How an a/v powerhouse and an award-winning Bluffton brewery came together in pursuit of a sweet-sounding brew.
Story by Barry Kaufman + Photography by Ian Santiago
We all know how we like our beer to taste. Some like it hoppy, with a stiff pine note running right down the middle. Some like it malty, with the flavor of rich grains emboldening a smooth, mellow brew. But rarely do we ever think about how we want our beer to sound.
With SubSonic Ale your beer can sound like the iconic opening notes to Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing.” OK, so it will still sound like a beer. But Mark Knopfler’s famous riff will reverberate through every bubble of this unique new collaboration between award-winning brewery Lot 9 and area audio and video firm Advanced Integrated Controls.
“The fact that this is actually reality is beyond me,” said AIC owner Curtis Hubner. Beer-sound technology is a new venture for the company, but it is hardly its first new venture.
Originating from a background in security and alarm systems, Hubner decided to branch out and use his expertise in technology to potentially kickstart a career in the audio/video field. Shortly after accepting a position at a local company, he decided to take the risk and open his own company. From running a business with nothing but himself and a van, to being a highly regarded company in the area, AIC has definitely grown exponentially since its establishment in 2006.
“When automation really kicked in, it was a really easy progression for me. Of course we offer security cameras and things like that at AIC, but today we’re all in on automation,” he said. “Cameras, HVAC, energy monitoring — we’re able to really let all those things work together since they’re all on one platform. We pride ourselves on doing custom jobs and making the things we already use work better.”
With clients ranging from celebrity homeowners to Gulfstream Aviation, AIC has built a reputation for its ingenious turnkey automation. For Hubner, it means doing something a little more exciting than hanging up cameras. “We’re having a lot of fun with it,” he said.
But the fun really began when a few AIC employees decided to try out a new spot in Bluffton, Lot 9 Brewing. Opened just over a year ago, the brewery already has made a name for itself, winning best of the Southeast for its Mai Lord Mailbock beer in the United States Beer Tasting Championship and taking home the bronze at the U.S. Beer Open for its Blonde Ale.
“Lot 9 didn’t start out as a project. My guys were just over there drinking beer,” he said. While the brewery’s offerings on tap were the best of the best, the music definitely left something to be desired. Piped from a single speaker in the middle of the tap room, the setup left just a handful of seats where the music could be properly heard.
“They didn’t have a lot of capital for a proper sound system, so my guys reached out to me, knowing we had a plethora of A/V gear we wouldn’t sell,” said Huber.
AIC not only upgraded and streamlined the sound system with speakers inside and outside, all controlled by a single custom- tailored app, they decided to set it up for Lot 9 on the house. Said Hubner, “And since we decided we’d do it pro bono, Walt (Trifari, brewmaster) was like, ‘Why don’t you make your own beer?’”
Once AIC’s dealers over at Nortek got wind of what they were doing at Lot 9, they decided to go even further by offering up even more high-end technology to include in the system at the brewery. They even helped set up a photo shoot for the release and had their designers create an eye-catching logo for the beer.
“I was happy to brew it for them, but my one stipulation was that we were going to play music for the beer,” said Trifari. Inspired by a beer he’d sampled in Italy that was fermented to music, Trifari suggested hooking up a large subwoofer to one of the fermenting tanks. “My thought was that the vibrations in the liquid would affect the living organisms. It did ferment faster than normal. But I wanted to make sure we infused some music into a product for these guys who are all about sound and music.”
“We cranked that thing up, and you could see in the tank things were moving a little faster,” added Hubner. “The beer ended up being more of a stout than we thought it would be. We decided to do a Hefeweizen beer with Golden Grahams and bananas. It doesn’t taste like that, but it does have some of that character.”
Of course, the big decision was what music would usher in this new beer. “We played Dire Straits because the guys wanted some rock,” said Hubner. “Plus, it has a lot of bass.”
The resulting beer, SubSonic Ale, now is on tap at Lot 9 Brewing.