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MicroBrewr 076: Carrying the torch of authentic beer styles with Bull City Burger And Brewery.

MicroBrewr 076: Carrying the torch of authentic beer styles

After a microbiology degree and studies at the world’s premier culinary college, Seth Gross was working at a restaurant and hanging out at the nearby Goose Island Brewpub. Pretty soon they offered him a job. Today Seth owns his own brewpub, Bull City Burger and Brewery in Durham, North Carolina.

“I have people who will bleed for what we do. And I don’t know how I got so lucky.” [Tweet This]

 

“The day we opened, the line was out the door and around the corner,” says Seth. The restaurant ran out of food on the first day. “It was a disaster.”

Seth’s ideas for promoting the brewpub before it opened:

  • Work with other newly opened, local businesses
  • Hold a scavenger hunt for really good discounts.
  • Raise awareness and hype on Facebook

RELATED: Do Your Fans Love You Enough To Get a Tattoo of Your Brewery? Creative Ways To Promote Your Brewery For Free!

In the brewery, “the most important thing is cleanliness. You can have the best ingredients in the world, but if you’re not clean, the beer is just not going to be good,” says Seth. “But you can have average ingredients, and if your brewery is squeaky clean, you can have a very good product at the end.”

On of Seth’s proudest moments is when Julia Herz, from the Brewers Association visited his brewery and said, “This doesn’t smell like a brewery.”

“We work really hard keeping those drains clean and all of that.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 7 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 7-BBL fermenters; 1, 15-BBL fermenter.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 5, 7-BBL bright tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 600 BBL.

Square footage: 300 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 4.5 years (opened March 2011).

Listener question:

From Malin Norman: Why don’t you experiment more?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Mash hoe, custom stainless steel.

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Session beer

Other resources:

You can reach Seth Gross and Bull City Burger & Brewery at:

Sponsors:

InMotion Hosting

“Fast, reliable, affordable, web hosting.”

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Support MicroBrewr

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

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MicroBrewr 075: Recruit the right people for the right job with Aviator Brewing.

MicroBrewr 075: Recruit the right people for the right job

Mark Doble opened Aviator Brewing Company, Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, in November 2008. In less than 7 years he has started a brewery, a trucking company, a restaurant, two bars, and soon a new brewery with a distillery. All of these business are still operating.

“Not having to work at a corporate job anymore, that’s one of my favorite things about the brewery.” [Tweet This]

 

With over 100 employees total, Mark says hiring the wrong person is one of the biggest mistakes he has made in the past. He recommends spending time to recruit the right person for the right job.

“Sometimes we get the wrong people in the wrong job,” says Mark, “and that ends up costing us in the long term.”

Hear another brewer’s perspective on this: MicroBrewr 037: A forty-year career at the epicenter of craft beer, MicroBrewr, November 25, 2014.

Mark’s tips for hiring the right person:

  • Get people to talk about themselves.
  • Get to know them and their work ethic, to decide whether the job is a good fit for them.
  • If you have an employee in the wrong position, move her right away to a better-suited position.

Click the player above to listen to the full interview podcast for more tips and advice.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 30-BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 10, 100-BBL and 3, 60-BBL fermenters. 2, 30-BBL foeders.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 2, 100-BBL brite tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Brewed 10,000 BBL last year. Probably will brew 14,000 BBL this year.

Square footage: 23,000 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 6.5 years (opened November 2008).

Listener question:

From Adam Shay: When did you know that starting a real brewery, as a business was the right move? Do you wish you would’ve done it sooner/later?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Keg cleaner, Premier Stainless.

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beer

Other resources:

You can reach Mark Doble and Aviator Brewing 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 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

MicroBrewr 059: How to get the most out of a beer festival, with SuperFly Fabulous Events.

MicroBrewr 059: How to get the most out of a beer festival

Beer festivals are an important part of a startup brewery’s marketing plan. Stephanie Carson and SuperFly Fabulous Events in Asheville, North Carolina put on 11 beer festivals every year.

I asked her, how much do beer festivals play a part in a startup brewery’s existing marketing plan?

“I think it’s everything,” says Stephanie. “A startup brewery is not going to have the marketing budget, they’re not going to have the advertising budget, they might not even have a contact at a good distributor.”

“So I think attending a festival is really important.”

When you’re getting ready to attend a festival as a brewery, you’ll need to make sure you have several items. Some events will provide these, so always check beforehand to make sure you know what you’ll need to bring.

Stephanie says to make sure you have these items:

  • Creative looking tap handles
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) canisters
  • Ice
  • Jockey box
  • Tent/awning
  • Items to sell
  • Something to entice the customers back to your brewery

The beer festival is a key part of getting your product out to the public. People attending the beer festival are your core customers: They love craft beer, and they seek out new beers.

