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Arts
Education
Food
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MicroBrewr Podcast

Updated 2 days ago

Arts
Education
Food
How To
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Taking Your Microbrewery to the Next Level

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Taking Your Microbrewery to the Next Level

iTunes Ratings

111 Ratings
Average Ratings
94
12
3
1
1

Great Information

By Cabanero - Feb 23 2017
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Very well done. Lots of good information.

Microbrewr

By Barleyjac - Oct 10 2015
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Good info for people starting out.

iTunes Ratings

111 Ratings
Average Ratings
94
12
3
1
1

Great Information

By Cabanero - Feb 23 2017
Read more
Very well done. Lots of good information.

Microbrewr

By Barleyjac - Oct 10 2015
Read more
Good info for people starting out.

Listen to:

Cover image of MicroBrewr Podcast

MicroBrewr Podcast

Updated 2 days ago

Read more

Taking Your Microbrewery to the Next Level

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

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beer

Other resources:

You can reach Cody Martine and Martin House Brewing Company at:

Sponsors:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 085: Starting a brewery is a full-time job appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Oct 13 2015

45mins

Play

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

Brewery specs:

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]

Listener question:

From Russ Neis: How do you adjust a recipe from 10 gallons to a 7 BBLs or more?

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Experimental beers

Other resources:

You can reach Lynn Jacobs and Great Storm Brewing at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 054: Start a debt-free nanobrewery appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Mar 10 2015

45mins

Play

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

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Dave Lavinsky went to business school at University of California at Los Angeles. After he won a business plan writing competition, he wrote a few for other businesses. Then he started Growthink, in Los Angeles, to help entrepreneurs and business owners develop their business plans so they can raise capital and grow their business.

3 reasons why people don’t do a business plan:

  1. No time
  2. Don’t know what to write
  3. Don’t know how to do the financials

Dave is steadfast that you shouldn’t take too long to write a business plan. “To spend more than 2 to 3 months to create your business plan is foolish,” he says, “because there is diminishing returns. After 3 months it’s not going to get all that much better, it just means that you’re probably procrastinating.”

Here are the essential parts of a business plan that you must have:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Company Overview
  3. Industry Analysis/Market Analysis
  4. Customer Analysis
  5. Competitor Analysis
  6. Marketing Plan
  7. Operations Plan
  8. Management Team
  9. Financial Plan
  10. Appendix

To help explain how to write a business plan for your brewery, here are some notes on the outline above.

Think of the Executive Summary as the sales piece to convince investors that you can execute this plan. It should be 1- to 3-pages in length. Do this last to summarize the whole thing. Write it in very approachable language.

“It doesn’t need to be beautiful Shakespearian prose,” says Dave, “It needs to be something that’s accessible.”

Be sure to include what Dave calls the “success factor line.” Write, “We are uniquely qualified to succeed because…” Explain any of your unique skills, expertise, or resources that will guarantee your success. This might be background or expertise, products or services, location, systems, intellectual property, or a built in customer base.

The Company Overview is where you note the organizational structure and type of business entity.

The Competitor Analysis should describe both direct competitors and indirect competitors. Your direct competitors are nearby breweries. Indirect competitors might even be supermarkets, taverns, or liquor stores that carry a good selection of craft beer.

The Marketing Plan is where you talk about product and pricing, and how you will promote your product.

In Management Team, of course describe who will be running the company. But also explain the gaps in management and how you will fill those gaps. Maybe you will find another partner, hire a manager, or outsource some roles.

The Financial Plan has 3 spreadsheets:

  • Income Statement (Profit/Loss)
  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash Flow Statement

The Appendix has your supporting documentation. Include anything additional to help make your case that you can successfully execute on this plan. Some examples might include: lease agreement for the location, interior design plans, letters of commitment from buyers, customer surveys or other market data.

Lastly, be sure to have somebody edit the entire business plan. You could pay a professional to give it a once over. At the minimum, ask a friend to check it for readability, grammar, and typos.

Now you know how to write a business plan for your brewery. Let’s both take Dave’s advice and commit to finishing our business plans within 3 months!

“Running a business is not doing everything yourself.” [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.

An upcoming beer style:

Double IPA

Other resources:

You can reach Dave Lavinsky and Growthink at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 064: How to write a business plan for a brewery appeared first on MicroBrewr.

May 12 2015

57mins

Play

MicroBrewr 017: Work with customers to make award winning beer

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In this episode, I talk with Chris Goulet from Birdsong Brewing Company, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Chris and some friends were so impressed by 21-year-old homebrewer, Connor Robinson, that they started a brewery to showcase his beers.

Birdsong Brewing Co. was just the fourth production brewery in Charlotte. Although they have been operating less than 3 years, they’re making award winning beer using customers’ ingredients, and they’re leading craft beer in the Charlotte metropolitan area.

Birdsong will soon expand into a larger facility with a brewhouse 3 times the size of their current one. “Happy staff make happy beer,” says Chris. So they used lessons learned, to design floor space for efficient workflow.

Chris tells us the story of their award-winning Mexicali Stout. One of Birdsong’s regular customers, Jason, brought in a bunch of peppers from his home garden. The “talented, secret genius brewer” threw them together with locally-roasted coffee to make what would become one of their most popular seasonal beers.

Chris also shares some great advice about:

  • Making agreements with the landlord
  • Educating the customer about unfiltered beer
  • Hiring a well-connected salesperson

Listener question:

From Erik Cotten: Is it local?

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Saison

Other resources:

You can reach Chris Goulet and Birdsong Brewing Company 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 and you won’t miss a thing.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 017: Work with customers to make award winning beer appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Jul 08 2014

39mins

Play

MicroBrewr 077: The importance of writing your goals

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach Michael Peticolas and Peticolas Brewing Company at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 077: The importance of writing your goals appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Aug 18 2015

56mins

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MicroBrewr 066: How to get an SBA loan for a startup brewery

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Kris Kennedy works in the Small Business Lending Group with First Community Bank in Roseville, California. They were the first financial institution listed as an allied trade member of California Craft Brewers Association.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s loan program makes it easier for small businesses to get funding from traditional lending institutions. Kris teaches us how to get an SBA loan for a brewery.

All participating banks must go by the SBA guidelines. There are typically 5 criteria to judge worthiness for a loan:

  1. Cash flow – This could be historical or projected. Can you repay the debt?
  2. Economic environment of the industry – Also includes changes to the industry such a new regulations or supply issues.
  3. Collateral – Can include business assets and personal real estate.
  4. How much the borrower is investing – They typically require 20-25% for startups.
  5. Character – They check your credit score including public records such as judgments and liens. Credit score must be at least 680.

Loan funds can be used for a variety of things. Eligible expenditures include:

  • Operating equipment
  • Real estate
  • Tenant improvement to real estate
  • Construction of a new building
  • Refinancing for business debt
  • Purchase of an existing business
  • Working capital

Loan amounts can range from $350,000 to $5 million dollars. Loans are offered in 10-year and 25-year terms. They’re fully amortized, meaning that the monthly payment will be the same through the life of the loan. There’s usually no pre-payment penalty after the first 3 years.

Kris says the ideal candidate should have experience working in a commercial brewery. Planning on opening a brewpub, have restaurant or hospitality experience. Basically, show that your past experience applies to running a brewery.

If you’re a homebrewer wanting to get an SBA loan, it could help to have awards for your beer. So start entering in contests!

Lastly, Kris says, it’s good to work with a lender that has experience in the industry. If you’re in California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, or Oregon, and you need funds to start or expand a brewery, get in touch with Kris.

“Not every startup is something that a lender is going to be able to finance.” [Tweet This]

Listener question:

From Josh Button: How much business experience should I have? What kind of experience or education would you ecommend?

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Pale ale

Other resources:

You can reach Kris Kennedy and First Community Bank at:

Sponsor:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 066: How to get an SBA loan for a startup brewery appeared first on MicroBrewr.

May 26 2015

48mins

Play

MicroBrewr 067: How to find investors for a brewery

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UPDATE: Mistakes and clarifications have been corrected, per Jenny Kassan.

You planned the brewery of your dreams. You researched the market and you know it will be profitable. But you don’t have a million dollars under your pillow to start it. Now how to find investors for a brewery?

Jenny Kassan, an attorney and consultant in Oakland, California, graduated from Yale law and worked for 11 years helping to build really small businesses. For the last 9 years she worked in securities law, “the very highly regulated world of raising money for a business.” Now she does consulting and teaches classes on how to raise funds for businesses.

As soon as you ask someone to invest in your brewery, you’re conducting a “security offering,” which is regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as well as the securities regulators in each state where you offer the investment.

“Even if the regulators don’t catch you and fine you, you have created this liability for your company,” cautions Jenny. “If, for example, one of your investors was unhappy later and wanted their money back because you couldn’t afford to pay them or something, they could complain. And then it would be uncovered that you never did comply with those laws. And they would have a pretty good case against you.”

First, some background info.

There are generally 2 kinds of investments:

  1. Equity – ownership in the company
  2. Debt (loan) – must be paid back

There are 2 kinds of investors:

  1. Accredited investor – A person with a net worth of $1 million (excluding his or her primary residence) or annual income of $200,000, or an entity with $5 million in assets.
  2. Unaccredited investor

If you offer a security only to accredited investors, the legal compliance hurdles are generally fewer. However, there are legal ways to include both kinds of investors in your offering.

Until you have ensured that your offering is legally compliant, don’t solicit investors directly. Also don’t advertise your offering publicly unless you have done the legal compliance that allows advertising. At this point, don’t solicit investors directly, just ask general questions.

