THE SHORT STORY.
Ghost Hawk Brewing Company is a collaborative effort between two Clifton natives, Tom Rachelski and Steve Bauer. Born from a passion for delicious beer, and escaping the mundane routines of everyday life, this project has been in the planning stages behind the scenes for quite some time. With the addition of veteran brewmaster Chris Sheehan, this venture is only a short time away from coming to life. We have secured a killer location in our hometown of Clifton, NJ, and we are ready to quench your thirst with a dynamite selection of hand-crafted ales, lagers, stouts and more.
Ghost Hawk Co-Founder, Steve Bauer on how it all began:
How this all came together is a really great story, with the framework beginning about 6 or 7 years ago. I had started to discuss opening a brewery with a friend of mine who was a great home brewer and worked in a local brewery. I have a background in marketing and design, and we started developing concepts in the hopes of finding an investor to come along and get it off the ground. The brewery was set to be called the "Big Grizzly Brewing Company", but we were never able to find an investor. The idea eventually faded, and the branding ended up morphing into GRZLY, a streetwear clothing brand that I formed a few years later in 2014.
But, the spark of opening a brewery has been something I've wanted to do for a long time. After suffering the losses of a close friend in late 2014 and my younger brother in early 2016, I decided that I needed to start living my life, and start doing the things I always talked about doing, and never did. I quit my office job that I was at for nearly a decade, because I could no longer justify living in a cubicle. I gave up the salary, the benefits, the paid vacation. I went to the shelter and rescued an awesome dog. I threw care to the wind, and threw myself into the wild. There were a lot of ups and downs, but I was living life on my own terms.
In the summer of 2017, I was in between jobs and trying to figure out my next move. I threw out a general status on my Facebook, essentially saying "hey, I have a vast skill set that I can bring to the table", and asked people to hit me up with some ideas. I just wanted to see what people had to say, and if we could make something work. The next day, I got a text from my buddy Tom. He said that he read the post and had been thinking about it. We made a plan to meet up a few days later. Tom was a childhood friend of my brother Danny who passed, so it was good to catch up with him. He came by one day after work, brought over some beers, and we got to talking.
Tom was at a crossroads, where he had some money to invest and was looking for something solid. He had recently considered investing in a rental property, but thought a business venture could be more lucrative and exciting. At first, he mentioned wanting to invest in my clothing brand, but I didn't think that was a great idea. I know that industry well, clothing brands come and go almost overnight. It's very over-saturated and hard to break into on a big scale. So, he asked me what kind of business I would open. I said one word... BREWERY. We looked at each other, and we knew right away, this was the winner.
From there, we each got to work. Tom is a finance guy and works in corporate wealth management. I was blown away on all the detail and thought that he put into researching the business model for this venture. You couldn't ask for a smarter person or a better partner to be involved in a project like this. He has been impressive to every last detail. With Tom covering that end of the business, I was able to focus on doing what I do best.
I researched hundreds and hundreds of breweries across the country. I studied all the branding and took tons of notes on what I liked (and didn't like). I explored a lot of different concepts for our brewery, but somehow, they felt like they were lacking substance. So I took a step back, and did some soul searching. I began to reflect on the passing of my brother, and the hawk is a very important animal.
As kids, we would take many hiking and camping trips with our dad. We would gear up with backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags, and trek miles into the woods in Harriman State Park and other places, and spend whole weekends living in the wild. We'd catch fish and cook them on the fire. We'd explore the land. There were no cell phones or internet. From an early age, it gave us a true appreciation of nature. Through those times, an animal we grew a great respect for, were Red-Tailed Hawks. They are beautiful creatures, and pure predators. Even in our adult years, my brother and I went to a bird center and held hawks together, and Dan had a large tattoo of a hawk on his arm.
After my brother passed, I began to see hawks in very strange scenarios in my life. These are animals that I'm very familiar with. People often confuse Turkey Vultures with hawks, but I know how to spot the difference. You don't see hawks very often, because they are predators. They are generally hidden away in ambush, waiting for the moment to strike on their prey. On multiple occasions, including the day he passed and the day we buried him, myself and other people saw low-flying Red-Tailed Hawks right over our heads. Since that time, I have consistently seen Red-Tailed Hawks in places they shouldn't be. It gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I'm not one to believe in mumbo jumbo by any means, but I truly believe that is him watching over and saying hello.
I knew that a hawk needed to be incorporated into this venture somehow. One day, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. GHOST HAWK. Not only because of the significance, but also because my brother was a huge fan of fantasy books and series like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Game of Thrones. A Ghost Hawk sounds like it could be a character in one of those stories. I feel like if he's watching and sees that name, he will know that it's for him. When I finalized the concept, I showed it to Tom and he loved it. And so begins the story of Ghost Hawk Brewing Company.
This is more than just a business venture. This is about leaping into the unknown. This is a dedication to great people who are no longer with us, and a journey that we want all of you to join. We are very excited for the road ahead.