Creativity fueled by passion, entrepreneurship and a bit of obsession for craft beer. That’s how you might describe Erich Allen, the master brewer and owner of Studio Brew in Bristol, Virginia.
You might say he’s obsessive compulsive too and he’d smile and agree. Hiding behind his renaissance grin, Erich has launched and successfully run businesses from photography, marketing and custom home and commercial audio and video companies, but his passion his brewing beer.
It all started in 2008 when he went started attending home-brew meetings with the State of Franklin Home Brew organization. These clandestine meetings at Depot Street in Jonesborough allowed Erich to find his calling.
I found my people – those who love to make and share beer.
“I remember the day I was talking to Jamie McGuiness in Jonesborough. He asked me if I liked craft beer.”
Erich answered yes and Jamie poured a glass of Scottish Wheat Heavy. He smelled it – tasted it and was amazed, asking, “You made this?”
Jamie said he did and Erich asked him, “Can I make something like this?”
To which Jamie responded, “And Beyond.”
As Erich described it, it was like the heavens opened up and, “I found my people – those who love to make and share beer.”
Immediately absorbed, Erich immersed himself in kits and recipes and for months made new tastes and sampled them with friends. Not long after, he realized he was just copying everybody else and decided to put that aside for something truly original.
From this epiphany, Erich went on to research how to make a Belgium Tripel and never changed the recipe. He started to share the recipe with his friends and started to gain recognition among his clients and fellow home-brewers for his special approach to making artisanal beer. Since then, he’s never changed the recipe, but he has had to dial-up his equipment.
In 2010, Studio Brew moved from the former photography studio turned home brewery into a full legalized brewed at the Kingsport Octoberfest. From one barrel to three barrels, he was on his way as more and more people want the new ale.
By 2012 he realized he had to grow and take some bold steps. His investors allowed him to begin the pursuit of a building and after researching and entertaining 18 locations in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, Erich took possession of the current Studio Brew building in 2014.
Construction began on the former whiskey distillery building in Bristol, Virginia and the rest is history. Erich and staff cut the ribbon on Studio Brew in November of 2015 and have begun an amazing American success story right here in the corner of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.