Eric Rubio Sipe may be a bearded white guy in Tucson who loves craft beer and has plans to open up his own microbrewery but, believe it or not, there are also interesting things about him. For starters, the man already had a space for his taproom rented out and he was deep into construction when I met him. You should know that The Classy Alcoholic is pretty wired into the beer scene in this state. I’m usually the first to hear about new breweries that are about to open in Arizona because the owners desperately want me to come by ever since they realized that having a guy in a suit, tie and pocket square on the premises will significantly increase their property values as long as I don’t tell anyone that I’m Mexican.
But when I met this Eric fellow in the summer of 2016 and saw him wearing a baseball cap with the name “Dillinger Brewing Company” proudly displayed, I realized he had somehow completely slipped under my radar like an ex-girlfriend who found the GPS device I had duct-taped to the bottom of her car.
See, unlike the other bearded white guys in their early 20s who can’t stop talking to me about the FREAKING AMAZING, BRO microbrewery they’re planning on opening in 2035 or whatever, Eric didn’t want to be the kind of person who talked up his brewery for years before he was actually ready to open.
Plus there was the fact that he didn’t hesitate to tell me how he hired a head brewer who would be handling all the recipes for the beer they would eventually be pouring. When I asked Eric why he wouldn’t be coming up with the recipes himself his answer was quick and to the point:
“My beer sucks. I wouldn’t sell that shit to anyone! That’s why I hired a guy who knows how to make great beer.”
I was fascinated by Eric’s self-awareness. As far as I was concerned, his lack of defensiveness when it came to his own brewing skills and his ability to admit that the stuff he made was dogshit was something that a few aspiring homebrewers could stand to internalize for a while before they tried to pour their slop to their friends who were too polite to tell them that they’ve failed at brewing and at life.
You could immediately see the excitement in Eric’s eyes when he talked about the brewer he hired. He rattled off the brewmaster’s experience working for Nimbus in Tucson, Widmer Brothers in Portland and the medals he won at The Great American Beer Festival. He talked about wanting to first focus on traditional German and American beer styles as a way to make a name for themselves before getting too experimental. He showered the brewer with praise on how he understood beer on a deep personal level.
But even though Eric’s excitement was palpable I couldn’t help but feel that his words were close to becoming rote. I didn’t doubt his passion and commitment to Dillinger Brewing Company for a second…but I also felt that his pitch was tailor-made to be quoted on Tucson’s typical array of websites and print publications. And there’s nothing typical about my blog. I’m The Motherfucking Classy Alcoholic and if there’s one thing I can do it’s dig deeper into the Arizona beer scene; far beyond anything a bitter, underpaid writer at the Arizona Daily Star newspaper could manage to write before he realizes print journalism is dead and his life has been a sham and also he should probably just leave his car running with the garage door closed because why bother anymore?
I asked Eric Rubio Sipe for a one-on-one interview and, I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about the whole thing. I’ve only ever written about breweries that were already in operation. This was the first time I had taken the initiative to write about a place that was yet to open. But I knew I couldn’t afford to turn down a scoop.
Hello, Eric. Thanks for talking to me today.
Well you were very insistent, Mr. Classy, so I’m not sure how I could refuse. But thanks for spreading the word about my brewery. Every little bit of press helps.
I bet it does. Though I don’t know why you didn’t come to me first. I’m the most influential beer blogger in the entire state of Arizona. You knew that didn’t you?
I…don’t think I did? Honestly, I hadn’t heard of you until you drunkenly harassed me at Borderlands a few weeks ago when I was just hanging out and you wouldn’t shut up about your beer celebrity status.
You’re welcome. So tell me something, Eric Dillinger–
Yeah, that’s not my name. “Dillinger” is just the name I chose for my brewing company.
So tell me something, Eric Brewing Company–
Wow, that’s even less my name than the last thing was.
I’m sure you’re right! Now, what’s the deal with you hiring a head brewer? I gotta be honest, I’m nervous about you starting a microbrewery when you’re not actually making your own beer.
I’m not sure what the problem is. As the brewery owner I’ve decided to bring in someone who has decades of experience with craft beer and who knows the process inside and out. I’m not gonna tell this guy what to make. I’ve built him a state-of-the-art brewing system that’s going to produce about a dozen beers that we’ll eventually have on tap. Though I’m thinking that we’ll start off with about four or five of our own at first and use the rest of the taps to pour beers exclusively from other Tucson breweries. I love this town and I want to do everything I can to support my fellow breweries.
