MicroBrewr043: BONUS Happy New Year.

MicroBrewr 043: BONUS Happy New Year


Welcome to MicroBrewr podcast. We talk about everything craft beer related, with a focus for people looking at starting their own microbrewery or wanting to take their existing brewery to the next level.

As usual, I’m Nathan Pierce, the host of MicroBrewr Podcast.

This is going to be just a short review of the past year for MicroBrewr and also an update of my plans to start a brewery, because some people ask about that. Myself wanting to start a brewery, has sort of become the premise of a lot of MicroBrewr, so I’ll talk briefly about that.

MicroBrewr in 2014

Wow, MicroBrewr! What a cool thing. I guess, if you’re listening to this, you agree with me what a cool thing MicroBrewr is, and especially MicroBrewr Podcast.

How often do we get to go behind the scenes in any business? To talk with successful business owners and find out their worst mistakes, their biggest successes, and get advice for doing it better than they did. And we do this every week not just for any business, but for craft breweries!

When I first heard this podcast probably in episode 2 or 3, when Joe Shelerud was doing it, I was neck deep in developing my business plan. The episodes were still just every other week and I couldn’t get enough of them.

Even after Joe interviewed me on episode 5, I was still listening every week, taking notes, getting light-bulb moments, and learning things that I hadn’t thought of, ways to fix my business plan or make it better. It was such a great resource to me at the time.

Then when it was going to end forever, I called up Joe and asked him if I could continue the website and podcast. I just felt that it was a great resource for myself, so I didn’t want it to end.

And I was thinking of others who must be using it too. I’ve heard that more than one brewery per day has opened this year. That’s a lot of people who need this very information.

And we’ve talked with large breweries like:

We’ve also talked with the tiniest places like:

I happened to be cruising past Medford on a road trip this summer, so I called Opposition, totally last minute, and they let me come in on their day off. They were closed for business but they were there doing other work, and they gave my girlfriend and I tour of their little nanobrewery. They even gave me growler, my very first growler, believe it or not. And it’s pretty cool, too. I like their logo, and the growler is printed with silver, glitter ink. So it’s pretty neat.

And then we talked with:

The blog has some pretty informative posts from some of those guests.

And there’s other info on the blog. I’ve been trying to add some other resources to the website, too.

MicroBrewr is going to be at it’s best as a resource for you to find information on starting your brewery, or improving your brewery.

I mean there are tons of books about operating a brewery. (Many of them are on the MicroBrewr book list. hehe) You can find this information anywhere, and some of it can be dense.

I’m trying to make this approachable to people just like me. Maybe we don’t know what we’re doing, but we do have a dream.

It’s not unrealistic. I’ve talked to people who didn’t know what they were doing—they didn’t have business experience—but they had a dream. They had passion and desire, and they opened their own brewery. Usually it’s starting small, but they’re doing what they love. They have the reward of working for themselves and doing what they know deep inside that they should be doing. And they’re making profits, they’re paying the bills, they’re still in business.

Planning a brewery in 2014

Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d rather work 60 hours or more at my own brewery, than 40 hours for someone else.

I want to create something new. I want to help other people. I want to inspire others to be great.

And craft beer is so exciting. This is such a neat industry. Who knows how it will be in the future, when there is actually competition and there are so many breweries that everybody, even the little guys, have to compete with each other. But for now, it’s an industry that helps each other. All the breweries are raising each other up. They’re loaning ingredients to their friends across town, or even loaning staff! Or they’re just sharing their knowledge—like on this podcast.

So this is where I want to be.

I’m still learning how to start a brewery, and MicroBrewr has become a huge part of that.

Honestly, Microbrewr has come to take a lot of time. I’ve been investing a ton of time into this. It’s not just recording an interview. It’s many tasks that, collectively, take a lot of time:

  • Learning how to use WordPress
  • Learning how to use Garage Band
  • Getting better at Photoshop
  • Editing sound
  • Typing show notes
  • Scheduling interviews and social media
  • And more!

So I’ve been neglecting the actual grunt-work of really trying to start an actual, brick-and-mortar business—a brewery. Yet this is, in fact, moving forward on my plans to start a brewery.

I’m updating my resume with the skills and knowledge that I’m picking up through this. When I go get money from the bank or investors, they’ll want to see that I’m knowledgeable, that I’m competent and qualified to make it work and to pay them back.

I’m making connections. I now know 50 or so people who are inside the industry, already doing what I want to do. When it comes time to find mentors, I have a big pool of people to draw from.

Even one person reached out to me about partnering on an actual brewery. We met in person, we talked a couple hours, hopefully we’ll meet again. Who knows where it’s going to go, but it gave me hope that this is still possible. If nothing comes from that, maybe somebody else will find me from MicroBrewr.

People can have a conversation with me every week—myself and the guests of the podcast. So they’ll have a pretty good idea what I’m all about, and they can check my blog nathanpierce.me and learn more about my vision of the brewery that I want to start. Who knows what can happen.

But not enough is happening.

I know the MicroBrewr audience, the “MicroBrewrs,” feel a connection with me. I know how it is, I listen to podcasts, too. I mean, I feel like Pat Flynn is my best friend because I listen to his podcast every week and he helps me so much, but I’ve never met him.

So I’m going to be honest. If you listening to this show, you probably know I go deep. So here’s the deal. You all know I quit my job last year. My savings is running low and my part-time job isn’t cutting it anymore.

I gotta find a real job.

I really want to get a job at a craft brewery. It’s getting kid of dire, so I’m applying everywhere—and there have been some jobs outside the craft beer industry that looked like they could really resonate with me—but I’m really hoping for a job at a craft brewery.

Hopefully in the San Francisco Bay Area because it’s not too far from where I’m living now and it’s not too far from my family. My girlfriend lives in the East Bay and I other friends in the Bay Area.

Then I’ll have some actual, real-world experience under my belt. I can learn what it really takes, day-to-day, to operate a brewery. Experience is crucial.

Man, in a dream world, the brewery who hires me would recognize the intrinsic marketing value that comes with hiring a guy who produces a weekly podcast about craft breweries. They’ll give me time to continue MicroBrewr and I’ll be able to talk about things that happen at the brewery for all of us to learn from.

That would be amazing!

Maybe I’m just dreaming. I don’t know. If you own a brewery in the Bay Area, give me a call, let’s see what we can do.

But realistically, I already have several episodes of MicroBrewr Podcast recorded.

I was thinking ahead to the coming year and I kinda got zealous about the podcast schedule. It’s going to be a little bit different moving forward. There will be sort of themes. There will be series of episodes, a few episodes in a row, all on the same topic.

We’ll see how it goes. Send me message and let me know how that works for you.

Anyway, I’ve recorded several so far. So if I get a job right away and it ends up being just too much to keep this going, at least I have several episodes already recorded. That takes a lot of the work and time off my hands for at least the next few months.

And I think the next few months of MicroBrewr Podcast are going to be pretty cool. I’m excited about the next few months of episodes.

Here’s to 2015

Anyway, I just wanted to give you that recap, and that update. It’s a year-end bonus episode of MicroBrewr Podcast.

This is scheduled to publish on New Year’s Eve, but you might not even be listening to this until 2015. But if you listen to this in time…

I wish you a happy and safe time celebrating in the New Year. Here’s to 2015 and here’s to us, our plans, our dreams, our aspirations.

Keep on dreaming!

Image showing Happy new year! by Nic McPhee on flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) was modified from its original state.

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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.

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My best books of 2014.

My best books of 2014

If you want to succeed, you have to read. Two books stood out from my reading list this year. These 2 books helped me formulate my vision for the brewery that I want to make. I hope they’ll help you on your journey to starting a brewery.

These books definitely helped me articulate my vision. And if you can read it, you can believe it. It has been the basis for several posts on my personal blog.

Entrepreneurs are readers. I recently spoke with Danny Robinson, owner of Backshore Brewing Co. in Ocean City, Maryland.

“I don’t know of any successful business people that are not voracious readers,” says Danny.

Start With Why; How great leaders inspire everyone to take action by Simon Sinek

My parents are their own bosses. Each year they send themselves to Breakthrough Conference for goal setting, morale building, and such. I guess it’s pretty exciting because they always come back talking about it. My dad comes back talking about breaking boards. My mom brings back books from the speakers.

A few years ago they saw Simon Sinek speak and my mom emailed me a PDF of the advance copy of this book. It wasn’t until this year that I got around to reading it. And it came at the perfect time.

Although this book was published in 2009, I finally read it in April 2014. I was just coming off a bump in the road to developing my business plan. I was assessing my goals, my visions, and my purpose.

The book is all about getting to the inner reason of why a customer will buy a product.

“If you ask most businesses why their customers are their customers, most will tell you it’s because of superior quality, features, price or service,” he says. “In other words, most companies have no clue why their customers are their customers.”

He talks about different manipulations that companies use to makes sales: price, promotions, fear, aspirations, peer pressure, novelty.

“The danger of manipulations is that they work. And because they work, they have become the norm.”

But, according to Simon, “manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty.”

So he provides an alternative. He explains how exceptional leaders motivate people by inspiring rather than manipulating.

He explains it in three components:

  1. Why
  2. How
  3. What

Most companies do it backward. They explain what they’re selling, the features, components, etc. They explain how it’s made. And finally, if they get around to it, they tell us why they did it.

But it should be the other way around. It all starts with why.

Simon gives examples, and one of my favorites is Apple’s marketing for their iPod.

There was another company that already had a portable MP3 player on the market nearly 2 years before Apple’s iPod. They had a longer history with digital sound and even with portable digital sound. But they advertised their product as a “5GB mp3 player.”

On the other hand, Apple’s main selling point was, “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Big deal if it’s a 5GB mp3 player, why do I need that.

To put 1,000 songs in my pocket, that’s why!

This system isn’t just for articulating your message to customers. Great leaders inspire their team, and their whole company, by always emphasizing why.

If you want to be a great leader. I highly recommend that you read, Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Above The Line; How the Golden Rule Rules the Bottom Line by Steve Satterwhite

This year, my parents brought back from the conference, another great book, Above the Line by Steve Satterwhite. It was published in 2013, I read it in September 2014.

This book is mostly Steve’s memoir of how he built his IT company from scratch to the best—and one of the most profitable.

Steve goes deep into the workings and the analysis of the IT processes for really large accounts. It was interesting to learn that all the major computer companies don’t handle their own support calls. You might think the IT person works for the company you called, but they’re actually contracted out.

It was also interesting to learn how Steve makes sure to hire the right people every time.

“Each person is a complex human being who comes with a set of strengths, a set of weaknesses and a lot of stuff in between,” he says. “The trick is to recognize someone’s strengths, then give them the tools to move from good to great, and then from great to Rock Star status.”

Steve says there are three disciplines that businesses can master. Most companies believe it’s too much to master all 3, they have to choose one and only one of the 3 disciplines:

  • Operational excellence
  • Product leadership
  • Customer intimacy

But Steve learned that “these three legs are inextricably linked together. You can’t actually have one without the other.”

This book is a great example of a big company doing the right thing. Echoing a lesson from Simon’s book, Steve talks about aligning your company with employees, with clients, and with customers who share your values.

“When our people show up to work with our customers, their culture is an extension of our culture,” Steve says. “How they treat our people is a direct reflection on us as leaders of the organization.”

Steve’s organization is committed to treating their employees well. They treat their employees well so their employees can treat their communities well.

Steve is so committed to this idea that he even gave his employees to a competitor.

He wrote of a time when a client bought a competing IT provider. Steve’s organization lost a lot of business and had to let employees go. Rather than leave the employees to fend for themselves, Steve’s organization called the competitor and recommended these employees for hire. The 2 companies had worked on many of the same jobs. They knew how to do each other’s work.

Although Steve’s company had invested in their employees training, skills, and knowledge, they were committed to treating their people well. When they could no longer afford to keep them employed, they found other employment for them.

This is doing business “above the line.”

