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MicroBrewr 087: Differentiate your brewpub with unique menu items with Nexus Brewery

MicroBrewr 087: Differentiate your brewpub with unique menu items

At 55 years old Ken Carson tried to get a job at a brewery, but nobody would hire him—even for volunteer. So with no brewing nor restaurant experience, he started Nexus Brewery in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I fell in love with the concept of beer and community.” [Tweet This]

 

Ken did have some business experience: he was president of a small bank. He joined the bank in their first year and helped it grow from $7 million in assets to $150 million and 5 branches.

When Ken saw an ad for making a batch of beer at the local Kelly’s Brew Pub, he went and tried it for fun. He never knew someone could make their own beer. And he got the bug.

While working for the bank, Ken often traveled for work and always toured breweries in every city he went. After touring about 150 breweries, he though he wanted to do something different. So he cashed in the stock he had saved for retirement and convinced his wife to let him start a brewery.

RELATED: 61 Brewers Speak Out: What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting A Brewery

“So I had a good background in business,” says Ken, “but absolutely no experience in either one of these 2 businesses that I was getting into.”

Ken says there are 2 things anyone needs to start a brewery:

  • You need to know the numbers
  • You need to have good customer service

During his time at the bank, he had required hundreds of businesses to write business plans. Now he was on the other end, needing to write a business plan for his brewery. He used the online tools provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“When you’re thinking customer service, it’s to produce the best beer you can,” explains Ken. “And we’re trying our best to produce the best food that we can.”

One thing the SBA materials asked was how Ken would differentiate his business from the competition. And food was one way that Nexus Brewery is differentiating themselves.

“I started seeing new breweries opening. I said, ‘This is going to be a problem if all the breweries get up here and I’m not different, I’m just like everybody else.’ So I picked a different food and made it unique.”

Nexus Brewery has what they call “New Mexican soul food,” a blend of foods from their African American heritage with local flavors of New Mexico.

They started out with 10 items on the menu, and kept adding more as customers made requests and suggestions.

Ken said it’s working out really well. “It’s distinguished us from all the other breweries in town.” It’s also helpful that they are serving a type of food that that is not normally associated with brewing industry.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 7 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 7-BBL fermenters; 2, 15-BBL fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 7 Grundies; 6, 15-BBL bright tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 650 BBL.

Square footage: 2,500 sq. ft. for the brewery.

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

Listener question:

From Jeff Lennon: Why did you choose the brewpub or production brewery model? What factors led to that decision?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Victorinox Swiss Army Super Tinker Pocket Knife.

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Scottish Ale

Other resources:

You can reach Ken Carson Jr. and Nexus Brewery at:

Sponsors:

Audible

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MicroBrewr 029: Selling more beer through your local craft beer store, with 99 Bottles beer store.

MicroBrewr 029: Selling more beer through your local craft beer store

Tiffany Adamowski and her husband have been operating 99 Bottles beer store in Federal Way, Washington for the past 7 years. She tells us how to work with a craft beer store like hers to sell more beer.

99 Bottles has over 1,200 labels of craft beer in stock from over 40 different countries. They also have ciders, meads, and a gigantic selection of beer kegs. They do growler refills and they offer tasting flights every day.

99 Bottles has won a bunch of local awards like “best beer selection,” “best beer store,” and “don’t miss” bottle shop.

This a long episode, but stay tuned through the whole thing because Tiffany gives tons of super detailed advice on how to sell more of your beer at retail outlets like her beer shop.

Some of her tips:

  • Email before you visit a store, don’t stop in unannounced.
  • Use customer relations management (CRM) software to keep track of your contacts and to pass the information on to the next sales person.
  • Drop off samples with a business card, and a flier about your brewery.
  • Provide basic information about each beer including: ABV, IBU, description, format, shelf life, storage temperature.
  • When you go to brewer’s night at the shop, be sure to mingle with the customers.
  • Be careful about thin beer bottles, especially for bottle-conditioned beer, you don’t want your product exploding on the store shelf.
  • Bring extra labels when you visit a store, sometimes bottles arrive unlabeled.

SPECIAL BONUS:

Ask Tiffany any question about working with retailers to sell more of your beer.

Leave your questions in the comments section below.

Tiffany 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 99 Bottles beer store and thank Tiffany for being on the show and for helping us out with questions.

UPDATE: Thirty days is up, Tiffany is no longer monitoring the questions here. You can still reach her through the links below.

Listener question:

From Jon Tiffany: What is an upcoming brewery that we should our eye on?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Scottish ale

Other resources:

You can reach Tiffany Adamowski and 99 Bottles beer store at:

Tiffany’s blog:

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!

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher