Sarah Jackson – Combustion Brewery – Episode 10
Summary of Podcast: Cosmos and Commerce with Sarah Jackson from Combustion Brewery
- Michele Cook from Body Ache Escape Massage Center
- Janis Francis with the Humble Crate Artisan Marketplace
- Sarah Jackson, the driving force behind Combustion Brewery
- Introduction to Sarah Jackson and Combustion Brewery
- Michele introduces the episode and the guest, emphasizing the blend of business and pleasure.
- Sarah expresses gratitude for being on the show.
- Origin Story of Combustion Brewery
- Sarah shares how homebrewing was the catalyst for entering the industry.
- Personal story of how she and her husband Keith started brewing as a gift for a friend.
- Their move to the Pacific Northwest exposed them to the craft beer industry.
- Keith’s career progression in brewing and their decision to open their own brewery.
- Sarah’s Background
- Studied anthropology and French in undergrad and has a master’s in outdoor environmental education.
- No direct background in business or beer.
- Choosing Pickerington for Combustion Brewery
- Pickerington chose them; they initially looked for locations in Columbus.
- The old creamery building in Pickerington was perfect for a brewery.
- The community’s growth and demographics were appealing.
- Opening a Second Location in Clintonville
- Celebrated one-year anniversary recently.
- The pandemic pushed them to consider a second location.
- Challenges included securing production space and ensuring a variety of beers.
- Clintonville and Pickerington locations have similar but not always identical beer selections.
- Balancing Business and Family
- Sarah emphasizes the importance of not trying to manage everything herself.
- The team at Combustion Brewery plays a crucial role in its success.
- Prioritizing family and ensuring they have strong relationships with them.
- Community Involvement and Giving Back
- Sarah’s personal history of community involvement influenced the brewery’s ethos.
- Combustion Brewery hosts community nights, euchre nights, and other events to support local organizations.
- The Farmer’s Market initiative and the annual hog roast are examples of their community involvement.
- The Pickerington Pelotonia and lip sync battle fundraisers are other notable events.
Sarah Jackson’s Top 3 Takeaways
- Flexibility and Adaptability in Business Planning:
- Sarah highlighted the importance of being able to pivot and reframe business plans based on the circumstances. For instance, the Clintonville location didn’t initially fit their criteria, but they adapted their vision to make it work. This adaptability is crucial for entrepreneurs to navigate challenges and seize unexpected opportunities.
- The Value of a Strong Team:
- Sarah emphasized that she doesn’t manage everything herself. The success of Combustion Brewery is attributed to the collective efforts of the entire team. Building and relying on a competent team allows the business to grow and ensures that all aspects receive the necessary attention.
- Community Engagement as a Marketing Strategy:
- Instead of traditional marketing methods, Combustion Brewery focuses on community involvement. By hosting community nights, supporting local organizations, and being actively involved in community events, they not only get their name out there but also build genuine relationships with their customers and the community at large. This approach fosters loyalty and creates a strong brand presence.
About Combustion Brewery and Taproom
Combustion Brewery, located in the heart of Pickerington, Ohio, is a haven for craft beer enthusiasts. With its inviting taproom, Combustion Brewery offers a wide range of fresh craft beers that cater to all palates. From the rich and hazy IPA to the smooth coffee blonde, there’s a drink for everyone. The taproom produces not only exceptional beers but also an atmosphere that’s both family-friendly and perfect for a night out with friends.
Situated on Church St, the brewery boasts outdoor seating on their patio, which is a big fan favorite, especially during the warmer months. The view from the patio, combined with the ambiance of live music, makes it a great place to hang out and enjoy the fresh Ohio air. And if you’re feeling peckish, there’s always a food truck or two parked outside, offering a variety of delicious options. For those who prefer pizza with their beer, Romeo’s is a popular choice, and you can easily order pizza to be delivered right to your table.
The friendly staff at Combustion Brewery’s taproom are always ready to serve and answer any questions you might have about their beers. They maintain a focus on ensuring that all guests enjoy their time, and with the current emphasis on health and safety. If you’re planning a visit, the taproom is open from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm on most days, but it’s always a good idea to check their schedule or give them a call at 614-834-9595 to confirm.
Reviews from both locals and visitors from the Columbus area have consistently praised Combustion Brewery for its awesome beer selection, friendly atmosphere, and the variety of food trucks that visit. Whether you’re a resident of Pickerington or just passing through, Combustion Brewery’s taproom on 80 W Church St is definitely worth a stop. So, the next time you’re in the mood for some fresh craft beer in a vibrant setting, make sure to drop by and enjoy all that Combustion Brewery has to offer.
Transcript- Sarah Jackson- Combustion Brewery
Michele Cook: [00:00:00]
Welcome to another exhilarating episode of Cosmos and Commerce, where business smarts meet good times and success is best served. Shaken, not stirred. I’m your host, Michele Cook from Bodyache Escape Massage Center here with my co host.
