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MicroBrewr 085: Starting a brewery is a full-time job with Martin House Brewing Company

MicroBrewr 085: Starting a brewery is a full-time job

Cody Martin worked in civil engineering and environmental engineering. After touring some breweries and seeing that they use familiar equipment, he asked his wife if he could start a brewery. She found work in Texas and he started Martin House Brewing Company in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Starting a brewery is a full-time job.” [Tweet This]

 

After they moved back to Texas, Cody worked full-time for 15 months to start his brewery.

“If you want to be a brewery in planning for 3 or 4 years,” he offers, “then go ahead and keep your job.”

In that time, he worked on his business plan, found partners and investors, introduced himself to local breweries, and work 20-30 hours per week for free in a local brewery.

Once the business plan was complete, they had 6 months allotted to finding investors and securing funding, and they got it done in only 6 weeks. They talked to anyone and everyone they could find or with whom they could make connections.

In the end, the owners with “skin in the game” had contributed approximately $60 thousand. Investors pitched in significantly more than that, he says. Approximately half of the capital came from friends and family, and about half came from other investors whom they had never previously met.

They were able to cut costs by doing the majority of the work themselves. “We literally built everything in this place ourself,” Cody remarks.

It helps that Cody is an engineer. They also called on old friends who gave them discount prices on skilled work.

Additionally, Cody says it very important to partner with people who compliment, rather than duplicate your own knowledge and skills.

“You need to make sure you have the team with the full talents of running a business,” Cody advises, “not just 3 brewers.”

Financially, it has worked well.

“We have zero debt,” says Cody, “so we were able to break even on that pretty quick. A few months in, we started paying ourselves a salary. And then our first full year of production, we were able to pay our investors back a little.”

Cody even had the opportunity to make a collaboration brew with one of his all-time favorite bands, Toadies.

In summary, Cody’s advice for starting a brewery:

  • Quit your job.
  • Have the support of your family.
  • Assemble a team with diverse skills.
  • Don’t buy a glycol chiller from China.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 30 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 30-BBL; 2, 60-BBL fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 1, 30-BBL; 1 60-BBL bright tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 6,000-BBL capacity. About 2,800 BBL last year.

Square footage: 9,000 sq. ft.

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

Listener question:

From Sean McKeown: Do you still have the same passion for beer after doing it as a job, at a commercial level?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Zip ties, duct tape, and Milwaukee 48-22-1901 Fastback Flip Open Utility Knife.

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 Cody Martine and Martin House Brewing 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 081: An R&D laboratory for craft beer with Labrewatory.

MicroBrewr 081: An R&D laboratory for craft beer

The guys at Portland Kettle Works had the idea to start a nanobrewery. They needed one of their employees to run it, so Chris Sears stepped up and took charge of Labrewatory in Portland, Oregon.

“If Portland is anywhere close to being saturated, the rest of the U.S. has a long way to go.” [Tweet This]

 

Labrewatory won’t be just a nanobrewery. It will be part R&D and showroom for Portland Kettle Works, part collaboration brew lab, pilot brewhouse for hire, a brewing classroom, and who knows what else they’ll think of.

Chris hopes Labrewatory will be a “craft beer geek haven” and a “hub for creative new beer.” He’s been working on the project since the beginning. Now that it’s almost open to the public, he has some lessons to share.

In hindsight, Chris feels they could have spent less time on architecture and design. But he cautions that the plans entail not only what facilities you will have in the building, but also where in the building they will be located. He recommends that you check with the permit inspectors early on and go over your plans with a “fine-toothed comb” to make sure everything follows the codes.

They don’t have to advertise this new nanobrewery too much. They’re raising interest by word-of-mouth and social media. Collaboration beers with other breweries will also be key to their advertising and marketing plan.

Chris iterates a sentiment shared throughout the craft beer industry: community, not competition.

“Collaborations,” he says, “are the definition of community involvement.”

RELATED: MicroBrewr 078: Around the world and back with the craft beer industry

Before doing this project, Chris had been homebrewing for about 5 years. For any homebrewer wanting to go pro, he recommends just starting.

“Just go out there and do it!” he exclaims.

“There’s a lot of money out there. Go out and find that money,” says Chris. “The biggest hurdle right now is finding money. I think it’s just either they are scared to ask or they don’t know the avenues to go and find it. There are definitely investors out there.”