Anything other than one-on-one communication is considered advertising, which is regulated by the SEC.

“Have some informal conversations with potential investors,” Jenny instructs, “and say, ‘I’m thinking about raising some money—I’m not doing it now, but I’m thinking about.’”

Then ask general “if scenarios.” For example, “If I were to offer an investment opportunity in my brewery:”

  • Would you be more interested in equity or debt?
  • How would you expect to get paid back?
  • How long would you be willing to have your money tied up?
  • What kind of perks would you want?

The laws are flexible enough that you can design your investment agreement in lots of different ways.

“There’s a lot of kinds of equity that can look a lot like debt,” says Jenny. “There’s also debt that can look more like equity, where the payment that you make to your investor can vary based on the success of the company.”

After both parties come to agreement, they each need to talk with an attorney to make sure their desired agreement is legally compliant.

Most investments require some kinds of securities filing at the state or federal level or both.

After you figure what you’re willing to offer, you might be ready to conduct an offering. Talk to an attorney to help you do the necessary filings.

Direct Public Offerings

If you want to do a Direct Public Offering which allows you to do public advertising and include unlimited number of both accredited and unaccredited investors, you may need to file a Form D with the SEC and register with your state regulators. The filing requires attachments such as:

  • “Prospectus”
    • Risks
    • Business Plan
    • Description of management team and qualifications
    • Anything investors would need to help them make a decision
  • Sample security to be offered
  • Organizational documents for the company
  • etc.

The filing fee can range from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Legal fees usually range from $15,000 – $30,000. It sounds like a lot, but if you’re opening a million dollar brewery, it’s a worthy 3% of the overall budget.

“I think it’s possible to do without an attorney,” speculates Jenny. “It’s certainly not the best strategy. It may take you twice as long and it may be a nightmare, but you should be able to get through the process.”

If you go at it without an attorney, remember that the regulators are there to help. So work with them, respond to all of their questions, and make their requested changes.

Once you get approval from the regulators for your Direct Public Offering, now find money!

Advertise your offering:

  • Talk to media
  • Get in the newspaper
  • Put it on your website
  • Send mass emails
  • Host parties and events
  • “Set up a million meetings”

Have your investor packet ready for when people want to know more.

“The best thing to think about,” says Jenny, “is to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, ‘What is everything I would want to know if I were them, before making a decision?’”

Include anything to help them make a decision, even the risks.

“If they find out later that you didn’t disclose something that was material to their decision,” cautions Jenny, “they could sue you and say you misrepresented what the opportunity was.”

Vet your investors

Another important thing is to make sure each investor is a good fit.

“You don’t want to accept the first investor that says ‘yes,’” cautions Jenny.

Find investors with whom you get along, and with whom your values and vision for the business align.

“When you are bringing in a fairly large investor,” says Jenny, “they may have a pretty big role that they are playing in your life for the next 10 years.”

And maybe we should saying something like… Of course this is lot legal advice. The laws are highly complex and vary from state to state. You need to speak to an attorney about your specific situation.

“You really have to vet your investors in the same way that they’re vetting you.” [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.

An upcoming beer style:

Cider

Other resources:

You can reach Jenny Kassan and her legal work at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 067: How to find investors for a brewery appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Jun 02 2015

1hr 9mins

Play

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

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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 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

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

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.

The post MicroBrewr 002: Using a Flagship Beer To Build a Brand w/ Alamo Beer appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Feb 24 2014

40mins

Play

MicroBrewr 019: Marketing a flagship beer with Roswell aliens

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In this episode, I talk with Rich Weber from Sierra Blanca Brewing Company and Rio Grande Brewing Company in Moriarty, New Mexico. Rich started Sierra Blanca in 1996, added the Alien brand in 1997, and bought Rio Grande Brewing Co. in 2006.

Rich had been homebrewing since 1987 and was already working 100 hours a week at his own restaurant, when he started Sierra Blanca. He hired master brewers to mentor him for the first 2 years and has been growing steadily ever since.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of aliens crash landing near Roswell, New Mexico, they released Alien Amber Ale in 1997. Today, Alien Amber Ale accounts for 40% of sales among their 9 beers.

Rich talks about his company and provides some key insight to the 1947 Roswell UFO incident.

He offers some great advice about:

  • Working 100 hours a week
  • Marketing and distribution
  • Branding ideas
  • Gaining knowledge from visiting other breweries

Listener question:

From Marc Stafford: Why do you do what you do?

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Session beer

Other resources:

You can reach Rich Weber and Sierra Blanca Brewing Company 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.

The post MicroBrewr 019: Marketing a flagship beer with Roswell aliens appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Jul 22 2014

43mins

Play

MicroBrewr 031: Accounting solutions for your craft brewery

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So you want to start a brewery and you don’t know what to do about bookkeeping and accounting. Audra Gaiziunas, Brewed For Her Ledger, guides us through accounting solutions for your craft brewery.

With a degree in accounting and a Masters of Business Administration, Audra worked as controller for Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Later, she served on the board of North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and worked as CFO of Mother Earth Brewing.

Now Audra provides a “kind of one-stop shop, mercenary, CFO for hire” for craft breweries. She helps with accounting solutions such as business plans, pro-formas, costing templates, and software implementation. She also does operational audits and more.

Recently Audra won a business plan competition at Oregon State University to earn an internship at Ninkasi Brewing. At the brewery in Eugene, Oregon, she enhanced her first-hand experience in production, technical, and maintenance aspects of Ninkasi’s operations.

The 3 biggest mistakes she sees breweries make:

  1. Not having enough capital on hand. You’ll need more than 3 month’s cash on hand.
  2. Not planning for information flow. Set up processes to make sure information and documents flow efficiently from one department to another.
  3. Not having funds for contingencies. Set aside 10%-15% for unexpected expenses.

6 tools she suggests to manage your breweries finances:

  1. Set aside time each week to handle paperwork.
  2. Take a cash flow class at the community college.
  3. Use Microsoft Excel or simple accounting software to track your data.
  4. Ensure information is communicated between all departments of the brewery.
  5. Build a budget annually and review it monthly to stay on track.
  6. MOST IMPORTANT: Understand how much your beer costs at any given time, by beer type and by packaging type.

SPECIAL BONUS:

Ask Audra any question about accounting, finance, and strategy for your brewery.

Leave your questions in the comments section below.

Audra will keep watching the comments for the next 30 days to answer as many of your questions as she can.

Be sure to connect with Brewed For Her Ledger and thank Audra for being on the show and for helping us out with questions.

UPDATE: Thirty days is up, Audra is no longer monitoring the questions here. You can still reach her through the links below. Thanks for your great questions everyone!

Listener question:

From Orlando: How do some breweries buy or lease a building for sometimes years while completing renovations and licenses?

From Dan: How much capital does a brewery need to start? Where can they get the capital?

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Session lager

Other resources:

You can reach Audra Gaiziunas and Brewed For Her Ledger 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!

You might also like:

MicroBrewr 033: Wastewater treatment solutions  for a craft brewery, with Brewery Wastewater Design in Montrose, Colorado.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 031: Accounting solutions for your craft brewery appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Oct 14 2014

1hr 4mins

Play

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

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach David Olsen and Craft Artisan Ales at:

Sponsors:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 073: Contract brewing: quality product with low barrier to entry appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Jul 14 2015

49mins

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MicroBrewr 075: Recruit the right people for the right job

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beer

Other resources:

You can reach Mark Doble and Aviator Brewing at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 075: Recruit the right people for the right job appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Aug 04 2015

55mins

Play

MicroBrewr 087: Differentiate your brewpub with unique menu items

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At 55 years old Ken Carson tried to get a job at a brewery, but nobody would hire him—even for volunteer. So with no brewing nor restaurant experience, he started Nexus Brewery in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I fell in love with the concept of beer and community.” [Tweet This]

Ken did have some business experience: he was president of a small bank. He joined the bank in their first year and helped it grow from $7 million in assets to $150 million and 5 branches.

When Ken saw an ad for making a batch of beer at the local Kelly’s Brew Pub, he went and tried it for fun. He never knew someone could make their own beer. And he got the bug.

While working for the bank, Ken often traveled for work and always toured breweries in every city he went. After touring about 150 breweries, he though he wanted to do something different. So he cashed in the stock he had saved for retirement and convinced his wife to let him start a brewery.

RELATED: 61 Brewers Speak Out: What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting A Brewery

“So I had a good background in business,” says Ken, “but absolutely no experience in either one of these 2 businesses that I was getting into.”

Ken says there are 2 things anyone needs to start a brewery:

  • You need to know the numbers
  • You need to have good customer service

During his time at the bank, he had required hundreds of businesses to write business plans. Now he was on the other end, needing to write a business plan for his brewery. He used the online tools provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“When you’re thinking customer service, it’s to produce the best beer you can,” explains Ken. “And we’re trying our best to produce the best food that we can.”

One thing the SBA materials asked was how Ken would differentiate his business from the competition. And food was one way that Nexus Brewery is differentiating themselves.

“I started seeing new breweries opening. I said, ‘This is going to be a problem if all the breweries get up here and I’m not different, I’m just like everybody else.’ So I picked a different food and made it unique.”

Nexus Brewery has what they call “New Mexican soul food,” a blend of foods from their African American heritage with local flavors of New Mexico.

They started out with 10 items on the menu, and kept adding more as customers made requests and suggestions.

Ken said it’s working out really well. “It’s distinguished us from all the other breweries in town.” It’s also helpful that they are serving a type of food that that is not normally associated with brewing industry.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 7 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 7-BBL fermenters; 2, 15-BBL fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 7 Grundies; 6, 15-BBL bright tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 650 BBL.