Janis Francis: Janis Francis with the Humble Crate Artisan Marketplace.
Michele Cook: Today we’re in for a treat as we raise our glasses to a business maven who knows how to brew up both prosperity and joy. Get ready to clink your glasses as we journey into the world of entrepreneurship with a twist of fun because on this podcast we believe that mixing business and pleasure is not just a strategy, it’s an art form.
So sit back, relax, and let’s shake up some insights and inspiration while sipping on the magic concoction that is Cosmos and Commerce. Please put your hands together for the driving force behind Combustion Brewery, the queen of crafting both connections and craft beer, the embodiment of community spirit and business savvy, Sarah Jackson. Sarah, thank you for joining us on this journey of insights, laughter, and growth. We can’t wait to dive into your story, your wisdom, and the incredible fusion of business and enjoyment you’ve cultivated. So without further ado, let’s raise our glasses to Sarah and dive into an unforgettable conversation on Cosmos and Commerce.
Sarah Jackson: Thank you for having me.
Janis Francis: we’re so happy to have you. Yes, absolutely. So Sarah, could you share the story of how you and your husband, Keith, decided to start a brewery? What inspired you to venture into this industry?
Sarah Jackson: So there’s a long story and a short story. Are we in for the long or the short?
Janis Francis: Go for it.
Michele Cook: The
Sarah Jackson: The short story is that homebrewing was the catalyst for getting into the industry. And eventually led us to [00:02:00] opening our own brewery. But the more personal story is Keith and I met in college and we had a mutual friend that we wanted to thank in some way.
He had done a lot for us and for our friends and we wanted to do something unique and special for him. So one day we were out and just stumbled upon a shop that had a homebrew kit for sale and we thought this would be such a fun gift for Mike. But none of us know how to use it. So we talked to the shop owner and asked if he would teach us how to use it if we bought it.
And he agreed. We organized a time and put this together for Mike. And it was Keith, myself, Mike and another friend, Kyle learned how to brew that day. And. Kyle, Mike, and Keith ended up being roommates and continued to brew back at their apartment. And I decided that watching water boil wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time, which is a lot of what brewing is on the brew day.
And so the three of them continued experimenting and I was happy to taste their products and encourage them along the way. After college Keith and I moved out to the Pacific Northwest. It was,
I think, 2005 when we moved out to the Pacific Northwest, and the craft beer industry was already established out there, much more than it was in Ohio.
And the breweries were one thing that we really loved about living out there. And so we became very interested in craft beer in general. We moved back to Ohio in 2009 to be closer to family. And Keith decided at that time to do a career shift. He moved out of a desk job. He wanted something more physical.
And so he decided it was time for him to pursue a career in brewing. And when you’re getting your foot in the door in brewing, a lot of times that means that you’re building boxes, you’re washing kegs, you’re doing the grunt work. So that’s how he started at Columbus Brewing Company. Eventually moved up into being a [00:04:00] brewer himself there.
And then he moved over and To Gordon Biersch in the arena district and was the head brewer there for a while. I want to say he was there for five years before we opened combustion. So it was about the time that he decided to take his job over at Gordon Biersch that we decided that if he was going to continue down this career path, we wanted to open our own brewery someday.
So that’s when we started thinking about it. And I would say really planning for it probably started in 2015. So that is what put us on track to open a brewery.
Michele Cook: Wow. So I want to know, what is your background? Did you take business or something
Sarah Jackson: That would have been a really great choice, Michelle. That would have helped us out a lot. no. My background is in anthropology and French. That’s what I studied in my undergrad and then I have a master’s that’s not helpful at all in outdoor environmental education.
Michele Cook: Oh,
Sarah Jackson: not at all on business or beer focused.
Michele Cook: Wow.
Janis Francis: So what made you decide to open your first location in Pickerington?
Sarah Jackson: So Pickerington found us actually we were looking for a place to open a brewery. We wanted it to be a community gathering place. We assumed it would be. Somewhere in Columbus, we were living in Clintonville at the time. We really struggled to secure a location for the business. And at times we were pretty close to giving up because it was really hard to try.
To get a location to have someone with money to back them swoop in and snag it before we could. Someone had mentioned there was a building in Pickerington that we should look at, but we didn’t, that was not at all in our sight. We were not thinking about outside of Columbus at all. In hindsight, not being able to [00:06:00] get the buildings we originally thought we wanted was a great thing because it did lead us to Pickerington.
So someone was really pushing us to come down and look at the building. And it was an old creamery building, which is where we are today. High ceilings, sloped floors, the drains that existed from when it was a creamery are all perfect for a brewery. So it was a great fit in terms of the building space itself.
So then we started looking into the community a little bit more. At the time, it was one of the fastest growing townships in Ohio. And it fit the demographics we were looking for pretty well. So we ended up deciding to pursue that space and we are very glad that we did.
Janis Francis: Oh, we’re glad you did too.
Michele Cook: Yeah.
Janis Francis: What’s one of the best things you like about Pickerington or being a part of Pickerington?
