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MicroBrewr 088: A brewing pedigree from Kansas to Texas with BrainDead Brewing

MicroBrewr 088: A brewing pedigree from Kansas to Texas

Andrew Huerter comes from a family of brewers. His parents were founding members of the Kansas City Beer Meisters homebrew club and his dad won a blue ribbon for one of his beers. Now Drew is following in their footsteps. He worked at a handful of breweries and before helping put together BrainDead Brewing in Dallas, Texas.

“Find a way into an operating brewery.” [Tweet This]

 

Some of the audio was lost due to technical difficulties with the call. Here are notes from the audio podcast and the parts that got left out.

One of the biggest difficulties was the city permitting processes. The city was concerned about the explosive hazards of grain dust.

BrainDead Brewing was required to submit a certified engineer’s report verifying that the explosive hazard was below the threshold.

Just a few years ago in 2011, there were only 3 breweries in North Texas. Now there are 40, and just 2 independent brewpubs in Dallas-Fort Worth area, says Drew. Perhaps the city is experiencing growing pains from and industry that has grown a lot in a very short time.

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

Drew emphasizes the important of details when budgeting for your startup brewery. His biggest mistake was missing a line item on the budget.

Although they had budgeted for the purchase of a glycol chiller, they forgot to include installation costs. That amounted to a $50,000 mistake.

On the other hand, the best idea was to start out with a focus on making ales. It’s a proven model, says Drew, but these days it’s done often. Drew says ales are easy drinking and really approachable, so BrainDead Brewing could sell a lot of them to establish themself in the market.

Listener question:

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

Can’t-go-without tool:

1.5-hp single phase pump by CPE Systems Inc.

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Pilsner

Other resources:

You can reach Drew Huerter and BrainDead 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 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 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 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/

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 023: Keep striving to be better, with Pecan Street Brewing.

MicroBrewr 023: Keep striving to be better

Patty Elliott met her husband at Armadillo Music Hall. Years later, even while running their export business, they saw an old hardware building in their town and decided it should have a brewpub in it. So they started Pecan Street Brewing in Johnson City, Texas.

While they spent 3 years renovating the building, their son, Sean, practiced brewing.

They strive to make Pecan Street Brewing a “third place.” A third place is a place other than work or home, where people can spend a large amount of time and feel just as comfortable as at the other places.

Patty has a hard time defining success. “We want to be perfect and we know we wont be there,” she says, “but we want to keep striving to be better. So I don’t know if we could say if we’ve ever succeeded because we just keep wanting to get better.”

Patty shares some fun stories about the names of their beers. She also has lots of great advice including:

  • Be sure you have enough funds
  • Be ready to stick with it

Listener question:

From Christopher Kirby: What’s the best beer you have ever had?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

India Pale Ale

Other resources:

You can reach Patty Elliott and Pecan Street Brewing 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 003: The Power of A Story w/ Adelbert’s Brewery

Welcome to Another MicroBrewr Podcast!

I’ve just got to say that I am having a blast doing this podcast and there are many more to come.  If you’re new to MicroBrewr, I’m here to help out if you’re looking at starting up a craft brewery or want to take your brewery to the next level.  For the podcast, I get the pleasure of talking with a number of people in the craft beer industry to spread the knowledge to the rest of the community.  If you’re thinking of starting a brewery, I’d also check out the 12 question guide you can use to help figure out the financials when in the planning stages.  Welcome and if you get a chance, I’d love to connect with you through Facebook or Twitter (you can always use my contact page too!).

Telling a Story Through Beer and a Brewery w/ Adelbert’s Breweryadelberts

The craft brewing industry is full of amazing people and Sarah Zomper Haney from Adelbert’s Brewery is no exception!  Adelbert’s Brewery is located in Austin, TX and focuses on Belgian-style brewing and bottle-conditions their beers.  Sarah and I will discuss topics from marketing, distribution, branding, social media and everything in between.