Square footage: 2,500 sq. ft. for the brewery.

Years in operation: 4.5 years (opened May 2011).

Listener question:

From Jeff Lennon: Why did you choose the brewpub or production brewery model? What factors led to that decision?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Victorinox Swiss Army Super Tinker Pocket Knife.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Scottish Ale

Other resources:

You can reach Ken Carson Jr. and Nexus Brewery at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 087: Differentiate your brewpub with unique menu items appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Oct 27 2015

47mins

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MicroBrewr 044: What every brewery should know about trademarks

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There are so many stories about breweries in trademark disputes. The last thing you want is to get sued or pay legal fees to protect yourself. Paul Rovella is attorney and partner at L+G, LLP Attorneys at Law in Hollister, California. He tells us all about trademark issues for your brewery.

Although “common law” provides some protection, you are still at risk.

One especially painful story is that of Backshore Brewing Co. The owner, Danny Robinson told us on MicroBrewr Podcast 041 that he had to change the name of his brewery—and he was still sued for $800 thousand and has already racked up $500 thousand in legal fees.

Some other breweries who have shared their trademark issues on MicroBrewr have included Opposition Brewing Co. (episode 16) and Ferndock Brewing Company (episode 39).

Here are some basic steps to protect yourself:

  • Use the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s search tool to see whether someone else is already using the name you want.
  • File for a trademark.
  • Use photos or documentation to prove when you start using your business name and your trademark.

“The importance of trademark registration is actually enforcing,” says Paul, “which could be a time consuming and an expensive endeavor.”

There are other options besides suing to protect your brand.

“I always encourage my clients to try to deal directly with their adversary,” Paul advises. “Because then you’re not paying an attorney to create more paper to send to another attorney.”

From the least strenuous to the most, here are the best options for enforcing your trademark:

  1. Make a polite phone call to the person who is using your trademark.
  2. Send a cease and desist letter.
  3. Get a restraining order or injunction and get a judge to make them stop.

PLEASE NOTE: Nothing on this podcast should be deemed legal advice. If you have any questions about the discussions or subject matter of this podcast, you should consult an attorney.

“Smaller businesses gotta be a little more diplomatic in getting someone to stop using your label.” [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.

An upcoming beer style:

Ginger beer soda

Other resources:

You can reach Paul Rovella and L+G, LLP Attorneys at Law at:

Image showing 3D Judges Gavel by Chris Potter on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its original state. (www.stockmonkeys.com)

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 044: What every brewery should know about trademarks appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Jan 06 2015

56mins

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MicroBrewr 003: The Power of A Story w/ Adelbert’s Brewery

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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 Brewery

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.

The post MicroBrewr 003: The Power of A Story w/ Adelbert’s Brewery appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Mar 10 2014

25mins

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MicroBrewr 071: Four years from brewing school to brewmaster

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Ashley Kinart began homebrewing to learn about the brew process so she could better answer customer questions at the craft beer bar where she worked. She eventually realized that it really interested her, so she enrolled in the World Brewing Academy at Siebel Institute of Technology. Four years later she became the brewmaster at Capital Brewery, in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Although Ashley is happy about her “quick rise to the top,” she says she would have liked to get more experience in every part of the brewery operations.

“I definitely would have liked to spend a little more time in cellaring, a little more time in packaging,” says Ashley, “to just have that full-scale overall understanding on every single little level.”

Prior to brewing school, Ashley attained a bachelor’s degree in biology. She says the science helped her better understand the material from brewing school.

“My science background definitely gets me a little excited about the small things like the microscopic happenings that are going on behind every step of the brewing process.”

Other suggestions from Ashley:

  • Start volunteering to get experience at a commercial brewery.
  • Do the best you can and work as hard as you can.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions of other people in the industry.

Most of all, actively seek knowledge.

“Being called a brewmaster was something that I not only didn’t see myself as, but also I don’t ever see myself knowing everything there is to know about brewing, which is why it really interests me.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 35 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 30 tanks ranging from 32-BBL to 161-BBL. Six are dedicated to lagering/aging.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: Three tanks ranging from 100-BBL to 129-BBL.

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

Square footage:

Years in operation: 29 years.

“How much of your brewing knowledge are you actively seeking?” [Tweet This]

Listener question:

From Harold Giménez: What are your favorite beers? Who are your brewing influences?

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Lagers

Other resources:

  • World Brewing Academy, Siebel Institute of Technology (Chicago, U.S.A.) and Doemens Academy (Munich, Germany)
  • Females Enjoying Microbrews.
  • Pink Boots Society to empower women beer professionals to advance their careers in the beer industry through education.
  • Brew Masters, Discovery Channel.

You can reach Ashley Kinart and Capital Brewery at:

Ashley’s social media:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 071: Four years from brewing school to brewmaster appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Jun 30 2015

1hr 11mins

Play

MicroBrewr 081: An R&D laboratory for craft beer

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beer

Other resources:

You can reach Chris Sears and Labrewatory at:

Sponsors:

InMotion Hosting

“Fast, reliable, affordable, web hosting.”

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 081: An R&D laboratory for craft beer appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Sep 15 2015

53mins

Play

MicroBrewr 020: Beer for every man, woman, and child in Big Sky Country

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Cathy Smith and her husband opened Philipsburg Brewing Company in Philipsburg, Montana. They found a cool, old building, built in 1888, spent a few years fixing it up, and hired Mike Elliott to be their pro-brewer.

In August 2012, Philipsburg Brewing opened to a crowd of about 100 people—and that’s in a town with a population of about 850!

None of them had ever owned a brewery before, but they’re business is doing fantastic. They say that their biggest mistake was not being ambitious enough. They currently are operating a 10-BBL system, and are planning to expand to larger facility with a 50-BBL system within a year!

Cathy tells us why they walk customers to the door. Mike tells us about his invention for the bar.

They are both great speakers and this interview has tons of fantastic advice, such as:

  • Hire great people
  • Put customers first
  • Give quality in every area
  • Reach out to other breweries

“The brewery business is an amazing business,” says Cathy. “We’re not all competition, we’re all in it together.”

“People will let you pick their brains to a surprising extent,” adds Mike.

You won’t guess their answer to the question, Cans or bottles? They have some great thoughts on the dilemma.

Listener question:

From Adeen McKuin: What’s your favorite beer?

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

California Common

Light beer

Other resources:

You can reach Cathy Smith, Mike Elliott, and Philipsburg Brewing Company 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.

The post MicroBrewr 020: Beer for every man, woman, and child in Big Sky Country appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Jul 29 2014

31mins

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MicroBrewr 033: Wastewater treatment solutions for a craft brewery

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Wastewater treatment is a key issue for a craft brewery. John Mercer from Brewery Wastewater Design in Montrose, Colorado has more than a decade of experience. He shares wastewater treatment solutions for a craft brewery.

For every gallon of beer produced, a typical brewery uses 7 gallons of water. If your municipal wastewater treatment plant can’t handle it, you could be facing high fees for wastewater treatment.

Brewery wastewater can fall into one of several categories:

  • Floor drains in the brewery, which contain alcohol, sugars, and other contaminants.
  • Kitchen drains, which includes grease.
  • Restrooms, which typically go the sewage treatment plant.
  • Side stream, which is a way to divert extremely concentrated wastewater such as spent yeast, waste beer, fermenter blow-off, and trub.

If your brewery is in an area that has municipal sewage service, you might not have to do anything. If you’re in the county with no sewage service, you’ll likely have to build your own brewery wastewater treatment infrastructure.

Solutions will vary depending on your brewery wastewater characteristics, or who designs your system.

Diverting the very concentrated sources through a “side stream,” could reduce the contaminants in your wastewater by 90%. Which could mean reduced fees for treatment.

Key questions to ask:

  • Is the wastewater facility at capacity?
  • How much would the fees cost?
  • Does your consultant have experience designing systems for breweries or other food manufacturers?

SPECIAL BONUS:

Ask John any question about wastewater treatment for your brewery.

Leave your questions in the comments section below.

John will keep watching the comments for the next 30 days to answer as many of your questions as he can.

Be sure to connect with Brewery Wastewater Design and thank John for being on the show and for helping us out with questions.

UPDATE: Thirty days is up, John is no longer monitoring the questions here. You can still reach him through the links below. Thanks for your great questions everyone!

Tweetable:

“I came back to brewery work because the people are the greatest and the industry is the greatest.” [Tweet This]

Listener question:

From Megan Tolbert: How low environmental impact is your business?

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beer

Other resources:

You can reach John Mercer and Brewery Wastewater Design at:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 033: Wastewater treatment solutions for a craft brewery appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Oct 28 2014

55mins

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MicroBrewr 021: The most expensive beer that’s been poured in Pinellas County, Florida

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Justin Stange opened 7venth Sun Brewery in Dunedin, Florida in January 2012. They’re contributing to the explosive growth of beer in Florida by focusing on consistency and creativity. 7venth Sun made the first canned Berliner Weisse in Florida. And their first beer sold for $203 per pint—the most expensive beer that’s been poured in Pinellas County, Florida!

About his proudest moment as a brewery owner, Justin says: When I saw my beer being poured out in other accounts for the first time, that was really cool because then I felt amongst my peers, the other friends I have that own breweries, and even the national brands, too. You really feel like you’re part of the club then.

Among other great info in this episode, Justin advises:

  • Double-batch to correct mistakes
  • Utilize mobile canning to win a bet
  • Take good notes on every batch

Listener question:

From Jon Tiffany: What do you feel are the most important aspects of your brewing? How do you approach improving on that?

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Berliner Weisse

Florida Weisse

Other resources:

You can reach Justin Stange and 7venth Sun Brewery 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.

The post MicroBrewr 021: The most expensive beer that’s been poured in Pinellas County, Florida appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Aug 05 2014

37mins

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MicroBrewr 093: Sharing profits and building community with a cooperative brewery

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William Hubbard and Mike Johnson are helping to build the Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It follows the cooperative brewery business model.

Cooperative breweries are an increasingly popular way to build a local brewery that helps build the community. We’ve previously talked a bit about the subject on MicroBrewr Podcast and blog.

Other posts about breweries as coops:

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

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

MicroBrewr 049: Planning California first cooperative brewpub

For a brewery truly rooted in the community, consider forming a cooperative by Sara Stephens, MicroBrewr, February 17, 2015.

Now here’s an example of a cooperative brewery that is up and running, brewing their own beer, splitting the profits, investing in the community, and building a community around the co-op.

The idea of employee ownership, and especially co-ops are becoming quite popular in the craft beer scene. Every cooperative brewery will be set up differently. Here’s one example and lots of ideas for your brewery to follow this model.

Some attributes of the Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative include:

  • Established in September 2015, doors opened at the physical location in May 2017.
  • The rules of one-person, one-vote and one-person, one-equity share ensure equality and allows inclusiveness.
  • The board consists of 15 volunteers from the membership.
  • Currently, the only paid positions are 2 operations managers and 4 staff.

There are 2 levels of membership at different costs: Regular or Brewer. Benefits of regular membership include:

  • 10% discount on merchandise
  • $1-off during monthly pint nights
  • Share of profits (3-6% of total profits will be divided evenly)

Brewer members have the additional benefit of being allowed to brew. This benefit is exercised as unpaid/volunteer for work experience or just to have fun.

“Even though we are working a lot more than we probably used to, we are not staring at the clock waiting for the day to be over.” [Tweet This]

Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative took a big step forward when they bought equipment and took over the lease from another brewery. The space has become something of an incubator for breweries. Two previous breweries had grown in size enough to move to larger spaces, so they sold to the next brewery. Now Broken Clock has become successful enough they are considering how to pass the torch to a fourth brewery that could operate in the same location.

Funding for a cooperative brewery can come from a variety of tradition or innovative sources. Broken Clock received funding from:

  • Financial donors
  • Membership fees
  • MNvest, equity crowdfunding for Minnesota
  • Financing through a local bank

“Banks were very scared to go with us,” says Hubbard, “there are very few brewing co-ops in Minnesota. So we had to hit the pavement really hard and tell people about our dream, about our vision, and we were finally able to connect with a bank that was willing to work with us.”

We also talked about employee safety in a commercial brewery:

  • Working with compressed gas
  • Carbon dioxide poisoning
  • Heavy-lifting
  • Working with chemicals
  • Working with steam
  • OSHA work safety standards

Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild does have monthly safety meetings. However, worker safety in the craft beer industry isn’t a topic that is broadly discussed. Yet, worker safety should always be a top priority. Loss of work, workers compensation claims, and other liabilities are commercial concerns aside from just taking care of your employees.

As the craft beer industry becomes more prolific and professionalized, expect to see greater attention to this topic.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 7 BBL. Boil kettle, 7 BBL mash tun, 10 BBL hot liquor tank.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 3, 10-BBL fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 1, 10-BBL brite tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Should be on track to do 750-800 BBLs this year.

Square footage: 780 sq. ft. for production brewery. Added 5,000 sq. ft. for taproom which opened Nov 2018. At least 1,000 sq. ft. will be allocated to upcoming brewery expansion.

Years in operation: 4 months (at the time of recording; opened May 2017).

Listener question:

From Gastón Rivera via Twitter: Why open a brewery? To brew another IPA or another sour?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Rubber Boots.

Squeegee.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

New England IPA

Other resources:

You can reach William Hubbard, Mike Johnson and Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative at:

Sponsors:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 093: Sharing profits and building community with a cooperative brewery appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Dec 28 2018

48mins

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MicroBrewr 092: Email marketing for breweries

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Alex Standiford in Akron, Ohio started Fill Your Taproom to help breweries attract more customers. He does that through website development, social media management, branding, and email marketing.

“It’s not about trying to get people to buy your stuff. It’s about building the relationship and then providing the information that empowers them to make a decision.” [Tweet This]

Email isn’t dead and it’s not just for online digital businesses; email is important for “brick-and-mortar” real world business, too. In fact, email is an ever more important part of your overall marketing plan.

Ninety percent of email gets delivered to an inbox whereas just 2 percent of your Facebook fans will see your post in their news feed.

“You don’t have to think about email as generating sales directly,” says Alex. “If you think of marketing as getting someone to know, like, and trust you, and then making sure you’re top of mind whenever [that person] goes into a grocery store, you’re doing fine. That’s really most of the goal.”

Your brewery can use email to:

  1. Build relationships and learn more about your customers.
  2. Educate your customers and empower them to make a decision.
  3. Fill your taproom by offering special deals or promoting events and beer releases.

RELATED: 51 things your brewery can do with email

“Especially if you already have a decent sized following online,” Alex advises, “it would be wise to start trying to migrate these people into your email list.”

Focus less on where you get people to sign up to your email list, and more on what you do to get people to sign up. Offer them a reason to give you their email address, which many people keep very private. “People don’t give away their email address for no reason anymore,” says Alex.

Alex advises you start growing your email list 8-12 months before opening your brewery. You can use the Facebook call-to-action button or a simple website that says “coming soon.” Then offer something that’s worth the exchange of their email.

A couple ideas are:

  • A PDF to teach customers about tasting beer
  • The promise of VIP access to events

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Gose and lighter beers

Other resources:

You can reach Alex Standiford and Fill Your Taproom at:

Sponsors:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 092: Email marketing for breweries appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Dec 31 2017

1hr 1min

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MicroBrewr 091: Let them do the job you hired them to do

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Michael Altman was in the industry for years when he bought a brewpub. Now he’s been operating Iron Springs Pub & Brewery in Fairfax, California for 12 years. Before they opened he had to have back surgery and totally reinvent his role for the brewpub.

“You really need to live, breathe and be the beer.” [Tweet This]

“The first 6 months we owned that pub, every single day I called my wife and said we’re selling this place, I can’t stand this, this is ridiculous,” recounts Michael. “Thank God for my wife who was my rock.”

He went through 3 back surgeries. “It was hard for me to hang up my mash paddle,” says Michael. He still does some brewing, but mostly leaves the hard work to others.

Hiring employees and letting them do the work you hire them to do has been essential to Iron Springs’ growth. They are on pace to produce approximately 2,000 BBLs of beer this year, which is an increase of 20 percent since last year. They have 16 taps for 10 draft beers, one cask, and 4 handcrafted sodas.

Iron Springs Pub & Brewery now has 50 staff, 4 are in the brewery. To hire more staff Michael recommends:

  1. Figure out what needs to be done
  2. Figure out who you are going to hire for each task
  3. Hire people who can do the job
  4. Let them do the job you hired them to do

It sounds simple, but it’s important to follow through and let others take your load off.

Something else that has been very helpful for Iron Springs is the give back Tuesday. Every Tuesday they give 10% of profits to a local non-profit organization that focuses on education or the environment. Iron Springs has donated $160,000 in the last 6 years. “We love and we really believe in it, and that really translates to the community,” says Michael. “They really believe in it and they want to come out and support it. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Michael says certainly, “There’s no way in the world that I would started a brewery in today’s market.” There is too much competition, he says, compared to when he started. Although he does say, “A brewpub will work in neighborhood,” you have to have good branding.

You have to figure out why people are coming to your place, and really focus on your story. The 3 keys are:

  • Good ambiance
  • Good service
  • Good food and beer

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 10 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 9, 10-BBL fermenters.

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

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 1,820 BBL.

Square footage: 5,000 sq. ft. in the entire pub, 1,100 sq. ft. in the brewery.

Years in operation: 12 years (opened October 2004).

Listener question:

From Awhile Pandey: When can you tell whether you are known as a brewery pub with exciting beer that people like, or you have become known more as a restaurant with beer just as a side thing? Is there any research on what kind of food formats and themes go well with a microbrewery pub layout?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Rubber boots, Bosch.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Session beer

Other resources:

You can reach Michael Altman and Iron Springs Pub & Brewery at:

Sponsors:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 091: Let them do the job you hired them to do appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Oct 11 2016

45mins

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MicroBrewr 090: State of the podcast

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TRANSCRIPT:

Welcome to MicroBrewr podcast. Where we talk about everything craft beer related, but especially for if want to start your own microbrewery or take your existing brewery to the next level.

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

So I just want to give you a short update today. This is going to be kind of a “state of the podcast” address to let you know some recent developments in my life that could potentially affect the future of MicroBrewr.

So I just want to be transparent and honest and let you know what to expect.

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 2015

Before we get to that, let’s sort of recap the last year of MicroBrewr. I want to use this time and sort of step back to reflect and see what sorts of lessons we have gotten from the last year of learning how to start a brewery.

At the end of 2014, on New Year’s Even we had a similar episode, the year in review episode. It was a good time to reflect and project on the future at the time of MicroBrewr. That was episode 43 of the podcast, I had done 30 episodes since taking over for MicroBrewr founder Joe Shelerud. Now this is episode 90, so we’ve done 47 episodes since then.

