These days, it is considered very cool to have a kegerator in your apartment with two beers and multiple bottles ready to go. Unfortunately, I don’t have one, but Ryan and Dave, the owners of Mindful Ales, do. They are both business partners and a couple who compliment each other very well. I hung out with them in their beautiful apartment right on the 6th St. embankment in Jersey City and had a little taste of what they are brewing. Some of the strawberries that went into their Beautiful Soul Saizon beer were from their rooftop that boasts a gorgeous view of downtown Jersey City (obviously, I am in love with their apartment, but I also fell in love with them and their company).
Their house is where the magic of Mindful Ales occurs. By magic, I mean drinking the beer and eating their food. The actual beer is made in South Jersey where they have space for all the supplies and a floor burner to cook the beer. I love this company and cannot wait to see their plans come to fruition - two years to open a brewery and everything that comes with that including trademarking, business plan, investors, spaces, and licenses.
So what is Mindful Ales? Similar to our friends at Misunderstood Whiskey, the name Mindful Ales is more than what meets the eye — it is two-fold. First, it is about thinking mindfully — “We are really passionate about environmental action and community involvement. Thinking globally, while acting locally… being mindful :) So in every aspect of the business, these foundational principles and ethics will shine through. It should literally always be about mindfulness in every sense of the word and in every part of the experience. We think it's beautiful that we’ve been given an earth that allows us to artfully create new and different things everyday. And we want to take full advantage of that, while appreciating and respecting the earth that gave us the means to create. Each beer should accompany that beauty and that appreciation,” said Ryan and Dave.
Second, it is about connecting with people and finding inspiration from everyone and everything. Ryan and Dave are “...always looking for other creatives to connect with - not just in the beer world. We love being inspired by others who are ‘being mindful,’ whether that means their involvement in the community, their art outlet, their commitment to creating, standing up for the environment, or just living life to the fullest! A lot of our ‘crazy’ colored and flavored beers were inspired by a chef, an artist, an environment, that had nothing to do with beer!” Their mindfulness also comes from how they get their product as they work closely with Fir Farm, buy product from the Grove Street Farmer’s Market, source most of their organic base malt from The Thirsty Quaker, and forage in Liberty State Park for dandelions. They try and use as much local and organic ingredients as possible.
Let’s go back a little to the beginning of Ryan and Dave. They went on their first date at Triumph Brewing Company in Princeton drinking beer, eating sweet potato fries, and walking around the rainy, beautiful, and old campus getting to know one another. Fast forward to two years into their relationship, “Our passions came together [Dave has always loved brewing and Ryan is an event planner and marketer with an entrepreneurial spirit] and Mindful Ales was born. We started with zero expectations, but received great feedback right from the start- which encouraged us to continue on, evolving and expanding what Mindful Ales was and is today.”
When they were looking to move in together, Dave was commuting to NYC from Central New Jersey, taking the PATH train, and passing through Jersey City everyday. They were looking for a place with a sense of community, a place to grow, and one with endless possibilities. “Jersey City checked all the boxes and we fell in love! The small-town vibes, with the big city so close, and all the character, charm and diversity of Jersey City has kept us deepening our roots and our commitment to the city. We’ve called Jersey City home for the past few years and wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Ryan and Dave. And it continually provides inspiration for them, “When we ride our bikes around or walk to a new restaurant we’re going to check out, it's always exciting to turn the corner and see what else there is to learn and discover,” shared Ryan and Dave.
They both went on to say — “The longer we live here, the more we are overwhelmed by the richness of culture and history. Meeting people who have lived here their whole lives and seeing the story of Jersey City through their eyes has been one of our favorite and most beautiful privileges. We love that we get to leave New York every day to come home to a place so close, but so different, and still a city vibe. Its truly the best of all worlds.”
Some of their favorite places include Sam.am for brunch, Kanibal & Co, Taproot Organics, Short Grain, and the Waterfront- the stunning views on late night walks can’t be beat. They also love Pet Shop (Ryan is vegetarian, so their bites are awesome too) and they have a special place in their heart for Porta, “We both grew up pretty close to the one in Asbury, so seeing that great place become a local fave within 5 minutes of our home has been so cool.” Also, McGinley Square Pub was one of the first places to make them fall in love with Jersey City when they first moved here.
They are also inspired by the people who make things happen within the city. Those that saved Liberty State Park and continue to fight against its privatization. Those of us who stood together asking Jersey City to be a Sanctuary City and the city officials who signed the documents saying we were one. “It really does feel like a small community, even though it's a large city filled with all walks of life,” reflected Ryan and Dave.
Going back to their beer — the product itself is pretty amazing. The flavors are different and complex as they’re inspired by the kombucha industry because of the fermentation process. They have a series called “The Wanderer Series.” The beers in this series all have the same base, but Ryan and Dave “...play around with different fruits, sugars, flowers, and spices. It’s really cool to see bright red and purple beers, but they also need to taste good. We are all about balance and don’t want any flavor to be overbearing, so we usually do some extensive research on each ingredient and use it in teas, tinctures, or even add to an existing beer to see what it does. It’s quite literally a canvas for our minds to ‘wander.’” One beer is purple from the Butterfly Pea Flower from Thailand. Pretty Cool!
They have faced some challenges turning a hobby into a business. “Making great beer is only half the battle, we feel like our branding and approach need to be of the same quality. Also, we are currently working through all the legal logistics and there are a lot of moving pieces that need consideration (and monetary commitment) to push this baby forward. We’re excited. Its exciting! It's scary, but we’re excited to take on the challenges and continue to learn and grow as a partnership, and as a business, as we go,” shared Ryan and Dave.
They celebrate their city, the environment, what surrounds them and it shines through in the product. They celebrate the earth by appreciating and using what it has given them through activities like camping, hiking, biking- all of which bring them a lot of joy and inspiration. “We love to travel and explore new places and we also are both really passionate about music and really art in any form. We also find inspiration in our yoga and meditation practice, which helps us stay grounded in this very fast-paced, high-stress environment. And of course- other creators! We hope that people are able to see this shine through in the imagery of our branding. Its our goal to encompass all these passions in simple, elegant names and labels for all to enjoy,” said Ryan and Dave.
So where can we find the product?
As Ryan and Dave explained, they are currently only a ‘Brewery in Planning,’ so as of right now they cannot sell their beer anywhere. They explained further — “We are currently going through the whole Trademark process and getting our business plan all buttoned up, so hopefully sooner than later you will find our beers around! We do participate in as many homebrew festivals as we can around New Jersey and NYC. We will definitely post on social media where we will be and what we will be bringing!”
Photos provided by Mindful Ales