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Stitcher

In this episode we’ll talk about:

  • How to use a story to name your brewery and create a personal connection with your customers
  • Using social media and word-of-mouth to promote your brewery
  • The power of the brewery tour
  • Bringing in food trucks and incorporating beer into food
  • How to make use of spare brewing capacity
  • Expanding distribution into other markets and educating distributors
  • Making your beer stand out and the importance of labeling
  • Converting people into the craft beer movement
  • Sarah’s outlook on the craft beer market

Check out the Adelbert’s Brewery or Enjoy Their Bottle-Conditioned Goodness!

Show your support to Sarah and Adelbert’s Brewery for all of the great information that they shared by going on a brewery tour or buying some Adelbert’s beer.  It’s a beautiful thing when you can give back by drinking beer:)  Here’s some of the ways you can connect with Adelberts!

Adelbert’s Website

Facebook – Connect with Adelbert’s Brewery

Twitter – Follow Adelbert’s

Find Adelbert’s Beer

Like This Podcast and Want to Give Back?

If you like this podcast and all of the free info that I’ve been working to get out to help the brewing community, I would really appreciate it if you would give me a rating in iTunes and share this podcast with your friends.  All you need to do is search for MicroBrewr in the iTunes store or you can use link this link here.  Giving a rating in iTunes will continue to push the podcast up in the rankings which help get the word out to more people.  The support I’ve had with three podcasts in has been so awesome and if there’s anything that I can do for your help promoting the podcast, let me know!

Share the MicroBrewr Podcast on Facebook

Share the MicroBrewr Podcast on Twitter

You might also like:

MicroBrewr 028: Repaving the way for women in craft beer, with Scarlet Lane Brewing Company in McCordsville, Indiana.

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

MicroBrewr 002: Using a Flagship Beer To Build a Brand w/ Alamo Beer

We Made It To Podcast #2 (I’m going to have a beer to celebrate)!

First off, I have to say thanks for the amazing support and feedback that we’ve got for the MicroBrewr site and the podcast.  In just the first week of having the site up, MicroBrewr has already had over 25,000 visitors.  I’ve been able to talk to so many people who are thinking of taking the plunge into starting their own brewery (or who already have) and it’s no lie that the craft beer community is awesome!  If you want to subscribe to the MicroBrewr podcast instead of listening to it on the site, the podcast is now up on both iTunes and Stitcher which you can find by just searching for MicroBrewr in either program.

Using a Flagship Beer to Build a Brand with Alamo Beer CompanyEugene From Alamo Beer Company

In the second podcast, I had the pleasure of talking with Eugene Simor from Alamo Beer Company.  One of the reasons that I wanted to talk with Eugene is that he’s taken a different approach to getting into the craft beer industry by using his flagship beer, Alamo Golden Ale to build his brand.  Up to this point, Eugene has used contract brewing (“kind-of”) to brew Alamo Golden Ale and is currently in the process of planning his own brewery.  With his 10+ years already selling his beer, Eugene has proven his brand (which helped him get a $5 million SBA approved loan for his brewery) and has a ton of great information to share.

In this episode we’ll talk about:

  • How to get your start in the industry through contract brewing to prove that your brand works
  • Picking a distributor to sell your beer and leveraging them to increase sales
  • How to promote and grow your brand
  • The importance of focusing on your local market and creating a personal connection
  • What events are working for Alamo to promote their beer
  • Planning a brewery that will be ready for future growth
  • How to raise money to start your brewery and selectively choose investors

Go Find Alamo Golden Ale

Alamo Beer Co

Make sure to pick up some Alamo Golden Ale to give back to Eugene for sharing all of the knowledge that he has gained starting up Alamo Beer Company! Here’s some of the links to find out more about Eugene and Alamo.

Links Mentioned in the Podcast:

Alamo Beer Website

Alamo Facebook Fan Page

Spec’s Liquor to Order Alamo Golden Ale

Your Free Audio Book

Like The Podcast?

If you want to get updates on future podcasts and join the amazing MicroBrewr community, you can click the button below.  To try to give back and to show my thanks for joining, I’ll send you a free copy of our “6 Social Media Tools to Get People Talking About Your Beer” e-book.  You rock! Let me know if there’s anything else that I can do for you!

 

Sign me up!

You might also like:

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

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher