How We Started
In Iceland, a college student was talked into becoming a homebrewer.
It didn't take much convincing. I'd say that's where and when we really began.
From that point on, everyone who came into contact with Chris Keefe started brewing beer (including myself). We started doing research, reading books, experimenting with recipes.
Early on, we went on geologic field trips to California and were introduced to the west coast IPAs. Obviously after that the focus turned to hops:
Hops are cool. Hops grow fast. Hops smells good. Hey, I like IPAs.
Somewhere along the way, we graduated college, got jobs, and started our "real-world" lives. But we weren't satisfied. Hops and beer were always our passion.
It's all we ever talked about.
It's what we love.
So, eventually as an experiment (we're scientists) Chris and Leandra Keefe (then Baker, photo above) planted some rhizomes at Leandra's parents house. Once they started to grow, everyone got excited. A short while after that Chris planted a few more at his apartment in Troy, NY (photo above). They started to grow. And fast.
In turn, that planted the seed (rhizome) in our minds: Maybe one day we could do this on a larger scale.
Maybe this could be a business.
We did more research and continued to learn more and more about hops. They were having a lot of fun with them out west, so why couldn't we?
Fast forward a year or so: Chris and Leandra get married and buy a house. With a house comes a backyard, and with a backyard comes hops. So they tilled and planted. Then they tilled and planted some more. It wasn't too long before they had 85 plants growing in their backyard .
During this time I (Joey Krikorian) moved to Philadelphia to get a job. I was of little help there but wanted to be a part of it. We started talking about the potential of starting a business. So I began coming up with ideas. We'd get together every few days either via video chat or in person on the weekends to discuss our ideas and the next steps of our plan (and also to brew).
We all fell in love with this idea. And so, every conversation turned into us wanting and needing to do what we love.
Things started to happen fast. When Chris and Leandra bought a truck...it was almost like it became official. After that purchase I went to visit. The three of us stayed up very late discussing where to buy land, what to grow, do we try to go organic?.. We covered every aspect of our plan, but mostly how serious we were about starting this business. That was the most important moment of the past few years. It was when we went from talking about it to doing something about it.
The next thing we needed was a name. It was turning out to be harder than we thought. Every time we had an idea, a trademark search would put an end to it. But throughout the naming process, every so often a text message from Leandra would come in: "I like ventifact" was all it ever said. We started to discuss it. We wanted a name that meant a lot to us. Most importantly, we wanted a name that represented us. Our likes, our friendship - more or less our lives. Geology and Earth Science was and is a big part of our lives, we are geologists anyway. It's how we met, it's how we started brewing beer, it's what led us here. Plus, there are few features in the world cooler than a ventifact.
The next day we had a website, and twitter and Facebook accounts.
And that's how we began: A small group of people who took their combined passions for hops, beer, and wanting to do what they love and did something about it.
That's how a dream grew into reality.
Chris, Leandra, Joe.