Sarah Jackson: Yeah I would say that the Way that the community received us and the way that the community has supported us. We’ve been open there for six and a half years and they, the community in Pickerington has really embodied who we are and what we wanted to be. So the name combustion has a couple of different meanings to us.
One is a reference to burning the candle at both ends. So working your hardest.
A reality. But another meaning behind the name combustion to us is fire. So we heat our home with fire. We have for years had a wood burning stove that we would heat our home with. We love gathering around a bonfire with family and friends. And we know that when people gather around a fire, whether you’ve known them or not.
You tend to build community when you’re sharing that space and you tend to get to know each other better. Will, we wanted our brewery to be gathering space. We wanted it to be a place where people come together and when people share a beer, they tend to do the same thing as they do [00:08:00] around a fire.
Maybe you talk to someone you haven’t spoken to before, maybe you learn something new about someone that you didn’t know before and you get to know each other better. In the same way that sitting around a fire builds community, we think sharing a beer with someone builds community. We love Pickerington because it embodies the whole spirit and idea behind combustion.
People really have come together and that’s one of our favorite things is seeing the relationships that have been built in the tap room.
Janis Francis: I love it. So you recently opened your second location in Clintonville and having two locations is a significant accomplishment. Can you walk us through the process of expanding your brewery? What the key challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Sarah Jackson: So we just celebrated our one year anniversary
Janis Francis: I was going to ask when the anniversary was. Yes,
Sarah Jackson: Yep, it was the weekend before last. It’s been just over a year there which is pretty amazing. I think I said earlier that when we opened our Pickerington location, we were living in Clintonville. So it’s first. Full circle that we ended up coming back there.
It’s pretty special. But so the pandemic is actually what kind of pushed us into moving towards a second location. The pandemic was an easy time to fail. There was a lot of pressure to make sure that our employees were able to feed their families, that our employees were able to pay their bills.
And that they were able to thrive in their own lives and have great lives. That is something that weighs very heavily on us. Our raw material costs, our staffing costs, our operational expenses were all increasing. And it was time for us to buckle down. Work hard or know that we weren’t going to be able to support our people that, have helped combustion become what it is.
That was the big motivator for us. We started looking for a second location. And the Clintonville opportunity was presented to us after, I don’t know, maybe six months or so of us looking for a spot for a second location. This [00:10:00] space didn’t fit within the criteria of what we were looking for. So we really had to pivot and reframe and refocus.
What we were looking for. And I think that’s a really important thing to be able to do when you own a business, when you’re an entrepreneur is to just take what’s thrown at you and be able to shift and think outside the box and work with what you’ve got. So we were super excited to have that opportunity.
I would say another challenge that we’ve had while scaling is production space. Having two locations, obviously we need to be able to make more beer and we do brew beer in Clintonville as well as Pickerington. But the demand continuously increases and we want to be able to not only have enough beer, but also a variety of beers.
So we want to make sure that Anyone who walks in, we have something that they will like, and so that means that we need to have a wide variety all the time. We have the capacity to have 20 to 22 beers or ciders on at a time, and we strive to do that. So it gets harder and harder as our production capacity becomes more tight.
So right now, our biggest hurdle that we’re working through is trying to get more production space.
Janis Francis: do you have
the same selection at both locations?
Sarah Jackson: Not always. So we typically have very similar lineups at both locations. Kangaroo crossing was a beer that we brewed specifically for Clintonville when it first opened, and we let it be exclusively there for probably around six months before we brought it down to Pickerington. When we do special events.
We’ll have special beers or ciders on draft that we don’t have at the other location as well. A lot of times they’re similar, but a lot of times they’re similar, [00:12:00] but not always the same.
Michele Cook: I have a follow up. So you said that Clintonville didn’t really fit what you were looking for. I want to know what you were actually looking for in a space and why Clintonville didn’t
fit it. Thank you.
Sarah Jackson: good question. Thank goodness we did not go with what we were looking for because we thought that we wanted a taproom space without additional production space. We are working on getting space next to us. There is a restaurant that moved out, Romeo’s Pizza moved out of the suite next to us.
And that space is being transitioned. And we will get part of that space once it’s available to us. And we thought that we would have that space before we opened our second location. And so if we had gone through with our original plan, And just getting a tap room without any additional production space, we would be have, we would have had to find different solutions than we have right now. So we’ve gone so far as removing some of our seating and putting some fermenters and right tanks and our canning line where we used to see people. So we’re actually using some of our seating space right now in Peckerington for production. Yeah,
Michele Cook: Okay,
Sarah Jackson: and we need more.
Michele Cook: you take over Romeos, will you add more seating to either location or both locations?
Sarah Jackson: We will not be adding more seating. This, the space that we take over is strictly going to be production space. So there is some, I don’t know if you’re familiar with what we call the barrel room at our Pickerington space, but the barrel room currently has production going on in there and we would like it to be exclusively for seating.
So we will transition that back to seating.
