Oral History Interview with Calder Preyer, 2017

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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0:00 - Opening credits / introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview for Well Crafted NC through UNCG's University Special Collections . . .

0:46 - Initial interest in brewing industry

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Partial Transcript: How did you first become interested in the brewing industry?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer describes how he developed an interest in the craft brewing industry.

1:13 - Selection of downtown Greensboro as brewery location

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Partial Transcript: Why did you choose to open a brewery in downtown Greensboro?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer explains why his family chose to locate their brewery in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina.

1:51 - Preyer Brewing in relationship to other Preyer family businesses

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Partial Transcript: How do you view Preyer Brewing in relationship to your family's long history of business ownership in Greensboro?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer discusses how his brewery relates to the Preyer family's other businesses, including the Vick Chemical Corporation, and to the career of Greensboro politician Richardson Preyer.

3:00 - Challenges faced when opening the brewery

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Partial Transcript: What challenges did you face while you were opening the brewery?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer describes challenges faced as his family opened their brewery.

4:06 - Working in the craft brewing industry

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Partial Transcript: What is it like to work in the craft brewing industry?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer discusses what it is like to work in the craft industry, including the industry's perks and the creative benefits of serving as both his brewery's president and head brewer.

5:27 - Creative process

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Partial Transcript: What is your creative process like when you're deciding what kind of beers to make?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer describes the creative processes he follows when developing new beers.

6:43 - Running a family brewery

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Partial Transcript: So, speaking of your wife, what is it like to run a family business in the brewing industry?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer discusses the challenges and rewards of running a brewery with his family, including his wife, parents, and two brothers.

8:00 - Changes in brewing industry since business opened

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Partial Transcript: How has the brewing scene changed since you first went into business?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer describes changes that have occurred in the brewing industry since Preyer Brewing opened in May 2015, including a dramatic increase in the number of craft breweries.

8:55 - The future of brewing

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Partial Transcript: Where do you see the brewing industry going in the next five years?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer shares his thoughts on the brewing industry's future, including whether the industry will face a "brewery bubble."

9:43 - Role in the community

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Partial Transcript: How do you view your role in the community?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer describes his brewery's role in the community, including charitable initiatives and the role of his taproom in building community.

11:15 - Favorite beer from a North Carolina brewery

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Partial Transcript: What is your favorite beer from a North Carolina brewery other than your own?

Segment Synopsis: Preyer briefly discusses his favorite North Carolina beer.

11:49 - Favorite beer from own brewery

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Partial Transcript: What is your favorite beer from your own brewery?

Segment Synopsis: Explaining that his favorite beer from his own brewery changes frequently, Preyer describes his favorite beer at the time of the interview, Harder Better Faster Lager.

12:27 - Brewery logo

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Partial Transcript: [Scott Hinshaw, videographer] I'm curious about your logo; it's very distinctive.

Segment Synopsis: Preyer discusses the Preyer Brewing logo, designed by his brother Will, and the origins of the Preyer Brewing lioness.

13:16 - Interview conclusion / closing credits

0:00

BR: This is an interview for Well Crafted NC through UNCG's University Special Collections, and I'm here with Calder Preyer. He is the head brewer, president, and co- owner of Preyer Brewing Company, and I would like you to start just by introducing yourself a little bit.

CP: I'm Calder Preyer, as you said I’m the head brewer and president at Preyer Brewing Company. I was born and raised in Greensboro, I’ve—I live in Summerfield (North Carolina) now, but basically just lived in the Greensboro area my whole life, and I really like to make beer.

BR: How did you first become interested in the brewing industry?

CP: It's when I was 21 and had just started drinking craft beers, really, and decided I really liked drinking it, so I just wanted to figure out what it took to make it and start brewing 1:00beer at home and all that, with the end goal of, hopefully I can open a brewery someday, but mostly just I want to learn how to make beer.

BR: Why did you choose to open a brewery in downtown Greensboro?

CP: So, downtown, we really like being on the Greenway, when we were looking for different places to open the brewery we always knew it was going to be Greensboro, obviously my two brothers [William Preyer and Britt Preyer Jr.] are from Greensboro as well, and my wife [Nicole Preyer] is from Greensboro, we're all Greensboro born and raised, and we wanted to do something cool in our hometown. And when it came to downtown Greensboro, we just happened to find a good opportunity on the Greenway, we really wanted to be in a more pedestrian focused area if we could be, we didn't necessary start out with the goal of we have to be downtown, but it just ended up that way.

BR: How do you feel Preyer Brewer in relation to your family's long history of business ownership in Greensboro?

