Crooked Path

Opening a brewery is no easy thing, but two friends are hopping to it

The strain of opening a brewery on top of working regular day jobs has started to take its toll on Ben Vernon, a co-owner of the month-old Crooked Tooth Brewing Company.

The work doesn’t stop for Vernon, who labors at his day job until 3:30 p.m. and then heads to Crooked Tooth to work until 12:30 a.m.

“I get like three to four hours of sleep a night,” Vernon said. “I got more sleep when I was getting my education. I’ve pulled more all-nighters here than I did at school. Sometimes I start a brew at 6:30 in the morning and finish at 7:30 the next morning.”

It’s a similar story for brewery partner Armando Basurto, who also owns a car dealership and has prior experience working at Barrio Brewing Company, where he learned “how a well-oiled machine is run.” He’s been brewing beer for four years, but has learned a lot from Vernon, whom Basurto called his “mentor.”

In addition to having 15 years of brewing experience under his belt, Vernon also uses his expertise as an environmental chemist to help in the brewing process.

“I love geeking out on this stuff,” Vernon said. “I like to know water chemistry. I like to know the reactions of what’s occurring.”

While the two friends have plenty of history brewing beer together, the transition to operating a brewery has been understandably difficult. The brewing process itself has stayed the same, but with much larger quantities. Between that and the numerous business decisions to be made, it’s taken to time adjust.

“The amount you’re making is a big change,” Vernon said. “Going from 10 gallons to 310 gallons is a big difference, your efficiency changes. It’s been a tough transition getting to understand the system, getting to understand how fast you’re going to go through beer and understanding what your busy nights are.”

Crooked Tooth, located at 228 E. 6th St., is always experimenting with new beers to add to their lineup, which the owners change every week or two. The flagship beers that are regulars on the menu are the West Coast style IPA, the Prohibition Cream Ale and the Dwarfish Ale.

“We just try to keep a variety going throughout the whole year,” Basurto said. “We have a blonde, a strawberry milk stout and the holiday IPA that’s sitting in the fermenters. Those are the two next ones we’ll be putting out in a week or two.”

The name Crooked Tooth comes from the idea of embracing imperfection. “Relish in being unique, relish in having a crooked tooth and having a mole or a lazy eye or whatever it may be,” Vernon said. “We apply that to our brewing techniques: Make beers that no one else may make, try something different and see what happens.”

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