“We try to do the right thing in every situation. Even when it hurts,” he says. “Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we make mistakes. But sometimes, we get it right. And despite all my failures and successes, through it all, trying to do the right thing for our people first is why I sleep well at night.”

I highly recommend this book as well.

Read everything you can get your hands on

These 2 books prove that you can strive to make a profitable company and still do what is right.

Craft breweries are known for being the types of businesses that conserve resources, pay employees a livable wage, and give back to the community. You don’t have to sacrifice profits in exchange for that.

When I talked with Danny Robinson he was really enthusiastic about reading for business people.

“Read everything you can get your hands on!” he advises.

If you want to see what books Danny and others are recommending for starting a brewery, check out the list of books recommended by guests of MicroBrewr Podcast.

What were the best books you read this year? What are you striving for in 2015? Let the rest of us know in the comments below.

Image showing Reading by Sebastien Wiertz on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its orignal state.


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MicroBrewr 041: A flagship nanobrewery in a tourist town, with Backshore Brewing Co.

MicroBrewr 041: A flagship nanobrewery in a tourist town

Danny Robinson had the choice of building a giant brewery in the middle of nowhere, or a tiny brewery right on the beach and boardwalk. He chose the later and made Backshore Brewing Co. in Ocean City, Maryland.

“The plan from the beginning was to have this nanobrewery up on the boardwalk, be the flagship of the brand.”

It seems to be working. In a town whose population fluctuates from 3,000 in the winter to 300,000 in the summer, Backshore has a 1-BBL brewhouse and has beer made under contract to meet demand.

I first heard about Backshore Brewing 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.

Some of Danny’s advice to others:

  • Get really deep with the math.
  • Get a mentor and find more mentors.
  • Play to your strengths.
  • Be honest with yourself, but keep trusting yourself.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of packaging and marketing.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 1 BBL.

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

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 2, 2-BBL bright tanks, sometimes used as fermenters.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Brewed 200 BBL last year, contracted 400 BBL for distribution.

Square footage: 600 sq. ft., with 500 sq. ft deck.

Years in operation: 2.5 years (opened May 2012).

“A business is very different from a hobby.” [Tweet This]


Listener question:

From Federico Nussbaum: How can we find out how many beers to have on tap in the start? How can we find out which styles to serve in our local area?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:


Other resources:

You can reach Danny Robinson and Backshore Brewing Co. at:

Support MicroBrewr

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

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

Why I love Ecamm Call Recorder.

Why I love Ecamm Call Recorder

Ecamm recently released Call Recorder for FaceTime and I’m pretty excited. I use Call Recorder to record every episode of MicroBrewr Podcast. Normally I record the calls on Skype, but now they also have the software for FaceTime. This post explains how to use the software (Ecamm Call Recorder tutorial). And there’s a chance to win Call Recorder for FaceTime for FREE! So read all the way to end, to find out how to get your chance to win.


How you can use Ecamm Call Recorder

Call Recorder works with both video calls and audio calls.

Video calling is so much more personal than telephoning by just voice. I really like being able to see someone’s face while I’m talking to them.

When I was developing a business plan for my dream brewery, my partners and I had weekly video calls. Some of the partners were referred by my friend, I had never met them in-person. So seeing their face really helped build rapport.

Sometimes I use the FaceTime audio feature for voice-only calls. I don’t understand all the technical stuff, but there’s way better sound quality from digital calls via an online service like Skype or FaceTime, compared to standard calls by cell phone or even landline.

There are so many uses for recording digital calls. Call Recorder might be perfect if you:

  • Produce a podcast like MicroBrewr
  • Want to record an important business call
  • Or just want to save a special call with a loved one

How I use Ecamm Call Recorder

I use Call Recorder for Skype for every episode of MicroBrewr Podcast. I record all of the interviews through Skype because:

  • It doesn’t use minutes on my phone.
  • It has better sound quality than a cell phone call.
  • I can record it onto my computer.

I’ve done every episode that way, except for one when I talked with Mark Carpenter in-person at Anchor Brewing. For that one, I used Voice Memos on my iPhone. I’m searching for the perfect setup to record in the field, but I still record all the other episodes with Call Recorder for Skype. And now Call Recorder for FaceTime gives me more options.