About the potential of a “bubble” or a decreasing demand in craft beer, Chris says: “Portland definitely shows the industry that a neighborhood can support a brewery. Are you going to be the next Sam Adams? Probably not. But are you going to be able to support your family and support employees? Definitely, definitely. So as far as a bubble goes, I don’t see really one in sight.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 3.5 BBL, but we can do 4 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: A mix of 7-BBL and 3.5-BBL fermenters. Capacity for up to 12 fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: We will be mostly kegging after conditioning, so around 4.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Approx. 1,000 BBL.

Square footage: Approx. 5,000 sq. ft. including brewery, tap room, and mezzanine.

Years in operation: Comnig soon (opening October 2015).

Listener question:

From Old Louisville Brew: If the bubble does exist, where and when will it hit? For example, shelf space, tap space, customer saturation, etc.

Can’t-go-without tool:

Pump on a cart, with variable frequency drive (VFD).

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 Chris Sears and Labrewatory 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 079: The importance of budgeting for working capital with Lakewood Brewing Co.

MicroBrewr 079: The importance of budgeting for working capital

Wim Bens was born in Belgium and moved to Texas when he was 7 years old. He applied to American Brewers Guild just to have the option. Now, 3 years after opening Lakewood Brewing Co. in Garland, Texas he can barely keep up with demand.

“If you start doubting what you’re doing, then you shouldn’t be doing it.” [Tweet This]

 

Wim’s original business plan called for 3 employees, adding about 1 employee per year, for every 1,000 barrels produced. They had planned to expand production to 7,000 barrels in year 7.

Two years later after opening, they had 13 employees and had started looking for a larger venue.

Today, just 3 years after opening, Lakewood Brewing Co. has a staff of 22. They produced 7,500 barrels last year, are on track to produce 10,000 barrels this year. They are projecting next year’s production at 15,000 – 20,000.

RELATED: MicroBrewr 077: The importance of writing your goals.

Wim says you must have:

  • Good culture
  • Good people
  • Investment
  • Ability to invest at the right time
  • Make smart investments in your business
  • Good beer
  • Consistently good beer

“And I think if all those things come together, especially in a market like Dallas-Fort Worth that had a local beer drought, then you have a good recipe for success,” advises Wim.

On convincing family, friends, and fools to invest in your brewery:

  • It’s very important to believe in yourself.
  • It’s very important to believe in what you’re doing.
  • Hire people who are smarter than you.

“If you start doubting what you’re doing,” says Wim, “then you shouldn’t be doing it.”

“A lot of people think when they open a small brewery, “I’m going to be the brewer.’ Ok, well who’s going to do payroll? And who’s going to do HR? And who’s going to be ordering supplies? And who’s going to be doing facility maintenance? And who’s going to be doing all your advertising? And who’s going to be doing distribution?

“There are so many things that have to happen in a brewery to be successful that you have to be able to delegate that and hire people who are experts in those fields.”

Wim reminds us to budget for working capital. His advice is to double your budget—and then add 20%.

“Working capital is not talked about enough,” says Wim. “You have to have enough money to pay your employees, to order your raw materials in large amounts so that you get a quantity discount so that you can eventually turn that into a more profitable margin. You have to have a lot of working capital until you start seeing the money come back.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 30 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 30-180, 1,440 BBL total fermentation vessel capacity.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 180, 90, 80, 60, 40.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 2014: 7,500 BBL.

Square footage: 30,000 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 3 (opened August 2012).

Listener question:

From Peter Stillmank: How much beer do you need to produce each year to break even?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Rubber mallet.

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach Wim Bens and Lakewood Brewing Co. 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 077: The importance of writing your goals with Peticolas Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 077: The importance of writing your goals

Michael Peticolas learned about homebrewing from his mother. After achieving all the goals he set for himself in the legal field, he decided to pursue his passion of beer with Peticolas Brewing Company in Dallas, Texas.

Michael says he feels very fulfilled with having achieved his list of goals. He saved a lot of money while working in law, which allowed him to start his brewery debt free.

“We didn’t open up this big huge, grand brewery, which I see all over the place,” said Michael. “This was my money. So my wife and I decided, ‘How much are we willing to lose?’ Most small businesses go out of business within 3 years.”

“I’d rather fail than to have not tried it at all.” [Tweet This]

 

“If you don’t know how to write a business plan,” Michael advises, “learn how to write a business plan.”

The process of writing a business plan helps:

  • Delve into the potential problems
  • Focus on completing your goals

“Plan in the beginning,” instructs Michael. “Address the good news and the bad news, up front. That business plan is going to guide you. So put in the time before you get started.”

“It is going to make you answer the difficult questions that are going to cause you to go find the resources to help you address those issues.”

Related: MicroBrewr 064: How to write a business plan for a brewery

Three and a half years later, they have 10 employees and expanded capacity from an initial 3,000 BBL to 9,000 BBL.

“Not only am I trying to put together an awesome brewery, but I’m trying to wind back the clock to 1950 when folks worked for one employer for 20 or 30 years. So I concentrate on making us an awesome place to work.”

  • Health insurance
  • 401(k) plan
  • Take care of the market, consumers, retailers and employees

“I’d rather hire someone I’ve known and connected with than just some stranger who looks really awesome on paper.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 15 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 12, 30-BBL fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 3, 30-BBL bright tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Added tanks yesterday, changing capacity from 6,000 BBL to 9,000 BBL. Production last year was 3,500 BBL. On pace for 5,000 BBL this year.

Square footage: 9,000 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 3.5 years (batch one brewed December 30, 2011).

Listener question:

From Cianna Dona: Where did you get the capital to start?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Hand-held temperature gauge.

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach Michael Peticolas and Peticolas Brewing Company 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 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.

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 073: Contract brewing: quality product with low barrier to entry with Craft Artisan Ales.

MicroBrewr 073: Contract brewing: quality product with low barrier to entry

David Olsen dives into things all the way. He decided that he wanted to homebrew, so he read about 15 books and took some short classes at UC Davis. Within 6 months he was winning awards at homebrewing competitions. He started Craft Artisan Ales, in Pacific Grove, California, with contract brewing because it was an easier barrier to entry.

“Even to get like a 7-BBL system going, you’re going to need at least a half-million dollars,” estimates David. “Then you have the labor, the insurance, the overhead, the space, the lease, all those other factors that go into it.

“So to be able to go to a facility that can take your recipes and create a quality end product [in exchange] for part of the margin, is definitely an appealing way to get into the craft beer industry.”

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

David has some recommendations to nail down your beer styles and recipes:

  • Spend a lot of time working on one single beer, then develop other recipes from there.
  • Take some brewing classes, even weekend classes or 2-week classes.
  • Be super careful about sanitation and temperature control.

You’ll need to have accounts confirmed to buy your beer when it’s ready from the brewer. Here’s what David did:

  • He pushed the local angle in his products by using local names and themes.
  • Friends who owned restaurants agreed to carry his beer on tap.
  • The owner of the homebrew store helped make other connections.
  • He put samples in a cooler pack and walked into stores to talk to the manager.
  • He provided a sample, sales sheet, and business card everywhere he went.

Contract brewing is a much easier way to enter the craft beer market. The cost is a tiny fraction of what it costs to open your brewery. The time that you would have spent brewing can be spent marketing, delivering product, nurturing relationships, and all the other things required when you own your own brewery.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 25-BBL contract facility.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 25-, 50-, and 100-BBL tanks available.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: Same.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Capacity is 15-20K BBL for the contract facility. Last year Craft Artisan Ales produced about 1,000 BBL.

Square footage: 80,000 sq. ft. at the contract facility.

Years in operation: 18 months (opened February 2014).

“I don’t have an exit plan because I want it to be a career. All I have are expansion plans.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From The Beer Sommelier: What is your exit plan?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach David Olsen and Craft Artisan Ales 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 069: Arrrgh! What to do when yer job gets boring with Pensacola Bay Brewery.

MicroBrewr 069: Arrrgh! What to do when yer job gets boring

Mark Robertson got bored of his job, so he opened a brewery. Pensacola Bay Brewery, in Pensacola Bay, Florida follows their local heritage with a fun pirate motif. But they’re not all scurvy. After 5 years, Pensacola Bay Brewery is going strong, expanding operations, and willing to share what they’ve learned.

