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The Idea, The Execution, The Journey, The Grind

"The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move in 5 seconds or your brain will stop you." 5 4 3 2 1 Go!" - Mel Robbins

I'm always reading, listening to, or watching self development books, podcasts, or speeches.  People think it is a crazy thing or that you must feel bad about yourself to read "self-help" books.  The crazy part is, they actually help!  Currently, I am listening to "The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, and it is such a great book to get you to take action.  

Here at Hopp'd and Brew'd we have been taking action!  Massive action! The only way we are going to grow into the company we want is if we push forward every single day.  

The support we have had is so mind blowing.  It is a really cool and humbling experience when random people stop at our table or booth and let us know how much they like the sauce.  That helps us to keep the hustle, the motivation, and the grind.  

Currently, we have been hard at work on two major accounts.  Justin has been working on an account for months and it seems like that hustle, grind, and dedication, is about to pay off big time for Hopp'd and Brew'd.  January, we could have some major news! 

I've been working, when I can, on another major account that would put us on the map as well.  The funny thing is there seems to be a common theme everyone asks us.  In interviews with restaurants, radio shows, newspapers, major retail accounts, and just people who stop at our Hopp'd and Brew'd table all have the same question.  "How did you guys get started?" or "How did you come up with the idea?" 

Even today, as I finished up on one of our major applications for retail, the first question they want to know is our history.   So I figured, why not post it to our blog!  

Here is one of the many versions of everything Justin and I have been up to with Hopp'd and Brew'd.  


Understanding where we have come from and how we got to this point in an important part of Hopp’d and Brew’d.  We are just two guys who have been friends since Kindergarten who had an idea.  That idea needed the hustle, execution, and action in order for it to become a goal.  This application is another step in our Journey about action, patience, and consistency.

October of 2016 Justin and I were talking on the phone about potential business ideas.  He is a chef by trade, and a good one too.  His company had just got done doing a feature on him where he was able to make a dish for the people who work there.  Being a chef in Massachusetts he wanted to leave them something they wouldn’t forget.  So he made the obvious choice, anybody from the Rochester area would make, Garbage Plates.  

People went crazy for them!  People who had never had one were blown away by how well everything worked together, they had no idea what a “meat sauce” was but they were definitely going to have more.  The workers who were from the Rochester area, a lot of RIT grads, went crazy over Justin’s plate.  They were reminded of home and ALL of them agreed it was one of the best meat sauces they had tasted.  Justin was instantly hooked on giving people food and making them happy.  

We chatted on the phone about his dish and he said he really wanted to come back toward the Rochester area and start a food truck, or a food cart, or something along the lines of his own business but he needed my help to do that.  He knew nothing about starting a business or promoting it through social media or making a website or any of those things that go along with getting attention through the use of social media.  I had just launched a blog, I was branding and marketing myself as a writer, dad, and the trials and tribulations of being a parent and raising two boys.  I started and created and had a Facebook and Instagram that went along with it.  Justin noticed that, and ensued my help to get him started.  

We threw around a bunch of business ideas for a week or so.  Food truck? Too much startup and overhead.  Food cart? More manageable, but not quite going to cut it.  During our conversation, I cracked a beer.  It was a hoppy, citrusy, floral, and refreshing.  Then it came to me!  I asked Justin, “Could you take the hoppiness of this beer, and put it into a sauce?”  He had no idea.  So we got off the phone, and started to do some research.  

A few days later we followed up with each other.  Justin said he could find very few things, articles, stories, about people cooking with hops.  We both agreed that the craft beer world was blowing up and that it was just getting bigger and bigger.  We came up with the idea to make a sauce that uses craft beer and hops in the ingredients.  He started researching more and I said I’m going to create some labels, make a website, and we will see how it goes.  

The next day, Justin called me and said, “We are going to do 4 flavors, Buffalo, BBQ, Honey BBQ, and a meat sauce.”  I said, “Ok what do you want to call them, how do you want them to look what should the sauce be called?”  His reply was, “I don’t care you can make it happen.”  Right there was the moment we formed an unbreakable and trusting partnership.  We played on our strengths!  Justin’s strength was in the kitchen, my strength was computers and people.  As Justin was researching recipes, I started researching food labels, and trends in labels, and domain names.  

