Don't try this at home (part 1)

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Brewpastor

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Dude suggested I share a bit of my story related to my journey as a professional brewer and the experiences therein. So I will try to do some of that here, although it might be better if I break it up a bit - part 1, part 2...

Like many of you somewhere I get the idea that turning my hobby into my profession seemed like a reasonable thing to do. I had a decade of homebrewing under my belt, loads of ribbons - what could go wrong? At that point there were only 2 breweries in New Mexico and none in Albuquerque. The time and opportunity seemed right. That was 1991.

At first I thought I would utilize a clause in the zoning law and open a small keg and 22 oz bottle micro out of my home. I began getting the licensing paperwork in order and registered the name Rio Grande Brewing. Licensing involved the city zoning, city council, the fire department, city utilities, the department of health, ATF, New Mexico Alcohol & Gaming, Federal Label approval, and probably others I don't remember. It sucked. But I started making my way through the maze, while at the same time started to locate the equipment I would need.

About this time I was contacted by a brewing friend who was thinking of doing the same kind of thing and wondered if I was interested in forming a partnership, which we did. He brought financial strength to the partnership and so we decided to shift our focus to opening a brewpub and began looking for a location.

During this effort I was contacted by a business group who owned a series of restaurants around town. They had the idea of converting one of their spots into a brewpub and proposed we go into partnership with them. They would own and operate the restaurant and we would own and operate the brewery. We pulled in another partner on our end, who was a friend that also had an interest in commercial brewing. The three of us worked together with the restaurant partners for a number of months until it became clear from both sides the idea really didn't hold water and we decided to go our seperate ways. They eventually opened Assts Grill and Brewing/the Southwest Brewing Company and became partners in the Pub Brewing Equipment Company. We on the other hand went off to find a space and write a new business plan.

We chased after a number of other locations, wrote and rewrote business plans, finally submitting a slick, full blown plan and bid on a downtown space. A month later it was rejected and we recognized how little we knew about starting a business, running a brewery and how we know even less about running a restaurant

So we licked our wounds and regrouped. We decided that our best shot would be a pure micro focused on bottled and kegged product with no retail/restaurant function. Again we started to look for equipment and space when I was contacted by a large investment group (owners of Famous Amos cookies) wanting a proposal for a LARGE regional micro. So we got to work and produced a new business plan. In the end the deal did not go through because the investment tax incentives they had anticipated never materialized. Damn goverment bean counters!

By now we were really tired of the whole run around. Further, one of our trio was having to move to Denver so his wife could complete a medical internship. So the two of us remaining said screw it and signed a lease on a commercial warehouse space. I was selling footware at REI, preaching on the weekends and was hungry for something new.

We decided to begin with a single beer in the general style of Anchor Steam/bastard lager. We actually applied for the name Bastard Lager, but were deneighed. Of course a couple years later Stone received approval for Arrogant Bastard, but such is life. We went with Outlaw Lager and let it be.

I will stop there for now and if there is interest, continue with the next part to talk about putting the brewery together.
 

Cap'n Jewbeard

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That's fascinating - I'd like to know what feedback you got on the rejected business plan (the shiny one), if you don't mind sharing. Good tale so far.
 
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Brewpastor

Brewpastor

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RichBrewer said:
Why did you stop with the story????? :mug:
It is time for all you little ones to go to bed now....

Actually, I have a class to teach. I hate it when work gets in the way of life.
 

RichBrewer

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Brewpastor said:
It is time for all you little ones to go to bed now....

Actually, I have a class to teach. I hate it when work gets in the way of life.
Can I have just one home brew before I go to bed? Oh please, oh please???
 

Ize

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Long ago before you started this story I had done a little bit of research on The Rio Grande because of one of the other threads, but would much rather hear the story from the proverbial "horses mouth". :D

Got my vote :rockin: please continue when you can!


Ize
 

jackmoe

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This is very cool. I am starting the licensing process right now for my own similar venture. I am starting a blog so my partners and I can keep people abreast of the day to day things that come up and what it takes to get something like this going from scratch. Once that is up and running I will post it here for all to read. I look forward to reading more about your experiences.
 
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