Jeremy and Natalie Roberts’s idea to start a brewery came to them in the most appropriate way possible: buzzed and inside a brewery. “My wife and I owned a financial coaching business at the time,” Jeremy told us. “When we’d travel around the country, we’d always hit up a local brewery at the end of the day. One night, six or seven beers in, my wife said, ‘Why don’t we open a brewery in Sherman?’ I was like, ‘Heck yeah! That’s what I’m talking about!’ On the flight home, when we were both sober, I said, ‘Hey, were you serious about opening a brewery in Sherman?’ And she was like, ‘No! Were you?’ And I was like, ‘Yes!’”
In 2011, Jeremy and Natalie opened 903 Brewers, and it quickly became a staple of the Sherman community, as well as a major player in Dallas’s craft beer scene. (Seriously, try their The Land of Milk and Honey stout - it’s killer.)
We recently sat down with founder and head brewer Jeremy Roberts to talk beer and beards.
Beard Supply Co: Where did the name 903 come from?
Jeremy Roberts: Well, that’s the toughest thing. My wife and I just had our first child, and it’s like, how do you come up with a name? They’re stuck with it for the rest of their life. When we were naming our brewery, I thought it would be egotistical if we named it “Roberts Brewing Company” or “Jeremy’s Brewing Company” because then it’s just mine. We wanted this place to reflect our community. So we named it 903, which is our area code. Actually, 903 represents the whole northeast of Texas. It’s one of the largest area codes in the state.
Once I started researching it, I learned this is the third area code we’ve had in the last 30 years. So when we opened the brewery, I visited the people in charge of the area code, and I was like, “We can’t change it now.” They all laughed. I was like, “No, I’m serious.”
BSc: What part of the job makes you happiest to be a brewer?
JR: The part where I get to wake up every day and do what I love. Very few people wake up every day of their life and say, “This is what I was born to do, and this is what I’ll do for the rest of my life.” I can drink beer at 9 in the morning, and no one is going to judge me. I’m drinking a beer right now. It’s 10:30 a.m. You can’t judge me. I own a brewery, man.
BSc: I was just like, “Oh, this is normal. This is fine.”
JR: At the end of the day, we’re running a business. So I can’t get buzzed all day long. But that’s a big part of it.
BSc: What are you drinking, by the way?
JR: It’s one of our beers called Sasquatch.
BSc: How do you come up with the names for your beers? Do you think of the names first?
JR: No. You never name a beer before you brew it. If you name it before you brew it, then you’re in big trouble. What happens is while you’re brewing your beer, you have a nickname for it, but that’s not going to be its permanent name. Once it’s brewed, you put it on your tap wall and you drink it. You drink a lot of it. You want to get a good buzz from it. And that’s when you come up with its name.
BSc: You have to get buzzed on the beer you’re naming.
JR: Correct. So with Sasquatch, what we wanted was a beer with 10% alcohol. During the fermentation process, this stuff just started bubbling up out of the fermenter. We’d never had a beer do that before. We’d used a lot of chocolate and roasted malt, so it was this thick, dark, sticky mess, and the brewery smelled amazing. But I had to clean it up, so I was pissed off.
Anyway, when it came time to name it, it was me, the guy who helped me come up with the recipe, and this other random guy who happened to walk into the brewery right then. He was like, “You open?” and we were like, “No, but we’re testing a new beer. Come on in.” I didn’t know the guy, and I never saw him again; but he came and sat down, and we all poured ourselves a pint of this new beer. We smelled it and it smelled great. We took a sip and we were like, “Shit, this doesn’t taste like 10%.” We thought we’d messed up. At 10% it’s supposed to have this little burning linger. So we started looking through our notes, at everything we’d done, upset because we’d missed the mark.
Meanwhile, we’re drinking two, three pints of this stuff, and we’re getting happy because we’re all pretty buzzed. Then the guy who helped me come up with the recipe gets up to go to the bathroom, and he falls flat on the ground. I was behind the bar laughing. I’m like, “That damned old Sasquatch snuck up and got you!” Because you never see Sasquatch coming. That’s how he gets you. So we settled on the name Sasquatch. When people ask me if I’m sure it’s 10%, I say, “Yes. It’s 10%.” We have a two-pint limit on it. If you have that third one, you’re not getting out alive.
BSc: What’s the connection between beards and brewers?
JR: I think razor companies brainwashed us to think a clean-shaven man was a businessman. What’s funny is that a lot of brewers came from the corporate world where they had to wear a suit and tie, and have a clean-shaven face. Now that they’re brewers, they’re just letting their beards grow. It was similar for me. When I was speaking at seminars as a financial planner, one of the lines in the contract would include me having a clean-shaven face. I couldn’t even have one- or two-day scruff. I had to shave that morning or I wasn’t getting paid. I hated it. I’m the type of person who if you tell me to do something, I instantly become rebellious. Growing a beard is about freedom for me. Now I can grow my beard as long as I want. And I am.
BSc: What beard wisdom do you have for us?
JR: Don’t trim it, man. Let it grow. I’m not the best at maintaining my beard. I use beard oil probably four days a week. As soon as I get out of the shower, I rub it in. It gives it this nice shine. But my beard doesn’t always look perfect. One thing you have to realize is that your beard isn’t always going to grow in this perfect shape that you see in magazines. You really have to work at it. Comb it. Teach it how to grow. Another important thing I have to tell you is about eating. At first I really cared when there was food in my beard. Now I just tell people, “My beard’s got to eat too.”
BSc: It’s hungry!
JR: It’s hungry!
BSc: Anything else?
JR: I get sweaty in the summertime.
BSc: Can we have a beer?
JR: That’s what I’m talking about!