CP: So, my family, my great-great grandfather [Lunsford Richardson], invented Vicks Vapor 2:00Rub, and for a long time they ran Vick Chemical Corporation, until the '80s, and there's a bunch of family history to that that I don't really know too well, but we always joke that we're back in the business of self-medication, with the Vicks Vapor Rub thing, and it's not something that we draw a lot of direct experience on, but it's just something that, you know—we have a beer that's named after my grandfather [Lunsford Richardson Preyer], who—I guess, it's not quite in the frame of the shot—but, we put a print on the bottom of all of our cans, "People for Preyer," which is—that's from when he ran for governor—our porter is named after him, Lunsford Robust Porter, it's one of the tap handles right over there It's something that we just keep in mind when guiding the business [chuckling], trying to grow it and everything, just think about how our family has kind of a history in Greensboro.

BR: What challenges did you face while you were opening the brewery?

3:00

CP: There's challenges at different phases, I mean just, for a long time, figuring out what kind of education I wanted to get to help me in the process of opening a brewery—I ended up going to get a degree in brewing, instead of any kind of business degree or anything like that, and then we got into the more serious—the real estate search was really long and arduous, we looked at so many different places, and had different buildings under contract, and then things fall through, and things change, and just the whole real estate search—but then overall, just construction, just—there's so many different hurdles that you have to overcome, whether it's permitting for construction, or permitting for the brewery, and all that stuff, and just bureaucracy and legal hoops to jump through. So, I think the biggest challenge was probably just the construction, process, once we got to that, just making sure that everything happened on time and on budget, and that we got to 4:00where we needed to be in time to start brewing beer.

BR: What is it like to work in the craft brewing industry?

CP: It's a lot of fun; it's a lot of hard work too; a lot of people don't understand how much hard work goes into brewing beer. I was here for sixteen hours last Thursday, brewing a double batch of beer, you know, they're just long hours some days, and it's really hot and sweaty in the brewery, but the reward is worth it. We get to make a really cool product— like, I get to make all sorts of different beers, since I'm the president of the brewery, [phone ringing in background] [chuckling] I get to make lots of different beers, because I have no one to answer to when it comes to our tap list, so I get to be really creative and do all sorts of different, fun things. And you meet lots of different people, like, the brewing industry is pretty cooperative, for the most part, and you get to do fun things like brew beers with other breweries, or just get lots of free beer, or something like that. Free 5:00beer is definitely the best part, but, just making something satisfying with your hands; like, it's nice to get to the end of a long, hard, day—like that sixteen hour day—and see a bunch of people in the taproom enjoying all the beer I've been working hard to make, and, you know, say "well, I made twenty more barrels today, so, at the end of the day you have a cool product you made with your hands, put a lot of hard work and sweat into.

BR: What is your creative process like, when you're deciding what kind of beers to make?

CP: It varies greatly; sometimes, we're just saying, "I want to brew an amber ale, let's make the best amber ale we can"; sometimes it's like "I've got a specific ingredient and I want to build a beer around that;" sometimes it's even like, you know, your senses are really tied to your memories, and you might have this sort of "sense" memory you want to invoke with a beer, where you're, like, sitting around a camp fire, you know, just telling stories, and you remember this what thing vividly in your head and you're trying to invoke that, so. It's different for every beer. Most of the time, we're—we have—like, the 6:00thing we've been doing a lot lately is our Milkshake IPA, lactose is unfermentable, you add it to a beer and it adds a sort of sweet, creamy mouth feel, and we have a Milkshake IPA base that we make and we do something different with it every time. And so, the most recent one we made was the Mexican Milkshake IPA. It's got cacao nibs, cinnamon, cayenne, and lactose in it, and so we get to do something different with that, and I spent the morning planning our next batch with my wife, about what we're going to do with the next batch of the Milkshake IPA, so sometimes it's just, you've got a base beer, and you do something weird with it every time, or sometimes you just want to brew the best lager you can make, or—just depends.

BR: So, speaking of your wife, what is it like to run a family business in the brewing industry?

CP: [chuckling] Most of the time, it's great. I get to work with my wife and my two brothers, and my parents [Alice and Britt Preyer Sr.] are owners, they don't—They aren't employees, but they're around a lot and, you know, we all get together and have meetings 7:00and stuff like that. And sometimes it can be a little frustrating, because I go home at night and the co-worker that I might have had an argument with about what we do for our next Milkshake IPA is my wife, who I'm trying to, you know—we've got to get dinner on the table for the kids, [chuckling] and get them to sleep after, you know—It's not like we have an argument about it, it's more just—you're always working. Especially with the family business, it's not like I go home and it's like, oh. Ninety-nine percent of what my wife and I talk about that's not our kids is the business, so, you know, we've always got— when you run your own business, you can pretty much turn it off anyways—but when you run it with your whole family, anytime you get together with your family, anytime, all that stuff, is always talking about the brewery. It's hard to turn it off, but it's also great. I mean, I get to spend a lot of time with my wife, and we bring our kids to work, and I see my brothers every day, so. It makes it easy to stay connected with your family. [chuckling]

BR: How has the brewing scene changed since your first went into business?