About a week later, we came back together and I told him that we would be called Roc City Sauces, and that I had 4 labels all finished and the website was designed, and we had a domain name, and we were ready to go.  I also created a facebook page and Instagram account to help us promote online.  We launched it on a Thursday at about 6am and by the end of the day we had some orders, that totaled about 24 jars.  

What!?  We had zero product, we didn’t even know if we could do what we said, the website only had descriptions and a cost, for each.  You could buy them individually, or as a 4-pack.  You didn’t know what size the jars came in, all you could read was that it was made with craft beer and hops and I typed up some descriptions for each sauce.  

I called Justin and said, we have some orders so we need to make this happen.  He drove down from Massachusetts and the money people spent on the sauce, we bootstrapped it and bought our supplies to make the first batch in my kitchen.  It was the weekend before Halloween when he drove down.  We decided to go to Barnes and Nobles at RIT before we started shopping for supplies.  Remember, we didn’t have a product and I wasn’t sure how much of a recipe Justin had for each sauce.  I did some computer work, promoting, and Justin sat down, and wrote out 4 recipes for the sauces.  Then, we hit the store and bought all of our ingredients.  

By the time the weekend was over, we have about 6 boxes ready to ship out.  Justin left and drove back to Mass. and we waited.  We waited to hear about what people thought and then we promoted it like it was going out of style.  We decided that once a month, I would drive to Massachusetts and we would ship out our orders, once a month.  So once a month, we would post when we shipped, and then I would drive to Justin’s and bring my printer and computer and we would label, box, and ship all of the sauces.  

We did that for November, December, January, and February.  Once, and sometimes, twice a month I drove to Mass and we would do this.  We did this through snow storms, we did it through the thruway getting shut down, we lost windshield wipers on the Mass Pike but we couldn’t stop because people wanted our product.  Finally, in February, we said that we couldn’t do this anymore.  This once a month driving and shipping and boxing.  In February, the last time we did a made to order batch, when I got to Justin’s house, he had about 400 jars of sauce lined up on his kitchen table.  Sauce had completely taken over!  

Four months of market research, and the 18 states that we shipped to, all said we had a product that people wanted.  Repeat customers, new customers, contact from local restaurants, and newspapers, helped us so we decided to make it happen for real.  We redesigned our labels, set up all the business accounts we needed to, filed all the necessary paperwork, and on March 1st 2017, we became the Hopp’d and Brew’d Sauce Co. 

Finally, after a month and a half of hangups with labels, recipes, and packaging, we had our very first batch of Hopp’d and Brew’d Sauce to get to local residents.  We got it in a few small shops, and even had a restaurant use our buffalo sauce right away, and have been making moves ever since at festivals, markets, and with breweries.  

To our knowledge, we are the first, and only retail Hopp’d Sauce in the Country that you can purchase.  Every batch we make is different depending on the beer we use in our sauce.  Local breweries give us beer to make our sauce with and we change our entire hop profile in our sauce to match the hoppiness of that beer.  We have stickers that say, Crafted with ______ on our sauce caps.  The stickers, recognize the brewery, and beer that is in that current batch of sauce.  We are in touch with multiple breweries, cideries, and hop yards in the Rochester and New England area that seem like a good fit to work with.  We are constantly coming up with new recipes that infuse hops as a cooking ingredient and are just looking to grow.  

We had an idea, set goals, executed, and took action to make this happen.  Justin and I both have full-time jobs and families.  I have zero experience in marketing, promotions, the food industry, creating labels, making beer, and doing things like this.  So far everything we have done, from the recipes to the sauce, the labels on them, the social media, the events, the t shirt designs, and the networking have all been me and Justin.  

We are proud of our sauce and what we have done so far with it.  This is just another step in our Journey of Hopp’d and Brew’d.  


Whatever you want to do, just do it.  If we would have listened to our brains, we never would have created this company.  

"The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move in 5 seconds or your brain will stop you." 5 4 3 2 1 Go!" - Mel Robbins

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