One beer style that will be gaining more attention.

Posts

MicroBrewr 091: Let them do the job you hired them to do

Michael Altman was in the industry for years when he bought a brewpub. Now he’s been operating Iron Springs Pub & Brewery in Fairfax, California for 12 years. Before they opened he had to have back surgery and totally reinvent his role for the brewpub.

“You really need to live, breathe and be the beer.” [Tweet This]

 

“The first 6 months we owned that pub, every single day I called my wife and said we’re selling this place, I can’t stand this, this is ridiculous,” recounts Michael. “Thank God for my wife who was my rock.”

He went through 3 back surgeries. “It was hard for me to hang up my mash paddle,” says Michael. He still does some brewing, but mostly leaves the hard work to others.

Hiring employees and letting them do the work you hire them to do has been essential to Iron Springs’ growth. They are on pace to produce approximately 2,000 BBLs of beer this year, which is an increase of 20 percent since last year. They have 16 taps for 10 draft beers, one cask, and 4 handcrafted sodas.

Iron Springs Pub & Brewery now has 50 staff, 4 are in the brewery. To hire more staff Michael recommends:

  1. Figure out what needs to be done
  2. Figure out who you are going to hire for each task
  3. Hire people who can do the job
  4. Let them do the job you hired them to do

It sounds simple, but it’s important to follow through and let others take your load off.

Something else that has been very helpful for Iron Springs is the give back Tuesday. Every Tuesday they give 10% of profits to a local non-profit organization that focuses on education or the environment. Iron Springs has donated $160,000 in the last 6 years. “We love and we really believe in it, and that really translates to the community,” says Michael. “They really believe in it and they want to come out and support it. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Michael says certainly, “There’s no way in the world that I would started a brewery in today’s market.” There is too much competition, he says, compared to when he started. Although he does say, “A brewpub will work in neighborhood,” you have to have good branding.

You have to figure out why people are coming to your place, and really focus on your story. The 3 keys are:

  • Good ambiance
  • Good service
  • Good food and beer

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 10 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 9, 10-BBL fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 10, 10-BBL serving tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 1,820 BBL.

Square footage: 5,000 sq. ft. in the entire pub, 1,100 sq. ft. in the brewery.

Years in operation: 12 years (opened October 2004).

Listener question:

From Awhile Pandey: When can you tell whether you are known as a brewery pub with exciting beer that people like, or you have become known more as a restaurant with beer just as a side thing? Is there any research on what kind of food formats and themes go well with a microbrewery pub layout?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Rubber boots, Bosch.

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 Michael Altman and Iron Springs Pub & Brewery at:

Sponsors:

Beer Exam School, free study notes and flashcards for the Cicerone Certified Beer Server exam.

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 082: Gluten free beer for a large market with Bard's Tale Beer Company.

MicroBrewr 082: Gluten free beer for a large market

Brian Kovalchuck has a background in finance and marketing and came to beer late in his career. After he helped with the turnaround of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Brian became CEO of the gluten free Bard’s Tale Beer Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“I wish I had been in the beer business a long time. It’s a great business to be in.” [Tweet This]

 

In the U.S. there are approximately 2 million people with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the intestine from eating gluten. There are approximately another 6 times that number of people who are gluten-intolerant or voluntarily exclude gluten from their diet.

“Gluten is a protein found in most common grains,” explains Brian, “wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats gets thrown into that because of cross-contamination.”

The founders or Bard’s Tale Beer Company experimented for 2 years before they settled on a recipe and a method. Their secret is malted sorghum. Sorghum is a grain that does not have gluten. It is commonly used to make gluten-free beers, but it is not commonly malted like other grains used in brewing.

Bard’s is the only brewery that uses malted sorghum to brew gluten free beer. Brian won’t say whether Bard’s malts their own sorghum or has it made for them, but he did say it’s their own.

Bard’s uses a contract brewer to make “Bard’s Gold,” currently their only product.

Brian’s advice for finding a contract brewer is use a brewer that:

  • Has a good reputation
  • Makes high-quality products
  • Has a lab that can ensure consistency
  • Is happy to work with you
  • Has the capacity to grow with you

Other contract breweries—or breweries that got their start as a contract brewery—on MicroBrewr Podcast:

Alamo Beer Company

HenHouse Brewing

21st Amendment Brewery

Backshore Brewing Co.

Two Birds Brewing

Craft Artisan Ales

Noble Brewer

If you’re using a contract brewer to make gluten-free beer, you’ll need to take special care to ensure there is no cross-contamination from the other beers brewed at the facility. Bard’s beer is always the first batch brewed after the brewery is cleaned. They test at several points along the process to ensure there is no gluten in the beer.

“The gluten free market around your brewery is too small to support a brewery,” says Brian. “There’s just not enough gluten-intolerant people to support a stand-alone gluten free brewery in one location.”

So Bard’s model depends on very wide distribution. And working with distributors can be tricky.

“The way the laws are written,” says Brian, “once a distributor gets a beer brand, it’s very difficult to get that beer brand back from the distributor. So if you make a mistake, it’s really hard to fix that problem.”

Brian’s tips for picking a distributor:

  • Talk to contacts you already know.
  • Differentiate yourself from the others.
  • Work with the distributor to drive the business.
  • Find a distributor that is eager to work with you.
  • Coordinate marketing across all 3 tiers.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 500-BBL batches.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks:

Size and quantity of bright tanks:

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production:

Square footage:

Years in operation: 9 years (opened 2006).