Michele Cook: Okay,
Sarah Jackson: Once we’re over there.
Janis Francis: Okay. Managing 2 [00:14:00] locations and a private event space and a family simultaneously must be demanding. What strategies did you use to ensure both aspects of your life receive the attention that they need?
Sarah Jackson: So I think the most important thing is that I don’t manage it all and I don’t try to manage it all. So Long before we had kids and before combustion was a thing. Keith and I decided that if we were going to have a family that we were going to make sure that we put the time and energy into our family that was important to us.
So we’re both very close with our families. And we know that we have strong relationships with them because. They are present. They show up there. They’re there for us. And we want to be that those people to our business and we want to be those people to our family. From the beginning, when we were creating combustion it was extremely important to us to make sure that we had positions built into our business plan that allowed us to show up and be present.
For the other parts of our lives and,
Michele Cook: is
Sarah Jackson: to make our business run smoothly. We literally could not have the business that we have today if it wasn’t for our team and the people in leadership roles in. Any role at combustion. So the answer is I just, I don’t manage it all.
Janis Francis: Tell us a little bit about the event space.
Sarah Jackson: So the private event space wasn’t something that we planned on when we first open, there’s a gorgeous second level in the building that was sitting being unused and, we just kept thinking this would be a beautiful place to have a wedding. And so about six months after we opened, we decided to sign the lease for that second floor space.
And over time we’ve been building up that business up there.
Michele Cook: [00:16:00] un.
Janis Francis: loved having the farmer’s market there up there, in the winter. I wish that would have been a little more successful if the community would have come out more. It would have been really good. I love that space up there.
Sarah Jackson: was awesome having people up there for that.
Janis Francis: Yeah. Speaking of community.
Michele Cook: good, okay. Combustion Brewery is known for its community involvement. Can you tell us about some of the initiatives or projects you’ve been involved in and why giving back is important to your business?
Sarah Jackson: So first of all, I love it that you associate us with community involvement. That’s something that’s really important to me. And it’s heartwarming to hear you say that. So thank you. I would say that my mom was a very good example with being involved in the community. We moved quite a bit when I was growing up and I think that one way that she got us integrated into our new home and our new community.
Was by getting involved. And so she was a good example of that for me. And in high school there were volunteer requirements that I had to fulfill. And I remember fulfilling those and then my family. Working together on, those community projects after all the hours were fulfilled and I joined Alpha Phi Omega when I went to college, which is a community service fraternity, or if you’re familiar with it but I loved having that connection to the community off of campus working, with people and just, knowing that I had a greater purpose than just being in that town to go to school. So I love doing that kind of stuff. I love feeling connected to my community and with wanting Combustion to be a community gathering space. We knew that would be an aspect of the business.
And I’ve always worked in the nonprofit world outside of community involvement has always been, a part of my daily life. So early on, we learned that putting our [00:18:00] marketing dollars towards supporting local organizations was a good way to get our name out there in the community while also helping to support causes that were important to our community members.
And the farmer’s market that you mentioned, Janice, is a good example of that. When we open a private event space, we want, we thought the best way to get the word out about the space was to invite people in it. And the Farmer’s Market ends in September. It doesn’t start up again until June. So that’s a long time for those vendors to go without having a place to sell their goods.
We hosted the Farmer’s Market up in our private event space to help get people in the space. As a way to market it, but also to support the farmer’s market. Downstairs in our tap room, and we do this in Clintonville as well, in both locations we try and host community nights on Wednesday nights.
So when, Wednesdays are typically our slowest night. So we partner with local groups to get our seats full, get more sales in the tap room. But also to help raise funds for that organization.
Michele Cook: Okay.
Sarah Jackson: euchre is a really good example of this. So Every once in a while once a quarter or so in pickerington, we host a euchre night.
And so the sponsored organization will help market the euchre night get a bunch of teams there And they’ll do their own gift basket raffle donations, those sorts of things. So one exciting story to share is the Purple Heart Foundation. We’ve worked with them three years now for, they’ve done a Euchre night with us three years now, and we just hosted one, I think it was probably in June or July when we hosted their last event.
We got an email from them that said that they decided this year to start a college scholarship program for eligible Purple Heart recipients, their spouses, children, and grandchildren. And two applicants were rewarded 1, [00:20:00] 000 each for the scholarship, and the funds from the tournament went towards those scholarships.
For their Community United Combustion, they raised just over 1, 500. And they were able to help put those towards the scholarships, which is awesome to get an email back like that, hearing what they did with the funds. And that we’re able to support that. It helps us by getting people in the door.
And it helps the organization by fulfilling their mission as well. So it’s a win. It’s our favorite way to do marketing.
Janis Francis: Yeah,
Michele Cook: I know you’re a rider for Pickerington, Pelotonia, and one of my favorite events that I’ve been to at Combustion is the lip sync battle that raised money for the Pickerington, Pelotonia. I think in the last one I performed, and I know Sarah’s performed every time, so I’m sure there’s video footage out there of us lip
Sarah Jackson: Oh, I’m sure there is.
