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How Restaurant Experience Helped A Brewery Grow

Craftlab: The Podcast Episode 4 With Gavin Toth, Divine Barrel Brewing

Gavin Toth, founder of Divine Barrel in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a big believer in the beauty of craft beer. 

“Beer is art, if you ask any brewer,” he says. “[Breweries] are a community of artists, and sharing that love helps us build this community.” 

Divine Barrel became part of that community back in 2018, when Toth launched the brewery along with his two business partners, Ben Dolphens and Scott Davis. Gavin had been a home brewer for 10 years before that. He also has an extensive background in the restaurant industry. Now, his business card says he “manages generally” — a nod to “The Office” and to Gavin’s role overseeing all front-of-house logistics for Divine Barrel. 

“I want to provide great service. Service to me is paramount. I want everybody on our team to be able to answer any question that they can,” he says. 

The past two years have brought a lot of change for Divine Barrel. For one, the brewery went from canning 10% of its beer to 100% before slowly backing off to around 40% today. And despite everything, it grew. In 2019, Divine Barrel brewed 650 barrels. In 2020, that total was just short of 1,200. 

In this episode, Gavin talks through Divine Barrel’s strategy to always keep the customer guessing — there is never a set tap list — as well as its strategies for growth and people management. 

Cheers! And thank you for listening. 

Show Notes: 

What’s in a name, according to Divine Barrel: Divine Barrel Brewing may seem like a straight-forward name, but like everything we do here, there’s always a much deeper intention. 

The word “Divine” is derived from some fairly simple definitions. One definition we’re particularly fond of is, “unusually lovely.” All beer should be cared for and nurtured into meeting its full potential. This is as true for fun, experimental beers packed with adjuncts as it is for brewing traditional beers honoring the many who came before us, such as lagers or wood-fermented and aged wilds and sours. The entire process is a crazy combination of brewing prowess, ingredients, time, oak, and some divine intervention from outside forces that all play a role in beers like these becoming greater than the sum of their parts…or, unusually lovely.

The “Barrel” part of our name should be more self-explanatory but shouldn’t be overlooked. We have a growing family of specialty spirits and oak barrels with the ability to harbor wild cultures for our various sour beer projects. They also allow us the ability to age fun beer projects, like luxurious stouts, barley wines, and numerous other clean beers with unique barrel treatments. On top of that, the wood itself becomes an ingredient and offers up some of its own character to these finished beers.

Ultimately, our name came from the combination of our passion for quality beer, much finger crossing, and the unique role wood plays in fermenting and aging in hopes we’ve created something that will be memorable and amazing.

For more information, visit the Divine Barrel website here. 

Gavin’s book recommendation: 

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