brewing Co. will offer Five main brews to start:
•Sacred Creed, a Belgian style Saison, 6 to 7 percent alcohol
•Rhombus IPA, a Rocky Mountain IPA, 7.5 percent alcohol
•Rutherford the Brave, a seasonal winter porter, 8.5 percent
•Siren Song, a Belgian strong ale with 16 percent (this will be their first seasonal and not a regular at the roadhouse)
•Powerful Pils, a refreshing Pilsner, with a healthy amount of west coast hops, 5.5 percent alcohol
What’s even cooler? Spent grains will be provided to Mead Ranch in Kirby, to supplement the feed for their cattle, which in turn will yield the restaurant’s proprietary beef blend, a beer-to-table concept that allows you to enjoy a locally sourced burger next to the beer that nourished it.
So expect more exciting things in the works. Chenault and Cox have plans to experiment with old Wyoming Whiskey and chardonnay barrels. And they want to do some stuff with coffee and sweet potatoes (though not together). And they’re not opposed to bottling, either.
Here some more pictures for our afternoon: