by Hollie Wegman ・ Office Hacks

Office Hack #33—Vector Custom Fabricating’s Beer Hack

Envoy is all about making things easier and more fun in the office. In that spirit, we are proud to bring you our new Envoy Office Hacks podcast series. Every week, we deliver the coolest, most ingenious, and just plain fun fixes people have invented to improve efficiency and productivity in their workplace.

Not all team-building exercises are created equal. Some are much tastier.

In the Bavarian spirit of Oktoberfest, we continue with our beer-focused office hacks. Today’s Envoy Office Hack doesn’t disappoint.

Vector Custom Fabricating is an artist-run metal architectural and sculptural shop in Chicago, Illinois.

It’s a small, tight team that works there, with very little turnover. The owners might be tempted to attribute the stable staffing, in part, to the beverages on tap.

The founders of Vector Custom Fabricating have always been into craft beer, and the very core of their business is making stuff. Put these together and you have: custom beer brewing!

“People here at Vector either will make sculptures after-hours or work on motorcycles. And I think that [beer making] is one of those things that’s in the same line of fun things people do in the workplace. …But unlike a sculpture or motorcycle, it’s something that other people can enjoy and partake in beyond just the making of it.” Eric Lowe, Partner at Vector Custom Fabricating

Vector has been home, or rather, workplace-brewing as a team for about three years now, and have elevated their off-hours operation to one of sophistication. They even grow their own hops; 11 different varieties.

And it turns out, crafting ale at work, can take team-bonding to the next level.

“The fact that there is a Kegerator in the office of stuff that we made here, when we do brew more guys here have taken an interest and want to come brew with us. I think it builds a sense of community and a sense that this is a fun place. That it is a place you want to be. Work doesn’t feel a slog that you have to get in, do your eight hours and punch out.” Eric Lowe, Partner at Vector Custom Fabricating

Another fun spin-off for the Vector team: naming each beer. So far, some of the favourites have been the Mexican Puppy Porter, Dead Bird, Quite Contrary IPA, The Heaviest Tanker… Eventually, but all beer is generally referred to as “Vector Nector”.

In just three years, Vector Custom Fabricating has already brewed approximately 155 gallons of beer. No word yet on adding selections of Vector Nector to the company’s services. For now, it’s strictly a work perk.

How to hack it

If you’re interested in bringing your workplace team together over brewing beer, here’s what you’ll need to get started:

And the guys at Vector suggest checking out one of these resources to jumpstart your brewing operation:

  • How to Brew by John Palmer is a great primer on all things brewing and does a pretty great job of explaining the science behind how all the different processes work.
  • Website: HomeBrewTalk is a great resource for most questions about equipment and setting up the system. It’s a forum with lots of posts by homebrewers explaining their particular systems and setups, as well as tons of recipes and stories about their experiences.
  • Beersmith is a mobile app which helps you design, convert and tailor recipes specifically to your equipment. It has a built-in timer for brew day as well as calculators for all the sciency bits. It’s the brewmaster’s Swiss Army knife!

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