Grand Rapids, Mich. — Coldbreak Brewing Equipment started modestly: Boyd Culver, a home brewer working in the tool and die industry at the time, needed an immersion chiller. So he made one himself. He made another out of leftover materials and sold it on Ebay. That was the beginning of his small business.
Over the course of a decade, and with the help of Culver’s middle school friend Chris Musil, the company has evolved into much more. Coldbreak Brewing Equipment’s innovative jockey boxes have put them on the map for breweries large and small across the United States.
“We’ve branched out nationally, but we’ve really developed a stronghold on the industry in Michigan,” Culver said.
At the 2018 Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Beer Festival, 62 of the more than 140 Michigan breweries in attendance poured from Coldbreak Brewing Equipment jockey boxes. Coldbreak’s Michigan clients include such breweries as Founders Brewing Company, Bell’s Brewery and New Holland Brewing Company.
Around the country, Coldbreak jockey boxes are used by the likes of Alaskan Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewery and Russian River Brewing Company, among others.
“It’s pretty cool that the two beers that battle back and forth every year for the best beer in America, Bell’s Two Hearted and Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, are both being poured through our boxes,” Culver said.
Culver and Musil started making jockey boxes when their friend Matt Michiels, owner of Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery, requested one.
“We purchased an example to follow and thought, ‘We can make this better,’” Musil said. “That’s kind of our philosophy whenever we make something.”
Culver and Musil started selling their jockey boxes to other breweries, and now the product accounts for over 70 percent of Coldbreak’s business, Musil said.
Coldbreak’s jockey box performs because it was designed with breweries in mind. It serves everyone from the brewer to the consumer.
“We use only stainless steel equipment, so a brewer doesn’t have to worry about corroded chrome fixtures affecting the taste of their beer,” Culver said. “We put our inlets and outlets on the same side, so when a festival bartender’s keg blows, they get to see that it’s blown before they get covered in beer.”
Coldbreak is the only company that offers custom wrapped jockey boxes, enabling breweries to showcase their brand. The design also supports heavy custom tap handles, so even a brewery’s marketing director can feel good about pouring from a Coldbreak jockey box.
Culver and Musil’s dedication to creating the best product for their customers comes from their relationships within the craft beer industry.
“We’re equipment guys, but we find ourselves in the mix a lot with brewers,” Culver said. Those friendships motivate Culver and Musil to constantly seek quality.
“People in the craft beer community take a lot of pride in their products, but they also have an incredible amount of humility,” Culver said. “Everybody is so willing to help each other, and that’s so fun to be around.”
Catch Coldbreak Brewing Equipment at the 2018 Craft Brewers Conference, booth 3224, hosted by the Brewer’s Association in Nashville, April 30-May 3.