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Julio Espinoza

What inspired you to do the Brewlab course?
My interest in craft beer began around 2010. A good friend of mine came back from studying in the United States where he was amazed by the amount of brewpubs that served fresh and delicious craft beer. He then convinced me to start homebrewing together. A few months later I quit my job at a lobbying firm, leaving behind my career in politics, to fly over to North England to attend Brewlab and become a brewer. It was certainly a tough decision but I couldn´t be happier to have let beer change my life.

What areas of the Brewlab course were most beneficial to you?
The Brewlab course was very comprehensive. Since my intention was to start a business, perhaps the practical side of the course was more beneficial to me. At least half of the course consisted in brewing my own batch or working at a brewery. This helped me obtain a good picture of what I needed to do and figure when I went back to Quito. It is difficult to find help and advice in Ecuador because the craft beer industry is almost nonexistent. I tried to absorb as much as I could from my practical experience in the UK for setting up my brewery at home

Was there a part of the course you particularly liked/enjoyed?
Doing visits to different breweries and to the malting companies was very interesting. Having all the equipment and raw material for brewing almost any beer we wanted was also a great thing about the course. Being able to brew a different batch each week for almost three months gave me enough experience to formulate the recipes I am currently brewing in my microbrewery.

If you decided you set up yourself, how is it going?
I started my company in January 2012. It was really annoying in the beginning because I had to deal with several legal procedures and paperwork. Finally in August of 2012 I was able to brew the first batch of Andes Brewing Co. I didn´t have labels or definite recipes yet but I had the chance to gather many focus groups and obtain feedback of my brews. I didn´t have a logo or any sort of institutional image until November 2012. I asked a friend who is an artist to draw a flying pig for my brewery and I was really happy with the last sketch.
In January 2013 I started to officially distribute my product and in March I reached my full capacity. It has been very exciting and dynamic. I launched the product in a gourmet food festival in December 2012 where I was able to meet many food business owners and journalists. Since then I have done beers tastings to restaurant owners, chefs, and even foreign diplomats. I have been able to see that people are excited about my product because it is not common in Ecuador, and there is a new and evident interest for craft beer in the local market.

How much beer do you produce?
I am currently producing 120 liter each week. This amount gives me 360 bottles of 330ml that fit in 14 boxes, each containing 24 units. It hasn´t been too difficult to sell all my production because it is still pretty small, but I´m two weeks from doubling that amount. This will allow me to find new interesting clients that will help me promote Andes Brewing a lot more.

Do you have a recipe you are most proud of?
I´m still polishing my Pale Ale where I use the dry hopping technique. Sometimes this one is my favorite but the Red Ale is clearly the people´s first choice. It´s a deep amber ale with a fruity and spicy aroma and a sweet taste. However it leaves a bitter aftertaste which I think complements the beer. It usually runs out before the rest style of beers and a clients often ask for more of that brew. It seems, however, that it is best to drink it by itself. I still haven´t found an attracting food pairing.

What plans do you have for the future?
I´m currently quoting a new 800 liters brewing kit. For this I´m going to need adequate the spaces where there brewery will be set and plan the logistics for distributing this much bigger amount. I´m currently delivering the boxes myself and I won´t be able to do this obviously with this new brewery. I am also planning on using my logo for selling all kinds of accessories. People find my flying pig logo attractive and many have asked if I have t shirts, stickers or printed cups. I figures that this business can also be about selling a brand and a whole experience rather than just a beer.

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