I didn’t quite grasp just how avid a following entertainment website the Chive has cultivated until I told my friend Josh that I was stopping by the site’s Austin headquarters to learn more about a boozy offshoot of the site’s parent company, Resignation Brewery, and asked he’d like to join me.
The look on his face told me better than any Googling I did about the level of enthusiasm and passion millions of people have for the website that started in 2008 as a way to share entertaining photos. It’s since expanded into a veritable social media community with events all over the U.S., big charitable campaigns and products like, of course, Resignation beer.
Currently, the Chive’s Resignation Brewery (which shares the name of the site’s parent company, Resignation Media) offers KCCO Black Lager, KCCO Gold Lager and KCCO White Wheat, the latter of which is a beer only available in Texas. These brews have an advantage that most being released these days don’t have — people all over the country immediately clamoring to try them and plenty of six-packs to go around to meet that high demand — simply because the beers have the name of a powerhouse entertainment company behind them.
The Chive’s foray into the beer market was perhaps inevitable thanks to the site’s co-founders, brothers Leo and John Resig, and a handful of other employees. They were all homebrewers, and some of them would bring their small-batch beers into the office of the Chive’s original home base in Venice Beach, Calif., where the Chive fans regularly visited for tours and meet-ups, Resignation Brewery president Joe Michaels said.
“Our homebrewers would bottle the black lager and put it in the beer fridge,” he said. “We had a bunch of different beers in there, but people coming in for tours would always choose that beer. That’s sort of what gave us the idea of brewing it on a national level.”
Instead of finding the space, the equipment and the supplies to start up a brewing operation, Resignation Media reached out to the Craft Brew Alliance, a Pacific Northwest-based group of several breweries that includes Redhook Ale Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing and Omission Beer, partnering up with them to produce the KCCO beers. (Anheuser-Busch InBev owns about a third of the alliance.)
“They brew our beers, but it’s our recipes and our marketing,” Michaels said.
Sometime in the future, Resignation Brewery might be an actual brewery in Austin — that is, if the Chive can maneuver through the state’s tight brewing laws.
“We want a brewery here, but getting that done with Texas laws is tricky. We’re still figuring out how to make it happen operationally,” he said, adding that Resignation Media has looked at a few places on the east side, although nowhere that has stuck. (The site’s actual headquarters are downtown, in a space complete with a two-story slide, a bar with beers and liquor and a walk-in freezer to store extra bottles and kegs.)
Originally, the only KCCO beer for about a year and a half was the black lager, the one that started it all. Despite its homebrew history with the Chive, “people thought we were crazy to start with it,” Michaels said.
That’s because KCCO Black Lager is, indeed, dark — but deceptively so. Although it looks rich and heavy, “like a Guinness to a lot of people,” the lager is disarmingly easy to sip even in warmer months, he said. So are the two other sessionable options, KCCO Gold Lager and KCCO White Wheat. They’ve all flown off shelves since their initial releases, although the black lager is now no longer available as a year-round beer thanks to assumptions about dark beers. Wait until winter for that one, Michaels said.
The honeyed gold lager has taken its place as the year-round offering from Resignation Brewery. And for Texans only, there’s the White Wheat, the only one of the three to feature additional ingredients, Meyer lemon and blood orange, besides the main four of barley, hops, water and yeast. This Texas-exclusive beer is well-stocked at HEBs.
Resignation Brewery is also planning for additional beers to fill out the lineup; look out for an amber ale next year, Michaels said.
“Distributors have been shocked at the reception our beers have gotten,” he said. “I think that’s partly because of our fanbase, but also because the beers are good.”