Bond’s Brewing to Offer Quality Craft Beer, Food and Atmosphere
LARAMIE -- A recent “study” claimed the Cowboy State is one of the worst places in the country for beer lovers, ranking 41st nationwide, and that the quality score is a composite of reviews from the five most popular craft beers in each state. Wyoming ranked 41st?
Don’t tell that to Jay and Mallory Bond. When it comes to craft beer, Wyoming may be short on quantity, but it’s long on quality. Several Cowboy State breweries have won medals at the Great American Beer Festival, including homebrews made by the Bonds.
“Pound for pound, Wyoming is the most award-winning state for breweries in the Union,” said Jay, the brewmaster at Bond’s Brewing Company in downtown Laramie. “We win more medals in the Great American Beer Cup, per capita, than any other state. That tells you something about how great Wyoming is at brewing.”
The couple is from Sheridan, WY, where they met. They have made Laramie their home with their 1-year-old daughter, Ayven. But their road to Laramie and owning and operating a brewery has been a memorable ride.
“I always liked cooking, and I always knew I wanted to brew, but didn’t know at what capacity I wanted to brew,” Jay said.
On a visit to Fort Collins, some of Mallory’s friends were into brewing.
“We were sitting around, having some beers. Right next door was a homebrew shop. We were talking about getting a kit. At first, I drove off but turned around, and I said, ‘I’m getting a kit.’ I had no idea what I was doing. But I ended up getting the kit, brewed our first beer and got really obsessed with it. I constantly read and researched brewing,” Jay said.
Jay got a job promotion shortly after his first experience in brewing and was transferred to Denver.
“Which was actually a blessing in disguise. We were about ½ mile away from one of the biggest brew shops in America. Like the Walmart of brew shops! That really catapulted our interest because we had access to everything. And we got exposure to all the Denver breweries. We got really good at tasting, then we started competing on the same level as the BJCP beer certification program.”
Jay said they started upgrading the brewing equipment and entered more competitions.
“We won a national award for our Pumpkin Ale, a silver in the biggest category of the whole year, the hardest category to win in.”
He said judging is “very subjective. Just because you have a very good beer doesn’t mean you will win. But when you’re winning awards, whether it’s a bronze, silver, or gold, you’re winning. We knew we were getting good!”
As they competed more, their reputation grew to the point where Jay was asked to judge some competitions in Colorado, in spite of the fact that he wasn’t a certified judge. Jay knew that if they could compete at that level, in an area with several breweries and thousands of home brewers, they could compete anywhere.
“We went to about 150 breweries,” Mallory said. “That’s how we did our market research. Figured out what kind of beers we really liked, and figured out what kind of atmosphere we wanted to do in our own place.”
With their exposure to the business side of the breweries they visited, combined with attending business school and their own market research, a business plan took shape.
“We thought, ‘How the hell are all these breweries around Denver succeeding,’ and their beers are not . . . what they should be? They were killing it. There were 160 breweries at the time, and none of them were failing. So we ran the financials on this place,” said Jay.
When they presented their business plan to an accountant, the numbers looked so good, he thought the Bonds had made a mistake. That’s when the couple knew they had the recipe for success.
When searching for investors, they never gave up. They were turned down 15 times before they got a yes. And all it took was one, an investor who loved the concept and financed the whole deal.
“We’re really happy to be back in Wyoming,” Mallory said. “We’re both from Wyoming, we both went to school here at the university. And after living in Colorado, we needed to slow down. It’s so much nicer here. We love being a part of this community. Small town feel is the best!”
“Why Laramie? We looked at a lot of places, but we knew we didn’t want to be in Colorado,” said Jay. “We were trying to get back to Wyoming. That was our first goal. We looked at the distribution channels here in Laramie, we knew the interstates were close by, it’s close to Colorado, it’s a college town, we lived here before, we liked the downtown, and we knew this was an upcoming kind of community and was getting progressive. Once we realized all those things, we knew we hit the jackpot. We didn’t look anywhere else. Laramie is great.”
“The summers are great, people are great . . . and we don’t have to raise you in Colorado!” said Mallory in response to little Ayven giving her 2-cents worth.
Bond’s Brewery will open their doors offering six brews. Starting from light to dark, their lightest brew is similar to a blonde ale, like a light beer, but it’s called an “adjunct beer” in the industry. It will be their “go-to” beer: good price and great taste.
A Belgian Witbier, “is a nice, summer wheat beer.” Jay said it’s one of his favorites, and it won the Colorado State Fair a few years ago.
Next is a Rhuberry, a strawberry-rhubarb ale, another favorite of Brewmaster Jay.
“When we brew it at home, we don’t tell anybody it’s on tap at our house because we like to drink it, and people will come over and drink it all! It’s really flavorful, kind of tart. A really good beer.”
The fourth brew will be a strong pale ale, a highly-hopped, 6 percent pale ale; not quite an IPA.
They’ll also brew a Scottish ale, a medium dark ale that has actually won more awards than any beer they’ve ever brewed.
“Every time we enter it, the ale medals. My Mom loves it, and she’s not a big beer drinker!”
For the stout-heads, Bond’s stout is a good one. Jay said this one is the highest-scoring beer he’s ever entered.
“There’s something for everyone,” said Mallory. “And we have a couple of seasonal beers that are going to be really good. A chili ale later in the summer, and the pumpkin ale in the fall. It’s like eating a piece of pumpkin pie!”
There are several other brews in the experimental phase, but they must nail down the recipes before letting the public try it.
Jay said they will also serve “Michelada,” a Mexican red beer that fits in the category of a Bloody Mary. The drink is made with beer, lime juice, spicy seasonings, and more often than not, tomato juice.
Bond’s Brewing Company, located in the old Sears Building at 411 S. 2nd St., will be a downtown Laramie gathering place, too, not just a brewery. Food will be served from two food trucks with a variety of food, in the rear of the brewhouse. A patio will also be available and coming soon, a rooftop patio.
The storefront will also be unique. Contractor Spiegelberg Construction of Laramie is installing garage doors, which will give the bar and restaurant area an open-air atmosphere when weather permits. Jay said the contractor will be done and out by June 25. Bond’s Brewing Company plans to be open for business on July 1. Hours will be from 11 a.m. to 12 midnight, 7 days a week.
“It’s been a challenge. It’s been a humbling experience. It’s been a dream come true, basically. You write a business plan, follow your dream, then the dream comes true right in front of your eyes. You work hard at it. It’s emotional. It’s the coolest thing ever,” Jay said.
“I suggest that everybody go and chase their dreams. All the hard work we’ve put into it, we’d just rather give back to the community. It’s going to be fun to see people’s smiles on their faces, enjoying the beer that we’ve worked hard for all these years. That’s what makes us happy.”
“We’re excited to be back in Wyoming, and be a part of the community,” Mallory said. “Giving back is a big thing for us. We’re just excited to be up and running, and hope everyone comes down to enjoy it.”