Anyone who’s ever been to a craft beer festival or brewery taproom (if you’re on my site, I’m guessing you already fit into one or both of these groups) has come across candles that are marketed as smelling like hops, an IPA, coffee stout or some other popular craft beer jargon. Once you raise it to your nose, though, you’re disappointed more times than not. The average beer geek can see (and smell) right through these gimmicks.
Enter Jessie Dore, owner of Euphoric Junket and a beer geek herself. A creative, crafty type, her immersion into the world of craft beer reached its apex after meeting Jon Eichholz, a fellow Chicago native who’s been homebrewing for years and recently brewing for Bull & Bush Brewery in Denver. It didn’t take long for them to turn her candle-making hobby into a professional venture. Currently sold online and in select stores in Colorado, her candles will be making their way to Chicagoland in the near future when Jon starts as the head brewer for More Brewing Co., which is set to open in Villa Park, Illinois, this winter or next spring. You can get a sneak preview of both her candles and his More beers at the Ardmore Station Ale Fest on August 6 – tickets are still available for only $25 here.
To get a better idea of how Jessie is broadening the senses of beer nerds and candle lovers alike, I picked her brain over a few emails. It’s readily evident that she not only knows a lot about candle making but genuinely cares deeply about the environment.
We craft beer geeks are a manly bunch. Why should we care about some girly candles?
The neat thing about the actual process of candle making is that it’s a lot like making beer. You have to add in fragrance and color at specific times, kind of like adding hops and such to your boil. If the temperature isn’t right, it can’t capture the essences you are trying to achieve. If we pour our wax at even a few degrees hotter or colder than what we’ve found works, our finished product could be affected drastically. We pay just as much attention to the temperature we ferment our beers at as we do the temperature we pour our candles.
We use the finest essential oils and fragrances in our recipes. Just like the beer we brew both in our home and professionally, we never skimp on quality and complexity of flavor or scent. We are inspired by our favorite home brews, from saisons and IPAs to stouts and sour ales. In our initial prototype phase, we dabbled with adding hops to our fragrances but found that it could be perceived as a foot-like aroma. Although we don’t mind hop bombs ourselves, we found that we could appeal to a larger audience; so instead, we emulate the key notes of various beer styles. For example, our Saison candle has notes of coriander and tonka; our Chocolate Milk Stout finishes with a dark, roasted essence; our Blood Orange IPA has full-bodied notes of bergamot and subtle undertones of goji berries; and our Sour Golden Ale is like straight peach nectar with a touch of grapefruit and mangosteen. We’re also the originators of the Craft Beer Candle Flight.
What makes your candles different from all of these other craft beer candles we’re seeing on the market?
We use 100% American soybean wax. Soy is a completely renewable resource that’s slow-burning and carbon-neutral, making it a better alternative to paraffin for the environmentally conscious. Unfortunately a lot of consumers are not educated about most candles sold on store shelves. Even when candles say “soy,” unless they specify “100% soy,” more likely than not, they are blended with paraffin. The toxins released from candles like this can literally cause cancer. Yikes. Not to mention, if you burn a lot of candles, over time it can discolor your walls and furniture and stain the edges of your carpet. Because we stick with all-natural soy wax, your candle will last up to three times as long (65 hours per candle) as your typical paraffin candle found at the store, without emitting harmful toxins into your home and the air you, your family and pets breathe. Even though soy wax is more difficult and expensive to acquire, we just couldn’t compromise; especially after we realized we had the opportunity to stimulate economic growth for American soybean farmers.
Another unknown fact to most consumers who purchase candles: even if you do get a candle that’s 100% soy, more often than not the wicks used contain zinc, which can produce just as much nasty black soot as paraffin candles. Although U.S.-made wicks are not allowed to have lead, most still have zinc in them. We only use cotton wicks that do not contain lead or zinc as many do, which makes for a cleaner, more consistent burn.
What about the glass beer bottles the candles are in? Aren’t those bad for the environment?
Rather than purchasing bulk orders of amber beer bottles from corporate wholesalers, we recycle ours directly from local home brewers (we call it our Curbside Program). Why would we go to all that effort, you ask? Well, while many of us may consider ourselves environmentally conscious recyclers, the unfortunate truth is that we make a lot more trips to the landfills every year than most of us know. And glass bottles are a major culprit.
Cities and states are grappling with how to best implement more sustainable practices to recycle glass without losing money. Glass prices are down, and the cost of transporting it to regions that can properly recycle it is often more than the value of the glass itself.
Much of this issue begins with the popular single-stream recycling system. When we mix all of our recyclables together, from paper to plastic to glass, oftentimes the glass breaks along the way. Broken bits of glass not only contaminate the other recyclables, but it’s also very difficult and costly to sort them back into a reusable state.
Even if the glass makes it through the sorting process, it still may not be recycled into brand new bottles. In fact, only 24% of glass bottles end up getting recycled in the 40 states that don’t have bottle deposit systems. If there’s no glass recycler nearby, the city has to ship the glass elsewhere (which, considering how heavy glass can be, you can imagine how costly this is). Recycling glass has ultimately become bad for the bottom line, which is how towns all over the country have justified scrapping their glass curbside programs.
Consider Euphoric Junket the local home brewer’s glass curbside program. We personally find fellow beer nerds looking to clear space in their garages, come to their homes and recycle their bottles for them. Each candle in our collection serves an infinitely reusable purpose. With help from our peeps, we can keep bottles out of landfills and restore our community’s economic and environmental impact ̶ one beer-inspired candle at a time.
You seem pretty green. What else are you doing to be eco-friendly?
When it comes to packaging/shipping, we like to think we’re pretty green. We wrap all of our candles in a lightweight, eco-alternative-to-plastic bubble wrap that’s 100% recyclable and naturally biodegradable. We also recycle our stuffing materials from our own neighbors (advertisements, junk mail, etc.). But you will notice we prominently use old recycled maps to match our ‘Euphoric Junket’ vibe. Heck, we even use biodegradable tape! Our boxes are made from a mix of 95% post-consumer waste and 5% post-industrial waste. Absolutely no new materials are used in the manufacturing of these ridiculously green shipping cartons.
Speaking of reusable….. did I mention all of the rad things you can use your empty candle container for? Since soy is easier to remove than paraffin and our wicks are glueless, you can effortlessly repurpose your candle as a vase, succulent garden, pencil holder… the possibilities are endless. Check out our how-to here.
I heard that Euphoric Junket is making some philanthropic efforts. What’s that all about?
The icing on the cake (or dare I say, head on the beer?) to everything we do? We do it with an even bigger purpose. A dollar of every purchase goes to The National Energy & Utility Affordability Coalition. Our goal is to contribute to NEUAC’s mission: to heighten the awareness of energy poverty and help to reduce the energy burden of vulnerable households through advocacy, policy changes, partnerships and education. While our peeps illuminate their own home with our candles, they are also helping to illuminate the home of a family in need.
Where does Euphoric Junket go from here?
In the future, we would love to expand our candle collection. We have lots of ideas and among them is creating a barrel-aged series. What’s not to love about bourbon barrel-aged vanilla whiskey candles? We have many ideas beyond just candles. Five years down the road, we’d like to be established and recognized as a brand. With this comes many more offerings such as a Euphoric Junket clothing line, an app where you can order beer-themed gift baskets, a VIP Craft Candle Club (for those who go through candles quickly or just want to be the first to receive special releases), and even our own physical location where we teach candle-making classes to beer lovers while partnering with local charities.