Janis Francis: I have to look that up.
Michele Cook: Yeah.
Sarah Jackson: Yep.
Janis Francis: else that you’ve done given back to the community is you have an annual hog roast.
Sarah Jackson: Yeah. So the hog roast came about. from, we work with the farmer’s market, like I said, and during the pandemic, we had a farmer reach out to us and say, I need a safe lit parking lot where I can tell my customers to meet me. They’re going to place online orders. I just need a place to, to hand off the goods to our customers.
They live 45 minutes, no, at about an hour away from Pickerington. And they wanted to be able to still sell their goods to people through the winter. So we said, sure, you can use our parking lot, that’s fine. But what do you think about setting up a booth instead of just selling things online? On Tuesday nights, our mug club night, we have regulars.
So that is the night when you’re gonna [00:22:00] most consistently have the same people coming in, and you might be able to build up more customers, so you’re gonna be there anyways. Would you like to set up? And so they ended up doing it. They, this was during the pandemic. So there were lots of restrictions about what you could and couldn’t do.
And so they ended up sitting outside every Tuesday in the cold all through the winter until the farmer’s market set up again. And they ended up getting two other people that they knew to join them. So what, by the end of that winter, we had. Three vendors. I think it was that winter, that weekend or that winter that we ended up having three vendors by the end.
And so in the summer they reached out and said This was so helpful to our business, Wildcat Ridge Farms. We would like to give you a hog as a thank you. And when they told us this, we. We’re like, what are we going to do with a whole hog? Like we can’t cook and eat a whole hog. What are we going to do?
Not even for just our staff. It would have been really hard. I think Andy, our taproom manager is the one who came up with the idea of why don’t we find someone to cook it and we’ll just invite people to come and eat it from the community. And so that’s what we did. And somebody else ended up pitching in and getting.
The rolls for the meal and we bought the sides and so we ended up having our first community hog roast following that winter. And now they’ve come back every winter and sold throughout the winter every Tuesday. And they thus far have given us a hog every year to, to share with the community.
Michele Cook: That’s
Sarah Jackson: that was a beautiful organic relationship. One positive thing that happened from the pandemic. Which is a really good story.
Michele Cook: Nice. How do you strike a balance between running a successful business and then making a positive impact on the community? Okay.
Sarah Jackson: So when we [00:24:00] work with our community partners. Obviously, we’ve learned some things over the years. We’ve made some mistakes and some of the relationships that we’ve built maybe haven’t been as mutually beneficial for us or the other group. So we just try and be honest and upfront with our community partners so that there’s a mutual understanding.
About the collaboration and make sure it’s mutually beneficial. If an event is a flop, we try and figure out how to make it better next time. But we’ve learned a lot about our limits and expectations and just making sure that we’re not wasting anybody’s time and that it’s beneficial for us as well.
So I think clear communication is probably. The best.
Michele Cook: What’s the biggest don’t that you have for working with a community partner?
Sarah Jackson: Oh, I don’t know. What do you mean? I, we’ve not had any really bad experiences.
Michele Cook: When we move locations, I’m thinking we will do more of the kind of thing that you’re doing
Sarah Jackson: Okay.
Michele Cook: we’ll have a bigger space. So I just want to know if you have any avoid this at all costs.
Sarah Jackson: I would just say partner with organizations that have similar values as you and just have clear boundaries and expectations.
Michele Cook: Okay. That’s great. Thank
Janis Francis: Sarah, running a business with your spouse and raising two kids simultaneously is undoubtedly a juggling act. What are some strategies you’ve developed to maintain a healthy life work balance?
Sarah Jackson: So I am a planner and I like to have a plan, even if I know that the plan is probably gonna change. I’m cool with changing a plan. I just like to know there is a plan. So I have a ridiculous Excel spreadsheet that I have columns for like big life events and work events and All of school things and [00:26:00] sports things.
And I like to look at it on an annual basis. So I have like next year’s to 2024 spreadsheets ready to rock and roll already.
Michele Cook: Okay.
Sarah Jackson: so I like to just have a big overview of my life. So that, I can actually go in there and block off time for things that are important to us. So if I know every year we’re going to do this event on this day.
Or if I’ve figured out that this is going to take over our lives for three weeks. At this point, I have a pretty good idea of some times that are just going to be really hard to schedule some family time or personal time or whatever it is. So I can figure out when to schedule in our family time or our special outings or things that we want to do.
I’ll even write on our calendar. Family dinner. If I know we’re going to have a crazy week and it might be hard to get everybody at the house at the same time, I will write on the calendar and block it off in our family calendar, family dinner, just so we make sure that happens that day.
Michele Cook: It’s a good idea.
