About Slightly Furry
Meet the team
Aaron "Martinisoft" Kalin
Owner, Slightly Furry Beverage Company
Hiya! My real name is Aaron though most call me Martini like the drink. I'm an accomplished software engineer with a family history in the bar and restaurant industry. You'll usually find me relaxing at the bar enjoying a cocktail with friends or cooking in the kitchen when I am not in front of a computer screen.
My interest in homebrewing goes back to 2012 when I got my first homebrewing starter kit. Through a lot of usually delicious trial and error, I perfected many of the recipes we use today at Slightly Furry.
- Fursona: Fox
- Cider of choice: Leg Up! Ginger Cider
Ray "SpORK" Araldi
Prior to Slightly Furry, I've been working in multimedia production for over 10 years, mostly in voice-over direction/editing/engineering in sound-proof closets & dark basements. Before that I was building network maps and tinkering with fiber optic & ethernet cable in loud, fan-filled closet in some basement.
Now I plan to get out of the basement and into the into brewing & serving some amazing, bold flavors that are as brash as I am.
- Fursona: Rabbit
- Cider of choice: Witches Tree Cherry Cider
Martinis Story - "The Wedding Gift That Kept On Giving"
It all started back in 2012 with a late wedding gift that slowly became a passion. That wedding gift was a homebrewing starter kit complete with an easy to follow recipe for a wheat beer. We both love to cook and bake, so homebrewing felt very familiar. You put together a few ingredients and incorporate your yeast, then wait and hope everything works out, and if it does you share it with your friends.
Not long into our journey we discovered the world of brewing ciders and meads. We stumbled upon a recipe for cider that sounded interesting to try. However, we are not ones to go for subtle flavors and still made my own modifications to the recipe. What resulted was a big hit among our friends. A delicious and potent cider with a hint of cinnamon. We became legendary for bringing cider around to share at furry conventions and parties that was easy to drink and made you wonder what happened when you woke up the next day.
Slowly but surely over the years we learned more about the craft and began upgrading to better equipment and refining our recipes. All the while more and more people kept asking when we planned to start selling the ciders we were making. Once we began looking into how we could sell our cider, it seemed like it would be easy. We could run a brewery from the garage and sell some cider to justify the cost of all that beautiful equipment. After learning about some of the legal complications, it was clear to us that this had to be a much bigger project to be successful.
Last year I began to form the corporation and researching everything it would take to make Slightly Furry a reality. Within a few months I realized I couldn't pull it off alone and asked Spork (Ray) to join me in this adventure as a co-founder. Now we are getting ready to launch something very special and I am very excited for the future of Slightly Furry.
Sporks Story - "It Started on the Back Porch"
2020 Early September, here on a back porch - the crisp Chicago fall air, Martini and I separated by 6 feet and a bottle of his newest home brewed mead. "Do you want to start a cidery with me?".
I had been pondering a career transition for a while now but I wasn't expecting anything this soon…or sudden…or a brewery! Martini had been making private brews for a few years now, and I'm sure I had mentioned a budding interest in learning about brewing, but to be honest, I was a little blindsided. But I was in good hands, Martini had over 10 years of home brewing experience as well as growing up in a bar owning family, and we've worked together multiple times in the past running events so I was confident we would be a good fit for each other.
I needed some time to sleep on this. How do you say "yes" to start a career path change to something you know little about, but excites you to no end? Hitting the bar with some buds is a little different than a procedural tasting surrounded by enormous fermentation tanks; notepad in one hand, your hopes that this brew will be a sensation on the other. But I knew I couldn't say "no".
My decision came to one big thing: a passion for seeing people light up at parties & events I've hosted, all while enjoying my culinary creations; something Martini & I both have in common. When I'm in a room full of old and new friends -- even people I don’t even know -- and I see them all having a great time there, I know I've done something right. Seeing those folks all having a blast because of the effort I put into every bit of that event really makes me feel great. So why the hell would I NOT do that for a living?
Fast-track to today: I've been in more meetings & brew sessions than I can count; I've two different meads that I've made at home that I need to back-sweeten and bottle; and together, Martini and I are putting the finishing touches on the first ever mead we've made together in a small yet professional conical fermenter. I still have a few more steps until we are ready to debut, but I'm a few steps closer than I've ever been to anything like this in my life.