Every bar has a story, but not quite like the story of FDR Brewery (short for Ferment. Drink. Repeat). This relatively new addition to the Portola neighborhood is co-owned by Kevin and Shae Inglin. Kevin is a self-made brewer with a background serving in the military. Shae is from the Northeast, an Army wife for many years. Together, they are a longtime couple, the faces of FDR Brewery and parents of two teenagers.
After many years of having to move from place to place with the military, the entrepreneurial duo has found their calling in the craft beer world and a home, right here in San Francisco.
We caught up with the unique pair and chatted about fermentation, working together and beer preferences.
How do you go from the Army to running a bar?
Kevin: I had been home brewing since 1996 and continued to brew at all of our various duty stations throughout our career. I had always toyed with the idea of opening a brewery operation after I got out of the Army, but never really got serious about it until when we arrived in San Francisco for our last assignment in 2011. At that time, we knew we’d be leaving the Army in 2014, so we really had to start exploring our options.
Shae: My challenge as an Army spouse, for the 18 of the 21 years that [Kevin] was on Active Duty, was finding a career. It’s almost impossible to do so unless you are a teacher or a nurse. I would start a job and, before you knew it, we were off to another duty assignment. Many years after the boys were born we chose for me to be a stay-at-home mother. The only constant thread in our lives was Kevin’s hobby of brewing. It was a natural fit.
How do you divide responsibilities?
Kevin: Shae is front of the house, and I’m the brewer and back of the house. I’m in the back doing all the brewing and providing the home brew shop expertise and ordering most of the brewing ingredients, supplies, and equipment. Shae keeps the books and manages payments and invoices. We both pitch in on marketing, come up with promotional events and social media outreach.
Do you have similar taste in beer or different?
Shae: It took many years for me to warm up to beer. I was more of a cocktail girl. While Kevin tends to lean towards IPAs, I tend to like Saisons, Wits and Kettle Sours.
Kevin: Shae leans toward sours and enjoys a lot of Belgian-style beers, and as of late, has even surprisingly appreciated an IPA or two. I’m not a big sour guy; I tend toward ‘hoppier’ beers, but also appreciate nearly everything from crisp, clean refreshing Lagers to Porters and Stouts.
Could you imagine working together in other circumstances?
Kevin: I think so, but Shae likely disagrees! We’ve talked about other businesses together but ultimately saw FDR as the best option for staying in San Francisco after we finished up in the Army.
Shae: Kevin and I have extremely different working styles. He is very detail-oriented. I half-jokingly say that he has spreadsheets for his spreadsheets. I am a big picture sort of person. But I think we’ve always been working together in creating a life.
+++ FDR Brewery, 2636 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco