MARBLE FALLS — David Rathkamp and Alex Payson are busy discussing and mashing numbers as a large vat of soon-to-be craft beer bubbles nearby. They talk about yeast amounts, sugar percentages and all types of things one doesn’t think about making beer.
“No, there’s definitely a lot of math,” said Rathkamp, owner of Save the World Brewing Co. in Marble Falls. “You have to get it right.”
Payson, the company’s lead brewer, nodded.
“There’s a lot of science in making beer,” he added.
All that for a bottle of beer.
But both men promise the effort and wait will be worth it when the first bottles of Save the World Brewing Co. beer make it to the shelves of stores and restaurants. Rathkamp and Payson began brewing the first batch of beer in mid-March. It was a small batch, so they could get a complete handle on the process before expanding to larger batches.
By March 20, the two were well on their way to brewing the company’s fourth full batch.
“It feels great to be actually brewing finally,” Rathkamp said. He and his wife, Quynh, founded Save the World Brewing Co. as a philanthropic business with all the proceeds going to charity. It’s not exactly a business model many people practice, but one in which the Rathkamps believe.
“We think we can do a lot of good this way,” David Rathkamp said. Before jumping into the brewing business, he was a pediatrician for about 15 years. His wife still practices medicine, but soon she’ll hang up her stethoscope and join him in Marble Falls to help run the brewery.
Currently, the Rathkamps are looking at an international charity (Food for the Hungry) and national charity (Meals on Wheels) to support.
As a craft beer, it’s not like the typical mass-produced beverage. Where major breweries can go from start to bottle product in a matter of a few days, Save the World Brewing Co. beer takes more time. Depending on the flavor and type of beer, it could be a matter of a few weeks to even a few months from the actual start of the process to when the bottles land in stores and restaurants.
And Rathkamp and Payson monitor the beer every step of the way, taking measurements, looking under microscopes, watching temperatures and adding just the right amount of ingredients.
“We feel if we’re going to make beer, we want to make good beer and make it right,” Rathkamp said.
They import hops from England and some grains from Belgium because, at this point, that’s where the best of those specific ingredients are produced. While some growers have attempted to grow hops in the United States, Payson pointed out the ones for the best flavor still come from England and Europe because of the soil.
Just as soil infuses flavors in grapes, which influences wine, the same happens with hops.
Even a majority of the grains used by craft breweries such as Save the World come from Europe, particularly Belgium. Rathkamp explained the major breweries in the United States require a specific style of grain, so American producers grow for that market. These grains, however, don’t work well for craft beers, so smaller companies must go oversees for the best grains.
With the growth of craft breweries in the United States, some U.S. farmers are eyeing the market, but, for now, companies such as Save the World must look to Europe.
It all comes down to producing the best flavor of beer for the consumer. And this also means educating people about what beer really should look and taste like. Rathkamp pointed out, for years, the major American breweries have produced beer focusing on the bottom line. This has meant mass-produced beer with little flavor and color. So when somebody used to that type of beer tries a craft style, he or she might not think that’s what beer is supposed to taste like.
“But that’s really what it should taste and look like,” Rathkamp said. “Beer is meant to have flavor. It’s not meant to be watered down and with no flavor.”
If Marble Falls voters pass a change to the city ordinance in May, Save the World Brewing Co. can offer beer sales at the facility so folks can give craft beer a try. As for picking up some Save the World Brewing Co. beer, Rathkamp is working with several retailers to get it in area stores and restaurants.
And folks who enjoy a bottle of Save the World beer will also be doing doing something good for the world.
Cheers to that.
Go to www.savetheworldbrewing.com to learn more about the beer, company and its goals.