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
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]
From Alan Gorney: How long did it take before your brewery became profitable?
- Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. by Ken Grossman.
- Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles by Ray Daniels.
- The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Fourth Edition: Fully Revised and Updated by Charlie Papazian.
Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.
An upcoming beer style:
- MS Passes Bill to Legalize Homebrewing, American Homebrewers Association, March 19, 2013.
- Craft Brewers Conference, Brewers Association.
- MicroBrewr 063: A hundred-page business plan and barely enough money, MicroBrewr, May 5, 2015.
- Master Brewers Association of the Americas, providing technical leadership for the brewing industry.
- Great American Beer Festival, Brewers Association.
- Siebel Institute of Technology, educational programs in professional brewing.
You can reach Mark Robertson and Pensacola Bay Brewery at:
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