Mark hesitates to disclose how much money they spent to start their brewery. “I will not divulge numbers,” he says, “for the simple reason that you can’t do it for what we did it at, today.”

Nonetheless, he estimates that it would cost $1.5 million to $2 million to start a brewery like theirs. This includes 6 months of working capital. “You can’t get anywhere without [working capital].”

He prefers to let another company distribute Pensacola Bay’s product. “They have a sales force, they have a refer warehouse, they’ve got distribution networks. Those things I couldn’t afford.”

“You’d have to add another half million onto the cost of the brewery,” says Mark, “in order to come up with refer trucks and drivers and a sales force.”

To gain visibility for new customers Mark says:

  • Go to beer festivals
  • Do tap takeovers
  • Give out a lot of freebees
  • Send the brew staff to the events, not sales people

“You gotta go out and work the market,” Mark advises. “You gotta go out and visit.”

Mark homebrewed even before he learned it was illegal in his state. To other homebrewers wanting to follow his path, Mark recommends investing in yourself:

  • Enroll in courses
  • Attend seminars
  • Read books
  • Ask commercial brewers to criticize your beer

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 15 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 5, 30-BBL fermenters, 2, 15-BBL fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 2, 30-BBL bright tanks, 3, 15-BBL bright tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Brewed 2,800 BBL last year.

Square footage: 3,500 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 5 years (opened October 2010).

“If I had a new brewery, I would avoid packaging as much as I can.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Alan Gorney: How long did it take before your brewery became profitable?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach Mark Robertson and Pensacola Bay 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 065: Finding the right small business insurance for a brewery with Moores Insurance Management.

MicroBrewr 065: Finding the right small business insurance for a brewery

Moores Insurance Management, in St Paul, Minnesota is an independent insurance agency. They’re not an insurance company; instead they act as an advocate for small businesses, to assess risk and help pick the best insurance plan for your situation.

Jack Moores has been working in the industry for 5 years. He’s the risk advisor for the agency that his father heads. They specialize in finding the right insurance for craft breweries.

Insurance categories that a brewery likely needs:

  • Property insurance – For the building and the brewing equipment.
  • General liability – For third-party claims against your brewery such as “slips, trips, and falls” or other “allegations of negligence.”
  • Workers compensation – If an employee becomes injured or ill while working on the job.
  • Liquor liability – For claims concerning “over-served patrons.” Also covers your defense costs, which could come in handy in the event of frivolous lawsuits.

So how much will insurance cost for your brewery? Plan on budgeting about $5,000 to $10,000 annually for all insurance needs.

Keep in mind that cost of premiums can vary widely based many factors including:

  • Location
  • Property value
  • Amount of equipment
  • Square footage of the building
  • Projected revenue
  • Percent of beer sold on-site
  • Amount and type of live music

Additionally, businesses are rated based on “loss experience” and judged against other businesses in the same industry. Basically, if you have more claims than other breweries, you rates can go up. This is especially important in terms of workers compensation insurance.

“Haste leads to accidents…” says Jack. “Safety and prevention of claims really pays off because workers compensation constitutes close to half of a brewery’s total insurance program.”

Craft breweries experience twice as many claims for workers compensation than their macro brewery counterparts. And many of the risks present in the brewing environment are unique to the industry.

“The brewing business is a unique enough exposure that it warrants specialized coverages,” explains Jack. “A standard commercial insurance policy slapped onto a brewery is really going to leave some pretty significant gaps [in coverage.]”

Other insurance coverage that a brewery should consider:

  • Product recall
  • Employment practices
  • Beer spillage
  • Tank leakage
  • Refrigeration coverage

“The cost isn’t necessarily more, it’s just coverages that are tailored toward breweries,” explains jack

The main thing is to be proactive in managing your risk. Don’t think of insurance as a chore that just needs to be done, so find the least expensive plan.

“You have a product that you love, it’s dream job. I really don’t think it makes sense to jeopardize all of that just to save a few dollars on insurance.”

“Haste leads to accidents… Safety and prevention of claims really pays off.” [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:

Sour beer

Other resources:

You can reach Jack Moores and Moores Insurance Management 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 062: Cohesive brand development for your brewery, with Measured Methods.

