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Member on the Menu: Brandon Skall

December 11, 2015

Member on the Menu: Brandon Skall, DC Brau

This month’s Member on the Menu spotlight features Brandon Skall, CEO and co-owner of DC Brau. Brandon, along with Jeff Hancock, are proud owners of the first packaging brewery in DC since 1956. Brandon was born at Georgetown University Hospital and raised in DC. He is proud of his Washingtonian roots and his business, which represents his hometown and his passion for craft beer.

What is the most difficult part of owning your own business?

The single hardest part by far is balance: personal and professional balance; business and family balance; and balancing business and life in general. I have a 17-month-old son who is just incredible and I really feel pulled for time—having enough time for my family and time for the business. This balancing act comes with stress but I’m getting better at it.

What is the most gratifying part of owning your own business?

The best part is the face-to-face interaction with the people who love our beer and support us. Beer people are so enthusiastic and very appreciative of what you do. So the ability to make and create something people genuinely enjoy is very rewarding.

In what way, if any, is your business influenced by the neighborhood where it’s located?

The influence for DC Brau goes beyond just the neighborhood. This business was inspired from the city itself and it’s the catalyst for our identity. We have a duplicitous product line that reflects both sides of DC. There’s the political side that people tend to associate with Washington. For that we offer beers called The Public, Citizen, and Corruption. And then there is the other homegrown culture here that everyone doesn’t necessarily get to see.  That side of the city is reflected in selections like El Hefe Speaks and Solar Abyss.  Beyond the city itself we’re also inspired by the places we’ve been—the culture, music, and our likes and passions in life.  

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I hope to be doing exactly what I’m doing now but with a little growth under my belt. I’ve really dialed in to every aspect of what is going on in the everyday process of the business. I enjoy working on the marketing, social media, and the business side of things, and having a hand in every area. I hope that with future growth I’ll still be able to maintain a similar connection.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I’ve been given is to be honest with yourself and others. As an entrepreneur you must be brutally honest, especially to the people working for you, or you won’t get the results you need to be successful personally or professionally.

How did you get started in the business?

I started as a server at Morton’s.  Then I sort of stumbled into the beverage industry and loved it.  I worked for about six years selling wine as an account rep and also worked as a supplier rep for an importer. I fell in love with craft beer and DC Brau is a result of that passion.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

That’s easy: I’d be a 1980s arena rock hair metal guitarist.

What song always makes you happy?

 La Mer by Julio Iglesias

What’s your favorite DC spot? 

It’s so hard to say a favorite because I appreciate the entire city.   I like to go out and about everywhere but I really enjoy going to my neighborhood bar Boundary Stone. I go there every Sunday with my family, and I went screaming in there the night my son was born and drank a shot.  I just feel at home there.

Other than your own, what is your favorite local restaurant?

I can’t say a favorite restaurant, but if I have a soft spot for a certain food it’s for prime steak.  I love New York Strip. It’s my weakness.

What is your favorite ingredient?

My favorite ingredient in beer is hops.  I enjoy the floral and citrus flavors and expressions that come out of hops.  And my favorite ingredient for food is salt. I must have an imbalance in my system because I use an inordinate amount of salt in my food.

You’re hosting a dream dinner party. What 3 people would be at your table?

Rob Ford, (current mayor of Toronto, Canada), my wife of course, and B movie actor Bruce Campbell.

It’s the last meal of your life. What would you want to eat?

It would be that prime steak I have a weakness for, or a crisp, juicy chicken sandwich—with extra hot sauce.

What are your pet peeves?

I don’t like small talk in business settings. It seems unnecessary.

What is your favorite way to give back to the community?

I try to do as many charity events as possible, and to get DC Brau associated with activities and organizations that will be a catalyst for change for our community.  We’ve been involved with DC Vote at events designed to get people to understand issues that impact our residents.  We’ve also worked with City Paws, a local dog shelter, and have been proud to participate in fundraisers to benefit Bread for the City.

What’s your go-to junk food?

Cadbury mini eggs