Plus, I’m an Apple fan, so I’ll be looking for excuses to use FaceTime more often.

Here’s how Ecamm Call Recorder works

Here’s the only Ecamm Call Recorder tutorial you’ll ever need—it’s so simple. After you purchase and install the software, it’s automatically tacked onto Skype or FaceTime, sort of like a plugin. So anytime you open the calling software, Call Recorder also opens.

There’s a separate window with a record button. And that’s it. It’s so simple. I love it!

It goes like this

I can’t remember how I did it the first time. I think there were prompts. Anytime, though, you can go to the little “Call Recorder” window and click the “Settings” icon.


Inside “Call Recorder for FaceTime Settings,” check the box next to “Create Separate Audio Tracks.” This is especially important for podcasting so you can record your voice and your interviewee’s voice onto separate tracks. That will give you greater flexibility in post-production editing.

While you’re still in Settings, go to “Save Recordings To,” and pick where you want the calls saved.


I selected Desktop and it automatically created a new folder called, “Saved Calls.”


Anytime during a FaceTime call you can go down to the Call Recorder window and click the round Record/Stop button.


Record the call as long as you want. When you click stop, it automatically saves a .mov file into the “Saved Calls” folder (wherever you selected in Settings).

The filename identifies the contact you were talking with and the time of the call.


You can record FaceTime video calls or FaceTime audio calls. And now with Yosemite and iOS 8, you can even record calls through your iPhone, onto your computer. The person you’re talking to doesn’t need to have an Apple device!

I recorded just the audio call because that’s what I do for MicroBrewr Podcast.

This .mov is a QuickTime file. But Call Recorder comes with super easy software to convert it to AAC, AIFF or MP3.

Before we convert the file, lets split it into 2 tracks. The original file has both sides of the conversation, but we want to split it into 2 separate tracks, one with each side of the conversation. Call Recorder also comes with super easy software to do this too.

When you first download the software, it saves these extras into a folder called, “Movie Tools.”


For easy access, I moved the 2 applications that I use most onto my Dock:

  • Split Sides of Conversation
  • Convert To MP3

Click on the .mov file, drag it onto “Split Sides of the Conversation,” and let go.


Now you have 2 new .mov files in the same folder as the original. One track has your voice, the other track has the voice of the other caller.


Now let’s convert the file to a different format. I do podcasting, so MP3 is what I work with.

To convert the .mov files to .mp3s, just click on one file, drag it over “Convert to MP3,” and let go.


Do the same thing again for the other file. Now you also have 2 MP3s.

So now, for this one call, you have 5 files in the folder, “Saved Calls”:

  1. The original .mov with both sides of the conversation.
  2. A new .mov with your voice.
  3. A new .mov with your caller’s voice.
  4. An .mp3 with your voice.
  5. An .mp3 with your caller’s voice.


Move them to wherever you want to store them on your hard drive. It’s that easy!

It seems like a lot when the steps are written out like this, but it’s not. Do it once and you got it. Do it twice and it comes naturally. And if you do this a lot, say for a weekly podcast about starting a brewery, it really helps to have those other aps in the dock.

Now I have a question for you: What will you use Call Recorder for FaceTime for?

Win Call Recorder for FREE!

The folks at Ecamm are so cool, they agreed to give us one free copy of Call Recorder for FaceTime. It normally sells for $29.95, but you can get it for FREE!

Click on this link and check out Call Recorder for FaceTime.

Or click on this link and check out Call Recorder for Skype.

Then, in the comments section below, tell me how you will use Call Recorder. Is it for work? For personal use? Who will you call? Where will you call from? Where is the person you’re calling?

Paint a picture and give me a good (short) story. I’ll pick one winner on January 8, 2015. And Ecamm will give you Call Recorder for FaceTime FOR FREE.

UPDATE: P.S. They’re running a special for Christmas: Buy both versions (for Skype and FaceTime) and save $15! I don’t know how long the special will last. If you can’t wait until the results of the this contest, click either one of the links above, scroll to the bottom, and check out the combo deal.

