Author Topic: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?  (Read 4425 times)

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #45 on: March 01, 2012, 06:04:30 PM »
Lots of good advice around here! I think ultimately it all depends on what YOU want out of the deal. All I want out of owning a small brewery is the ability to brew more than 200 gallons a year,  having local people stop by for a pint or growler, and the ability to donate beer for local charity fundraisers. These are all things that are currently illegal for homebrewers to do, at least in my state.  I am not quitting my job nor looking for a second career. You could even look at it as an extension of homebrewing but with the chance to make a little money, which is more than I make homebrewing ;)
The only issue with your plan is that you can not brew commercially from place of your residence.
That mean that you will have to pay rent and other expenses that you do not accrued when you brew at home.
When you homebrew you brew at will.
When you brew commercially you have to meet expectations.
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Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
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Offline majorvices

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #46 on: March 01, 2012, 06:26:00 PM »
You could even look at it as an extension of homebrewing but with the chance to make a little money, which is more than I make homebrewing ;)

Just be aware that you will most likely need to brew on at least a 3 bbl scale to make any money to compensate your time. Also, as Thirsty has mentioned - it may not be legal to brew on your premises (but it might depending where you live.)

When I was homebrewing on my 12 gallon system I was downright greedy with my beer. I never gave away growlers and I would not have entertained selling either even if it was legal simply because no one would have wanted to pay what it was worth to my time. If you came over to my house I would gladly drink the beer with you, because that was part of the fun. But 12 gallons, let alone 5 gallons, of homebrew is some of the most expensive beer in the world if you look at the time involved.
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Offline nateo

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #47 on: March 01, 2012, 08:16:16 PM »
Just be aware that you will most likely need to brew on at least a 3 bbl scale to make any money to compensate your time.

Major, how big is your system? I've been crunching the numbers for a 3bbl system, and I'm scratching my head trying to figure out how guys make any money on a 3bbl system. It looks like you could break even, which would be fine for what I'm wanting to do, but I'm having a hard time seeing how some brewers can support themselves on systems that small. Maybe I'm being overly pessimistic?
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline majorvices

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #48 on: March 01, 2012, 08:32:26 PM »
perhaps you didn't see my "brewery update" thread, but I have a 15 bbl system up and running now. I'm only currently filling 7 bbl fermenters though. I'm also running the "pilot" system full time. Hoping to add some larger fermenters this year. I seriously doubt you could ever make money on a 3 bbl system. You could break even though, as long as you don;t mind working 30-40+ hours a week for free.
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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #49 on: March 01, 2012, 08:34:12 PM »
Just be aware that you will most likely need to brew on at least a 3 bbl scale to make any money to compensate your time.

Major, how big is your system? I've been crunching the numbers for a 3bbl system, and I'm scratching my head trying to figure out how guys make any money on a 3bbl system. It looks like you could break even, which would be fine for what I'm wanting to do, but I'm having a hard time seeing how some brewers can support themselves on systems that small. Maybe I'm being overly pessimistic?

Remember that 3 BBL brewhous can make a lot of beer.
If you brew double batch 4 days a week that is 24 BBL a week (a lot of work thou).
Tanks are the most expensive equipment in the brewery.

It also depend if you sell beer in house or wholesale.
You generate 3 times as much sales when you sell in house.
Then of course there is more expense with in house sales.

I brew 20 to 30 BBL a month (I could brew up to 60 BBL a month).
I double brew and I brew 2 to 3 day a month.
I self distribute and I spend a lot of time talking to my customers and making deliveries.
Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer

Offline boulderbrewer

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #50 on: March 01, 2012, 09:19:33 PM »
You could even look at it as an extension of homebrewing but with the chance to make a little money, which is more than I make homebrewing ;)

Just be aware that you will most likely need to brew on at least a 3 bbl scale to make any money to compensate your time. Also, as Thirsty has mentioned - it may not be legal to brew on your premises (but it might depending where you live.)

When I was homebrewing on my 12 gallon system I was downright greedy with my beer. I never gave away growlers and I would not have entertained selling either even if it was legal simply because no one would have wanted to pay what it was worth to my time. If you came over to my house I would gladly drink the beer with you, because that was part of the fun. But 12 gallons, let alone 5 gallons, of homebrew is some of the most expensive beer in the world if you look at the time involved.

That is why I never had your beer! I have to go to your house. Makes sense now. LOL!
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Offline phunhog

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #51 on: March 01, 2012, 10:51:21 PM »
Just be aware that you will most likely need to brew on at least a 3 bbl scale to make any money to compensate your time.

Major, how big is your system? I've been crunching the numbers for a 3bbl system, and I'm scratching my head trying to figure out how guys make any money on a 3bbl system. It looks like you could break even, which would be fine for what I'm wanting to do, but I'm having a hard time seeing how some brewers can support themselves on systems that small. Maybe I'm being overly pessimistic?

Thanks for all advice...maybe I am being overly optimistic. Now I know we aren't supposed to talk about price on this forum so I won't. I see a bbl though as just a little over 250 pints. Now times that by the "going rate" for a pint of craft beer.  If you were to sell 3-4 bbls a month, via a tap room, I "should" be able to pretty easily cover my costs i.e. (rent, utilities, taxes, grain, etc..). Of course, like I said earlier, I am not looking at this as a career change. It doesn't have to make a lot of money, but it can't lose money.

Offline anthony

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #52 on: March 01, 2012, 11:11:16 PM »
It will depend on your rent, how much utilities are you in your area, what sort of improvements you have to do to the facility, how much your various insurance premiums are, etc. If you pay yourself absolutely nothing, it will be easier to break even as well, at least on paper.

A BBL is definitely not over 250 pints though.

Offline boulderbrewer

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #53 on: March 01, 2012, 11:41:51 PM »
a half barrel at $450 per served as a pint is optimistic. How many pints can you sell at 3.75. How many hours are you open, what are you paying for that?
Who is pouring and are you making the local bars(customers) mad because you are cutting them out with your tap house, cut your hours (less money) and sell to bars cut your margin. The story is, it is a tough business, It will take a full time job to get the part time pay. If you can do it all the better and when we meet I will toast a pint with you.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #54 on: March 02, 2012, 05:15:27 AM »
You might could make it work on a 3 bbl system if you served most of it out of your own door. I've never run the numbers for that. I am thinking production brewery only. I am not set up right now to open a tap room, but one of the local breweries who has is making enough to cover their lease and then some - and I know their lease ain't cheap because they are leasing the quipment as well.

But think about the other problem of liability insurance, hiring help to serve and clean (unless you plan on doing all the brewing and serving and cleaning).
Keith Y.

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Offline nateo

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #55 on: March 02, 2012, 06:00:45 AM »
The logistics of selling 750 pints in-house at a taproom would depend a lot on location. A lot of people don't like to drink a lot without eating something, and a lot people don't like to drink a lot and then drive home (far too many probably do). If your taproom is open 30 hours a week, you'd need to sell 25 pints/hour to sell 3bbl in a week. You'd probably always need about a dozen people in your taproom to make that work. You'd probably need capacity for two or three times that during peak business. Serving and seating that many becomes an issue at that point, and a 3bbl system in a brewpub/restaurant starts to make a lot more sense.

Great Divide taproom in Denver was crazy busy on ballgame nights because it was walking distance from the field, but a lot of the time there are only one or two people drinking there.
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #56 on: March 02, 2012, 01:26:29 PM »
I am opening a tap room in spring. I am hoping to start selling package beer in cases too.
I am not sure if I cover rent with it. Most likely not. We will see.
Na Zdravie

On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer

Offline phunhog

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #57 on: March 02, 2012, 03:59:56 PM »
You know the more and more I think about it.. I should really consider Plan B for now.  Give away the beer to local's and sell brewery merchandise.  A lot less potential headaches....plus who doesn't like free beer ;)

Offline nateo

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #58 on: March 02, 2012, 04:55:34 PM »
I've been crunching more numbers, and reading up on liquor laws in Missouri. Thanks to direct-to-consumer wine shipping laws, a 2bbl nano-meadery would be between 2-7x more profitable (depending on how much I could sell direct and how much wholesale) than a 3bbl nanobrewery. It would also require a lot less time and effort brewing, and a lot less equipment.
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline majorvices

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #59 on: March 02, 2012, 05:52:24 PM »
I've been crunching more numbers, and reading up on liquor laws in Missouri. Thanks to direct-to-consumer wine shipping laws, a 2bbl nano-meadery would be between 2-7x more profitable (depending on how much I could sell direct and how much wholesale) than a 3bbl nanobrewery. It would also require a lot less time and effort brewing, and a lot less equipment.

So after a hard day of brewing you pour yourself a tall glass of .... mead. Bleach. Mead sucks. I don;t see why anyone would want to drink it let alone make it.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2012, 05:58:45 PM by majorvices »
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