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MicroBrewr 072: Batch 4,000 and brewery law reform in Minnesota with Fitger's Brewhouse Brewery & Grille.

MicroBrewr 072: Batch 4,000 and brewery law reform in Minnesota

Dave Hoops has been brewing for decades. He brought what he learned in California to Minnesota and helped change the brewery laws there. Now his West Coast style beers have been working well for Fitger’s Brewhouse Brewery & Grille, in Duluth Minnesota.

Minnesota does not allow breweries to self-distribute to outside accounts. So Fitger’s has “tied houses,” restaurant/bars that are “tied” to their brewery. That is, their production brewery makes beer for the restaurants that they also own.

If they wanted to package beer for outside distribution, state law would require them to sell the restaurants and just be a package brewery.

To make matters trickier, each brewery under this scenario must have a restaurant (a “production brewpub”), which can make no more than 3,500 BBL per year. So if they were already maxed out at 3,500 BBL per year and they wanted to add another restaurant, the new one would have to be another production brewpub with the limits on annual capacity.

“The only reason that these laws haven’t been challenged,” says Dave, “is because nobody has gotten to this level yet. I’m sure they’ll change it when it happens.”

It’s peculiar because Duluth is right on the border with Wisconsin, which as less stringent laws. So they move their company just 5 miles to the south, they would be allowed to sell their beer to a wider audience.

Still, Dave says the Minnesota brewery market is expanding rapidly. The state recently passed a law that allows productions breweries to have a tap to serve food and their own beer.

Dave was on the board of the state brewers guild and, like Jeff Mease from Bloomington Brewing Co., he helped change laws to make it easier for breweries—like the ability to sell growlers.

“I’m a veteran now, I’m a little more patient,” says Dave. “It’s in [the state’s] best interest to help us sell more beer. So eventually they come around.”

Dave’s advice for reforming brewery laws in your state:

  • Visit your state capital and find the legislators who are sympathetic to your cause.
  • Find enough legislators for a caucus.
  • Be persistent, be positive, and talk to a lot of people.
  • Research to show the stats and facts of how breweries can help the economy and the community.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 10 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 10-BBL fermenters; 12, 15-BBL fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 20 tanks, most 15-BBL bright tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Annual capacity is 3,200 BBLs. Last year’s production was 3,000 BBL.

Square footage: 3,600 sq. ft. over two floors.

Years in operation: 20 years (opened 1995).

“I feel really lucky to be a part of this artisan trade that’s been around for centuries.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Lisa Boban: Can you make something other than beer?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Session IPA

Other resources:

You can reach Dave Hoops and Fitgers Brewhouse Brewery & Grille at:

Dave’s social media:

Sponsors:

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Support MicroBrewr

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

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MicroBrewr 063: A hundred-page business plan and barely enough money, with Crazy Mountain Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 063: A hundred-page business plan and barely enough money

At the height of the great recession, Kevin Selvy had a hundred-page business plan and started Crazy Mountain Brewing Company in Edwards, Colorado with $500,000. He calls it an irresponsible amount of money and estimates that nobody should do it with less than $1.5 million.

Nonetheless, he met his 3-year sales estimates within 3 months. After 5 years, their beer is distributed to 18 states and Europe, and they just entered the California markets.

“The best advice I could give,” says Kevin, “is give up your day job and go work for a brewery. When it comes to finding investors, if you can say, ‘I’ve got several years of experience in the industry, I know what I’m doing,’ that goes a lot farther than somebody saying, ‘I just like making beer in my kitchen.’”

Kevin sent his business plan to more people than he could count. He drove 10 hours and slept in the back seat of his car to meet with a potential investor.

“Raising money is a very difficult aspect of starting a brewery,” warns Kevin. “You’re going to get 900 ‘no’s before you get one ‘maybe.’”

Here’s some of his advice:

  • Research your business plan
  • Have a packet ready for when investors ask
  • Don’t give up

Although Kevin’s business plan was about 100 pages, lots of it was graphs and financial tables.

“Make sure it’s very thorough and points a really good picture of what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 20 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 23 tanks, 20-BBL, 40-BBL, and 60-BBL.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 1, 40-BBL; 1, 20-BBL; and 1, 60-BBL bright tank.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 17,000 BBL brewed in 2013. 20,000-BBL capacity.

Square footage: 10,314 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 5 years (opened 2010).

“The best advice I could give is: Give up your day job and go work for a brewery.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Kevin Scott: Can you talk about the pros and cons of contracting for raw materials for your beers (i.e, hops, malts, etc.)?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Session IPA

Other resources:

You can reach Kevin Selvy and Crazy Mountain Brewing Company 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 061: Use social media to directly interact, with your customers with Untappd.

MicroBrewr 061: Use social media to directly interact with your customers

Tim Mather was just getting into craft beer when he and a friend created the highly-popular mobile app for beer drinkers, Untappd, based in Los Angles, California.

“Neither of us really knew anything about beer,” admits Tim. “I knew that I wasn’t too big into macros. I was just starting to get into larger craft brands. We were both really into social media.”

Tim and his partner, Greg Avola both work full-time jobs during the day. Yet they keep Untappd going in their spare time.

With over 2 million users who “check in” beers that they drink, Untappd is a unique, highly-targeted way to market your beer.

“Social media is important to any business’ marketing campaign,” Tim advises. “If you want to reach someone, you gotta be there. And honestly you gotta be active too. Because if you just do, once in a while you post something, people aren’t going to see you.”

Tim has some tips for interacting with your audience on Untappd or any social media:

  • Take criticism well
  • Toast people’s check-ins
  • Ask for feedback

It is extremely important to take criticism well. Remember, as Tim says, “Your comments are representative of your brand.” So don’t be a jerk, do be professional at all times, and remember that people have different tastes.

It’s okay if someone doesn’t like your beer. Ask the person some questions to get to know her tastes a little better, then think of a different beer to recommend.

Social media is all about relationships. Build relationships to sell more beer and make new friends.

SUPPORT UNTAPPD:

Become an Untappd Supporter

Untappd is run by just 2 people who both have full-time jobs during the day. Yet they work tirelessly to bring us this great app called Untappd. Become an Untappd Supporter to keep it going, say thanks, and help make the app better. Click here to become an Untappd Supporter now.

“Social media is important to any business’ marketing campaign.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Mike B.: Was it worth it?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Session IPA

Other resources:

You can reach Tim Mather and Untappd at:

You can reach Tim Mather and Greg Avola on Twitter 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 058: Be confident to get where you need to go, with Stone Brewing Co.

MicroBrewr 058: Be confident to get where you need to go

Laura Ulrich is the small batch brewer at Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, California. She has worked there for 11 years, after working in the bottling line at Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado.

“Twelve years ago,” says Laura, “There wasn’t a focus on having the degree in brewing.” She says she would have liked to take more science classes to understand the technical sides of brewing.

It doesn’t seem to be hindering her. She created the widely popular Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean.

Laura has worked on the bottling line, in the cellar, and finally in the brewhouse. “Everybody’s gotta work together to make the end product get to the public,” she says.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 2, 120-BBL brewing systems.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 68, 400-BBL fermenters; 6, 150-BBL.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 2, 150-BBL; one, 390-BBL; 5, 650-BBL; 4, 850-BBL.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Brewed 285,075 BBL in 2014.

Square footage: 55,000 sq. ft. brewery, with 65,000 sq. ft. packaging hall.

Years in operation: 18 years (opened August 1996).

“If you really want it, you can have it.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From John D.: What’s your least favorite style of beer?

Book recommendation:

  • “I haven’t been reading books, I’m awful. I need to get back into it.”

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Session IPA

Other resources:

You can reach Laura Ulrich and Stone Brewing Co. at:

Laura is on Twitter 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.

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 025: A religious experience at the homebrew club, with Studio Brew.

MicroBrewr 025: A religious experience at the homebrew club

In 2009 Erich Allen had a “religious experience” the first time he went to a homebrew club. He started brewing all-grain batches and made 7 beers in one week. Soon he had a dream to open a brewery. Then it became his passion, and then his obsession. So he and his wife visited 48 breweries around the nation to get advice before they converted a photography studio at their home into a 3-BBL nano brewery: Studio Brew in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Erich tells great stories. He takes us on the long journey through the many permitting agencies. At first it didn’t seem possible to have a brewery at his home. But by working with the staff at the permitting agencies, they found a way and did it all working with the system.

Erich is an eloquent speaker. There are many gems in this episode including:

“I respect the beer styles that were set forth centuries ago, but try to make something that people will say, ‘That was the best beer ever.’”

“That’s what it’s all about: Make craft beer to share with those who love beer.”

Listener question:

From Mel Troha: Is a nanobrewpub always easier to start and sustain than a production nanobrewery?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Session IPA

Other resources:

You can reach Erich Allen and Studio Brew 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 022: Expanding to... India! with Arbor Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 022: Expanding to… India!

Matt Greff fell in love with beer while at university in Germany. He and his wife, Rene Greff, opened Arbor Brewing Company Brewpub in Ann Arbor Michigan in 1995. Since then, they opened a microbrewery in nearby Ypsilanti, Michigan and, just a year and-a-half ago, opened a brewpub in Bangalore, India!

They operate under the principle of “capitalism with a conscience.” Rather than being focused solely on profits, they aim for their business to be good for the community and good for their employees. “The best decision we every made,” says Matt, “was giving our management team a lot of autonomy.”

Do you want to open a brewery? This is Matt’s advice for you to start doing tomorrow:

  1. Develop a vision
  2. Do your homework
  3. Get experience

Matt also talks about:

  • How his love affair with beer started
  • How to use geothermal cooling to reduce energy costs
  • How being named “best brewpub in the Midwest” affected their sales

Support Arbor Brewing Company’s crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo

ABC Microbrewery Needs a Kitchen

(Deadline: September 4, 2014, 11:59 p.m.)

UPDATE: They met the goal of their fundraising campaign. Woohoo!

Listener question:

From Tanner Munro: Have you thought about pairing beer to food, as a compliment beverage to food?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Session IPA

Other resources:

You can reach Matt Greff and Arbor 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 015: Randal Denver’s advice for a homebrewer who wants to become a professional brewer, with Yards Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 015: Randal Denver’s advice for a homebrewer who wants to become a professional brewer

In this episode I talk with Randal Denver, brewer from Yards Brewing Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Randal started homebrewing several years ago and got hooked.

“It was kind of the first thing that I ever felt I was good at,” he said.

So he applied for a job with Yards Brewing Company and started working on their packaging line. Since then, he has moved up to brewer, and makes any beer in the Yards Brewing lineup.

Randal offers great advice for a homebrewer who wants to become a professional brewer.

Some advice he shares:

  • Clean and sanitize always
  • Immerse yourself in beer knowledge
  • Brew as often as you can, as many different types of beer as you can

Listener question:

From Josh Pierce: Do you think alcohol levels will start to come down anytime soon?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Session IPA

Other resources:

You can reach Randal Denver and Yards Brewing Company at:

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher