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Old 03-25-2010, 04:24 PM   #1
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Default Nano Brewery: Build or Buy?

There is a possibility I might be venturing down the road of commercial brewing. I have several people who are urging me to go pro and want to help. I am putting together a team of people to possible open a small brewery and tasting bar in my home town. So far I have two people who are pushing me to do this.

My roommate is a lawyer. He wants to be involved and is super excited to see something like this happen. He will take care of all the forms and regulations that need to be followed. He will be the dot the I's and cross the T's guy.

My other friend is an Idea/marketing type guy. He has a ton of experience in another industry. He was a brand manager and field ambassador for an outdoors company. He is also very capable of providing the funding needed to start out.

I of course would be the brewer and the guy who can make the whole thing work from technical aspect.

My question to those of you who have done this. What size system should I be looking at? Should I build it or should I buy it?

We will be looking for a small space to brew beer for catering companies and also have a small walk-in bar for people to session some beer locally. There is a small brewery in Ouray colorado that will be the model for our business. The Ourayle House. There capacity I think is 1.5 barrels. They only brew beer for the taps that are at their bar. They serve no food. You can only get their beer.

So this is a plan we are working on and would love some input on equipment from the folks here. I know a few of you have started nano breweries, you have been inspiring me for several months now.

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Old 03-25-2010, 05:59 PM   #2
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If you build it, they will come...

But really, I have nothing to contribute and just wanted to say that.

Congrats on trying to go for something like this, I think it sounds like a blast!

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Old 03-25-2010, 06:04 PM   #3
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What area of Colorado are you looking in?

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Old 03-25-2010, 07:21 PM   #4
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Depending on where your hometown is, buying a nano brewery may just not be an option. There aren't a lot of places built on the scale you're looking at. That said, I would guess that buying would be cheaper that building one bit by bit, but that's only a net benefit if the place isn't being sold because of its location.

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Old 03-25-2010, 08:29 PM   #5
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There was a recent thread by a guy that has been running a nano for about a year. He lists a lot of pitfalls, so you might want to look it up. One thing I remember his saying is build WAY bigger than you think you need.

I would like to open a brewpub, myself. However, I am still years away from that step, if ever.

Good Luck.

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Old 03-25-2010, 08:34 PM   #6
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Started building and the paperwork last July, started selling in February. My advice is to start small but build with room to grow. The bar owner I talk to says I'm doing it right by starting small and growing as the business grows. I just wish I had built a bigger brew house so I could hold more but it works for now.

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Old 03-25-2010, 08:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpt_Kirks View Post
There was a recent thread by a guy that has been running a nano for about a year. He lists a lot of pitfalls, so you might want to look it up. One thing I remember his saying is build WAY bigger than you think you need.

I would like to open a brewpub, myself. However, I am still years away from that step, if ever.

Good Luck.

Right now that is my main focus. Figuring out what size system I will need and what is the best way to get it. We want to start out small for several reasons, but our full business plan is to have a Pizzaria associated with the brewery. That would be in the future and in a larger space. This will be sort of a proof of concept for the full business.

I was thinking about going 1bbl. I have seen a bunch of commercial 3bbl systems though that might be worth the investment for future growth. If we go to a new space and the Pizzaria plan happens then I would want a larger system. So this first system might be a short term bridge.

I live in a small community in the mountains very close to several resorts.
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:21 PM   #8
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My homebrew system is a one barrel system. I could easily brew 5 barrels a week if I had the fermenters to hold it. If you could find a used 3 barrel system at a reasonable price, that may be the way to go. Good luck!

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Old 03-25-2010, 09:24 PM   #9
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Building a functional brewery of this size is not a trivial undertaking. If I were in your shoes I would be looking for a commercially built 3 barrel brewery. If you want to start out by making 1 barrel, great, but at least you leave yourself room for expansion. It gets very expensive when you purchase or build a 1 barrel brewery only to find you need more capacity if your business takes off quickly. I have seen many businesses go under because the business takes off quickly and they can not meet the demand of their customers. It's not my money but I would spend the capitol on a nice commercial 3 barrel system and have it on display. It's a nice marketing tool. Here is a used gas fired 3 BBL brewery for $15K:

http://bavarianbrewerytech.com/forsale/3bblSystem.htm


Also make sure you have a good solid business plan to follow. You will never attract investors or raise capitol without a solid business plan. I would also pay a visit to my local branch of the SBA. They have retired business owners on staff who can help guide you through the pitfalls of starting a business and give you excellent advice on writing your business plan. They are there to help you. Lastly, incorporate to protect your personal assets. Best of luck.

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Old 03-25-2010, 09:44 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice. I think I will set my sights on a 3bbl system. I think in the long run it will save time and money. I might not need to upgrade so soon.

As for the business plan side. We have that stuff all covered. My roomate is taking care of all the paperwork. We have all the investors we need for startup. We would need to seek investors to go any larger though. If we decide to make a brewpub or distribute then we would need to look for more money.

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