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Omaha brewers to take over old Blue Blood operation

Omaha brewers to take over old Blue Blood operation

Backswing Brewing

Backswing Brewing Co.'s owners are, from left, TJ Walker, Pat Simpson and Cory Sinclair.

TJ Walker and Pat Simpson started brewing beers in their homes a few years ago as a hobby.

They had been avid golfers, but family and work life had gotten too busy, leaving little time for golf.

They, along with a third friend, did have time to brew beer once a month, however.

"We started at home doing it as a way to get together," Walker said.

Over time, they found they were pretty good at it and that people they shared their beers with liked them. Somewhere along the line, Backswing Brewing Co. was born.

They also just happened to have an in with Brewsky's, where both worked as general managers, Walker in Lincoln and Simpson in Omaha.

They approached Brewsky's owners, who agreed to stock an India pale ale they were brewing starting this past January.

With a commercial deal in place, they needed somewhere else to brew the beer besides their garage, so they signed a deal with Blue Blood Brewing Co. in Lincoln.

They had met Blue Blood's owner, Brian Podwinski, at a trade show in the summer of 2014, and he had expressed an affinity for their beer and a willingness to help them if needed.

In August of this year, Podwinski let Walker, Simpson and their other partner, Simpson's brother-in-law Cory Sinclair, know that he was moving to a new site and asked them if they wanted to take over his existing operation at 500 W. South St.

It was somewhat fortuitous timing.

Their beer had been exceeding expectations at Brewsky's, and they had been exploring locations in Omaha for a potential commercial brewery, Sinclair said.

But they were working off of a three- to five-year plan.

However, they decided The Blue Blood opportunity was too good of a deal to pass up.

Though Podwinski is taking his canning line with him to his new brewery operation at Robber's Cave near 10th and High streets, he's leaving all the brewing equipment behind.

"They're good guys," Podwinski said. "It should be good for them."

Walker said the three are getting a really good deal by moving to Lincoln and taking over the Blue Blood site.

They are planning to move in starting in February. Blue Blood's new site is not likely to be ready until at least April, so the two operations may share a site for a couple of months.

Right now, the three are focused on getting all the details worked out: raising money, licensing and distribution.

Their exclusive deal with Brewsky's ends at the end of the year, and Walker said they have about 10-12 bars interested in stocking their beer that they'll pursue once they are into the old Blue Blood space.

They also are working on some other beers, including a couple of wheat varieties and a blonde ale.

Sinclair said that once they get into the Blue Blood space, they'll have other local craft beers in the tap room in addition to their own.

For the foreseeable future, their beers will only be available on tap or in growlers.

Sinclair said canning and bottling lines are very expensive, and they can't justify the cost until they grow to a certain size.

The Blue Blood site will give them plenty of room to grow. It can produce up to 3,700 barrels a year, which would be an ambitious goal.

"If we get over 3,000 our first year, it will be an achievement," Sinclair said.

To see Backswing Brewing Co.'s Kickstarter campaign, go to:

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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