Episode #002 Cueni
What an awesome time with Founders/Co-Founders Bren & Jon Cueni. Located in the main downtown Dunedin area is Cueni Brewing Company. Among the town there are plenty of places to stop and have a good beer and what’s neat is there is something for just about everyone.
While speaking with Jon and Bren, we were able to discover the story of how they came to Florida. What started them on the craft beer path, what it is like be surrounded by a booming beer town, the many types of events they run, and more.
Below we have provided some show notes to follow along with if you would like. Besides hosting our podcast here on the website, we also have it streaming on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, and Tune In.
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0:40 – Intro Notes: Discussion between Coco & the Pool Boy about getting ready to travel to upstate NY for some beer, cider, and mead tours. There is some new laws that have passed about farm brewing which we want to explore. Also we discuss show growth female hormones in beer, the new opening of Clearwater Brewing Company and preview to Cueni.
10:10 The name is hard to say, the beer is harder to resist. The big question of the day, how do you say Cueni?
11:10 – Where do Jon & Bren come from? What did you do before craft beer?
11:55 – Jon talks about how he thought home brew was non-sense but somehow started getting in to it. Then it became an obsession or passion depending how you look at it.
13:20 – Bren was a bit more varied. Worked for non-profit management, match making, and other unique careers.
13:54 – The love of beer started in Ohio. While it seemed a bit weird at first, the great beer scene helped them fall in love with craft. While they thought about opening in Ohio, they decided a big life change should be done properly.
The start of the journey
15:41 – They originally looked at Costa Rica as a brewery spot, however, that included too many headaches. Plus, community is very important to them and there was not a lot of that in Costa Rica.
17:22 – They came home February in Ohio and had to contemplate whether this dream would be realistic or not at this time. Florida was a big option because of the lack of winter. So they went for a visit to Tampa and St. Petersburg and ended up falling in love with Dunedin and Safety Harbor.
18:40 – What was the beer scene back when they visited in 2015? Jon talks about how it was a bit behind at the time but how it’s really catching up now.
19:54 – Was it expected to see a big boom in Dunedin? They really looked at community and between Safety Harbor and Dunedin they liked Dunedin because there was a few breweries to choose from. They really did not want to be the first in a town.
22:54 – What was the building originally? It was a dry cleaner and the garage doors is a neat way to open the place up. Being indoor and outdoor is a nice touch with the Florida weather.
24:00 – They felt that conversation was the most important part of the place. No TV’s or live music, but things like game nights and opportunities to get to know new people.
24:59 – With the surrounding breweries, each can be similar and unique and that is part of the fun. You can walk around and compare the different interpretations of a style of beer.
27:20 Who has had the biggest impact on your journey? They have a ton of help from local breweries and from some back in Ohio. However, owners of Dunedin Brewery have been super helpful as mentors with the many years of experience they have had.
29:30 – They discuss the collaboration beer they did with De Bine. However, this is a difficult thing to do. With no self distribution it is a nightmare in Florida to collab with other brewers. Plus there are some other laws that Bren discusses are a focus to changing beer in Florida.
32:35 – What does Bren do? She handles the social media, events, and overall operations of the business. She talks about the many types of pairing events that she watches over.
33:36 – Jon makes it very clear he does not get behind the bar unless its to fill his glass. He is happier in the brewery and it takes a toll on him just taking care of that aspect.
Let’s discuss the beer
35:19 – Jon talks about how often he brews. There is a difference between summer and winter season. Plus he has to constantly clean kegs, and is the handy man around shop so always fixing whatever breaks.
36:40 – Jon describes the size of his brews at Cueni, some of the techniques, and some of the challenges he has with the space.
37:50 – Jon does not like brewing with pumpkin or fruit in general but is ok with using real fruit instead of the carbonated fruit that many do. But being a traditional beer lover he hates himself for actually liking some of the beers like the Orange Creamsicle. But brewing with fruit is quite messy.
39:15 – The trick is using fruit to accentuate the beer not masks it.
40:26 – Jon does keep some seasonality with the beer. He does keep dark beers in the summer because people like it but likes having a saison or session IPA for summer and things like that.
41:15 – The Belgian Triple is a gold medal winner and the one he is proud of most. He loves La Fin du Monde by Unibroue and that was his gateway beer into Belgian’s. He loves that style and very proud of his interpretation of it.
43:24 – Like many brewers, you don’t always like every beer on the menu. You want it brewed well, but can’t particularly like every beer due to taste.
43:45 – Holy Grail Pale Ale is Bren’s choice because it gluten reduced. With a gluten issue, she has no issue with this beer. Granted if you have Celiac’s its not safe but for many with a slight intolerance, this is a great beer option. They also have plenty of ciders and wines at all times though.
45:31 – Jon and Bren talk about a special enzyme that actually binds the molecules of gluten and drops it out of the beer solution.
46:55 – Columbus Brewings Pale is the beer that got Bren hooked on craft beer. For Jon, it was Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, and of course Unibroue and St. Bernardus..
48:19 – I discuss the topic of ice verse warm beer in Costa Rica. Ice is nasty but Bren says even here they get people requesting ice.
49:15 – What is the Randall? Every Sunday 3-6 they do a new randall. It can include hops, candy, caramel, coffee, and some other unique flavors. It’s a fun way to experiment and mug club members get to offer suggestions.
51:05 – It is not easy to use. Can cause the beer to pour straight foam and tough on staff. We get into some of the tips to make it work despite the challenges.
53:40 – The randall was an the source of discovery to coffee blonde ales. Not a night drink due to upper and downer crash.
56:05 – Neat to have a new beer for 3 hours. Good way to test it out for future beers. One they loved was a staff suggestion which was a Lavendar and Vanilla Saison. Was a wonderful beer but really not something to make on a big scale because Saison is hard to sell here as is.
57:30 – Jon is so expressive with his facial expressions. Then Coco asks the hard question, how long have you been married?
58:30 – Every month they do cupcake and beer pairings. They often do cheese and beer pairings. While this episode airs after the Taste of Science and HOB event talking about yeast, they always have awesome events to discuss.
Thank you for checking out the show. We had a blast recording this episode.
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