There are some things that you can do to best leverage your presence at the festival. Make a good impression, initiate contacts, and turn those into long-term customers.

This is what Stephanie recommends to get the most out of a beer festival:

  • Help promote the event.
  • Be organized and on time.
  • Give a creative take-home item, so the attendees will remember you.
  • Bring a unique beer that is not available elsewhere.

“With so many craft breweries opening up, you can’t just have your old standards.” [Tweet This]

Listener question:

From Conrad B.: Why do you do what you do?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Dark beers

Other resources:

You can reach Stephanie Carson and SuperFly Fabulous Events at:

Sponsors:

InMotion Hosting

“Fast, reliable, affordable, web hosting.”

advert-inmotion-hosting_250x250

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 031: Accounting solutions for your craft brewery, with Brewed For Her Ledger.

MicroBrewr 031: Accounting solutions for your craft brewery

So you want to start a brewery and you don’t know what to do about bookkeeping and accounting. Audra Gaiziunas, Brewed For Her Ledger, guides us through accounting solutions for your craft brewery.

With a degree in accounting and a Masters of Business Administration, Audra worked as controller for Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Later, she served on the board of North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and worked as CFO of Mother Earth Brewing.

Now Audra provides a “kind of one-stop shop, mercenary, CFO for hire” for craft breweries. She helps with accounting solutions such as business plans, pro-formas, costing templates, and software implementation. She also does operational audits and more.

Recently Audra won a business plan competition at Oregon State University to earn an internship at Ninkasi Brewing. At the brewery in Eugene, Oregon, she enhanced her first-hand experience in production, technical, and maintenance aspects of Ninkasi’s operations.

The 3 biggest mistakes she sees breweries make:

  1. Not having enough capital on hand. You’ll need more than 3 month’s cash on hand.
  2. Not planning for information flow. Set up processes to make sure information and documents flow efficiently from one department to another.
  3. Not having funds for contingencies. Set aside 10%-15% for unexpected expenses.

6 tools she suggests to manage your breweries finances:

  1. Set aside time each week to handle paperwork.
  2. Take a cash flow class at the community college.
  3. Use Microsoft Excel or simple accounting software to track your data.
  4. Ensure information is communicated between all departments of the brewery.
  5. Build a budget annually and review it monthly to stay on track.
  6. MOST IMPORTANT: Understand how much your beer costs at any given time, by beer type and by packaging type.

SPECIAL BONUS:

Ask Audra any question about accounting, finance, and strategy for your brewery.

Leave your questions in the comments section below.

Audra will keep watching the comments for the next 30 days to answer as many of your questions as she can.

Be sure to connect with Brewed For Her Ledger and thank Audra for being on the show and for helping us out with questions.

UPDATE: Thirty days is up, Audra is no longer monitoring the questions here. You can still reach her through the links below. Thanks for your great questions everyone!

Listener question:

From Orlando: How do some breweries buy or lease a building for sometimes years while completing renovations and licenses?

From Dan: How much capital does a brewery need to start? Where can they get the capital?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Session lager

Other resources:

You can reach Audra Gaiziunas and Brewed For Her Ledger at:

If you like the show, please subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher. When you subscribe, it’ll let you know when there’s a new episode, you won’t miss a thing!

You might also like:

MicroBrewr 033: Wastewater treatment solutions  for a craft brewery, with Brewery Wastewater Design in Montrose, Colorado.

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 017: work with customers to make award winning beer, with Birdsong Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 017: Work with customers to make award winning beer

In this episode, I talk with Chris Goulet from Birdsong Brewing Company, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Chris and some friends were so impressed by 21-year-old homebrewer, Connor Robinson, that they started a brewery to showcase his beers.

Birdsong Brewing Co. was just the fourth production brewery in Charlotte. Although they have been operating less than 3 years, they’re making award winning beer using customers’ ingredients, and they’re leading craft beer in the Charlotte metropolitan area.

Birdsong will soon expand into a larger facility with a brewhouse 3 times the size of their current one. “Happy staff make happy beer,” says Chris. So they used lessons learned, to design floor space for efficient workflow.

Chris tells us the story of their award-winning Mexicali Stout. One of Birdsong’s regular customers, Jason, brought in a bunch of peppers from his home garden. The “talented, secret genius brewer” threw them together with locally-roasted coffee to make what would become one of their most popular seasonal beers.

Chris also shares some great advice about:

  • Making agreements with the landlord
  • Educating the customer about unfiltered beer
  • Hiring a well-connected salesperson

Listener question:

From Erik Cotten: Is it local?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Saison

Other resources:

You can reach Chris Goulet and Birdsong Brewing Company at:

If you like the show, please subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher. When you subscribe, it’ll let you know when there’s a new episode and you won’t miss a thing.

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher