Great, great article. I believe I have my answers. I've been collecting data on this topic for a while, including speaking directly to two nanobrewery owners: one who borrowed to start his nano and the other who saved up all the cash to buy the equipment outright. They both had extensive support structures to keep the breweries going, but no available capital for expansion, which was a red flag to me (from an analysis standpoint.)
I've got to accept that my primary business design (to quote the article above) is 1B, because that's an attractive model to the type of investors I've identified. A nano allows you to show the possible investors you've already got clients and the market you're focusing on is viable:
"1)(b) On the other hand, a nano is a great vehicle to get the investment needed to finance a viable craft brewery. In my opinion, that is the only rational reason to go through all of the trouble to build and operate a nano...The nano can be used to show real revenue and cost structure in your market, and can be extrapolated to any project size from there."
To summarize my findings, for anyone else looking closely at the business structure of a nano (in contrast to the romance of just owning a brewery):
1. A nanobrewery is only a viable source of revenue (after all expenses) if you can self-distribute. You can be self-sustaining, but don't expect you'll generate a growing amount of revenue to replace a consistent salary.
2. A nanobrewery should only be used to show you can generate capital so that you can significantly increase your investment capital to pump into the equipment necessary for expanding production and operational expenses. Nanobreweries will be too labor intensive to be a long-term plan.
3. (And I learned this at the NHC) The demand may spike, so just start with a 7BBL system with room for expansion and conditioning tanks.
4. Clearly outline in the business plan how this progression works.
5. You may not want to, but the market clearly shows that a good source of revenue is an IPA product.
Thanks again everyone for your patience with this research progression and you professional input. Greatly appreciate your help.