Beer Scout: Familiar faces launch DSSØLVR

POST-BURIAL PLANS: Former Burial Beer Co. brewers Vince Tursi, left, and JT Murrett are set to open their own brewery, DSSØLVR, with partner Mike Semenec (not pictured) on North Lexington Avenue in early 2019. The name refers to how the the extensive experiences of the three partners have been combined and distilled into this one business.
POST-BURIAL PLANS: Former Burial Beer Co. brewers Vince Tursi, left, and JT Murrett are set to open their own brewery, DSSØLVR, with partner Mike Semenec (not pictured) on North Lexington Avenue in early 2019. The name refers to how the the extensive experiences of the three partners have been combined and distilled into this one business. Photo by Scott Douglas

The newest brewery on Asheville’s horizon will be led by some familiar faces. JT Murrett and Vince Tursi, former brewers at Burial Beer Co., have struck out on their own with the help of a third partner, Mike Semenec, to open a new brewery called DSSØLVR at 63 N. Lexington Ave. DSSØLVR is slated to open in early 2019, with brewing operations to begin later this year.

The space will house a three-vessel, 15-barrel brewhouse from Premier Stainless Systems as well as a two-vessel, 3-barrel pilot system, both obtained from The Veil Brewing Co. of Richmond, Va. Wort brewed on these systems will find its way into 3-, 7-, 15- and 30-barrel fermenters, allowing DSSØLVR to create a wide variety of beer styles in varying quantities.

“I’d love to brew 30 barrels of English mild, but that’s not going to sell,” says Tursi. “So that’s a 3-barrel batch. But double IPA? That’s a 30-barrel. We can half batch or double batch; we’re not locked into anything.”

DSSØLVR will have three main focus areas. “The first area is a lot of what we want to drink, very lager-focused, traditional German styles and some English ales for Vince — pub stuff, getting brewing back to its roots,” explains Murrett. “Those aren’t necessarily big sellers in the market right now, so we have the other two areas: very wood-heavy, barrel-fermented and barrel-aged sours and foeder beers, and then new-school stuff like pastry stouts and hazy IPAs.”

Tursi notes with excitement that some of the lagers and pub ales will be open-fermented in wood as well and that there are plans in place for a beer engine for pouring from casks. The brewery will also open with a canning line in place, allowing for immediate distribution of packaged product in 16-ounce cans as well as 750-milliliter and 500-milliliter bottles.

DSSØLVR has already begun collaborating with other breweries around the country, starting with Hoof Hearted Brewing of Marengo, Ohio, and intends to release gypsy-brewed collabs on a monthly basis before opening. Future collaboration beers will be announced on the brewery’s Instagram page.

The brewery has also started cultivating and isolating proprietary yeast strains and bacterial cultures for its beers, banking them with Nashville-based Bootleg Biology. On the subject of possible infection issues arising from producing clean beer and wild fermented ales in the same facility, Tursi and Murrett revealed details of the brewery’s floor plan. Sour beer production will happen on the second floor in an area separated from the space planned for clean beer production.

They also cite extensive experience working with both clean and sour beers, a result of their diverse and impressive curricula vitae. Tursi began homebrewing in Boston after a friend bet him $50 that he couldn’t produce a beer better than a Samuel Adams seasonal he was drinking. He spent $200 on homebrew equipment and still lost the bet. This failure led him to question what went wrong, and the years of homebrewing that followed resulted in a job at Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Mass. After growing Night Shift’s barrel program from a handful of barrels to over 250 and moving operations from a 1,700-square-foot facility to one 10 times that size, he was offered the opportunity to open Lord Hobo Brewing in Woburn, Mass., where he served as the lone brewer on a four-vessel, 40-barrel system.

Murrett similarly started his career as an avid homebrewer, but after his job as a commercial property manager in Boston fell through, he decided to pursue his passion for brewing professionally. Taking a sales job at Blue Hills Brewery in Canton, Mass., allowed him to volunteer in the brewhouse, and his experience there led to a job at brewpub chain Boston Beer Works, where he was able to shadow staff on brew days. After attending brewing school at the American Brewers Guild in Vermont, he spent six months brewing at Lagunitas Brewing Co. in California before returning as assistant head brewer to Boston Beer Works, where he learned to brew on three completely different systems.

