New brewery, Mixed Breed, will focus on flavor and fair pricing

From Mixed Breed Brewing
A look at the setup of Mixed Breed Brewing. Co-founder Guy Bucey told The Enterprise that the layout of the brewery taproom will allow customers to see the production of the same beers they're enjoying.

GUILDERLAND — A new microbrewery opening in Guilderland Center this spring will let patrons look at how their beer is brewed.

Mixed Breed Brewing is run by a group of five friends in the Guilderland area, headed by Guy Bucey, a 36-year-old entrepreneur and Marine sergeant.

“We just want you to come in and get engulfed by the industry and the culture,” said Bucey. 

And though the COVID-19 pandemic has created obstacles for many businesses, in this case, it helped bring one to life.

“When COVID hit and everyone was kind of stuck at home for a while,” Bucey said, “we had already been brewing for a while in my basement and it provided us an opportunity to go through the business plan, look at the [return-on-investment] and the projections and see if it was a viable option, and it turned out to be.”

The name of the brewery is a dual-reference, stemming from Bucey’s half-pitbull, half-mastiff dog, Benny, as well as the nickname for his group of fellow soldiers on deployment.

“That’s what they used to call us when we were in Iraq,” Bucey said. “We had such a diverse group of us that came from different backgrounds and ethnicities. We were a true mixed bag of people and so they called us a mixed breed. So there’s two layers to the name. We love our animals and there’s a nice little military tie in there as well.”

Although Bucey’s primary occupation now is as chief executive officer of Inova, a fold-away bed company, he’s not merely a schemer who hopes to cash in on the runaway craft-beer fad that generated $29.3 billion in 2019.

 

A brewer’s journey

Rather, Bucey’s connection to brewing began as an almost monastic effort in 2007, shortly after he came back from Iraq, when the craft-beer industry in the United States was still in its nascency.

“I had just returned home from Fallujah, Iraq,” Bucey said, “and I did woodworking and made beer in our townhouse down in Albany, and they were both just kind of therapeutic hobbies for me to do, to transition back into civilian life. That’s where brewing started for me, and I’ve been doing it off and on ever since.”

Because the craft brewery aesthetic hadn’t been established in the United States at that point — staple brands like Dogfish and Stone were just getting started, Bucey said — his sensibilities lie not in the part-yuppie-part-hipster confluence that makes up the industry’s present milieu, but in British taprooms, where beer enthusiasts of the time could reach beyond the 30-rack “lawnmower beers” like Labatt or Busch that dominated the U.S. market.

“For most people who loved something other than just your average Budweiser or something of that nature,” Bucey said, “you always looked at English-style beers, or English and Irish. And you kind of went over the ocean and you’d look at brown ales or Belgians and those different types of things. So that’s traditionally where I stem from and where my beginning background comes from. 

“And from there you look at how the craft beer industry has really taken off.” India pale ales, he said, “have become a really big success and people love different kinds of different fruity IPAs, and basically we developed our plan off the beer that we like to drink and what others like.”

To that end, Bucey says that the “shining star” of the brewery’s initial lineup will be its brown ale, a traditionally nutty style of beer that, in the U.S., is probably most readily associated with Newcastle Brown Ale, a working-class brew out of northeast England. 

In producing the Mixed Breed’s lineup — which includes “a really great cream ale, an absolute contender of an IPA, a really great saison,” and a stout — the focus was on flavor and fair pricing, Bucey said, two components of beer that can be neglected in microbrewing.

“Flavor is everything,” Bucey said. “I’ve had plenty of beers where it’s too full, number one. And craft beer is expensive. It’s expensive to make and it costs a lot to buy. And I’m always very respectful of that, being on this side, making it, and being very customer-driven. It blows my mind when someone’s charging $7 for a pint of beer that’s only 4 percent alcohol. It’s not right to me. 

“So number one, we want to make flavorful beer that has an appropriate ABV for the money that people are spending,” Bucey said of alcohol by volume, “and put all the quality ingredients into it and focus on good ingredients and customers instead of penny-pinching.” 

And although Mixed Breed won’t be providing food, Bucey said that he’s been in contact with vendors and food trucks that are interested in posting up outside the property and taking orders from Mixed Breed’s patrons, thereby satisfying the current COVID-19 guidelines that stipulate customers eat food at their table while they consume alcohol in a bar or restaurant.

“Some of the food-truck guys and gals will actually come inside and take your order and bring it to your table,” Bucey said, “but you can also go outside, grab it, and come back in.” 

 

A beautiful compromise

Brewing beer is an ancient and convoluted process, albeit one that can be done at home, as demonstrated by Bucey. 

His experience and fascination with that process has prompted him and his partners to design a taproom that gives customers a detailed look into Mixed Breed’s own brewing process, answering a call from consumers who, on the whole, are increasingly interested in how the arts and products they enjoy come into existence.

“We want to have it be two things,” Bucey said. “If you’re a beer brewer or home brewer, you can come into our facility and just have an unbelievable time. You’ll see everything. We’ve got monitors that show fermentation temperatures, you can see what’s inside of the fermenters. 

“If I’m brewing on that day,” Bucey continued, “you’ll be able to see what stage of the process the beer is at … And if you’re not a home brewer but you really love craft beer, you’ll walk out of the taproom knowing something you didn’t know when you walked in.”

“So we don’t have our walk-in cooler with our tap system blocking the view of all our brewing equipment,” Bucey also said. “It’s off to the side, which is going to add a bit of extra travel-time for us, but it’s a beautiful compromise.”

 

COVID-born

Of the ever-obvious COVID-19 backdrop, Bucey said that developing the business during the pandemic created an opportunity to observe what established breweries in the area were struggling with during the shutdown, when only essential businesses were allowed to operate and bars and restaurants were prohibited from serving their products for on-site consumption.

“If you didn’t have a canning line,” Bucey said, “or you didn’t have the ability to bottle your beers and the taproom was where you were getting the majority of your sales, or if you were just distributing out to a bar, you got hit hard.

“So we’ve put some safeguards in for our business. We’ve invested in a canning line for ourselves to make sure that no matter what, we can get our products out to people and get it sold even if you can’t come into the taproom.”

Other local breweries have played a more active role in Mixed Breed’s genesis as well, exhibiting a sense of camaraderie rather than rivalry when they caught wind of a new venture.

“The biggest thing that I love about this industry,” Bucey said, “is how great breweries are with one another. I can’t tell you how many breweries have reached out to us and wished us success.”

Bucey said that other breweries have gone so far as to encourage Mixed Breed to reach out for any supplies that dry up, like hops or cans, which can be a big threat as the new brewery finds its footing in the early months.

“It’s been a lot of ‘Don’t hesitate to reach out to us,’” Bucey said. “And that’s been really nice.”

 

Thomas Reimer
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Joined: 05/05/2020 - 13:16
Looking forward to your beer!

I look forward to your beer, esp. the stout. It is simply wonderful to see how the Capital District has great breweries, wines, cheeses, etc.

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