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MicroBrewr 080: Brewing the American Dream winner for 2015 with ChuckAlek Independent Brewers.

MicroBrewr 080: Brewing the American Dream winner for 2015

A friend asked Marta Jankowska and her husband whether they wanted to use his warehouse space and go pro with their brewing. The warehouse space fell through, but they were far along in the process, so they decided to go for it and opened ChuckAlek Independent Brewers in Ramona, California.

“Your time is so much more valuable actually planning on how to grow the business.” [Tweet This]

 

“Even though that original space fell through,” says Marta, “we were already so far along in planning that we just decided to go for it.”

They had run the financials, lined up some money from friends and family, and were ready to go. They just needed space.

They found the permitting requirements in the City of San Diego to be cumbersome and expensive, so they finally settled in Ramona, a little town in San Diego County wine country.

“More importantly,” Ramona explains, “we never wanted to be a warehouse brewery. We always wanted to be kind of a main street brewery. Something that was integrated in with community and surrounded by other storefronts.”

By chance, Marta was a tennis partner with one of the founders of Stone Brewing. He told her that over a hundred breweries were starting or being planned for opening in San Diego.

“How are you going to differentiate yourself?” he asked Marta. “The way that I see a brewery doing well in this town is having a really solid background story and a really solid concept. You need to come up with something that has a compelling story that you can tell to the consumer.”

To come up with a compelling story, Marta suggests you think about:

  • What you want the brewery to encompass
  • What message you want to communicate to the consumers

“A flashy label will get you that fist glimpse from a consumer,” she says. “But people are finicky these days, they’re not super brand loyal, they’re not going to remember something unless it really stands out in their brain, or you give them that nugget that they’re really able to hang onto.”

ChuckAlek has gotten some notoriety this year by being selected as the 2015 recipient of Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream “experienceship.” They beat out others for apprenticeship, partner brew with Sam Adams, and a trip to Germany with Pink Boots Society.

Other tips from Marta:

  • Set aside time to plan for the growth of the business during the next few years.
  • Enroll yourself in a business mentorship program.
  • Start with the barebones, just to get off the ground. Then buy more equipment when you have the disposable income.
  • Build a nest egg for repairs and other unexpected expenditures.

Marta’s suggested software systems for a startup nanobrewery:

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 1 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 6, 3-BBL plastics; 1, 2-BBL stainless; 1, 4-BBL stainless; 1, 5-BBL stainless.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 1, 5-BBL.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 250 BBL. This year on track to be at about 400 BBL.

Square footage: 1,700 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 2.5 years (opened January 2013).

Listener question:

From Grant Aguinaldo: What software systems do you use to manage your brewery?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Brite Tanks.

Book recommendation:

Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Lager

Other resources:

You can reach Marta Jankowska and ChuckAlek Independent Brewers at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Audible. Download a free audiobook. http://microbrewr.com/audible

Support MicroBrewr

Help keep MicroBrewr on the air. CLICK HERE for ways you can help.

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MicroBrewr 071: Four years from brewing school to brewmaster with Capital Brewery.

MicroBrewr 071: Four years from brewing school to brewmaster

Ashley Kinart began homebrewing to learn about the brew process so she could better answer customer questions at the craft beer bar where she worked. She eventually realized that it really interested her, so she enrolled in the World Brewing Academy at Siebel Institute of Technology. Four years later she became the brewmaster at Capital Brewery, in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Although Ashley is happy about her “quick rise to the top,” she says she would have liked to get more experience in every part of the brewery operations.

“I definitely would have liked to spend a little more time in cellaring, a little more time in packaging,” says Ashley, “to just have that full-scale overall understanding on every single little level.”

Prior to brewing school, Ashley attained a bachelor’s degree in biology. She says the science helped her better understand the material from brewing school.

“My science background definitely gets me a little excited about the small things like the microscopic happenings that are going on behind every step of the brewing process.”

