[NASHVILLE] Soberdough is tucked away on the back side of a newer, upscale office park in the well-kept southern edge of the city. It could have been an accounting firm from the outside, but the inside was a delight for the senses. The work space is modern, rustic, hip and aesthetically pleasing—founder Veronica Hawbaker, it turns out, was a graphic designer before she started making dough. The kitchen is shiny and bright. Veronica is tall, blond and beautiful. And she’s just finished photographing a gorgeous plate of fresh cracked pepper and sea salt bread that she’d like us to sample.
As we’re scarfing down every last crumb, Veronica shows us around the Soberdough Brew Bread kitchen. “I’m a fanatic about my ingredients,” she says. “I always get samples in and taste them.” She won’t buy spices from certain countries nor from the big-box stores—they sit on a shelf and lose flavor, she says. Instead she sources ingredients directly from the people who produce them. Her sun-dried tomatoes are from California, where they grow more sweet than those in the grocery from Turkey. She also has novelties such as balsamic vinaigrette and molasses dried into powders.
You might expect a person who is so careful about baking to be a foodie type who grew up with flour on her fingers. But Veronica was introduced to the concept of beer bread by her husband, who knew it from growing up in the Midwest. (She’s originally from Philly.) And the idea to make and sell it came about after her son Jordan, 25, had quit college three times and was fishing for a business concept. Veronica doesn’t even like beer!
“I thought it was going to be a little part-time job—farmers’ markets with my son, teach him some work ethic, some skills,” Veronica said. But business has been booming since the Soberdough Brew Bread Kickstarter ended 21 months ago. It’s the emotional connection that people have to fresh-baked bread, she says. That and she makes it incredibly easy. Crack open a beer, pour it into the mix and bake. Voila! Homemade bread.
Veronica’s true forte is marketing. She’s pairing up with breweries to match her loaves with their beers, starting with Jackalope—a brown bread that showcases their brown beer. It’s an opportunity to reach a whole new audience. She also developed the retro-cool logo, hang tags and packaging.
Soberdough Brew Bread was going to be in the Wall Street Journal the weekend after our visit, so our secret discovery won’t be ours for long. The company was in Rachel Ray magazine in June, and Veronica was on QVC in September. Soberdough is in Whole Foods in the South. They’re gonna be big fast, even if right now it’s just Veronica; her husband, Tim; Danielle, a young woman they hired on; and of course, Jordan.
“I feel like everybody should have the ability and the pleasure of fresh baked bread at home,” Veronica said. We heartily agree.