Milk (tee) Funk
Brettanomyces, lactobacillus, pediococcus. To many, these names mean very little; to some biologists, these are just names of microscopic organisms; but to Devin Bell and Milk the Funk, a passionate community of beer brewers, these are the keys to an elaborate world of alternative beer varieties and Teespring success.
Founded in 2013 by Ryan Steagall, a friend of Devin, Milk the Funk started as a simple forum among Devin, Ryan and a few other homebrewers in southern Kentucky and Tennessee. They discussed sour and Belgian beers, styles brewed with alternative yeast varieties and bacteria. “Ryan use to call me on the phone to ask about making Belgian and sour beers. So [eventually] he set up the group on Facebook and added me to it. We added everyone we thought would like the group,” Devin explained. Growing organically on Facebook over the past 2 years, Milk the Funk now has close to 3,000 homebrewing and professionally brewing members.
As support for Milk the Funk builds, Devin has sought to raise money for events to bring the online group together offline. With an active community and a degree in graphic design, Devin decided that group merchandise was the best way to monetize. He and a partner started out with beer glasses, but were forced to front $600 dollars for their order. On top of that, there were other hassles. “Then doing all the shipping is a nightmare,” Devin explained. Devin had to pack and ship over 100 glasses himself. Turned off by the labor intensity and upfront costs of their experience with glassware, Devin soon decided to pursue group apparel on Teespring instead.
By personally reaching out to the Milk the Funk community through social media, Devin has sold nearly 500 units lifetime and has raised over $5,000 through Teespring. And using these funds, Milk the Funk was recently able to set up a tent at a beer festival where they spread the word about their group. Eventually, Devin hopes that Milk the Funk will raise the money to be able to have its own beer festival. “But that’s way in the future,” he laughs.
Starting as a group with a niche core, Milk the Funk now “talks (argues) about pretty much anything, from commercial process to stuff on the home scale,” according to Devin. Ultimately, however, “the goal is to get everyone on the homebrew level and pro level to make better beer,” Devin says. And it seems that the goal of better, funkier brew is resonating with others, as Milk the Funk continues to grow by about 10 members every day.
With an aptitude for design and a couple social media posts, Devin Bell has not only yielded some hugely successful Teespring campaigns, but he has also effectively spread the word about Milk the Funk. And as the group continues to unify the funky brewers of the world at such an astounding rate, it would seem that a Milk the Funk fest is closer than Devin thinks.