We started off the year with episodes of MicroBrewr Podcast organized sort of in series. We had series on:

Among these series we had other interviews about

So we’ve learned a ton of great info. Lots of things just never would have occurred to me.

The sense of community in the craft beer industry is really prolific and prevalent. Community really is exemplified the most when the business is organized as a cooperative. There a few ways that can happen, like a consumer co-op or a worker owned co-op, but either way, it’s all about people working together to help everyone out. Costs as well as profits are spread out more evenly, everyone contributes and everyone has a sense of ownership and pride. So it really brings out the best work, the best product quality, and the most benefits for a larger number of people.

Anyway, it was really cool to see how much the co-op movement is growing within craft beer. Just through the course of this past year, there are a lot more co-op breweries starting all over the country.

Another thing I have learned is that cider is really cool! We started the gluten-free series with Bard’s Tale Beer Company, but then we went into cider and talked with Common Cider Company, 101 Cider House and Wandering Aengus Ciderworks. Some of the stats we heard about the growth of cider, even just that cider was way more popular than beer in the U.S. before Prohibition, is pretty cool. The growth alone, from a business standpoint, makes you gotta look. But something that stands out the most for me is how cider is sort of closer to a natural product, kind of the way wine is viewed in that regard, but cider attracts the cool, open-minded, experimental people of the craft beer world. So it’s like the best of both things. And that’s really attractive to me. The gluten-free aspect is a bonus because some people in my life are allergic to gluten. I can eat gluten, but it’s kind of a bummer to think they can’t enjoy most beers that I could have.

Anyway, we’ve learned so much this year. It’s so rewarding to receive emails from literally around the world telling me how much you have learned from the podcast and the blog, telling me your cool stories of starting your own brewery, or just thanking me for doing this.

I do put in a lot of time on MicroBrewr. Maybe someone else could do it more efficiently, I didn’t realize when I took this on that I was getting into the whole blogging world. Wow, what an eye-opening experience that has been.

There’s a whole segment of the population with online journals or full-on internet media outlets. Some people do it for fun on the side, some people make an ok living at it by itself. Believe it or not, some people are bringing in very lucrative incomes from blogging and podcasts and such. I am not one of those people.

With as many hours as I put in, MicroBrewr does make some money. It’s a little bit more than the expenses of just keeping it online.

MicroBrewr in 2016

So, this is where I’m going with that, I did get a job. It is not a job in the craft beer industry. It is a full-time job. I will be paid a good wage and I won’t descend into oblivion of despair.

I signed an offer letter with the City of San Francisco. I’ll be doing grants work, similar to what I was doing at my last job, where I worked for 7 years, so that’s where I’m most skilled in the workforce. And it feels really good to be gainfully employed again, and especially putting my skills to work, even though I haven’t yet started working. Hopefully by the time you hear this, I’ll be filling out the paperwork, going through orientation and all that stuff. I’m eager to do my best work and give them all I can to make the City of San Francisco an even better place. It’s a 3-year position and who knows, maybe continue after that.

I’m excited—and a little intimidated—to be moving to San Francisco. I’ve never lived in a big city before. It’s fun there. It’s diverse. It’s exciting. There are a lot of breweries, and cideries, and even a few distilleries. Not to mention the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge and lots of bike lanes all these exciting things.

So please wish me luck, wish me well. I don’t know exactly when or if ever I’ll be able to start a brewery. Maybe if I don’t get to continue on with the City after 3 years, I’ll get to open a cidery then. Or maybe I’ll keep working for the City of San Francisco and open a brewery on my spare time like Marta Jankowska from ChuckAlek Independent Brewers. In the meantime, I have to give my employer my best work and this is my priority.

So this means, I’m seriously wondering how I’ll be able to keep MicroBrewr going.

The whole point of MicroBrewr was to learn how to start a brewery. And I learned some things.

If 2014 was the year of the nanobrewery for me, 2015 was the year of cider for me.

Before I started doing MicroBrewr Podcast, talking to brewers, brewery owners, and other experts from the craft beer industry every week, I was not open to a nanobrewery as a business model. I just thought it wasn’t profitable. But now I’ve talked to enough people who are making profits, that now I see it can be a good way to get off the ground, maybe just keep being a neighborhood brewery thing, but hopefully a stepping stone to larger things.

I also wasn’t open to cider. I thought it was too small of a niche, kind of a novelty, and just not that interesting. Now I see that the segment is growing explosively, and compared to other countries the U.S. has a ton of growth potential. Even just looking at where the U.S. was before prohibition, it looks like the U.S. cider market is not something to ignore. And people are doing some interesting things with cider, being really creative with it, bringing back some really neat recipes and fruits that almost disappeared and even doing brand new stuff that has never been done before with cider.

So if I have to stop producing new content on MicroBrewr, I hope I’ve learned enough to start a brewery—after 90 episodes I hope I’ve learned enough! At some point I have to stop learning and start doing. Hopefully there’s enough content to help you open the brewery of your dreams—maybe sooner than I. I hear from people who just found the podcast and they’re burning through an episode every day. They don’t have to wait a week for a new episode to come out like me and you who have caught up through the current ones.

Ok so where were we?

MicroBrewr in the future

I want to keep doing MicroBrewr, I really do. I don’t want to let you down. It’s a lot of fun. If the episodes don’t come out on time, every Tuesday as they have been going, well, you know why. Work is my priority going forward.

Maybe I can try and find some help to take some of the tasks and make it easier to keep going. I don’t know, it’s a whole new world for me. I’m going back to work full-time for the first time in 2 1/2 years. And I’m moving to the big city and all of that. it’s going to be a huge adjustment in lots of ways.

I just looked back at that year in review episode, from New Year’s Eve last year, and I saw that I was looking for jobs all over, preferably a job in craft beer, but even a job in anything. And now I’ve got that. So we’re moving forward.

We’ll see what the future holds. Start your breweries, send me emails, I will live vicariously through you! We will drink good beer! Life will be good!

Image showing San Francisco. by Kathryn, on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its original state.

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

The post MicroBrewr 090: State of the podcast appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Nov 17 2015

14mins

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MicroBrewr 089: Make whiskey from high-quality craft beer

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Over a few beers, Tim Obert’s friend from college, Clint, told him that whiskey is actually made from cheap beer. They got to thinking, why not make whiskey from high-quality craft beer? Thus was born Seven Stills of SF, in San Francisco, California.

“I wish I would’ve taken on investment sooner.” [Tweet This]

Whiskey is a distilled spirit made from the fermented mash of usually malted grain, like beer. At first Tim and Clint were homebrewing in the backyard of Clint’s parent’s home, and “distilling that out, not really with the intention of starting a company, but just to see what happens.”

“Distilling,” says Tim, “is a hundred times simpler than brewing.”

To make whiskey from beer, they increase the temperature of beer to evaporate ethanol. The gaseous ethanol is then cooled to condense it back into a liquid. Different temperatures and different points in the process evaporate different material and different quality flavor.

“After a while,” recalls Tim, “Clint and I ended up having 30 different whiskeys and they were totally unique and were all, in my opinion, outstanding.”

“Everything that I had researched said that the base beer doesn’t have an impact on the flavor of the whiskey, which we’ve realized is just completely untrue. We can distill something like a chocolate oatmeal stout for instance, versus and IPA and there is no way that you could not tell the difference,” Tim laughs. “They’re completely different whiskeys.”

RELATED: MicroBrewr 047: A forty-year career at the epicenter of craft beer

Clint contributed the money he had saved for grad school, Tim pitched in a portion of his life savings, and they started Seven Stills of SF. For 2 years, they had a contract brewery make the beer. Then they had a contract distillery use the craft beer to make whiskey.

Seven Stills of SF currently produces about 120 cases of whiskey per month. They’re trying to increase production by 8 times.

They will be able to do it, now that they have their own 15-BBL brewhouse with fermenters and bright tanks. And they recently bought the largest still in San Francisco, a 300-gallon pot still.

They also have an entirely other line of vodka and bitters. Whereas whiskey is made from various grains, vodka is made from corn. Most of their bitters are made from vodka.

“Just for consistency sake, it makes sense to keep the 2 separate,” says Tim. “That’s part of the reason we hired different designers to work on the [labels on the] bottles.”

With so much expansion and growth, Tim says one thing he wishes he would have done differently was taken on investors sooner.

RELATED: MicroBrewr 067: How to find investors for a brewery

“We’ve been trying to grow off of just what we put into the company organically for the last 2 years, and it’s just painfully slow.”

Getting investors urged Seven Stills of SF to:

  • Develop a business plan
  • Calculate budgets
  • Get organized
  • Get something bigger off the ground

Part of having investors is putting together an advisory board. A formal advisory board is a set of people to whom you can seek advice on the business. Tim recommends finding experts in different areas such as:

  • Banking
  • Design
  • Marketing
  • Social media

“I definitely wouldn’t recommend giving up too much equity right off the bat,” advises Tim, “but give them something, and incentive instead of just getting counsel from them.”

“Just kind of building a team you can go and ask questions about when you have something come up. Because, I mean, it’s kind of stupid to keep reinventing the wheel with all this stuff.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 15 BBL.

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

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

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 3,120 BBL/year of beer. 4,836 gallons/year of whiskey.

Square footage: 4,400 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 2 years (opened August 2013).

