Like so many Coloradans, Chris Lawrence was laid off from his job this past spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the professional brewer, who helmed the quality control department at Funkwerks in Fort Collins, sees a silver lining: He’s now able to devote more time to Bramble & Bine, the beer and glassware company that he and graphic designer Michelle Taylor launched last year.
Lawrence brews small-batch craft beers for Bramble & Bine, while Taylor designs personalized glassware, labels, and leather coasters, catering to brew-loving folks who want to add an extra special touch to their wedding day, graduation party, beer-worthy corporate event, or any other celebration.
The concept started brewing (pun intended) in mid-2018 when Lawrence and Taylor were colleagues at Funkwerks. Lawrence had the idea of developing a small batch pilot system for beer, and Taylor, who did marketing and design for the award-winning brewery, noticed that “people just love having cute, fun, or special glassware,” she says. “We also feel like it’s an elevated way to serve your beer and the proper way to drink your beer. So it goes hand-in-hand.”
The duo, who both live in Fort Collins, officially launched Bramble & Bine in 2019. But like many other businesses in the events industry, they’ve been effectively paralyzed by COVID-19. “I feel like a lot of people are just putting everything on hold since it’s such an unknown,” says Taylor.
Since it’s unclear when large in-person gatherings will resume locally (Bramble & Bine has booked just one client this year—a Florida couple planning on an October wedding), Lawrence says they won’t brew beer for the 2021 wedding season unless it’s guaranteed well in advance that sizable events will happen. The current plan, instead, is to focus on Bramble & Bine’s custom glassware, beer labels, and leather coasters.
A high-level of customization makes the company’s goods unique, says Taylor. “[Customers] get to create exactly what they want design-wise with us, rather than going into a website and typing their name and getting a layout that anyone can choose from,” she explains. With the design process, “we basically can start from scratch,” says Taylor, who describes her style as versatile, clean, and fun. That could mean a simple text-based layout, hand-lettering, or a hand-drawn illustration that’s then printed onto one of seven different glass styles, embossed into leather coasters, or color-printed onto beer labels. For that Florida wedding, for example, Taylor sketched illustrations of the couple’s faces that were then printed onto petit taster glasses in white ink. And for a local Fort Collins photographer who wanted glassware for promotional gifts, Bramble & Bine affixed the company logo onto classic tulip glasses using gold foil.
Lawrence hopes that Bramble & Bine’s one-of-a-kind, high-quality beer offerings, once available, will also distinguish the business. “Our goal is to really exceed people’s expectations once they open the bottle,” he says. “Or rather, set an expectation where they know it’s going to be professional quality.” Through an agreement with his former employer, Lawrence will brew recipes he created exclusively for Bramble & Bine at Funkwerks, using their state-of-the-art lab equipment.
“All of the quality control processes that I developed and implemented for national distribution of Funkwerks beer will be implemented for all these beers as well,” he says. When it makes sense to start brewing again, Bramble & Bine plans to offer two options: a Helles Lager (a traditional German-style lager that is “a little bit more malt forward, a little bit less hoppy” than a pilsner), and a bright, hoppy IPA.
Bramble & Bine custom glassware is available from $3.75 to $8.25 per piece for a minimum order of 48; price per piece decreases as order size increases. Contact Bramble & Bine for details.