The long-awaited opening of one of Hop Culture Magazines 15 Best Breweries To Watch In 2019, Unseen Creatures Brewing & Blending is upon us. Construction is almost completed and the taproom is set to be tentatively opened in the first week of December.
But before we learn more about what the future holds, we have to jump back to the past to find out what brought Marco Leyte-Vidal and Victoria Leyte-Vidal, his co-founder/ wife, to create Unseen Creatures. “When I started drinking, I was almost exclusively a wine drinker,” says Marco. “I loved the story of wine from start to finish. Meaning that before they could even start to produce the wine, they would have to care for the soil, the vines, the grapes, and only after all that had been tended to, would they be able to begin the process of making wine. It was romantic to me and I fell in love with the idea that a beverage could tell a story and bring about purpose.”
After having his eyes opened to the world of craft beer he began doing research and searched for breweries that were unique and doing things in their own special way and he started hosting live conversations on his YouTube channel, “The Craft Commander” with brewers and brewery owners who had a story to tell about themselves through their beer. The creation of Craft Commander paid off in twofold. First, Marco learned more about beer and what made these unique breweries so successful, and second, without even realizing it, he had made special friendships with so many amazing people in the industry, many of whom were the inspiration and motivation behind the opening of Unseen Creatures. “All of our friends at other breweries have been so gracious with their time and knowledge; I am extremely appreciative and grateful to be joining such a unique and welcoming community.”
To accomplish and fine-tune his craft, Marco started tweaking his recipes little by little and changing things based on what he would want in an everyday drinking beer. This motivated Marco to hyper-focus his efforts on creating beers that he would be able to call his own and use to tell his stories; he would give his beers his own character–his thumbprint–but would always leave room to explore different flavors and sensations, whether the beer was a barrel-fermented mixed culture beer, or a clean, easy-to-drink Pale Ale. To this day, Marco is still learning and admits he still has a long way to go, but he’s excited about where they have been and where they are headed.
Marco has always favored creativity and artistry over rules and function. It’s great to have guidelines for certain things, but terrible for others, and that’s where Vicky comes in. Being a CPA, she has been the perfect balance to Marco’s skill set. She’s sharp and can cut through the numbers like a surgeon, while Marco can drift off into dreamland with his imagination, thinking up recipes and the next addition to the brewery, Vicky reigns him in with her realistic outlook and keeps him in line. Marco made one thing perfectly clear “if it wasn’t for Vicky’s ability to create the parameters that [they] needed to play within, this project would have never gotten up off the ground.”
Prior to even thinking about opening up a brewery, both Vicky and Marco worked to prominent positions in their own careers. Vicky says that “being as risk-averse as I am it seemed insane to risk something so stable that we had worked so hard to open a business in an industry that we had never worked in and that we also knew nothing about running and making successful. My answer was no 100 times. It seemed too risky, especially while we were starting a family.
That was the ironic part, starting a family is where the tides started to shift in favor of opening a brewery. In a time where most people crave stability, Vicky started to think. “I had done everything I was ‘supposed’ to do. I went to college, I got a graduate degree, I got my CPA license, I worked in huge accounting firms and put in a ridiculous amount of hours, that was the way I had decided to made sure I could take care of my family, and after having a son I realized I didn’t want him to think that climbing the corporate ladder was the only way to make a living for your family” says Vicky. And while she is still worried about the risk of opening a brewery, while raising her children, she was worried more about the fact of imparting the inclination on her children that you can only be successful if you work behind a desk and work a 9-5 job that you aren’t happy with.
After that realization, Vicky and Marco spent the better part of the next few months creating a business plan, projecting financials, and pitching to potential investors. While working hard to open the brewery, they also started looking for space to house their brewery. It took them over a year to find their location along the 826 and a block over from Lincoln’s Beard and it’s been over a year since signing the lease while they have built out their space and dealing with delays and inspections that are holding up the brewery’s opening.
“It’s so stressful and the least glamorous thing in the world,” says Vicky. Most of her days consist of juggling phone calls, bills, managing all the construction, putting out fires and a million other brewery things between their demanding day jobs, all while also dealing with kid drop-offs and pick-ups and getting dinner on the table and making sure their children are getting the best of their parents. Vicky says that “I’m typically an anxious and cautious person but I feel very confident in what we are doing, mostly because of why we are doing it.
I wanted Ollie and Sophia to know it was ok to follow their passions and that the path doesn’t always have to be narrow. That there are a lot of ways to put your talents to use and they don’t have to pick the way that society thinks they should be used. I wanted them to know they should prioritize happiness. That hard work is always necessary but that they didn’t have to work hard for someone else’s goals and dreams. I wanted to change the way I was living my life so that I could lead by example, for them.”