Listener question:

From Melissa Bess Reed: How do I make quality gluten-free beer that always has the same delicious flavor profile that I can count on?

Can’t-go-without tool:

The Brewmaster.

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 Brian Kovalchuck and Bard’s Tale Beer Company 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 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.”

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 049: Planning California’s first cooperative brewpub, with San Jose Co-op Brewpub.

MicroBrewr 049: Planning California’s first cooperative brewpub

You’ve decided that your brewery is going to be a cooperative. Now you need to find others who will share the burden and resources. You can work together to start your own brewery. That’s what Christian Borglum and others are doing with San Jose Co-op Brewpub in San Jose, California.

San Jose Co-op Brewpub is still being planned. So it’s not certain what the future establishment will look like. A dedicated group of people are volunteering their time and pooling resources toward their shared dream: to own and operate a brewpub.

Other podcasts about breweries as co-ops:

MicroBrewr 046: Start your brewery as a worker-owned co-op

MicroBrewr 047: Proof of concept for a brewpub co-op

Christian is currently on the volunteer board. He gives us insight to the progress.

  • It will be a democratically run business.
  • The members will own a part of the company and have voting rights to elect the board of directors.
  • Membership lasts a lifetime.

San Jose Co-op Brewpub is currently doing a membership drive. They’re trying to double their membership from 300 to 600, by April 2015. Now is your opportunity to own a part of California’s first co-op brewpub.

“You drink the beer, you should own the bar.”

Check out their website to learn more.

“Principle advantage of doing this as a cooperative is you have a lot more people to draw from.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

If you could ask one question to every brewer or brewery owner, what would you ask? Let me know.

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 Christian Borglum and San Jose Co-op Brewpub at:

Sponsors:

“Compare free quotes from top suppliers within 48 hours.”

Kinnek "Compare free quotes from top suppliers within 48 hours." http://www.kinnek.com/microbrewr

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 024: Real ale in the mountain bike capital of the Northwest, with Brewers Union Local 180.

MicroBrewr 024: Real ale in the mountain bike capital of the Northwest

Ted Sobel quit his high-paying job as a software engineer and took a couple years off to walk around the United Kingdom. When he was done walking, he opened Brewers Union Local 180 in Oakridge, Oregon.

Although they get calls about unionized labor, it’s just a clever name. Brewers Union focuses first on providing a traditional English “public house.” It’s a “third place,” a place other than home and work. It’s the local.

They make English-style cask conditioned ales, and they have guest beers on tap to support the locals and the many passersby who come to Oakridge for mountain biking and other outdoor recreation.

Ted says that the biggest mistake he made was working too hard. This month marks their 6th year in business and Ted looks forward to finally taking a vacation. He recommends starting with more money and hiring staff.

In this episode, Ted advises to:

  • Follow your vision, even when others tell you to do otherwise
  • Take time to drink the beer you make

Listener question:

From Hayden Little: What is your least favorite beer that you produce? Why do you keep producing it?

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 Ted Sobel and Brewers Union Local 180 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!

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 019: Marketing a flagship beer with Roswell aliens, with Sierra Blanca Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 019: Marketing a flagship beer with Roswell aliens

In this episode, I talk with Rich Weber from Sierra Blanca Brewing Company and Rio Grande Brewing Company in Moriarty, New Mexico. Rich started Sierra Blanca in 1996, added the Alien brand in 1997, and bought Rio Grande Brewing Co. in 2006.

Rich had been homebrewing since 1987 and was already working 100 hours a week at his own restaurant, when he started Sierra Blanca. He hired master brewers to mentor him for the first 2 years and has been growing steadily ever since.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of aliens crash landing near Roswell, New Mexico, they released Alien Amber Ale in 1997. Today, Alien Amber Ale accounts for 40% of sales among their 9 beers.

Rich talks about his company and provides some key insight to the 1947 Roswell UFO incident.

He offers some great advice about:

  • Working 100 hours a week
  • Marketing and distribution
  • Branding ideas
  • Gaining knowledge from visiting other breweries

Listener question:

From Marc Stafford: 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:

Session beer

Other resources:

You can reach Rich Weber and Sierra Blanca 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, 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

MicroBrewr 018: Start a commercial FrankenBrewery for $18,000, with Horsefly Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 018: Start a commercial FrankenBrewery for $18,000

In this episode, I talk with Nigel Askew from Horsefly Brewing Company in Montrose, Colorado. As a teenager, Nigel made beer for his dad in Zambia. In the 1990s he was homebrewing in Los Angeles. When he moved to Colorado, he took his 1.5-BBL homebrew system. He and friends pooled money and started their brewery for $18,000. A year later, they moved to a larger facility and expanded to a 10-BBL FrankenBrewery. Now they’re getting ready for a 20-BBL system.

Horsefly Brewing Company’s main operating tenet is to be fair and honest. Nigel is super generous with stories and advice. He tells us about piecing together their brewhouse, and finding amazing deals on equipment.

He offers some great advice, like:

  • How to get a fair price from your suppliers
  • Don’t over plan
  • Start small
  • Sanitize and clean

Listener question:

From Kristine Dubie: What are the pros and cons of whole cone hops vs. compressed hop pellets?

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 Nigel Askew and Horsefly 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, 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