Sarah Jackson: Something that I try to do every day that I’m the parent that’s home when my kids get off the bus. I try and schedule my day so that the very first 10 minutes that they’re home. I give them my undivided attention. Sometimes after that 10 minutes, I have to jump back on my computer and do stuff, but at least I’ve talked to them, find out what their mood is, see if there’s anything that they need, make sure that they eat, do, help them get reacquainted to home life after school life.
And that’s really important to me. So that’s something that I schedule in.
Michele Cook: What grades are they
Sarah Jackson: that I make, fourth and sixth. So
Janis Francis: They’re cute kids. They’re cute boys.
Sarah Jackson: So they’re definitely [00:28:00] old enough and mature enough to get home and off the bus by themselves and get settled and all that. But I’ve decided it’s important to me that I’m here or Keith is here.
One of us is here to greet them and show them that they have someone present and available. So
Janis Francis: What I can tell you is that they’re going to be happy later in life that you made that a priority. I
Sarah Jackson: And there’s lots of things that we don’t have control over and that’s something that I can control and I love it. It is very, I love that part of my day. So I hope they do too.
Janis Francis: yeah, that’s awesome. So having a business partner can have its challenges, but also be really rewarding as well. I can only imagine if that partner was my spouse, so what are some of the challenges running a business with your significant other that you’ve run into?
Has it improved your relationship in any way?
Sarah Jackson: So I feel like this is a little bit of a loaded question. Maybe it should have its own podcast.
Janis Francis: It could.
Sarah Jackson: so Keith and I have very different skill sets and different interests when it comes to the brewery and the business. So I feel like we’re actually really. Good partners when it comes to running a business together. There are lots of things that he does and enjoys that I would never ever want to do and vice versa.
Like I’ll sit and work on a spreadsheet for six hours and be so excited to show them what I figured out. And he’s that’s. I never would want to do that. So yeah we, we um, well together in that respect. And
Michele Cook: don’t
Sarah Jackson: it’s pretty awesome to have your partner working with you when life throws you a curveball,
whether it’s work related or personal related.
If something big [00:30:00] happens to me or him or at the brewery, we understand the weight and the gravity of it immediately and can. Shift our family or work life to help accommodate the biggest priority at that time. So let’s say there’s a big um, the glide call system goes down at the brewery, but we had something else planned like getting the kids to school or a doctor’s appointment or something like that.
It’s really easy to just say, oh, yep, I got that. You go take care of that where if we didn’t work together, it would be really hard to. Figure out how to coordinate those schedules and get it to work out. I would say that is a huge bonus to be able to be on the same page about work, life, needs and priorities.
I would say the biggest challenge is probably turning off the work conversations
because everything revolves around the business. And sometimes it’s hard not to let it creep into every moment in conversation. We both don’t want it to be in every moment in every conversation. In general I think we do pretty good at keeping work stress out of our family life, but it is definitely inevitable at times.
Michele Cook: Tell us what your morning routine looks like. Okay.
Sarah Jackson: So it fluctuates seasonally. I am not a morning person and I’m not like a mean morning person. I’m just not. I’m not able to speak in the morning. I’m tired and waking up for a long time. It usually involves me pouring a coffee and going and standing outside until I’m able to form words and communicate clearly.
If I try and do it too soon, everyone in my family just laughs at me. I’m incoherent. So I take time to, to wake up and be a [00:32:00] normal human being and get the kids out the door. And then I usually just plow through emails first thing. I am the type of person that likes to have my emails cleared out. And I also use my email as my to do list.
So I, I tend to jump right on and clear that. I can move on with my day,
whether it be meetings or computer work or whatever it is.
Michele Cook: now I know how to get a hold of you.
Can you share an example of a fun or innovative idea you implemented at the brewery that not only brought joy to your team and customers, but also had a positive impact on your business?
Sarah Jackson: Okay. This is a fun and silly one. Captain Steve. So this is an event. I don’t know if this is really answering your question, but this is another event. That’s just a silly one. And it’s fun how it came about. So Steve is the brother of our head brewer grant. And he got a pontoon boat and it was discovered that when he’s on his pontoon boat, he drinks A beer from a national brewery.
I won’t name who it is, but it’s a fruited light beer that he drinks on his boat. And of course, his brother and all of us made fun of him for drinking that on the boat instead of the combustion beer. Because he’s also a fantastic combustion supporter. He’s has a carpentry business and did a bunch of our woodworking stuff that we have up in our private event space.
So he’s a big part of combustion. So when we discovered what he was drinking on his boat, we decided to create a better beer for him to drink on his boat and we named it Captain Steve.
Janis Francis: I
Sarah Jackson: it’s a fruit and Mexican lager. And from this beer, we ended up making a whole event around it. So we wanted to do something in the dead of winter when nobody wants to leave their house, and it’s cold, and it’s miserable, and you’re ready for winter to be over.
So we wanted to do like a tropical themed [00:34:00] party. So we created Captain Steve’s Summer Slam, which is was like a little bit of a joke.
Michele Cook: night.
Sarah Jackson: When
We created it, we thought it would be a fun thing to do. It is huge. It is so much fun. We get a steel drum band. We do waves. Everyone shows up in their Hawaiian shirts.
It’s the dead of winter, but at Combustion it’s like a tropical paradise. And it’s so much fun. And it’s all because of Captain Steve.
Michele Cook: You crank the heat up and make it like 80 in there?
Janis Francis: I love that. I was there once for that and it was a lot of fun and steel drums are just awesome.
Michele Cook: Oh yeah.
Janis Francis: I love that. So Sarah, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned on your business journey that you wish you would have known when you were starting out?
Sarah Jackson: So we started the brewery to make beer and we were less focused on the business side of things. Like I said, my anthropology background didn’t quite prepare me for the business side of things. So we were unaware of how much our employees would mean to us. We, our employees are our business and we had no idea how much of our time and energy.
Would be focused on making sure that our employees were taken care of and that they were happy. And so we were thinking more about making beer, not about employees, and we shouldn’t have been. So we’ve learned the gravity of the weight that we hold in making sure that they’re able to support their families.
The other thing I would say is. We have learned how important it is to hire people
When you need, when you want to scale your business, you need to have the support in place before you scale your business and having an awesome team behind you so that you can focus on the right things at the right time is crucial.
Janis Francis: Speaking of your team, [00:36:00] I know that there’s several that have been with you since almost the beginning.
Sarah Jackson: Yep,
Yep, we do. Yep. We have several people that we hired before we even opened that are still with us.
Janis Francis: I love that. You do have a great team.
What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur who are looking to scale their business or follow their passion while managing other responsibilities?
Sarah Jackson: So like I just said, hire people get help when you need it. But also I would say assess your systems, find out how you can improve your system, simplify your systems delegate tasks so that when you’re faced with the unpredictabilities that inevitably come when you scale your business that you’re ready to focus your attention appropriately and don’t give up.
If it’s what you want to do, just keep. Just keep working for it. It’s going to be really hard sometimes, but it’s awesome. I remember when we were working towards opening combustion, it felt like we had made the decision that we were going to do it. We’re going to do this. We’re going to open a brewery and then we would get to the next phase and we would be like.
Okay, we need to decide are we going to keep going like this is really going to happen and we would think that we had made the final decision and then another hurdle would present itself. Just keep going. If you’re gonna work on opening your own place or to scale up. Go for it.
Michele Cook: Awesome. What’s next for Combustion Brewery? Are there any exciting plans, projects or expansions on the horizon that you’d like to share with your customers and the community?
Sarah Jackson: Yes. We are very hopeful that, like I mentioned earlier, that we will get access to the next door space soon. We’re ready to knock down some walls. We’re ready to put in some new fermenters. We are ready to increase production. As soon as we can, we’re gonna start working on that project and we cannot wait.
Michele Cook: Awesome. Sarah, after exploring your incredible journey [00:38:00] and tapping into your wisdom, let’s add a twist of excitement with a rapid fire round.
Sarah Jackson: okay.
Michele Cook: yourself for some quick questions. I’m eager to hear your spontaneous responses. Are you ready to dive in?
Sarah Jackson: I’m ready. But wait, I feel like I need to open a beer for this one.
Janis Francis: Yeah,
Sarah Jackson: There we go.
Michele Cook: Is it a combustion beer? Cheers.
Sarah Jackson: Okay, hit me.
Janis Francis: Cheers. All right. What is the book that you’ve most given as a gift or a book that has made the biggest impact on you?
Sarah Jackson: Okay I feel like I’m supposed to say an adult book, but I’m not going to. I love Bird Bailer. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Bird Bailer. It, these are,
I think you would And the pictures are amazing and the meaning behind the stories are awesome. So my favorite is the table where rich people sit.
So go get it and read it.
Janis Francis: Okay, I’ll write
Sarah Jackson: It’s awesome at focusing your priorities on the important things.
Michele Cook: What purchase of 100 or less has most positively impacted your life?
Sarah Jackson: So this is
Michele Cook: Oh,
Sarah Jackson: my water bottle. I love this water bottle. So I. know myself that I need to drink a ridiculous amount of water to feel good and This water bottle is if I drink two of these a day I know that I am good to go and I just love It has a little straw thing and it makes it easy to drink it and it makes me meet my water quota for the day
Janis Francis: I love it. What’s an unusual [00:40:00] habit or an absurd thing that you love?
Sarah Jackson: If I were to ask Keith he would say Water Um,
Michele Cook: beer, huh?
Sarah Jackson: Water first than beer. That’s the rule. I love putting on my pajamas. When I get home, I love running and putting on my comfy clothes as quick as I can. I would say that is an absurd thing that I do.
Janis Francis: I do that. I do that too. I don’t think that’s absurd at all.
Sarah Jackson: thank you Janice for supporting that.
Michele Cook: What is your proudest accomplishment?
Sarah Jackson: I grew two humans that I love.
Michele Cook: Yeah.
Sarah Jackson: I would say that’s it.
