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General Category => Going Pro => Topic started by: Pi on August 11, 2011, 07:21:04 PM

Title: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: Pi on August 11, 2011, 07:21:04 PM
First, let me say thank you to whoever started this category! I have been kicking the idea around for some time. Part of my homebrewing "hobby" is to figure out how to do it and maybe eak out a small profit. I have run a small cabling business here in Maryland for 11 years, but would like to do more with the brewing arts. Before I go putting $$ down I dont know if I know enough about commercial brewing. I would like to brew for a couple local pubs. Was thinking maybe a 3bbl. If I brew at their location, is it easier to use their liquor licsense? What about selling at farm stands?
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: jaybeerman on August 11, 2011, 07:46:16 PM
when it comes down to it, it takes money.  a market helps too, but initial capital is important.  assuming you have the smarts to see problems before they arise, think you can run your own business and don't mind slaving away then you've got what it takes.  just remember while making beer is easy, running a business isn't for everyone.  good luck and cheers, j
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: Pi on August 11, 2011, 08:18:22 PM
Well, I started poking around and got jolted back to reality. I encourage reading http://www.soundbrew.com/small.html before quitting one's day job.
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: majorvices on August 11, 2011, 09:05:51 PM
You can still do it, just don't do it all on your own. Form an LLC with a handful of partners you trust and make sure everyone brings something to the table, especially money.  ;)

Another local brewery around these parts started with several partners and they have since ironed it down to four and have grown into a 20bbl brewery. Two of them brew and put in between 20-30 hours per week in addition to their full time jobs. The other 2 come in and help with cellaring. They also have a PT person they pay min. wage.
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: thebeermedic on August 27, 2011, 07:05:00 PM
The question you have to ask is: If this is the path I want to take what am I willing to do to get there? 
Many probrewers look down on nanos. Kind of like the big guys used to look down on micro/craft brewers, so don't be discouraged by soundbrewing or any others if this is your dream.  Are you willing/able to work full time & brew after work & on weekends to make it happen?  Do you have a relationship with pub/resturant/bar/tavern owners to give you bar space? You know how to run your own business, market your self and develop a client base. These skills may be just as important as your brewing abilities.  Dream big, start small & be patient you don't get there overnight. If you can slowly grow eventually you maybe able to quit your day job or at least put more time in to brewing. Not everyone will be or wants to be the next Dogfish but most of us  would love to see our beer in an establishment of some sort.
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: phunhog on September 25, 2011, 06:23:58 PM
Hey now....I posted this on another homebrewing forum but I think it is applicable to "going pro".
I have been brewing for a few years now and it quickly turned from a "hobby" to an obsession. So much so that I was seriously considering opening my own nanobrewery for the past year and a half. Anyways I agreed 6 months ago to pour my beer at the California Beer Festival thinking that I would be a fully licensed brewery by the date of the festival. Well my city wasn't to keen on the idea and it has been stalled due to zoning laws. The Festival though agreed to let me pour my beers. I knew this was a possibility since my homebrew club has had a booth there the last couple of years. I brewed up 50 gallons for the festival...10 corny kegs. 30 gallons of an India Red Ale and 20 gallons of a Belgian Wit.
I start setting up for the festival yesterday morning and I am a nervous wreck!! I am pouring next to the "big boys"....Stone, New Belgium, Firestone Walker, Alaskan, Anderson Valley, etc...I start thinking to myself "What have I gotten myself into?" This is a festival with 4000 beer drinkers!! The festival opens at 12 and first pour is at 1. People are lining up early in front of the "big boys". In front of my tap....not so much. Eventually a line does form and the festival gets underway. Here is where it gets good. No it gets great!! Within half an hour I have the longest line in the festival!! People are coming up to me and telling me that my beer is some of the best at the festival. They want to know where I am "located" and I tell them in my back garage. I can't believe how many high fives I got!! People waited in the longest line at the festival multiple times just to try a 4oz sample of my beer.
Here come the best part.....they have a People's Choice award. My homebrew, Two Trees Brewing Co, WON!!! When I found our little home brewery won...I swear I almost cried.
Now comes the hard part....what to do next.  I already have the greatest job in the world(Firefighter) so I am NOT looking for a career change. I love my job and can't really imagine doing anything else as a "job".  With that being said I also love brewing beer and apparently I have become quite good at it. The idea of owning a brewery is incredibly "romantic" and I can't believe the amount of support from friends, family, and my local community.  I just don't know if I want to deal with all the headaches associated with running a business, much less a professional brewery. I currently sell my brewery t-shirts which covers most of my brewing costs.  It then enables me to brew a ton and give away "free beer".   In fact in some ways I have an advantage over the "real" breweries.  They are donating beer that could be sold at 5 dollars a pint. If they pour 2 kegs worth of beer  that is almost 1500 dollars of revenue that was "given away". I spent 250 dollars on brewing supplies but made double that selling t-shirts. I swear pouring MY beer at the beer festival and getting such fantastic accolades......well it was just overwhelming. Any advice or suggestions..??
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: denny on September 25, 2011, 06:29:32 PM
This is not intended to sound harsh, but put your ego aside and brew for fun.  You have an important job that you love.  You're not sure I want to run a business.  I ran my own business for nearly 30 years.  Loved the work part, but HATED running a business.  My advice is to keep brewing for a hobby.  You'll get the accolades from your friends, which is worth even more than accolades from customers.
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: jeffy on September 25, 2011, 06:36:19 PM
I agree with Denny.  Why ruin a perfectly good hobby by going pro?
Do you have the time to keep your firefighter job and slowly build a bigger brewery in your spare time by making and buying larger equipment?  You may be set by the time you're ready to retire.
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: tubercle on September 25, 2011, 06:37:07 PM
Sounds to me you need to be selling t-shirts.
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: phunhog on September 25, 2011, 07:21:13 PM
This is not intended to sound harsh, but put your ego aside and brew for fun.  You have an important job that you love.  You're not sure I want to run a business.  I ran my own business for nearly 30 years.  Loved the work part, but HATED running a business.  My advice is to keep brewing for a hobby.  You'll get the accolades from your friends, which is worth even more than accolades from customers.

I don't think it sounds harsh at all!!  It seems to me that brewing beer is the "easy" part of running a brewery. It is the business side of things that make it ....not so fun.   I just love to put a beer that I made into other people's hands, but I can only host so many parties ;D
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on September 25, 2011, 10:42:49 PM
This is not intended to sound harsh, but put your ego aside and brew for fun.  You have an important job that you love.  You're not sure I want to run a business.  I ran my own business for nearly 30 years.  Loved the work part, but HATED running a business.  My advice is to keep brewing for a hobby.  You'll get the accolades from your friends, which is worth even more than accolades from customers.

I don't think it sounds harsh at all!!  It seems to me that brewing beer is the "easy" part of running a brewery. It is the business side of things that make it ....not so fun.   I just love to put a beer that I made into other people's hands, but I can only host so many parties ;D
I guess I was lucky enough that someone else made decision if I keep my job or not.
Brewing beer is the easy part for us in the brewery.
Selling the beer is the hard part.
Collecting late payment is unpleasant.
But it is all the part of running a business.
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: majorvices on September 26, 2011, 02:15:58 AM
Brewing beer is the easy part for us in the brewery.
Selling the beer is the hard part.
Collecting late payment is unpleasant.
But it is all the part of running a business.

you should seriously consider contracting a distributor. I don;t worry about selling beer. All of my beer is sold to the distributor. They send us a check and sell our beer to pubs and bars (most of which we choose, but certainly not all, we can also choose if we want to pull a tap for whatever reason - and we have done that before). The distributor also takes care of cleaning all the lines our beer touches. They sell our beer clear across the other side of the state. Makes life much easier for me. I couldn't do this if I had to take care of distribution. You are probably not even saving any money by self distribution if you count your time.
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on September 26, 2011, 03:59:09 AM
Brewing beer is the easy part for us in the brewery.
Selling the beer is the hard part.
Collecting late payment is unpleasant.
But it is all the part of running a business.

you should seriously consider contracting a distributor. I don;t worry about selling beer. All of my beer is sold to the distributor. They send us a check and sell our beer to pubs and bars (most of which we choose, but certainly not all, we can also choose if we want to pull a tap for whatever reason - and we have done that before). The distributor also takes care of cleaning all the lines our beer touches. They sell our beer clear across the other side of the state. Makes life much easier for me. I couldn't do this if I had to take care of distribution. You are probably not even saving any money by self distribution if you count your time.
I am not complaining.
It is going pretty good.
Self distribution has its own advantages too.
We are local brewery and now can not keep up with demand.
We do not sell farther then 20 miles from brewery.
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: majorvices on September 26, 2011, 11:26:14 AM
OK, as long as you are not complaining.  ;)
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: Gribble on October 01, 2011, 04:36:02 AM
I am currently in the process of going pro.  I have been brewing for 7 years, worked at a commercial brewery (Ice Harbor) for a year and a half and decided to make the switch to business owner/brewmaster.  My business partners and I built up our hombrew operation to professional level (increased temp controls, conicals, etc) and have been brewing pilot batches while the paper work is getting taken care of.  I am in the fortunate situation to have partners that take care of the paper work and marketing etc so I can enjoy continuing to "just make beer."  Of course my duties aren't limited to strictly making the beer.  I still have meetings and approvals on things but not having to be 100% hands on with all the dirty business stuff is going to be a god send and make me not hate brewing.
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: ibru on October 01, 2011, 05:12:25 PM
Gribble- Are you planning on being in the TriCities area?
Title: Re: Do I got what it takes?
Post by: Gribble on October 04, 2011, 05:20:11 AM
Yeah man, we're hopefully going to be setting up in Kennewick, currently we're brewing in Badger Canyon right outside of West Kennewick.