Other suggestions from Ashley:

  • Start volunteering to get experience at a commercial brewery.
  • Do the best you can and work as hard as you can.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions of other people in the industry.

Most of all, actively seek knowledge.

“Being called a brewmaster was something that I not only didn’t see myself as, but also I don’t ever see myself knowing everything there is to know about brewing, which is why it really interests me.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 35 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 30 tanks ranging from 32-BBL to 161-BBL. Six are dedicated to lagering/aging.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: Three tanks ranging from 100-BBL to 129-BBL.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: About 30,000.

Square footage:

Years in operation: 29 years.

“How much of your brewing knowledge are you actively seeking?” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Harold Giménez: What are your favorite beers? Who are your brewing influences?

Book recommendation:

Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Lagers

Other resources:

  • World Brewing Academy, Siebel Institute of Technology (Chicago, U.S.A.) and Doemens Academy (Munich, Germany)
  • Females Enjoying Microbrews.
  • Pink Boots Society to empower women beer professionals to advance their careers in the beer industry through education.
  • Brew Masters, Discovery Channel.

You can reach Ashley Kinart and Capital Brewery at:

Ashley’s social media:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Audible. Download a free audiobook. http://microbrewr.com/audible

Support MicroBrewr

Help keep MicroBrewr on the air. CLICK HERE for ways you can help.

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MicroBrewr 068: An SBA loan can help open or grow your brewery with Hi-Wire Brewing.

MicroBrewr 068: An SBA loan can help open or grow your brewery

Two years ago, Adam Charnack and his partners got a $254,000 SBA-backed loan to start Hi-Wire Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Today, they’re expanding to a second brewery with another SBA loan.

“The SBA involvement in craft beer,” says Adam, “has been a part of the success of craft breweries being able to open and grow.”

“The way that banks are willing to look at breweries is totally different under and SBA lens. We’re all just young guys that wanted to start a brewery. So we’re not rolling in [money] or have some big financing. Without SBA involved it definitely would make getting financing a whole lot more difficult.”

Adam advises to focus on your business plan. “If you show up with a notebook paper, or a page-and-a-half typed, with a bunch of typos on it, that’s not going to cut it.”

The financials are the most important things that banks look for when you apply for funding:

  • Financial projections
    • How much it’s going to cost to make things
    • When you’re going to get paid
    • What the prices are
  • Sources and uses of funds
  • Projected and net operating income (12 months, and next few years)
  • Cash flow

“A lot of that is a shot in that dark,” admits Adam, “but at least you’re making intelligent assumptions.”

With so many breweries in and around Asheville, there is an abundance of qualified workers. Even still, employee retention is important.

“We’ve never had anybody leave our company that started with us in the last 2 years in our brewery operations,” says Adam.

His tips on how to keep quality workers:

  • Throw parties throughout the year.
  • Organize fun company outings.
  • Have a lot of fun.
  • Respect people.
  • Provide opportunity.

“If you treat people right and you respect people,” says Adam, “we’ve had no problem retaining talent here.”

Other tips:

  • Bring on a partner with an understanding of, or background in, finance.
  • Assets or an alternative means to payback a loan helps to secure funding.

Advice for someone who wants to do what he has done:

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 30 BBL + 30 BBL (two breweries).

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 90-BBL and 30-BBL.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 90-BBL and 30-BBL.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: In September 2015, capacity will be approx.. 17,000 BBL/year. By year’s end, on pace of 10,000 BBL/year.

Square footage: 27,000 sq. ft. and 4,000 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 2 years (opened July 2013).

“I would definitely advise having a business partner.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Daniel: What’s your biggest regret?

Book recommendation:

Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Lager

Other resources:

You can reach Adam Charnack and Hi-Wire Brewing at:

Sponsors:

Beer

Support MicroBrewr

Help keep MicroBrewr on the air. CLICK HERE for ways you can help.

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher