Startup. Fifteen. Rail Splitter.
At what point does something change so drastically over time that it is no longer the sum of its original parts or ideas? It may be recognizable as the original, but it is wholly different throughout.
Throughout his life in Central Illinois, Abraham Lincoln had many professions and did many odd-jobs. Operator of a general store, officer in The Blackhawk War, attorney, state legislator, the list goes on. Perhaps lesser known though is the occupation of rail splitter. This is an individual who splits logs for building fences. In my recollection, these timbers are split into a rough triangular shape and horizontally fit into vertical posts placed at regular intervals to form a rudimentary barrier. Something you would see at any sort of 19th century historical site. Presumably, a rail splitter would use an axe to accomplish this task, No doubt Lincoln used an axe himself. And likely, this axe was still used after Lincoln became president. No doubt at some point, probably after his assassination, the significance of this tool was realized and it was placed in a collection somewhere.
Maybe great value was placed on this axe; maybe it was passed on for a great sum of money later on. But was it really the axe that Abraham used? Sure. The immediate user of the axe after him had to replace the wooden handle some time later as it had become worn and eventually split down the middle with an exceptionally vigorous strike. Later still, the axe is being used by the son of the man who originally acquired the tool from Lincoln. Perhaps he accidentally strike a stone with an exceptionally vigorous swing, and shatters the axe head. The business end is replaced, and it’s still recognizable as Lincoln’s axe— but it is entirely different. It’s a new tool. No part of which Lincoln ever used or owned. The folklore surrounding this object remains that it was Lincoln’s axe. The value of that folklore remains with the object and it is eventually passed onto the collector who pays a great sum for a damn axe. A fine axe for splitting rails. But not an axe that Sixteen ever used.
I once received three credit hours at a public university for a semester course named Lincoln: The Man and His Times. I have no idea if he ever even owned an axe. A long but simple metaphor. I probably could have gone on about how The Mayflower went on another voyage but every board, mast, and sail was replaced at sea throughout the course of its journey at sea, but for a guy from Central Illinois, Lincolns Axe seemed much more comfortable. Blue Tape is constantly changing. The longer we take to get this thing off the ground, the more it is unrecognizable to me as its original form. From the outside looking in, we are still a brewing company without a brewery. Same as we were 3 years ago. Internally nothing is the same.
3 years ago we formed an LLC in a state where we no longer live. 2 and a half years ago we launched this website. 18 months ago we left Illinois to live in Charleston, South Carolina. 1 year ago we dissolved the LLC, a couple of weeks ago I redesigned this website and in the next weeks we may not be living in Charleston. When the original idea of this company was incepted, we intended to make the beer we wanted to drink. (Which is literally what every brewery owner does. The reason we have so much variety is because thankfully we all have different palates). And why not, we were basically making beer to drink and maybe get drunk. Our co-workers didn’t mind the extras. Simpler times. I wanted to make varied hop-forward pale ales and big-ass stouts. Maybe a Gose and oh yea we have this awesome witbier.
Did I mentioned the saison? It’s a banger. Still is. So we decided to build a brewing company around it.
Aurelia was the first recipe I ever created. Prior to that it was home brew kits, or recipes off the internet, or something that the local home brew store helped me create on the fly. At the time of creating this recipe I was really into amber ales, loved saison, and was starting to try more hop-forward pale beers (I had just been to Three Floyds for the first time) and thus, Aurelia was born. Burnt amber in color with French Saison aromatics, a slight caramel sweetness and bursting tropical flavors. What a beer! But even Aurelia is evolving. The color is too dark, the peppery aromatics are too low, the caramel character is out of sync. Could always use more tropical fruit. We are going to replace the handle; the axe head isn’t far behind.
Another simplified metaphor. Aurelia is just a microcosm. Blue Tape was originally going to be a brewpub with self distribution. Upon arrival in SC, it became a brewery with a taproom. With this next move being thrust upon us, we are hoping that we have a paradigm shift at hand. What if a brewery could be something more than just a place that makes an serves beer? How can we travel past the obvious and provide an experience that is beyond beer. We have known what we want to do beyond the pale ale for a long time, but we are just now realizing how to execute it. Now we just need the means. And we need to know where we are going to be living next week.