Alright, I’m gonna pretend I live inside Snoop Dogg’s glove compartment for a second and be a little blunt. If you’re not brewing, doesn’t this just make you someone else’s investor? And isn’t that just co-opting someone else’s talents for your business? Are you the Milli Vanilli of the Arizona craft beer scene?
Woah, slow down, that’s a lot of questions at once. First of all, I don’t know what a Milli Vanilli is, I’m 26.
Holy shit, get off my lawn.
Yeah, I get that a lot. I guess I just don’t see the issue. Scorsese didn’t just learn how to point and shoot a camera. He also knew enough to hire De Niro way before De Niro got shitty. Did you see him in that god-awful Last Vegas movie? And I’m bringing an exciting addition to the local beer scene. As for your question about co-opting talents, I can tell you’ve never opened your own business before.
Not true. I had an Etsy shop where I sold bottle openers shaped like penises that had inspirational quotes on them. They had The Classy Alcoholic logo on them and everything.
Okay, well, as a fellow business owner you already know that starting and running a successful company is also a skill and that it takes a lot of talent. I’m a man who knows how to gather investors and spend money wisely. I poured months’ worth of time, effort and personal sacrifice into building my taproom. And any other brewery owner can tell you that getting the local and federal permits needed to start this kind of operation is a pain in the ass. I did it so I could make sure my brewer focuses on only one thing: making great beer.
I guess my other question is how you’re so confident in your brewery’s product if you’re not putting your own beer recipes out there.
My product isn’t just beer. It’s the entire company. Yes, I want people to try our beer when they see it on tap somewhere but I’m also trying to convince them to come into my taproom. I’m trying to sell them on the idea that it’ll be a cool place to relax and chat with me or other customers. A new brewery or craft beer bar isn’t just about what you’re drinking. It’s also about how you feel when you’re drinking. And I want my bar to be a place where people feel at home. Besides, just because I’m not making the beer doesn’t mean I don’t know beer. I have a serious passion for it. Back at high school career fairs people always used to say, “Don’t focus too much on what you’re good at. Focus more on what you love.” Well I think you can focus on both. And if you merge your passion with your skills you’ll be way more likely to find success. Whether it’s a microbrewery, a craft beer bar, a dumb beer blog or an Etsy shop that sells things shaped like wieners.
Oh, that reminds me, I have a whole box of wiener-shaped bottle openers to give you as a gift. Feel free to sell them at your brewery once it opens.
I assure you that box will be set on fire immediately if you leave it with me.
Alright, there’s just one more thing, Eric Homebrew.
Still not my name.
I’d love to see the actual brewing equipment. Is it behind that door?
No. That’s my linen closet. Because we’re in my apartment. You got stupid hammered last night at that dive bar and ranted at me for hours about how your ex-girlfriend is an asshole and you ended up passing out. I brought you back here ‘cause you didn’t tell me where you lived. Maybe because you were too drunk to remember but it could’ve been ‘cause you don’t actually have a home? So please crawl out of my bathtub now.
Fair enough, Eric Fermentation Tank–
How could you possibly think that’s my name?
In that case, I’d love to know where my pants are.
I found them in the refrigerator. You put them in there sometime last night. Probably around the same time you decided to take out a packet of bacon and stuff it in my air vents.
Ah, yes, I wanted you to wake up to the smell of bacon in the morning but I was way too blasted drunk to actually cook you bacon. You’re welcome.
Get the fuck out of my home.
Thank you so much for your time, my good man. I will be sure to visit Dillinger Brewing Company as soon as it opens.
No, you’re definitely not allowed on the property.
I love you too! I also took twenty bucks from your wallet to pay for a cab because I don’t wanna risk running into that Uber driver I boned in the backseat of her Hyundai last week and then didn’t call.
I left Eric’s place excited about the prospect of a new Tucson brewery opening up in the near future. The man had a great vision for what he wanted the place to be and I wished him all the luck in the future. Be sure to follow Dillinger Brewing Company on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up with the latest news and I’ll definitely see you at the grand opening if I can get that restraining order quashed in time.