MicroBrewr 054: Start a debt-free nanobrewery
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We all have a dream to start a brewery. Many of us don’t have the money required to start the brewery of our dreams. Lynn Jacobs and her husband, Jeff, started Great Storm Brewing in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with no debt. Best of all: They started making a profit immediately.
Great Storm Brewing opened in March 2012 with a 1-BBL system. Lynn and Jeff worked hard at first. But after 6 months they hired the first employee. The success has been so great that they contract brew larger batches under “alternative proprietorship” to help meet demand.
Now approaching their third anniversary, Great Storm Brewing has 8 employees and they’re preparing to install a 10-BBL system.
Lynn’s advice to someone who wants to start a brewery:
- Save money
- Practice your brewing
- Create something you can duplicate on a larger scale
Kettle size: 1 BBL; in the process of expanding to 10-BBL.
Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 10, 1-BBL fermenters; expanding to 3, 15-BBL.
Size and quantity of bright tanks: none; will get tanks with the new system.
Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Current 260; last year 187; new system will be 390-BBL.
Square footage: 3,750 sq. ft.
Years in operation: 3 years (opened March 2012).
“As soon as you reach one goal, you make another for yourself.” [Tweet This]
From Russ Neis: How do you adjust a recipe from 10 gallons to a 7 BBLs or more?
- Brewery Operations Manual by Tom Hennessy.
Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.
An upcoming beer style:
- U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
- Directory of State Alcohol Beverage Control Boards, MicroBrewr.
- BeerSmith Home Brewing Software.
You can reach Lynn Jacobs and Great Storm Brewing at:
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Wanted to clarify the point about Alternating Proprietorship vs contract brewing. Alternating Proprietorship is a separate license that allows you to “borrow” another brewery’s facility for a time and make your own beer there. Even though their brewery’s personnel might make the beer on your behalf, the beer is considered legally yours, so you may do anything with it you would do with your own beer, sell in your taproom, package with your logo, sell kegs, etc. Contract brewing is a much easier route, no legal entity to be set up, but technically the beer belongs to the other brewery, and they may package and distribute it under their label. You can buy it from them an resell it if permitted by your license, but can’t label it as your own, which prohibits things like keg and package sales.
Thanks Jeff. That’s an important distinction. It’s kind of a small detail, but really limits what can happen with the product.
Maybe I missed it, but how exactly did Great Storm start debt-free? Was it capitalized using the owners’ personal savings?
Thanks for the question, Michael. Lynn didn’t say exactly where the money came from. She said they started it without debt, so I assume it was from personal savings. Stayed tuned for this week’s podcast… another example of a way to finance a brewery yourself with minimal financial investment.