Listener question:

From Jimmy Batte: What’s the best advice you have been given or have to give since operating a brewery?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Pallet jack.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Craft beer whiskey

Other resources:

You can reach Tim Obert and Seven Stills of SF at:

Sponsors:

Please support our sponsors.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 089: Make whiskey from high-quality craft beer appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Nov 10 2015

1hr 6mins

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MicroBrewr 088: A brewing pedigree from Kansas to Texas

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Pilsner

Other resources:

You can reach Drew Huerter and BrainDead Brewing at:

Sponsors:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 088: A brewing pedigree from Kansas to Texas appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Nov 03 2015

26mins

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MicroBrewr 087: Differentiate your brewpub with unique menu items

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At 55 years old Ken Carson tried to get a job at a brewery, but nobody would hire him—even for volunteer. So with no brewing nor restaurant experience, he started Nexus Brewery in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I fell in love with the concept of beer and community.” [Tweet This]

Ken did have some business experience: he was president of a small bank. He joined the bank in their first year and helped it grow from $7 million in assets to $150 million and 5 branches.

When Ken saw an ad for making a batch of beer at the local Kelly’s Brew Pub, he went and tried it for fun. He never knew someone could make their own beer. And he got the bug.

While working for the bank, Ken often traveled for work and always toured breweries in every city he went. After touring about 150 breweries, he though he wanted to do something different. So he cashed in the stock he had saved for retirement and convinced his wife to let him start a brewery.

RELATED: 61 Brewers Speak Out: What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting A Brewery

“So I had a good background in business,” says Ken, “but absolutely no experience in either one of these 2 businesses that I was getting into.”

Ken says there are 2 things anyone needs to start a brewery:

  • You need to know the numbers
  • You need to have good customer service

During his time at the bank, he had required hundreds of businesses to write business plans. Now he was on the other end, needing to write a business plan for his brewery. He used the online tools provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“When you’re thinking customer service, it’s to produce the best beer you can,” explains Ken. “And we’re trying our best to produce the best food that we can.”

One thing the SBA materials asked was how Ken would differentiate his business from the competition. And food was one way that Nexus Brewery is differentiating themselves.

“I started seeing new breweries opening. I said, ‘This is going to be a problem if all the breweries get up here and I’m not different, I’m just like everybody else.’ So I picked a different food and made it unique.”

Nexus Brewery has what they call “New Mexican soul food,” a blend of foods from their African American heritage with local flavors of New Mexico.

They started out with 10 items on the menu, and kept adding more as customers made requests and suggestions.

Ken said it’s working out really well. “It’s distinguished us from all the other breweries in town.” It’s also helpful that they are serving a type of food that that is not normally associated with brewing industry.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 7 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 7-BBL fermenters; 2, 15-BBL fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 7 Grundies; 6, 15-BBL bright tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 650 BBL.

Square footage: 2,500 sq. ft. for the brewery.

Years in operation: 4.5 years (opened May 2011).

Listener question:

From Jeff Lennon: Why did you choose the brewpub or production brewery model? What factors led to that decision?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Victorinox Swiss Army Super Tinker Pocket Knife.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Scottish Ale

Other resources:

You can reach Ken Carson Jr. and Nexus Brewery at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 087: Differentiate your brewpub with unique menu items appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Oct 27 2015

47mins

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MicroBrewr 086: The future of apple cider in America

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Nick Gunn and his wife were working for her family’s winery. They had the idea to start growing apples for cider. One of the cideries to whom they were selling apples decided to close down and they offered to sell the business to Nick and his wife who moved Wandering Aengus Ciderworks to Salem, Oregon.

“Cider is a really exciting proposition for a lot of investors.” [Tweet This]

Now they have two brands of cider.

Wandering Aengus is the traditional brand of cider. The Wandering Aengus brand has ciders that are more astringent, more bitter, and higher in alcohol content. “For the wine drinkers, it’s something that’s interesting,” says Nick.

Anthem Cider is a lighter style for people who aren’t used to ciders. These are less acidic and have lower alcohol content. This brand is marketed toward to craft beer consumers. “Beer drinkers,” says Nick, “are much more adventurous and willing to try just about anything that’s out there.”

They package Anthem ciders mostly in kegs for sale on draft. The goal is to get the word out for distribution in smaller packaging. “It’s a pretty basic model a lot of people have used,” says Nick.

“Anthem is a little more on the adventurous side,” Nick describes. “And that’s also a part of marketing to people who like craft beer.”

In addition to straight apple cider, Anthem also has pear, cherry and hopped ciders. They’re do some progressive forays like gin and whiskey barrel-aged ciders, as well as ciders fermented with bee pollen.

In contrast, “Wandering Aengus is super traditional,” Nick says, “It’s just those apples fermented without anything else added to them. And those apples are so rare we don’t really want to mess with them in the first place, they kind of speak for themselves.”

Finding good, traditional cider apples is difficult, but Nick is pushing the market.

“Most of the old heirloom apples have been ripped out in favor for Granny Smith and other dessert apples,” he says. “We’re trying to get people to plant some newer [apple trees]. We’re trying to bring back some of the older, better flavored varieties.”

Nick’s favorite apple ciders are blends of sharp apples, bittersweet apples, and aromatic apples.

“You kind of want to blend in a little bit of sharp, a little bit of bitter, a little bit of aromatics,” Nick advises. “That’s a part of the art of cider making, is it’s a blending process. Because there’s not a lot of apples that just make a great cider straight up.”

Some of the high brix, high acidity apple varieties that they use are:

  • Golden Russet
  • Wickson Crab
  • Cox’s Orange Pippin
  • Newtown Pippin
  • Calville Blanc d’Hiver

“These heirloom sharps… is a really [high] sweetness level and acidity is off the charts,” comments Nick.

But these sharp apples don’t have a lot of tannins. Bittersweet apples contribute tannins to the cider.

Some of the bittersweet apples they use for tannins are:

  • Muscat de Bernay
  • Muscadet de Dieppe
  • Yarlington Mill
  • Dabinett
  • Herefordshire Redstreak

“Those apples taste like crap!” exclaims Nick. “They really are horrible, because they have so much bitterness.”

“I’m being evangelical about planting cider apples. That’s really the future of really high quality cider in America.”

While Nick is evangelizing about high-quality, hand-crafted, traditional ciders, a different style of cider is gaining momentum across the country. Large industrial companies are making cider with additives and diluted with water.

While the product sells well on a large scale, it is expanding the overall market and demand for cider. As the larger brands reach into previously untapped markets, they create new spaces for all cider products.

“Their cider is a lot cheaper,” says Nick. “We could never compete on price because we’re using 100% juice. But what we can do is offer a different product. And maybe that’s a graduating step for the consumer.”

RELATED: MicroBrewr 048: Package your beer cheap and easy with mobile canning

“The growth in some of these larger brands has just been astronomical because a lot of the place they’re putting cider there never even existed a cider in the first place.”

“Every single chain store, every 711, every place now has cider. Cider is on the lips of every one. It’s on TV now—it was never on TV before, like, 2 years ago.”

“Even if [cider] gets to 5 percent of the market, we will be gigantic,” Nick predicts. “Over in England, cider is around 20 percent of alcohol consumption. France is about 17 percent. So we have a long ways to go in America. We were just at 0.3 percent about 3 years ago and we’ve gotten to one percent now. So the climb now is just inevitable.”

There hasn’t been a lot of quality at quantity. And now that that is exists, distributors are staring to notice, buyers are noticing, the whole market place takes note.”

As overall demand for cider increases, and a wider variety of cider products becomes more popular, the cider companies are able make larger quantities at lower prices.

Nick’s strategy is to have meaningful impact in the markets where craft beer is already growing rapidly.

They are reaching to key cities such as:

  • Denver
  • Philadelphia
  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Portland

“You’re starting from ground zero, you can explode easily,” says Nick.

Yet, cider producers are finding that the industry needs to mature. Particularly, there is a need for more education in cider sales.

“Finding a distributor that understands cider is really difficult,” says Nick.

At the next CiderCON, the conference for the commercial cider industry to be held in February in Portland, Oregon, the United States Association of Cider Makers will unveil the first ever cider accreditation program. The multi-level program is designed to educate “distributors, servers and others who are interested in becoming trained experts on all things cider.”

As the cider market in America evolves, the industry adapts.

“It originally started out as sweet and fruity,” recalls Nick. “I like to call it ‘cheap and cheerful.’”

Now “cider varietals are being recognized, and the quality of cider they make.”

Nick foresees an increasing appreciation of drier ciders, and even higher quality cider apples. More cider will be made from heirloom sharps, cider will be fermented drier with higher alcohol content. There will be more barrel aged ciders, and ciders with more tannins. Ultimately terroir of cider will be recognized and appreciated.

Listener question:

From Daniel Frey: What accounting system do you use or do you recommend?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Cross-Flow filter, Pall Corporation.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

North American Heirloom Cider

Other resources:

You can reach Nick Gunn and Wandering Aengus Ciderworks at:

You can reach Anthem Cider at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 086: The future of apple cider in America appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Oct 20 2015

1hr 9mins

Play

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

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beer

Other resources:

You can reach Cody Martine and Martin House Brewing Company at:

Sponsors:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 085: Starting a brewery is a full-time job appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Oct 13 2015

45mins

Play

MicroBrewr 084: A healthy alcoholic beverage: hard cider

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As soon as Mark McTavish could acknowledge alcohol, he gravitated toward hard cider. Later, he attended beverage management school and opened a craft beer bar in Toronto, Canada. Now in the U.S., Mark owns a cider distribution company and 101 Cider House in Los Angeles, California.

“As a cider maker, you’re not really making anything. You’re more of a custodian to the beverage.” [Tweet This]

Mark had a long career in the fitness business, selling exercise equipment and helping gyms get started. He is very health conscious and this comes through in his hard cider.

101 Cider House focuses on a “healthy” alcoholic beverage. All of 101 Cider products are: raw, living, and probiotic.

Some attributes of what Mark calls a healthy hard cider:

  • Wild fermented
  • A living beverage, don’t kill the juice in the process
  • Not filtered
  • No added sulfites

The hard cider market is absolutely exploding, with 500% growth in the last 3 years. Besides the general growth, Mark is tapping the health foods sector.

“From step one,” reflects Mark, “I always wanted to make a healthy alcohol.”

“Here in Los Angeles,” he says, “people are very interested in their health foods. When it comes to alcohol, a lot of people tend to check their standards at the door.”

“We have to show our ingredients in our cider,” Mark says of the labels on the bottles. “Our biggest marketing tool is to show people that we are using 100% raw fruit and doing the natural process like we do.”

They don’t add any unnecessary or unexpected ingredients to the cider, not even yeast.

“Cider is like wine,” he says. “You can press the fruit naturally, let juices sit their and do its own thing with its indigenous yeasts, and it will tell you what it’s going to do with itself.

“And if you wait long enough, it will make something great.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: n/a.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 8, 2000-gal (64-BBL) poly tanks; 6, 275-gal (9-BBL) poly tanks; 50, 55-gal (1.75-BBL) oak barrels.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 0. Not required as we bottle-condition and keg-condition all product.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 50,000-gal capacity.

Square footage: 7000 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 10 months years (opened December 2014).

Listener question:

From Rob Lightner: Has your brewery turned out the way you thought it would? And if not, how is it different?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Pump.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Hopped cider

Other resources:

You can reach Mark McTavish and 101 Cider House at:

Sponsors:

InMotion Hosting

“Fast, reliable, affordable, web hosting.”

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 084: A healthy alcoholic beverage: hard cider appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Oct 06 2015

51mins

Play

MicroBrewr 083: Market branding for a cider company

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Fran Toves’ son challenged her to enter cider into the homebrew competition. After her 3 entries made it to the top 10, she figured it time to take the product to market and started Common Cider Company in Drytown, California.

“There is no need to start a cider company with a million dollars.” [Tweet This]

Cider is not brewed the way beer is made, but similar fermentation tanks and bright tanks are used for making cider as making beer. After the initial attention at the homebrew competition, Common Cider Company started with a 400-gallon (13-BBL) test batch that got picked up by a distributor. They grew to 30,000-gallon (1,000-BBL) batches within a couple years.

Whereas a cidery or a cider house presses the fruit themselves to make juice, a cider company buys the juice pre-squeezed. A cider usually has a base of apple juice, but it can start with other fruits. A perry is made from pear juice.

“Cider as a base,” says Fran, “is a great platform to be able to introduce new flavors.”

Fran’s background in product development for the organic food industry is helping her with Common Cider Company. She emphasizes the importance of branding.

Fran says a small company can easily spend $50,000 to $100,000 on high-quality branding design for all promotional materials. With such a significant investment, it is very important to consider your message and what your company is about. If you want to take more time to learn about your customers and find your voice in the market place, just get simple logo at first. Then budget up to $100,000 for a re-branding.

That’s the route Fran planned for Common Cider Company. “I wanted to spend some time with our customers an just spend some time in the marketplace,” she says. “before investing in the brand.”

Sample Cider Packaging

They’re keeping a logo element from the original design scheme and hiring a branding firm to re-design their message. The results have been spectacular and you can expect to see more on store shelves soon!

Fran also has tips for the today’s listener question about budgeting and profit projections:

  • Decide where you are and where you want to be.
  • Put a budget for every core area including, branding, legal fees, sales staff, materials, and all other details.
  • Decide what you can spend on each category of your budget.
  • Use checklists so you don’t miss details.

“Your suppliers will give you pretty good information as far as what your cost of juice is and your yeast and any other adjuncts that you want to add to your product,” Fran suggests. “And that goes from your raw material to your packaging.”

As for projecting profits, Fran always advises starting with small batches. She suggests 500-gallon batches or 1,000-gallon batches at the most. Any larger, and you’ll have too much money tied up in product and it will take too long to sell.

After you sell a few batches to earn some money and build demand, then you start doing larger batches.

“It’s important to start small,” Fran advises. “Just like any business, you’ve gotta kind of walk before you can run.”

Listener question:

From Texas Rüegg: Where  do you find real accurate numbers to estimate cost of operation? I keep building spreadsheets with hundreds of calculations, but at best they are just guesses. I want to be conservative with my numbers and be sure that even the worst case will actually make money. So where do you find real data?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Pump.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Dry ciders

Other resources:

You can reach Fran Toves and Common Cider Company at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 083: Market branding for a cider company appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Sep 29 2015

1hr

Play

MicroBrewr 082: Gluten free beer for a large market

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Brian Kovalchuck has a background in finance and marketing and came to beer late in his career. After he helped with the turnaround of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Brian became CEO of the gluten free Bard’s Tale Beer Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“I wish I had been in the beer business a long time. It’s a great business to be in.” [Tweet This]

In the U.S. there are approximately 2 million people with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the intestine from eating gluten. There are approximately another 6 times that number of people who are gluten-intolerant or voluntarily exclude gluten from their diet.

“Gluten is a protein found in most common grains,” explains Brian, “wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats gets thrown into that because of cross-contamination.”

The founders or Bard’s Tale Beer Company experimented for 2 years before they settled on a recipe and a method. Their secret is malted sorghum. Sorghum is a grain that does not have gluten. It is commonly used to make gluten-free beers, but it is not commonly malted like other grains used in brewing.

Bard’s is the only brewery that uses malted sorghum to brew gluten free beer. Brian won’t say whether Bard’s malts their own sorghum or has it made for them, but he did say it’s their own.

Bard’s uses a contract brewer to make “Bard’s Gold,” currently their only product.

Brian’s advice for finding a contract brewer is use a brewer that:

  • Has a good reputation
  • Makes high-quality products
  • Has a lab that can ensure consistency
  • Is happy to work with you
  • Has the capacity to grow with you

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

Craft Artisan Ales

Noble Brewer

If you’re using a contract brewer to make gluten-free beer, you’ll need to take special care to ensure there is no cross-contamination from the other beers brewed at the facility. Bard’s beer is always the first batch brewed after the brewery is cleaned. They test at several points along the process to ensure there is no gluten in the beer.

“The gluten free market around your brewery is too small to support a brewery,” says Brian. “There’s just not enough gluten-intolerant people to support a stand-alone gluten free brewery in one location.”

So Bard’s model depends on very wide distribution. And working with distributors can be tricky.

“The way the laws are written,” says Brian, “once a distributor gets a beer brand, it’s very difficult to get that beer brand back from the distributor. So if you make a mistake, it’s really hard to fix that problem.”

Brian’s tips for picking a distributor:

  • Talk to contacts you already know.
  • Differentiate yourself from the others.
  • Work with the distributor to drive the business.
  • Find a distributor that is eager to work with you.
  • Coordinate marketing across all 3 tiers.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 500-BBL batches.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks:

Size and quantity of bright tanks:

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production:

Square footage:

Years in operation: 9 years (opened 2006).

Listener question:

From Melissa Bess Reed: How do I make quality gluten-free beer that always has the same delicious flavor profile that I can count on?

Can’t-go-without tool:

The Brewmaster.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Session beer

Other resources:

You can reach Brian Kovalchuck and Bard’s Tale Beer Company at:

Sponsors:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 082: Gluten free beer for a large market appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Sep 22 2015

59mins

Play

MicroBrewr 081: An R&D laboratory for craft beer

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beer

Other resources:

You can reach Chris Sears and Labrewatory at:

Sponsors:

InMotion Hosting

“Fast, reliable, affordable, web hosting.”

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 081: An R&D laboratory for craft beer appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Sep 15 2015

53mins

Play

MicroBrewr 080: Brewing the American Dream winner for 2015

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A friend asked Marta Jankowska and her husband whether they wanted to use his warehouse space and go pro with their brewing. The warehouse space fell through, but they were far along in the process, so they decided to go for it and opened ChuckAlek Independent Brewers in Ramona, California.

“Your time is so much more valuable actually planning on how to grow the business.” [Tweet This]

“Even though that original space fell through,” says Marta, “we were already so far along in planning that we just decided to go for it.”

They had run the financials, lined up some money from friends and family, and were ready to go. They just needed space.

They found the permitting requirements in the City of San Diego to be cumbersome and expensive, so they finally settled in Ramona, a little town in San Diego County wine country.

“More importantly,” Ramona explains, “we never wanted to be a warehouse brewery. We always wanted to be kind of a main street brewery. Something that was integrated in with community and surrounded by other storefronts.”

By chance, Marta was a tennis partner with one of the founders of Stone Brewing. He told her that over a hundred breweries were starting or being planned for opening in San Diego.

“How are you going to differentiate yourself?” he asked Marta. “The way that I see a brewery doing well in this town is having a really solid background story and a really solid concept. You need to come up with something that has a compelling story that you can tell to the consumer.”

To come up with a compelling story, Marta suggests you think about:

  • What you want the brewery to encompass
  • What message you want to communicate to the consumers

“A flashy label will get you that fist glimpse from a consumer,” she says. “But people are finicky these days, they’re not super brand loyal, they’re not going to remember something unless it really stands out in their brain, or you give them that nugget that they’re really able to hang onto.”

ChuckAlek has gotten some notoriety this year by being selected as the 2015 recipient of Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream “experienceship.” They beat out others for apprenticeship, partner brew with Sam Adams, and a trip to Germany with Pink Boots Society.

Other tips from Marta:

  • Set aside time to plan for the growth of the business during the next few years.
  • Enroll yourself in a business mentorship program.
  • Start with the barebones, just to get off the ground. Then buy more equipment when you have the disposable income.
  • Build a nest egg for repairs and other unexpected expenditures.

Marta’s suggested software systems for a startup nanobrewery:

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 1 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 6, 3-BBL plastics; 1, 2-BBL stainless; 1, 4-BBL stainless; 1, 5-BBL stainless.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 1, 5-BBL.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 250 BBL. This year on track to be at about 400 BBL.

Square footage: 1,700 sq. ft.

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

Listener question:

From Grant Aguinaldo: What software systems do you use to manage your brewery?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Brite Tanks.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Lager

Other resources:

You can reach Marta Jankowska and ChuckAlek Independent Brewers at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 080: Brewing the American Dream winner for 2015 appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Sep 08 2015

48mins

Play

MicroBrewr 079: The importance of budgeting for working capital

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach Wim Bens and Lakewood Brewing Co. at:

Sponsors:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 079: The importance of budgeting for working capital appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Sep 01 2015

1hr 7mins

Play

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

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Bill Morgan has brewed on 2-BBL systems all the way up to 250-BBL systems. Craft brewing has taken him around the world and back. Now he’s gone full-circle, brewing on 4-BBL system and loving the flexibility it provides at The Blind Pig Brewery in Champaign, Illinois.

“Is it really craft beer if it’s available in all 50 states?” [Tweet This]

After graduating with a degree in Biology, Bill used his left over student loan money to attend brewing school at Seibel Institute of Technology.

Within 3 years of graduating from Seibel, in 1997 he earned a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival. It was the first gold medal at the GABF for the first intentionally sour beer (in the Belgian Specialty Ale category). The next year, he added fruit to the same beer and earned a silver medal, plus another gold medal for an Imperial Stout.

Eventually Bill was working brewing on a 250-BBL system and managing the quality assurance lab at a production brewery in Japan.

“If you have a large brewhouse like we had,” says Bill, “it’s tough to brew some experimental brews that you’re not even sure is going to come out right. Whereas in the brewpub, who can’t get rid of 10 barrels of some kind of strange beer.”

The Blind Pig Brewery shares similar names with a former brewery in California, a beer from other currently-operating brewery in California, and even a different business around the block from them. It causes confusion for customers and disagreements with other proprietors.

Related: MicroBrewr 044: What every brewery should know about trademarks, MicroBrewr, January 6, 2015.

How to apply for a trademark/service mark, Paul Rovella, MicroBrewr, January 8, 2015.

“You’ve really gotta do your research to find a name that won’t run you right into these kinds of problems,” Bill advises.

“It’s a nightmare and it can be a legal nightmare and you can spend a lot of money getting your brand up and going, only to discover a couple years into it that you have no other recourse but to scratch all that branding and pick something new and start over. So it can be very costly. Even if you don’t have direct legal costs up front—you don’t get sued or have to pay some gigantic fine—it can still be a significant loss just in all of the rebranding and coming up with a new name.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 4 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 8, 4-BBL unitanks.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 6, 4-BBL serving/bright tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Brewed approximately 500 BBL last year, pushing about 600 BBL this year.

Square footage: 100 sq. ft. in brewhouse; 100 sq. ft. in fermentation, serving tanks are tucked behind the bar; seating/bar/toilets/storage; 2,400 sq. ft. in beer garden has 120+ seats, two bars, no kitchen.

Years in operation: 6 years (opened May 2009).

Listener question:

From Austin: Did you do it for the love of beer, or did you have a more specific goal in mind?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Foursevens compact LED flashlight

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Saison

Other resources:

You can reach Bill Morgan and The Blind Pig Brewery at:

Sponsors:

InMotion Hosting

“Fast, reliable, affordable, web hosting.”

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 078: Around the world and back with the craft beer industry appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Aug 25 2015

1hr 22mins

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MicroBrewr 077: The importance of writing your goals

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beers

Other resources:

You can reach Michael Peticolas and Peticolas Brewing Company at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 077: The importance of writing your goals appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Aug 18 2015

56mins

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MicroBrewr 076: Carrying the torch of authentic beer styles

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After a microbiology degree and studies at the world’s premier culinary college, Seth Gross was working at a restaurant and hanging out at the nearby Goose Island Brewpub. Pretty soon they offered him a job. Today Seth owns his own brewpub, Bull City Burger and Brewery in Durham, North Carolina.

“I have people who will bleed for what we do. And I don’t know how I got so lucky.” [Tweet This]

“The day we opened, the line was out the door and around the corner,” says Seth. The restaurant ran out of food on the first day. “It was a disaster.”

Seth’s ideas for promoting the brewpub before it opened:

  • Work with other newly opened, local businesses
  • Hold a scavenger hunt for really good discounts.
  • Raise awareness and hype on Facebook

RELATED: Do Your Fans Love You Enough To Get a Tattoo of Your Brewery? Creative Ways To Promote Your Brewery For Free!

In the brewery, “the most important thing is cleanliness. You can have the best ingredients in the world, but if you’re not clean, the beer is just not going to be good,” says Seth. “But you can have average ingredients, and if your brewery is squeaky clean, you can have a very good product at the end.”

On of Seth’s proudest moments is when Julia Herz, from the Brewers Association visited his brewery and said, “This doesn’t smell like a brewery.”

“We work really hard keeping those drains clean and all of that.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 7 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 7-BBL fermenters; 1, 15-BBL fermenter.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 5, 7-BBL bright tanks.

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

Square footage: 300 sq. ft.

Years in operation: 4.5 years (opened March 2011).

Listener question:

From Malin Norman: Why don’t you experiment more?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Mash hoe, custom stainless steel.

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Session beer

Other resources:

You can reach Seth Gross and Bull City Burger & Brewery at:

Sponsors:

InMotion Hosting

“Fast, reliable, affordable, web hosting.”

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 076: Carrying the torch of authentic beer styles appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Aug 11 2015

1hr 9mins

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MicroBrewr 075: Recruit the right people for the right job

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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.

An upcoming beer style:

Sour beer

Other resources:

You can reach Mark Doble and Aviator Brewing at:

Sponsors:

Audible

Download a free audiobook.

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 075: Recruit the right people for the right job appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Aug 04 2015

55mins

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MicroBrewr 074: Contract brewing for homebrew craft beer club

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Noble Brewer is an online craft beer club featuring homebrewers’ best beers. It’s not exactly legal to sell homebrew by mail, so Claude Burns at Noble Brewer connects the homebrewer with a commercial brewery. Then they ship great homebrew from their base in Oakland, California.

If you want your homebrew to be featured in one of Noble Brewer’s quarterly shipments, here’s how Noble Brewer picks the homebrewers:

  • Homebrewing competitions and BJCP results
  • Willingness of the brewer to share her story
  • Whether the recipe will scale
  • Style variety in relation to the past picks

Read: Homebrew craft beer club. And then I never left the house.

I think it’s pretty aweome, but the main reason we talked with Claude is to find out for to start a contract brewery.

“There are a lot of great brands and great beers out there that are made by people who don’t own their own brewery,” says Claude. “There is also a lot of great beer companies that do own their own brewery, but [production of their own beer] is very small. The vast majority of their beer is contract brewed.”

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

Craft Artisan Ales

Of course, to sell alcohol, you need to have some kind of license. The process and licensing is different in every state. So Claude advises that you check with a lawyer. Usually a contract brewery is set up like a distributor.

In California, Claude says, most contract breweries would use a Type 17 license from California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. This allows you to have beer made for you by another brewery, then you can sell it to retailers.

“The ABC is very willing to work with you,” says Claude. “You go to them, and tell them what you want to do, they’ll be very willing to work with you to make sure you do things the right way.”

Be very detailed in telling your state licensing agency what you want to do. They’ll suggest the license that you need. Then ask a lot of questions to make sure you’ll be able to do the things you intend to with a given license.

Check this page for a list of state alcoholic beverage control boards.

Next you’ll nee to find a contract brewery to manufacture your product:

  • Ask breweries whether they have excess capacity for your beer.
  • Network with other brewers to find a brewery that makes contract beer.

Choosing the brewery to work with:

  • Look for a company that shares your same goals.
  • View the arrangement as a long term, mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Check references of the brewery, and trust recommendations of others.

Depending on your agreement, the different responsibilities will lie with one party of the other. Sometimes the brewery will do more, sometimes you’ll need to do it. So check with your brewery to see whether they’re expecting you to provide your own ingredients and packaging, whether you’ll need to get TTB approval on your labels, or other tasks.

“If you’re a contract brewer, and that’s going to be more of your long-term strategy,” advises Claude, “you’re going to do things like [contract directly with a hop supplier] so you’re going to have your own source of hops for your beers.”

“If you want to put a ton of really restrictive terms in an agreement, as a [small startup] contract brewer you may be less likely to enter that agreement. It’s really about developing that working relationship with each other and making sure that you have the same goals in mind and you’re working toward something long-term.”

“Everybody I have met has been more than happy to share their knowledge.” [Tweet This]

Listener question:

From Dan: How hard/easy was the licensing from the state? What local regulations did you have trouble with? Were the locals helpful in setting up the business?

Book recommendation:

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

An upcoming beer style:

Saison

Other resources:

You can reach Claude Burns and Noble Brewer at:

Sponsors:

Support MicroBrewr

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

The post MicroBrewr 074: Contract brewing for homebrew craft beer club appeared first on MicroBrewr.

Jul 21 2015

1hr 7mins

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