Janis Francis: Yeah, that’s a good one. What is your current passion project?
Sarah Jackson: I am very obsessed right now with getting my guard in shape.
Janis Francis: And that’s one big yard. I know
Sarah Jackson: it is. Yeah. So we have a big puddle. I think it’s probably the best way to describe it. I don’t know, but it’s quite a pond. It’s more of a puddle that’s big. And I’m trying to make that so that it’s more enjoyable to be around and not just a mosquito home.
Michele Cook: I
Janis Francis: get some bad houses out there. Is it bad to eat the mosquitoes?
Sarah Jackson: Yeah, we do have a ton of bats. That’s a good idea.
Janis Francis: Yeah,
Michele Cook: heard
Janis Francis: eat something thousands of mosquitoes a day, a night.
Michele Cook: We have a swamp in our neighborhood, and they’ve tried to put up bat boxes, and I guess it takes bats a while to make that bat
Janis Francis: Acclimate to them. Yeah.
Michele Cook: yeah.
Janis Francis: But they will eventually.
Michele Cook: Yeah, might as well start now. What is one skill you would like to master?
Sarah Jackson: Oh a regular exercise routine would be pretty awesome.
Janis Francis: I hear [00:42:00] you. So Michelle and I do believe in this wholeheartedly. Do you believe in the power of manifestation?
Sarah Jackson: Yes. You have to put your goals and your intentions out there or they’re not going to happen. I absolutely,
Michele Cook: What was your first job? Okay.
Sarah Jackson: I was a hostess at a Mexican restaurant. I babysat before that, but I think my first real job was a hostess.
Michele Cook: Nice. Okay, so I have a friend who is a home brewer, and I told him I was interviewing you, and he is dying to know, how do breweries get pumpkin when pumpkin is not in season
For the beer?
Sarah Jackson: yeah, so I think probably every brewery does it differently. I can’t speak for other breweries, but our, so we do actually do our pumpkin beer when pumpkins are in season. But canned pumpkin is what we like to use. It’s the freshest. We’re not like roasting our own pumpkins and. Using the pulp.
So we use pumpkin puree from a canned product.
Michele Cook: Okay, he said, no I know that they’re roasting it with brown sugar and I don’t know it seemed very involved
Sarah Jackson: We do use like real spices and real pumpkin, but we are not roasting it ourselves,
Michele Cook: Okay,
Sarah Jackson: have to let them down.
Michele Cook: Yeah, he can relax on his criteria a
Sarah Jackson: Yeah. Anyone that does any food preservation knows that when you freeze or can something you’re locking those. flavors and nutrients in pretty quickly. So
Janis Francis: Yeah.
Michele Cook: told him it was just
Sarah Jackson: good source. Yeah.[00:44:00]
Janis Francis: Sarah, what’s your drink of choice? I think I know the answer, but what’s your drink of choice?
Sarah Jackson: Are you going to say water?
Janis Francis: That’s what I was going to say.
Sarah Jackson: So right now we have a session IPA that is available ever the other. And that is my favorite right now is ever the other.
Michele Cook: Okay.
Janis Francis: So what’s your pump up song? Do you have a song that you’d like to listen to? Like in the car as you’re getting ready to go to a meeting or
Sarah Jackson: So we have a family playlist of pump up songs that we play when we’re on our way to First day of school, or swim team, or baseball or something, and there are a couple of classics. I believe we will win, by Pitbull, if you don’t know that one.
Janis Francis: Yeah,
Sarah Jackson: Sia’s Unstoppable, Thunder, from Imagine Dragons, ones like that.
And, depending on what event we’re going to, it switches a little bit, but, yeah, we have our pump up playlist that we play. And I, this is a more calm song, but I really like Meet the Moonlight by Jack Johnson. If I’m just needing to like, set the day right, motivational,
Michele Cook: Yeah, I’m gonna have to add those to my list.
Janis Francis: it
Sarah Jackson: Pitbull.
Michele Cook: All right.
Sarah Jackson: probably going to add playlist,
Michele Cook: you know me so well. Would you rather have the ability to instantly come up with the perfect business idea whenever you need it, or always know how to turn any challenging situation into lighthearted, fun experience?
Sarah Jackson: I always want to come up with a perfect business idea.
That sounds pretty awesome.
Janis Francis: does. Sarah, where can our listeners find you?
Sarah Jackson: CombustionBrewing. com. You can [00:46:00] find our private event space and both tap rooms on there. We’re on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. And then info at CombustionBrewing. com is our email address.
Michele Cook: Thank you for joining us.
Sarah Jackson: Thank you very
Janis Francis: Oh, I’ve really enjoyed this.
Janis Francis: Thank you for joining us on Cosmos and Commerce Sip Saver Succeed. To keep the inspiration flowing, visit cosmosandcommerce. com. Don’t miss a sip. Subscribe, rate and review on your favorite platform. Connect with us on social media and let’s continue raising the bar together. Cheers to your journey of success and enjoyment