The background both Tursi and Murrett have developed in the industry has allowed them to learn every aspect of beer production, from building out a facility to brewing and packaging. While DSSØLVR plans to hire locally in the future, the early years will see Tursi and Murrett handling the vast majority of the necessary work.

“We would never ask somebody to do something we wouldn’t do, but we would also never trust somebody to do something where we could just do it. There aren’t a lot of breweries where the owners can walk in and handle absolutely anything,” says Tursi.

Though Tursi and Murrett lived and worked within blocks of each other in Boston and even attended the same college, the two didn’t meet until they joined Burial and helped to build the Forestry Camp production facility. Semenec, a former co-worker and roommate of Tursi’s with a background in graphic design and advertising, had long expressed an interest in opening a brewery, and with that, the pieces were in place for the inception of DSSØLVR.

Semenec, who has developed marketing materials and short films for companies ranging from New Balance to Otis Spunkmeyer, offers some thoughts on the brewery’s brand identity. “The DSSØLVR brand is our blend of great people, great beer and the pursuit of the surreal,” he says. “Following that ethos allows us to be experimental and creative as f***. As a brand, we want to ooze with awesomeness every damn place you see it. Or something like that.”

“We care immensely about the liquid we’re producing,” adds Murrett. “A huge thing that we also care about, second only to that, is not taking ourselves too seriously.”

For more information on DSSØLVR, visit dssolvr.com and follow @dssolvr on Instagram.

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10 thoughts on “Beer Scout: Familiar faces launch DSSØLVR

  1. don

    I don’t know…. between the brewery name and the quote in the next to the last paragraph….. “The DSSØLVR brand is our blend of great people, great beer and the pursuit of the surreal,” he says. “Following that ethos allows us to be experimental and creative as f***. As a brand, we want to ooze with awesomeness every damn place you see it. ” …..Well, good luck with ALL THAT ….and umm…. let’s see… errr….bon voyage guys! (and it’s good thing you don’t take yourselves too seriously too, lol ;)

    • Scott Douglas

      In my experience, Vince and JT are both very professional and talented brewers that will turn out excellent beers regardless of their branding, so I would read Semenec’s comments as being pretty firmly tongue-in-cheek. I think DSSØLVR likely has the potential to find a place among the top-tier of Asheville breweries over the next few years.

  2. Scott Douglas

    There’s a heavy element of sarcasm in DSSØLVR’s branding, as is the case with their first collaborating brewery, Hoof Hearted (pronounced “who farted”). While breweries such as Norwegian brewery Nøgne Ø use non-english characters legitimately — their name was taken from an Ibsen poem and translates to “naked island” — in the case of DSSØLVR, I think it’s more along the lines of metal bands like Motörhead appropriating the umlaut. My understanding is that the name and brand identity DSSØLVR has come up with are intended to lampoon the pretension that characterizes many of the quasi-transgressive craft breweries using florid poetry and purple prose to aggrandize their work. The whole thing is designed to make fun of hipsters, at least from what I can tell.

    • Philsner

      So…they’re mocking their former employer? Burial’s can copy has always been absurd, but some of their recent beer names – “Savages of Ruminating Minds”??? – sound like they were dreamed up by middle school goth kids with a poor grasp of English. Or a flawed bot that spits out bad black metal lyrics.

      • Scott Douglas

        While I obviously can’t speak to the specific intentions of the people involved, I can say that naming beers and breweries has become a huge legal conundrum industry-wide. Everything’s getting locked down and people are enforcing trademarks more rigorously, so it’s getting harder and harder to find names that won’t get you sued. Most new breweries, DSSØLVR included, have to go through a lengthy and expensive process of having each and every name legally cleared before they can safely use any of them — that’s why you’re seeing some pretty wacky stuff turn up on cans and brewery t-shirts these days.

  3. DSSOLVR

    Thanks again for the article and your comment responses, Scott! Marketing aside, the DSSOLVR team is super excited to get the beer flowing. If you would like more info and updates check out our website and social media pages. Cheers!

    • Scott Douglas

      Just doing my job, thanks for talking with me. Let me know when you expect those first collabs to hit town, I can’t wait to try the beer!

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