MicroBrewr 062: Cohesive brand development for your brewery

Measured Methods is a multi-purpose agency focusing on craft breweries and other artisanal crafts. They’re based in Burlington, Vermont, but they can provide a variety of services for breweries anywhere. They focus both on the front end, such as branding and anything a customer would see, and also back end, such as processes and supply chain issues.

In this episode, Eric Lussier and Bethany Baker, talk with us about branding, how to develop a look and feel to your company image.

“Behind your product quality,” says Bethany, “the single most important thing about your brand is to have a cohesive look and feel.”

A lot goes into a cohesive brand, such as:

  • Shelf-appeal
  • Color palate
  • Style
  • Event selection

When picking names, whether it’s your brewery, or your beers, think of something that sounds great.

“I often like to tell people that naming conventions are like tattoos,” says Bethany. “Everyone loves a good back story & meaning behind it, but sometimes it’s just because you enjoy the sound of it.

A name should also have a story behind it. And this long-term about the themes that you convey. You don’t want to alienate your audience by mixing it up too much, but you also don’t want to pigeonhole your brand by sticking to strictly to one theme.

“Before you brew your first batch, start promoting your brand.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From MoonFace on Twitter: What’s your go to beer or brewery?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Coffee-infused beers

Other resources:

You can reach Eric Lussier, Bethany Baker, and Measured Methods at:

Eric Lussier on Twitter:

Bethany Baker on Twitter:

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 056: Applying organic chemistry to brewing, with Golden Road Brewing.

MicroBrewr 056: Applying organic chemistry to brewing

Nadia Vazirzadeh had only a bachelor’s degree in biology, zero knowledge of beer, when she started working on the quality control team at Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles, California.

“I knew I wanted to do something the rest of my life that I loved,” she says. “I still had people trying to convince that, ‘Don’t you want to be a doctor? What’s beer really doing for anybody?’ I take pride in what I do in the beer industry. I think it’s really important. I really like what I do and this alone is really fulfilling to me.”

As part of her job to make sure that the brewery brings consistently great beer, her daily duties are:

  • Check gravities
  • Get yeast for new batches of beer
  • Use the alcolyzer
  • Conduct grist analysis
  • Check IBUs
  • Put together sensory tasting for staff
Nadia Vazirzadeh, at Golden Road Brewing, convinced the 7 brewers into dressing up like Snow White's 7 Dwarves for Halloween.

Nadia Vazirzadeh, at Golden Road Brewing, convinced the 7 brewers into dressing up like Snow White’s 7 Dwarves for Halloween. Source: Facebook.

Nadia recommends reading about what you’re working with and reading about other breweries. “Everybody does something different,” she says. “Read. That’s really my main recommendation.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 50 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 16, 300-BBL fermenters, including some conversion tanks.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 3, 200-BBL.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: About 30,000 BBL in 2014.

Square footage: 32,000 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 3.5 years (founded 2011).

“I knew I wanted to do something the rest of my life that I loved.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Pour & Beerded: How did you get yourself to make the leap to go all in or nothing? Especially if you quit a decent job…

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 Nadia Vazirzadeh and Golden Road Brewing 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 047: Proof of concept for a brewpub co-op, with Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery.

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

If you’re thinking of starting a brewpub, the cooperative business model might be the way to go. Chris Hamje has been at Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery, in Austin, Texas, since shortly after they opened. He explains how the cooperative model plays out for their operation.

Jessica Brook Deahl, an accomplished and self-proclaimed "Beer Artist" at her opening show with head brewer Chris Hamje of Black Star Co-op.

Jessica Brook Deahl, an accomplished and self-proclaimed “Beer Artist” at her opening show with head brewer Chris Hamje of Black Star Co-op.

“There’s a lot of precedence for a worker-owned factory model,” explains Chris. “When you look at beer, this is a very high-tech fabrication plant. The model works very well, the precedence is there historically, for this exact operational process. When you take the people who are moving parts of this factory, giving the most creative input in what the product is like, you suddenly have something really special. And that works really well in the craft beer movement.”

There are many ways to organize a brewery co-op. Black Star has 2 member bases.

There are about 3,000 “patrons” worldwide, who pay $150 for a lifetime membership, and gain the right to elect a 9-seat board of directors.

The “workers assembly” has great autonomy as they follow the board policies on a day-to-day basis. Employees must work at the co-op for one year before going before an election to gain a place on the workers assembly. The workers assembly has one meeting each month, and votes on day-to-day operations.

