Author Topic: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?  (Read 14648 times)

Offline dcbc

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #75 on: March 08, 2012, 05:34:21 PM »
He was running a law practice while he was taking the course by correspondence, mostly late at night after putting his three kids to bed.  I don't know how he did it all.

Huh, I didn't look closely enough at their website. I didn't know they did correspondence courses. I thought I was going to have to go to VT or CA for the course.

He spent a weak at Harpoon in VT as an internship after the course was complete, but did the rest of it in his living room in Texas.  Just got off the phone with him.  He said the cost of the course has paid for itself 10X in what he probably saved in setting up his brewery with the knowledge gained from it versus what he knew before.  That may be a mathematical exaggeration, but I get his point.

Here's a link to the "distance education" American Brewer's Guild course.  You need to be really focused to take this on by correspondence, but he certainly does vouch for its value.

http://www.abgbrew.com/distancedinfo.htm
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 05:37:03 PM by dcbc »
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Offline bbump22

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #76 on: March 10, 2012, 12:37:34 AM »
As a Pro Brewer...You would be very wise to hire a brewer who has experience with startups...There are brewing consultants out there for this particular purpose...but you said you would be buying a Brewpub, so that tells me it is already up and operating...if that is the case, keep the current brewer on staff, invest in a quality 10 gallon pilot system ($3k), and have him/her adjust the beers to what your vision is until you are up to the task.  Don't then drop the brewer who helped you get to where you are...Keep them and pay them well...it takes more than one person to run a brewhouse, even in a brewpub.   

My story, I started as a homebrewer, never went to Siebel (its intended for larger breweries, with more technical equipment, not brewpubs), got into the industry by volunteering at a 10 bbl startup on the West Coast, moved to the East Coast and now work for one of the top 10 CRAFT (under 50k bbls) breweries in the US.

Cheers and Goodluck!

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Offline bbump22

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #77 on: March 10, 2012, 12:46:09 AM »
About the food...I interviewed at Portsmouth Brewing Co. and they run a 7 BBL system and have 15 BBL FVs.  What the Brewmaster, Todd Mott told me was that they make about $8k per tank.  Think about it man, it might cost ~ $800 (on the very high end) to brew 2 x 7 BBL batches Some people said you will make all your money off food...bogus and very wrong...you'll make about .30 cents a plate off food....but beer wise, if your charging about $4-$5 per pint and it cost $1 to produce that pint, your making 80% profit....and thats being conservative.  I worked at a 10 bbl Production brewery with a tasting room and we made about 90% profit margin on pint sales. 

Just do the math man...

And look up RePublic Brewing - they were in the planning stages, never got their funding together, but shared a lot of great resources with folks....

mmmm....beer

Offline a10t2

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #78 on: March 10, 2012, 01:08:11 AM »
Some people said you will make all your money off food...

I don't think anyone said that. Several people have pointed out that a brewpub will do most of its *sales* as food, though.

The rule of thumb for casual dining restaurants is an 80-85% margin. About the same as draft beer.
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Offline bbump22

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #79 on: March 10, 2012, 01:56:50 AM »
I saw one comment on the first page that said "you will make most of you $$ of food", (didnt read the 5 pgs in between) so I generalized...but I agree that food is an entirely different biz then just selling beer. 

As a craft beer enthusiast though, I could care less about the food as long as the beer is good and you have some decent apps.  I like having a few beers and a few different appetizers on a Friday or Saturday...Never have I have gone to a brewpub because of their food.  For me, its food second.  Its all about your money maker, the beer man!

 
mmmm....beer

Offline boulderbrewer

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #80 on: March 10, 2012, 05:27:09 AM »
Kieth think braggot and the 4x premium.


very good info bbump22
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Offline majorvices

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #81 on: March 10, 2012, 12:44:44 PM »
I saw one comment on the first page that said "you will make most of you $$ of food", (didnt read the 5 pgs in between) so I generalized...but I agree that food is an entirely different biz then just selling beer. 

As a craft beer enthusiast though, I could care less about the food as long as the beer is good and you have some decent apps.  I like having a few beers and a few different appetizers on a Friday or Saturday...Never have I have gone to a brewpub because of their food.  For me, its food second.  Its all about your money maker, the beer man!

 

Of course beer enthusiasts care about the beer. But their wives, and the 80% of the rest of the population, care about the food. It's a well known fact in the industry that the beer is really a novelty in a brewpub. Not in all instanced, but in a vast majority. If your food sucks you are not going to be in existence long in most cases. Not many people are going to be lining up at 11:30 am on a Tuesday to drink your beer for lunch, so how are you going to stay open? In any restaurant you need to keep people coming in the doors all week long, not just Friday and saturday nights or for a few hours a week during happy hour.

Again, there are exceptions, but not many.

Offline nateo

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #82 on: March 10, 2012, 02:34:59 PM »
It seems to me the biggest factor in success of a brewpub is location, both having a high-traffic location in the town, and being in a town that cares about good food.

Good beer and good food are only appreciated in certain geographical pockets. Growing up in Colorado, I took good food and good beer for granted. Even the smallish/hickish town I grew up in (Fruita CO, FWIW) had a couple of Thai restaurants within driving distance. Being raised in a culture with an above-average appreciation for food and drink really skewed my perception of how much "average" people care about the quality of what they consume.

Living in Missouri, the situation is completely different. The closest town to me has a population of 14k, and probably 20 fast food restaurants. There are a few locally-owned restaurants I've found to be passable, one that's good but never has any customers, and all the rest are aggressively bad, yet very busy. The beer situation is similar. With a few exceptions, mostly in St. Louis and KC, you can't get good beer in restaurants here. There are a few small outfits trying to change things, but they've only started in the last couple of years, and who knows if they'll be successful or not.

Even if you make the best beer and best food, if your customers don't want that, you won't stay in business long.
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Offline bbump22

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #83 on: March 10, 2012, 04:25:52 PM »
Can you share with me where these great brewpubs are with great food you speak of?  Id like to try them out.
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How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #84 on: March 10, 2012, 04:49:15 PM »
I saw one comment on the first page that said "you will make most of you $$ of food", (didnt read the 5 pgs in between) so I generalized...but I agree that food is an entirely different biz then just selling beer. 

As a craft beer enthusiast though, I could care less about the food as long as the beer is good and you have some decent apps.  I like having a few beers and a few different appetizers on a Friday or Saturday...Never have I have gone to a brewpub because of their food.  For me, its food second.  Its all about your money maker, the beer man!

 

I really think that you're in the minority.


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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #85 on: March 10, 2012, 05:04:15 PM »
Can you share with me where these great brewpubs are with great food you speak of?  Id like to try them out.
Grizzly Peak in Ann Arbor.  Hop Cat in Grand Rapids (they brew 3 barrels at a time, but have about 40 guest taps so they are also a beer baar).  Those come to mind quickly.  Oh, yeah, Redwood Lodge in Flint.

Pelican Pub in Oregon.

Revolution in Chicago.

There are a few production breweries that have really good food, but you wanted brewpubs.



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Offline bbump22

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #86 on: March 10, 2012, 05:13:11 PM »
Most likely I am...Im not arguing Denny, it was just my 2 cents and by no means am I an expert.

Brewpubs are great and I love going to them, personally I have a tough time finding ones on the East Coast that I go to for the food.  When I lived in Seattle, my favorite place to go was Maritime Brewing Co and I went for the food!  But on the flip side, I would go to Pike Brewing Co for the beer/location and eat before I went.  Im in Portsmouth now and Portsmouth Brewing is a great brewpub but I go for the incredible beers...The food is average.  Again, just my 2 cents.  Regardless, Im still going to go to brewpubs, gotta support the local brewers. 

Working/owning a brewpub would  be a dream job though, all the freedom you would have to be creative is pretty tempting to want to start one.  Much higher risk and investment compared to opening a production brewery though.  Best of luck to everyone interested in starting one...Hope to visit one day. 
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Offline bbump22

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #87 on: March 10, 2012, 05:14:51 PM »
Can you share with me where these great brewpubs are with great food you speak of?  Id like to try them out.
Grizzly Peak in Ann Arbor.  Hop Cat in Grand Rapids (they brew 3 barrels at a time, but have about 40 guest taps so they are also a beer baar).  Those come to mind quickly.  Oh, yeah, Redwood Lodge in Flint.

Pelican Pub in Oregon.

Revolution in Chicago.

There are a few production breweries that have really good food, but you wanted brewpubs.

Always wanted to go to Pelican Pub.  I have family in Chi-town so I will definitely check out Revolution, Thanks!
mmmm....beer

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #88 on: March 10, 2012, 06:03:25 PM »
We made one of our beers at Grizzly Peak.  It is the biggest brewpub by volume in Michigan.  They have the head brewer Duncan, and his 2 assistants.  We hade to grab something from the kitchen, and as we were back there before the lunch rush, I noticed the line of chefs/cooks doing various tasks. There is also the front grill and pizza oven that are staffed.  This says nothing of the dishwashers, busers, and servers.  Lots of staff, many multiples of the brewers and bartenders (they have 2 bars in the place).

Here is another fun fact.  When we were at beer camp and asked how many people worked at Sierra Nevada, the number was big, but that included the Taproom/Kitchan staff which outnumbered the brewery staff at the second largest craft brewery.

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How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #89 on: March 10, 2012, 07:49:57 PM »
Can you share with me where these great brewpubs are with great food you speak of?  Id like to try them out.
Grizzly Peak in Ann Arbor.  Hop Cat in Grand Rapids (they brew 3 barrels at a time, but have about 40 guest taps so they are also a beer baar).  Those come to mind quickly.  Oh, yeah, Redwood Lodge in Flint.

Pelican Pub in Oregon.

Revolution in Chicago.

There are a few production breweries that have really good food, but you wanted brewpubs.

Always wanted to go to Pelican Pub.  I have family in Chi-town so I will definitely check out Revolution, Thanks!

Here in OR great food at brewpubs is the norm.

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