Author Topic: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?  (Read 2765 times)

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #60 on: March 02, 2012, 05:59:57 PM »
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.
Come on Keith, tell us what you REALLY think. :)
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Offline The Professor

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #61 on: March 02, 2012, 07:10:45 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.

I could believe it.  Mead is more expensive to produce due to the cost of honey (although the process takes considerably less effort than brewing beer), but then again, you could sell it for more.  And if you make a very high quality, well aged one, you can sell it for considerably more. 
A good mead is as good as the finest of fine wines.  But the very best meads do definitely benefit from a long aging.
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Offline nateo

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #62 on: March 02, 2012, 07:46:10 PM »
I'm a very recent mead enthusiast. Schlafly Brewing in St Louis made a sparkling mead for their taproom. AFAIK it was just a one-off thing, but it was really, really good. Mead doesn't have to taste like cheap white wine, but it usually does. The mead world just needs some beer brewers to show them how it's done. That's part of why I think selling a good mead might be a relatively untapped market, whereas good beer is fairly abundant and doesn't sell for much.

The biggest downside would be having to have a lot more cellaring space for all the stuff while it ages.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2012, 07:48:18 PM by nateo »
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Offline majorvices

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #63 on: March 03, 2012, 07:40:16 AM »
I certainly don't hate wine but I only drink it maybe 3 or 4 times a year. I certainly don't get jazzed up about drinking it. I can honestly say I've never had a mead I really liked, but I understand not all people have the same taste as me. But brewing jazzes me up. I love drinking beer and I love making beer. If I could not make a brewery work and had to open a meadery/winery up it would be like a consolation prize. I'd personally rather go back to graphic design the to have to dick around with something I don't truly love. Obviously that's just me talking. But dig deep down because it may be you too.
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Offline euge

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #64 on: March 03, 2012, 11:00:48 AM »
Hmmm.

There's good and bad mead. From what I've learned it is at least if not more as complicated to make excellent mead as beer.




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Offline nateo

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #65 on: March 03, 2012, 01:07:25 PM »
One of the things I really enjoy about homebrewing is being able to brew to taste, not to style, and being able to try a lot of different flavor combinations. I think the attitude with craft beer is changing, and I'm seeing a lot more small batch, one-off brews from breweries, but the bread and butter is the "regular" lineup. I think beer drinkers in general expect a lot of consistency from one batch to the next. Wine drinkers seem to enjoy the fact that different vintages taste different.

Ideally I'd like to have a brewery that only makes small-batch, one-off beers and gets like $40 a bottle for them, but ideally I'd have a draft system built into my rocket car. I'm not holding my breath for either one.
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Offline phunhog

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #66 on: March 03, 2012, 01:31:05 PM »
I think the hardest part of opening a meadery is getting people to try the product.  Most people have no idea what it is and fewer people like it enough to actually buy it.

Offline majorvices

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #67 on: March 03, 2012, 02:00:04 PM »
Hmmm.

There's good and bad mead. From what I've learned it is at least if not more as complicated to make excellent mead as beer.

Maybe there's good and bad for you, but I just don't really like it. It's the honey flavor I don't care for. I love honey on biscuits but I don't like to drink it.
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Offline dcbc

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #68 on: March 03, 2012, 02:21:53 PM »
Can't recall if this was mentioned yet, but consider going the Brewer's Guild Program. 

I would love to do that program, but at this point it's cost-prohibitive. We would have to hire at least a full time and part time employee, or two full time people, to replace me at our current business for 6 months. I think it might be cheaper to hire an out-of-work brewer to train me, as Sean suggested.

If there ends up being enough time between when we sell this place and buy the brewpub, the program might be feasible. Or maybe another tornado will come through and wipe out our whole operation. Then I'd have plenty of free time.

I hear you.  It is a good chunk of cash. Still, I would bet he has saved as much as he spent on the course in being able to set the brewery up right the first time. There is so much he did that he said he would not have thought to do had he not taken the course.  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.
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Offline nateo

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #69 on: March 03, 2012, 02:47:14 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.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #70 on: March 06, 2012, 09:55:34 AM »
I think it might be cheaper to hire an out-of-work brewer to train me, as Sean suggested.

I'm REAL cheap! ;)
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #71 on: March 06, 2012, 11:12:21 AM »
I'm a very recent mead enthusiast. Schlafly Brewing in St Louis made a sparkling mead for their taproom. AFAIK it was just a one-off thing, but it was really, really good. Mead doesn't have to taste like cheap white wine, but it usually does. The mead world just needs some beer brewers to show them how it's done. That's part of why I think selling a good mead might be a relatively untapped market, whereas good beer is fairly abundant and doesn't sell for much.

The biggest downside would be having to have a lot more cellaring space for all the stuff while it ages.

You can make good mead that is ready to drink in excellent condition in less time than it take to make a lager.  It doesn't have to take a long time.  Ken Schramm has shown the world how.  He started making homebrewed beer, became fascinated with mead, and wrote the book on mead making.  So yeah, he showed the world how its done.
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Offline nateo

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #72 on: March 06, 2012, 11:26:10 AM »
Beer brewers really get the short end of the stick in this country.  I'm sure this varies by state, but in Missouri it seems way easier to get a winery up and running than a brewery.

State Winery license fee- $5/500gal - includes being able to make, distribute, and sell retail by the bottle and by the glass on the same premises.
State microbrewery license - $5/100bbl - may not distribute, or own a distribution company.
State 22%-and-under alcohol manufacturer license - $200/year, requires you to buy separate wholesale license for $200 to distribute, additional $300 retail-by-drink license if you want a tasting room.

The winery license allows you to ship direct-to-consumer. For any type of malt beverage, you have to go through the 3-tier system. Even if you go the route where you're technically a "manufacturer" and own your own distro company, you still have to pay the taxes for selling it to yourself. Wineries also have more lax regulation, more like an agricultural product, than breweries, which are more like a food manufacturer. As far as I've found, wineries are not regulated by the FDA, while malt breweries are.

Hopfen: I actually ordered Ken's book. It should get here tomorrow. I can't wait to read it.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 11:48:10 AM by nateo »
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #73 on: March 06, 2012, 11:45:30 AM »
Ken had a Zymurgy article published after the book where he talks about staged nutrient additions. 

Steve Piatz covers making mead under the meadmakers Panel. Find and open it, no direct link.

http://www.ahaconference.org/past-presentations/2010-presentations/

Some of the staged nutrient additions are in the recipes from Ken's talk at the 2011 NHC. Direct link here.

http://www.ahaconference.org/seminars/simple-to-advanced-meadmaking-friday/attachment/mead-making-basic-to-advanced-2/
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Offline weithman5

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Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« Reply #74 on: March 06, 2012, 03:03:16 PM »
and may i add, you better have damn good food or they won't come back even if the beer is good.
I don't think that's true at all, not everyone goes out to eat AND drink.  Some people just want to stop somewhere after work for a couple beers and head home for dinner.
but most of those people stop at bars and not restaurants
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