Other podcasts about breweries as co-ops:

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

MicroBrewr 049: Planning California’s first cooperative brewpub

Chris is currently preparing to start a production, package brewery, 4th Tap Brewing Co-op, in Austin that will also be a co-op. He has lots of advice, including:

  • Look at how your state’s laws treat a co-op.
  • Choose a location with high visibility.
  • Take a class in organic chemistry.
  • Hire an extra staff member.

Last week we talked with Sustainable Economies Law Center to get an overview of the cooperative business model and how it might apply to a brewery. Next week we’ll hear from San Jose Co-op Brew Pub about their plans to start California’s first co-op brewery.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 10 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 10-BBL.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 5, 10-BBL.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: A little over 700 BBL.

Square footage: Around 900 sq. ft., including a mezzanine.

Years in operation: 4 years (opened 2010).

“Always have that little bit of fear that drives you to learn more.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Zack Chance: Where do you recommend buying ingredients on the West Coast? How do estimate the number of customers in a year?

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 Chris Hamje and Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery at:

Sponsors:

San Jose Co-op Brewpub

“Be co-owner in California’s first co-op brewpub.”

San Jose Co-op Brewpub "Be a co-cowner in California's first co-op brewpub." http://sjcoopbrewpub.com/microbrewr/

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MicroBrewr 045: Launch your brewery with a strong opening night, with West Cork Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 045: Launch your brewery with a strong opening night

You’ve spent months working toward opening your brewery, now you’re finally ready for the public. How do you come out with a bang? Henry Thornhill and friends recently opened West Cork Brewing Company in Baltimore, Ireland. They share how to put on a successful opening night.

West Cork is renowned for its high quality food. Now quality craft beer also comes from West Cork.

West Cork Brewing was started in 2014 by three friends, Henry Thornhill, Dominic Casey, and Kevin Waugh, with just €15,000 (approx. US$12,000).

Although it’s a nanobrewery operating in the basement of Casey’s of Baltimore hotel, they knew they had to come out with a bang.

Here’s what they did for their grand opening:

  • T-shirts with brewery logo
  • Promotional photos on the wall
  • Nonstop tours of their brewery
  • Live music
  • Food pairings

Media was also a big part of West Cork’s grand opening. They had coverage in local and national newspapers as well as local radio stations. Here’s how you do it:

  • Send press releases before the event including lots of photos.
  • Invite media to attend the event.
  • Blitz social media.
  • Talk with friends of friends to make connections with media.
  • Keep up the momentum by leveraging coverage after the event.

Reflecting on the event, Henry has some suggestions for ways they could have improved:

  • Write a plan for media outreach.
  • Blitz local radio stations.
  • Decide on a goal for the evening.

“It’s good to have goals and then to work backwards from goals to see what kind of tactics you need to put in place.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 200 liter (53 gallon)

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 1, 200 liter (53 gallon)

Size and quantity of bright tanks: none

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 3,500 liters (925 gallons)

Square footage: 400 sq. ft.

Years in operation: recently opened

“ Enjoy today because tomorrow is just another today.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Lawrence: How long does it take you to develop your recipes? Where do you look to be inspired when you’re looking to try something new?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach Henry Thornhill and West Cork Brewing Company at:

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 042: Open a microbrewery to revitalize an economy, with The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company.

MicroBrewr 042: Open a microbrewery to revitalize an economy

Matt Katase wasn’t yet legal drinking age when he read an autobiography of a brewery owner. Then he and his friend, Asa Foster, toured a large craft brewery and thought, we can do that. At age twenty-three, they opened The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company in Braddock, Pennsylvania.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Matt has the following advice:

  • Don’t do it.
  • Strategically schedule donations and media interviews throughout the campaign.
  • Get lots of donations the first day to foster media impressions.
  • Research for optimum length of time.

I first heard about The Brew Gentlemen from Alexis Irvin, who spoke with us on MicroBrewr Podcast 040. Check out episode 40 to hear about Blood, Sweat, and Beer documentary and to get a coupon code for 20% off the price when your order a digital download of the movie.