UPDATE: The contest winner was selected. Yay! Check out the comments below to see the entries and the winner. Thanks to everyone who entered, it makes this more fun.


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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


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.

Subscribe on iTunes             Listen to Stitcher

How side streaming your brewery wastewater can save you money, guest post by John Mercer, Brewery Wastewater Design.

How side streaming your brewery wastewater can save you money

For every gallon of beer made, it takes 7 gallons of water. Hopefully you thought about your brewery wastewater management before you built your brewery. Even if you’ve been producing beer for years, there are things you can do to reduce your load on the municipal wastewater treatment facility and potentially reduce your sewage bill.

John Mercer has more than 15 years of wastewater experience in breweries and laboratories. His company, Brewery Wastewater Design in Montrose, Colorado, specializes in designing wastewater systems for breweries of all sizes.

John was our guest on MicroBrewr Podcast episode 033. He taught us all about wastewater treatment for a craft brewery. I was fascinated by the concept of side-streaming to possibly cut costs from the sewage treatment plant. So I asked John to write a blog about it.

Check out more free resources about brewery wastewater management on the Brewery Wastewater Design website.

How side streaming your brewery wastewater can save you money

What is side stream?

Side-streaming is collecting high strength, concentrated wastes at the source—before it hits the floor, and setting it aside for disposal. Sources of this high-strength wastewater include fermenter bottoms, spent yeast, returned beer in kegs, fermenter blow off, beer in hoses or pipes at the beginning or end of a packaging run; but the primary source is the brewhouse.

Lauter tun rinsings, hop back rinsings, kettle residues, and trub. All of this material is very high in BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) and TSS (total suspended solids) and are easy targets to separate if you need or want to lower the BOD and TSS of your brewery’s wastewater. BOD can’t just be filtered from your wastewater.

How to collect side stream at a brewery

My favorite method for collecting this side-stream material is via an equipment drain. Very similar to a floor drain, but there is no drain. Instead a pipe extends up through the floor about 6 inches. This prevents other material from entering the pipe. Specific high-strength materials are piped or hosed into the equipment drain. Everything else enters the normal floor-drain system.

If you’re following along, you will notice that this requires a separate set of drain lines under your slab. One set for floor drains, another set for side-stream drains. If you are building a new brewery or tearing up the slab in an existing building this is definitely the way to go.

Luckily you don’t need many of these side-stream equipment drains:

  • 1 in the brewhouse area
  • 1 to 2 in the cellar area
  • 1 to 2 in the packaging areas.

You can still side stream if you can’t or don’t want to tear up your slab, it just gets a little trickier.

You will have to go overhead or along the walls with the piping, so you will need to pump the material. Lots of pumps. Double diaphragm pumps work fine, make sure it can handle solids and if it’s in the brewhouse, make sure it can handle high temperatures.

Now you need something to pump out of. An old 55-gallon drum with the top cut off works, but it will deform. Better is a ‘portable floor drain’ made of stainless steel that can be wheeled around. Something short with casters on it, so it can go under a whirlpool or lauter tun.

What to do with the side stream from your brewery

However you do it, collect this material and put it in a tank (outdoors, in back, it’ll stink), and spread it on pastures as fertilizer—or even feed it to animals. You could have one big tank or you could use old chemical totes (IBCs); doesn’t need to be fancy. It can go on the fields as is, solids and high temperature are OK.

If feeding it to animals, make sure you are not responsible for any misuse of this product by the hauler/farmer; it can cause bloat and drunkenness. Generally the fertilizer content of this material is lower than the cost of hauling, so you may have to pay for hauling. But if you have a fertilizer company nearby, they might pay you for it.

Of course, spent grain should be your first side stream. You might even decide to add your trub and spent yeast in here. Spent grain does have value as feed. At a minimum you can give it away in exchange for the farmer promptly hauling it away. Maybe you can get some free beef out of the deal. Larger breweries should be able to sell their spent grain.

The value of spent grain increases as moisture content decreases; 80% moisture is a great target.