8:00

CP: We haven't been in business very long, we've been in business for two-and-a-half years, but it is a time of pretty great flux for the brewing industry as a whole. There's thousands more breweries that have opened up, in the two-and-a-half years, even, since we opened. There's a lot of consolidation from the bigger brewers buying up, some of the smaller— Well, they're still big breweries to us, breweries like Wicked Weed [Asheville, North Carolina], but they're small breweries, to, you know, Anheuser Busch, so they're buying up small-ish brewers that are still pretty big to us. And so there's just a lot of change and especially—I think when it comes to the beer side, there's also a change there, with what's popular, I mean, IPAs are still really popular, but the type of IPA, you know, you see all these New England IPAs, and these really hazy, cloudy sort of beers that have gotten really popular, and just in the two-and-a-half years it's changed pretty drastically.

BR: Where do you see the brewing industry going in the next five years?

CP: People a lot smarter than me have a hard time figuring that out, so, I think it's really 9:00tough to say. There's going to be—I think, in the industry as a whole, perhaps there is a bubble approaching, but I think, in our little area, in Greensboro, I don't think that Greensboro has reached a point where it's got more breweries than it can sustain, so I think, locally, we're fine, because we're not running the kind of brewery where we're trying to start a big, regional brewer that's shipping to, you know, eight different states or anything like that, we don't need to get very big to survive, so I think, for the most part, what we're trying to do is going to be fine, but it's going to be any interesting five years, because it's—I really, truly have no idea. [chuckling]

BR: How do you view your role in the community?

CP: We like to think that we can give a lot back to the community too, we like to try and do a lot of charitable donations of beer, or events in the taproom where we're raising money for charity; otherwise, we're just—we try to have a nice, comfortable taproom where 10:00people can come meet and, you know. And these events have different types of people coming in from the community, and sort of meeting here, and getting together, it's just a comfortable space for people to get together. When it comes to what role we might play in that, we just have a nice, comfortable space and hopefully make a delicious product that people want to come drink, and then just, a lot of the charitable stuff we like to do. We like to get creative with it; for example, this month, we're doing a dollar of every pour of our Lunsford Robust Porter is being donated to—I have to read it, because I'm going to get in trouble if I don't remember—Jason William Hunt Foundation, it's the wilderness—it's like a wilderness medicine awareness thing. And we do lots of charitable donations of beer, just to—people like free beer. It's a good think when someone's doing 11:00an off-site sort of event, [phone rings that they want to either give away as part of it or sell beer, or anything like that, to raise money, we give away a lot of beer for that too.

BR: What is your favorite beer from a North Carolina brewery other than your own?

CP: I don't get a chance to drink a lot of beer from anyone else these days, but I think going back, one of the first styles of beer that a lot of craft beer drinkers get into, but certainly me when I was first drinking craft beer, was IPA, and I think one of the ones that I still really love is the Foothills Hoppyum [Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, North Carolina], just their standard Hoppyum IPA, that you can get. I really love that beer, still do. I just don't get a chance to drink other people's beer very often these days.

BR: What is your favorite beer from your own brewery?

CP: That changes pretty much depending on the—the standard answer I give people is whatever we have the most of, because I don't have—I don't pay for it, so I don't want to drink something that we're on our last keg of it or something like that, but right now we 12:00have a beer that we started—We started brewing a beer this summer that we keep on tap always now, it's called Harder, Better, Faster, Lager, it's the first lager we've made, it's modeled after, like, a classic Czech pilsner. We use all North Carolina barley in it, so I think the lager that we make is now my current favorite that I drink the most of.

[pause]

[Scott Hinshaw, videographer, in background]: I'm curious about your logo; it's very distinctive.

CP: The lioness, the logo came from—My younger brother, Will, does all of our art. He screen-prints tap handles and t-shirts in-house and he designs all of our logos and labels and all that. And when we were first going through the whole planning process, he did a lot of different logo treatments and stuff. We have a lion in our family seal, so he kept drawing a lot of lions and stuff, and he said, "well, this all looks really cliché, and bad, I don't really like the look of any of this," and so my wife said, "you know, why don't you 13:00try a lioness, they do all the work anyways." She went to a woman's college too, so she was all about that, and he said, "sure," and he came back, and he was really happy with that, and did a good job with that logo, so that's where the lioness comes from.