Matt’s tips to successfully start a brewery:

  • Have confidence in yourself, stay true to your mission.
  • Learn construction from YouTube videos.
  • Make the women’s restroom really nice.
  • Care about quality, your customers, and your brand and image.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 3.5 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 7-BBL.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 1, 7-BBL.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 400-600 BBL.

Square footage: 1,500 sq. ft., plus taproom, plus event space.

Years in operation: 7 months (opened May 2014).

“You’ve gotta have confidence in yourself and stay true to your mission.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Robert Villareal: How much did you invest in your very first homebrew and equipment?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach Matt Katase and The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company at:

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 040: Keep persevering to get to the end, with Blood, Sweat, and Beer movie.

MicroBrewr 040: Keep persevering to get to the end

Alexis Irvin and her partner Chip Hiden travelled across the country trying to find out what it takes to make a living doing what you love. They interviewed a bunch people in lots of different fields who all had their dream job. And they put it together into a movie and book called, The Dream Share Project.

Then they followed their own dreams, quit their jobs, and started working for themselves. For their next project, Alexis and Chip travelled across the country interviewing people with a dream job in one field—craft beer! They made a beer movie!

Blood, Sweat, and Beer is a feature-length documentary coming out in 2015 that follows 2 startup breweries, one in Braddock, Pennsylvania and another in Ocean City, Maryland.

For making Blood, Sweat, and Beer movie, they interviewed over 100 people for the film. Everyone from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing, Brooklyn Brewery, and small local breweries.

The most important things Alexis learned about starting a brewery:

  • Handle all of the legal paperwork thoroughly
  • Start with a team
  • Consider how your brewery can benefit a specific location

SPECIAL BONUS:

20% OFF digital download pre-order of Blood, Sweat, and Beer documentary.

Alexis and Chip gave us a coupon code exclusive to the MicroBrewr audience.

Go to the Blood, Sweat, and Beer website. Click “Redeem Code.”

Enter this code for 20% off: MICROBREWR

That’s a digital download of the film for only $3.99!

Be sure to connect with Blood, Sweat, and Beer documentary and thank Alexis for being on the show and for the discount.

“ Just keep going. You have to persevere to get to the end.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Ray Pierce: Is it profitable?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach Alexis Irvin and Blood, Sweat, and Beer documentary at:

You might also like:

MicroBrewr 050: Have passion and be persistent with Craft Conscious in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Support MicroBrewr

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

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MicroBrewr 036: How to write a business plan for a gastropub brewery, with Elevation 66 Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 036: How to write a business plan for a gastropub brewery

Brian Kelly opened Elevation 66 Brewing Company 3 years ago in El Cerrito, California. It was his first business and they paid off their major investor ahead of schedule, just 2 and-a-half years after opening.

Initially, they wanted to have a mill and limit the food offerings to paninis and salads. About halfway into the design process they decided to rework it and plan for a full kitchen. It was more expensive to build, but it was worth it.

“That has turned out to be one of the better ideas for this place,” says Brian. “Our food has really taken off. Without our kitchen, I don’t know if this place would be nearly as successful. Salads and paninis is nothing like the food we put out right now.”

And the food at Elevation 66 is great. They were recognized as having the best artisanal pub food in the East Bay.

Brian’s advice to someone just starting is:

  • Understanding the laws is crucial
  • Be as professional as possible at all times
  • Hire help

Elevation 66 is still new, but their 7-BBL system can hardly produce enough beer just for their in-house sales. (Elevation 66 doesn’t package any beer for distribution.) They are starting to plan for expansion and have begun developing the brewery business plans for different possibilities.

So I asked Brian how to write a brewery business plan. He said start looking into the red tape.

“These permits that you have to get and all this red tape that you have to go through can be a long and arduous process. You really want to have a solid plan of attack on how you’re going to do all these things.”

Brian’s top 3 resources for writing a brewery business plan:

“Honestly,” says Brian, “I just went online and read other people’s business plans.

He also suggests overestimating costs and underestimating revenues.

“That’s the whole purpose of a business plan to me. It’s like, let’s be realistic. What’s the worst case scenario? If that does happen, can we still make this work? If you can, and you do better than that, then it’s golden.”

“If you have a feeling that this is going to succeed, don’t doubt that.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Hayden Little: How much trouble did you have coming up with a name? What was the inspiration for the name?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach Brian Kelly and Elevation 66 Brewing Company at:

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher