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Old 06-12-2012, 02:29 PM   #1
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Default Suggested Reading - Brewery?

Any advice on suggested reading for anybody interested in what it would take to open a brewery? I thought there used to be a forum on here for interested parties, but I don't see it anymore.

I'm not necessarily planning to open one anytime soon, I'm just wanting to educate myself more so I can be aware of the potential and possiblities. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly welcome!

I've already read "A Brewer's Guide to Opening a Nano Brewery: Your $10,000 Brewery Consultant for $15".

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Old 06-12-2012, 05:30 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by bigirishape View Post
Any advice on suggested reading for anybody interested in what it would take to open a brewery? I thought there used to be a forum on here for interested parties, but I don't see it anymore.

I'm not necessarily planning to open one anytime soon, I'm just wanting to educate myself more so I can be aware of the potential and possiblities. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly welcome!

I've already read "A Brewer's Guide to Opening a Nano Brewery: Your $10,000 Brewery Consultant for $15".
The only advice I can give really would be to learn to brew properly and hang out with brewers. I bought the Nano book you mentioned and was genuinely disappointed. If there was ANYTHING in that book you didn't already know or hadn't considered, just from having been around craft beer for a few months, you should really think twice before paying money for any other pro-brewing materials.

Probrewer.com is the site for professional brewery operators, although they'll likely tell you that you'll never make money, need three degrees, and can't start on anything smaller than a 300bbl system, there is lots of good information for brewing on the professional scale. The amount of regulations on the production, sale, and taxation of alcohol is so incredible, the book that details the STATE regulations is about phonebook-sized.

Also remember that you'll likely be operating the brewery for 6-9 months while you wait for licensing, because you need to have the space, and have it set up as a brewery while you file your paperwork so it can be inspected. During that time you still have to pay your rent, utilities, etc. in addition to doing your buildout, and during that time you can not take in any money. You can be in the hole $5000-$10000 just in operating costs before you can sell your first pint, and that doesn't include any equipment, ingredient, or buildout expenses.

The number one reason businesses fail is because they are undercapitalized- if you don't have the money to pay your suppliers, utilties, or landlord, you could be only a couple of weekends away from turning the corner and go out of business. Make sure you have more than enough money to get started. You don't need a "true" business plan because nobody will lend you the money to get started (ask for a loan with anything less than 3 years as a professional brewer- think head brewer- and you'll get laughed out of the bank. Ask me how I know) but you need to do all the financials that would go into one. You need to know exactly how much it's going to cost to operate, what you can sell, and how much money you can bring in. Then take the number you think you'll need to build out, get started, and break even, and double it.

If you're not in a hurry, get a job at a brewery and work your way up to brewer before you decide if it's something you want to do every day for the rest of your life.
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Old 06-12-2012, 06:02 PM   #3
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The dude from Dog Fish Head wrote a book about starting his brewery.

Sam Colgniony or whatever his name is.

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Old 06-12-2012, 07:17 PM   #4
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I've also read the books from Sam Calagione from DFH and the guys from Brooklyn Brewery. Both were informative, but not *as* informative as I was hoping for.

Also, yeah, most of the info in the Nano book was fairly common sense, but it was still good to read. Things you may have considered but not *truly* considered were brought up, and made me review my take on certain things.

As for taking a job in an actual brewery, that seems to be easier said than done. There are plenty of breweries around here, but none seem to be hiring, and certainly none hiring at a pay scale that would make me leaving my current IT job worthwhile.

As I said before, I'm not really considering a jump from IT into Brewery as an immediate thing. I like the idea of operating a small Nano and then growing from there if able. I am also not opposed to the idea of getting real-time experience in an established brewery. It is all a matter of timing and situation.

So while I wait for the timing and situation to improve...I read to see if I can obtain any information or insight into the field and profession that I may be able to learn from in anticipation of ever taking that leap.

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Old 06-12-2012, 09:04 PM   #5
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On the business side -
Look into what kind of company you want to start and laws / regulations with it.
LLC, Partnership etc. Fees, taxes so on.
Licensing ie TTB, state liquor, health and any other regulations.
Trademark could be considered as well.
Know your web stuff, if your going to out source or build your own site and everything goes with that.
Those are things worth reading and knowing. It could also change your mind all together.
I can go into a list of many more things that need to be done and learned but those are some of the big ones.
Learn to write a business plan and any other articles you may need.
Figure out funding. est costs. Learn your area for real estate.
Kick starter is something to look at and build a profile, supporting various projects so you look like you someone that isn't just looking for money.
Make a facebook page and build a following now with your homebrew.

Brewing -
Learn different systems. Nano, Mirco, what size. Vendors / Places to get equipment. Use / New / Custom
Find books or take classes etc on actually how to use the equipment.
Learn the science behind it. Couple good technical brewing sites that have good info or ways to purchase along with journals and technical briefs are the following.
http://www.ibd.org.uk/publications/brewer-and-distiller-international/
http://www.mbaa.com/

There is a lot homebrewers do not have to deal with in brewing that is crucial in a commercial environment.
Go on tours of breweries and have specific questions to ask about their operation or about equipment etc.
You could even call and see if a brewer will let you shadow (not volunteer) for a brew day.

I can seriously go on forever. Its a ridiculous amount of work. For actual things to read. Online has a lot of resources. State / Federal sites have what you need for a lot mentioned above. The two sites under brewing will give you a lot of good info to read and can point you in other directions to follow up on any reading. General business sites have a lot of good info. If you have a specific topic, search for it. Classes can be helpful, brewing, business, accounting etc. Its just hard to point you to a book that has it all. Its a lot of little things to be read independent of each other. Figure an outline of what you want to learn and then search and look for those specific topics.

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Old 06-13-2012, 11:02 PM   #6
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I do agree with the general consensus of this thread, that there is an incredible amount of information out there for anybody hoping to work professionally in the craft beer industry. Also as previously mentioned by daksin, hanging out with other brewers or anyone significantly involved in brewing is crucial and invaluable.
But what we really want here is a good starting point, correct? After my years in business school focusing in entrepreneurship, I have found that Sam Calagione's "adventures in entrepreneurship, Brewing up a Business" resonates the most, in terms of the lessons I took away from each. This book opened my eyes from seeking serial entrepreneurial ventures where profit is the only bottom line, to establishing a business that I truly value and would never want to part from. He is masterful in teaching one to be a part of your business to the very core with unmatched passion in the field. Beer is fun. And it can be big business that is rewarding in so many ways.

"Profit is not evil but it is a means to an end and not an end in itself. When you are compassionate toward the people you interact with professionally, that compassion pervades the image of your company and resonates within all of the people that you do business with -- your coworkers, suppliers and your community. You will see that your leadership style can reflect these values. Return on investment isn't just about the money. Consider your investment in your coworkers' happiness and in the vitality of your community" - Sam Calagione

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