Interview – Joe Gonzalez, Holy Waters Brewing

One of the many breweries I discovered is Holy Waters Brewing, a small brewing group that is in the process of growing big in the Palm Beach Co. area.

Holy Waters Brewing

Holy Waters Brewing logo

First, who is Holy Waters Brewing?

Myself and my partner, Charles Chase. He has been a huge part of our success. He acts as co-founder, co-brewer, and co-representative.

Holy Waters is an interesting name for a brewery. How did you come up with that?

My partner and I are both Aquarius, and we were even born a day apart. We wanted to make this a part of who we were, part of our logo. Also, one of the biggest things that we want to be is South Florida. People come here for beaches, for fishing, for water. Plus, my holy water is beer. I love beer, whether it’s 0% or 6%. I hold beer very dear to my hear.

My wife was sitting next to Charles and I as we were enjoying a pint and discussing the topic of brewery name and suggested “Holy Waters”. It was a perfect fit. That’s how it came together. The name gave us a lot to play with. And my intent was not to ridicule the church; I believe everybody believes their own thing. For the most part the deep religious people that would have a problem with this aren’t going to beer festivals.

Is that why you have beers that are named after the seven deadly sins?

I had always wanted to make a Sin series. Years back, even before Holy Waters, I wanted to make the Seven Sins. Beer companies had series beers they launched. We wanted to do that, too.

What are each of the beers going to be?

The name has to fit the beer. We brew a recipe and when it fits, we name it. Gluttony, for example, has a lot going for it. With the different ingredients and adjuncts, we push that beer to be gluttonous, and it became Gluttony. Wrath isn’t solid yet. It may or may not be a red IPA. Once we open a facility we can play around with recipes and different releases. Right now we are focusing on our flagship recipes.

What is your background before you got into craft beer?

I tended bar for a long time as a young adult. When I was in high school, the drinking age was 18. At 18 I was drinking imports, beers that were unpopular at the time. The first time I had Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, I was ecstatic. I had a palette of flavors. It was never really about drinking the cheapest beer to get drunk.

As I was getting started in the restaurant business, I was getting interested in promoting beers. I had brewed with Fran Andrewlevich of Brewzzi, injured myself and had to leave the industry. I opened another business, but my heart was in beer. I got into teaching, but realized I didn’t want to be a follower, and that lit a fire under me to start a brand.

It’s been a struggle, but my wife has been giving me her support and that has helped me 100%. If it weren’t for her, this wouldn’t have been able to happen. I’m happy to have the opportunity to do this. I continue to tend bar for some money, but it’s tough out there for the little guys.

As craft beer booms, many people are interested in getting hired as brewers themselves. What advice would you have for these people?

In all the years I’ve tended bar, I’ve never met so many homebrewers that wanted to open up a brew bar. The one word you have to use is commitment. You have to be committed and you have to sacrifice to do it. Don’t be fooled because you make good beer that you will make it. Look at the NFL. There is a tenth of a percent chance that you’ll make it. There’s a lot of commitment and sacrifice and hard work is what is necessary. You really have to work for it.

You’re still looking at opening up a production brewery. Have you thought about using Kickstarter or some other crowdfunding sites?

I have thought about it, but I don’t have anything solid. I’m still working on deals. We had looked at some 20-30 barrel systems because, when you look at the South Florida beer market, growth is strong. It makes better sense to start off big. I have a plan to start with a 30-barrel system that will be able to carry distribution for the southern side of the state. Plan B is in the works to open a smaller system, but there is more to come on that a bit later.

I think it’s awful we can’t distribute up to a certain point, like 100 barrels. That doesn’t hurt the big breweries. If small breweries were able to self distribute, it opens up the door for larger distributors to ask of them to distribute for us. My taking a keg to someone isn’t going to hurt anyone. That is an easy law to change, and there are a few states that allow it now. If my beer isn’t good enough to stay on tap, then it will work itself out.

How do you feel about the future of craft beer in Florida?

I thinks its super bright. You see other areas like California, Colorado, North Carolina, all these craft beer hubs have grown and more breweries continue to open. One thing that is very important for all of these areas is that they have a quality product.

South Florida is a big vacation spot and we want to make craft breweries a part of that. If it’s not up to standards, if we’re not careful with this growth, if South Florida has a couple of bad marks on them, it brings everybody down. If people do a brewery tour and 2 of 5 breweries aren’t good, that’s how it starts. It’s important, not just for us, but for everybody.






Plan B is in the works as a smaller system. More to come on that later


3 thoughts on “Interview – Joe Gonzalez, Holy Waters Brewing

  1. Pingback: Event preview – Delray Beach Craft Beer Fest | Florida Beer Blog

  2. Pingback: Brew Reviews – Holy Waters Brewing at Delray Beach Craft Beer Fest | Florida Beer Blog

  3. Pingback: Brew Reviews – Holy Waters at Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest 2015 | Florida Beer Blog

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