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VIProfile: Sean Stevens




STORY BY ANGELA REEVES

Sean Stevens, Co Founder of White Squirrel Brewery in Bowling Green, has had brewing in his blood since 22 years old. Sean bartended at the old HOPS Brewing Company in Bowling Green and was offered a position of Brewmaster in the Chattanooga store. “I told them I didn’t know how to brew beer and they said, it doesn’t matter, we’ll teach you. So I was 22 years old, had my name on the door and was the Brewmaster of a big brewery,” said Sean. “It was fun, but I had no idea what I was doing and that’s where brewing started for me.”

Sean moved around the country from Kentucky and Tennessee to Oregon, Northern California and Arizona, but never brewed again over the next fifteen years. He met his wife, Sara, who is from Bowling Green, and they ended up moving back here. Through dinner with mutual friends they were talking about a place downtown they always thought would be cool to turn into a brewery and music venue and the friends said they had some people they should meet who were currently homebrewing. Sean met Jason Heflin and Damon Wilcox and over the next 3-4 years the three brewed in Damon’s garage every other weekend. Sean says, “coming up with bad business plans and sampling a lot of our creations is where the recipes started.”

Over several years of trying to find investors, Sean talked with Tom Holmes of 440 Restaurant and he helped him with the current space and conceptualizing the idea to reality. Their original name idea, Bearded Brothers Brewery was taken, so through some brainstorming of community-based ideas, White Squirrel was born. Since 2015 the brewery and restaurant has seen success in Bowling Green and their distribution in KY. Sean, who had been more involved in day to day operations in the beginning, took over brewing in 2017 and spends every Monday, when the restaurant and tap room are closed, brewing.

Their three main brews, the Kolsch, Nut Brown (brown ale), and Pal Ale are brewed through a contractor in Alabama due to the volume, saving room and time for the small batches to continue to be brewed on site at White Squirrel. Their beer selection is rotated often since they are tiny batches produced. On the current rotation of small batches are a Porter, Scotch Ale, Rye IPA, White Squirrel Striders Orange Peel IPA, Jalapeno Kolsch, Blueberry Kolsch, Irish Red, and a Hefeweizen. Plenty to choose from for every palate!

Sean loves experimenting to find the perfect recipe. His favorite beer is their Pale Ale. “After 5 years of tweaking small amounts in the recipe, I think it’s perfect now,” said Sean. “You’re going to brew some crappy beers to get to the good ones, it’s just part of it. In this business you have to love what you do and be willing to fail if you want to be successful.”

Even though Sean isn’t day to day in the taproom anymore, he still loves to represent White Squirrel in the community and industry events every opportunity he can. In April, White Squirrel began Beer Release events every 3rd Thursday with Sean pouring in the taproom and explaining the origin behind the latest release. Taking over the brewing has allowed Sean to focus on what he loves and to spend more time with his loves outside of work -his wife, Sara, and four kids, Haley, 16, Sylas, 11, Gracie, 8, and Nya, 7.

You can visit White Squirrel Brewery at 871 Broadway Avenue, Tuesday through Sunday. Visit whitesquirrelbrewery.com to view the food menu, current beers and upcoming events.

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