How side streaming can help save you money

After side streaming, the remaining portion of your wastewater can be referred to as low-strength wastewater. This will be cleaning and CIP water in your cellar and brewhouse, as well as any packaging line wastewater, boiler blow-down, cooling tower blow-down, and general wash-down waters. The BOD of this low-strength wastewater is still high-strength compared to typical municipal wastewater, so side streaming doesn’t solve all of your problems, but it does help. BOD & TSS are what most municipalities look at then applying surcharges. Sanitary wastewater (toilets, sinks, kitchen) should not be included in the low-strength waste stream and should be piped directly to the sanitary sewer.

The best option for disposal of the low-strength wastewater is almost always to have someone else treat your wastewater for you—especially if they do it for free. Doing what you can to make the people at your municipality happy to treat your wastewater for you is a great deal.

Always ‘play nice’ with the regulators

My best piece of advice for any brewer may be to ‘play nice’ with the regulatory authorities you have to deal with. They may give you rules, laws, and limits to abide by, as well as charge fees—and you might not agree with them all. But smile, be courteous and professional, and try to see things from their perspective. Do not get into an adversarial relationship. They have lawyers on retainer and they probably know their laws better than you do.

All of this doesn’t mean don’t try to negotiate—just be professional. They can treat your wastewater cheaper than you can, plus they already have the rate-payer-funded equipment and staff. Just hope they have capacity.


Image showing Fulton Officials Discuss Improvements to Wastewater Treatment Plant by KOMUnews on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its orignal state.

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MicroBrewr 039: Apprenticing in a brewery incubator program, with Ferndock Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 039: Apprenticing in a brewery incubator program

Kyle Roth is just about to finish the brewing apprenticeship through Platform Beer Co.’s incubator program. Soon he, his brother and cousins, partners in Ferndock Brewing Company in Sandusky, Ohio, will venture out on their own.

We heard from Paul Benner, who told us about Platform Beer Co.’s incubator program, in MicroBrewr Podcast episode 026. Kyle is the first person to go through the brewing apprenticeship program and he’s so glad that he did.

The apprenticeship gave Kyle a jumpstart in everything he needs to know to open a brewery.

His advice to a homebrewer who wants to start a commercial brewery:

  • Start earlier
  • Make connections
  • Find a mentor
  • Talk to brewers

“Best idea so far has been joining Platform Beer Co. and taking this opportunity to go pro.” [Tweet This]


Listener question:

From Jimmy Batte: How do you get your percent cost mark up? Is there a typical 30% you apply to everything? What is the general guideline?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:


Other resources:

You can reach Kyle Roth and Ferndock Brewing Company at:

Support MicroBrewr

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

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MicroBrewr 038: Learn the classics and stay true to your genre, with Gordon Biersch Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 038: Learn the classics and stay true to your genre

Dan Gordon enjoyed beer from the young age of 15 years. In high school, he lived next door to 2 brewers when he studied in Austria. Then in post-grad, he studied Brewing Engineering and Beverage Technology in Germany. Back home in Palo Alto, he partnered with restaurateur, Dean Biersch, to open a brewpub in Palo Alto, California, which later became Gordon Biersch Brewing Company in San Jose, California.

Gordon Biersch went on to open brewpubs throughout the U.S. and abroad. They had to divest, but remain connected. Meanwhile Gordon Biersch Brewing Company was the 49th largest craft brewery in the nation based on 2013 numbers. Their beers won 4 medals in the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.

Dan and Gordon Biersch were part of the famed craft beer class of 1988. He has a wealth of insight. Here are some of his suggestions:

  • Get industrial experience from a legitimate brewer
  • Invest in quality equipment
  • Stay true to your genre
  • Start bottling sooner rather than later
  • Hold your breath and wait a little bit

“[Homebrewing] is a foundation and building block for making beer popular these days.” [Tweet This]


Listener question:

From Trina Christensen: What is the most rewarding thing about brewing? Are you tired of cleaning yet?

Book recommendation:

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

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:


Other resources:

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

You might also like:

MicroBrewr 035: Staying creative and innovative with partner brewing, with 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco, California.

Support MicroBrewr

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

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