Author Topic: "The Grand Timeline"  (Read 4708 times)

Offline majorvices

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"The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #45 on: April 20, 2012, 08:53:11 PM »
Sorry If that shocked you, joe jr. Life is shocking. So is opening a brewery.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2012, 08:56:48 PM by majorvices »
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Offline bo

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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #46 on: April 20, 2012, 08:59:53 PM »
Sorry If that shocked you, joe jr. Life is shocking. So is opening a brewery.

How many employees do you have working for you?

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"The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #47 on: April 20, 2012, 09:03:10 PM »
Anchor Steam: purchased by Fritz at age 28.

Fortunately he had a family fortune to help him along.


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And that's wrong? Did he rack up a big debt with his family? Do you really know? I don't.

Did I say it was wrong?  It just made it easier for him and less risky than it might be for others.  And actually I do know quite a bit about it since I grew up a couple blocks away from him.


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Offline bo

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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #48 on: April 20, 2012, 09:05:46 PM »
Anchor Steam: purchased by Fritz at age 28.

Fortunately he had a family fortune to help him along.


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And that's wrong? Did he rack up a big debt with his family? Do you really know? I don't.

Did I say it was wrong?  It just made it easier for him and less risky than it might be for others.  And actually I do know quite a bit about it since I grew up a couple blocks away from him.


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If I go to start a business, I'll take the easiest route long before I take the hard one. The fact is, he did it at a young age. Maybe you should have hung out with him. :D
« Last Edit: April 20, 2012, 09:08:06 PM by bo »

Offline majorvices

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"The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #49 on: April 20, 2012, 09:08:57 PM »
Sorry If that shocked you, joe jr. Life is shocking. So is opening a brewery.

How many employees do you have working for you?

I have three partners. I could not do all this on my own, though I do the majority - and all the brewing. Likewise I could not afford to fund an operation like this on my own. I am hoping to be able to hire some help on this year.
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Offline bo

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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #50 on: April 20, 2012, 09:14:13 PM »
Sorry If that shocked you, joe jr. Life is shocking. So is opening a brewery.

How many employees do you have working for you?

I have three partners. I could not do all this on my own, though I do the majority - and all the brewing. Likewise I could not afford to fund an operation like this on my own. I am hoping to be able to hire some help on this year.

Dude, you think you have it bad now, just wait until (if it happens) that you have 20 -30 employees working for you. The problems you have now will seem miniscule compared to that.

Offline majorvices

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"The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #51 on: April 20, 2012, 09:19:11 PM »
I don't doubt you are right. I just hope I make it that far. It's a tough rd. but like you said, so is any small business.
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Offline wiley

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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #52 on: April 21, 2012, 09:26:12 AM »
Well that sparked some debate! I'm going to apologize now for being a little off topic, but I feel compelled to write a short thesis...

I agree with just about all sides presented, and I appreciate the candid advice (as I'm sure most everyone in here does). But, in the sprit of pragmatism, I feel that it's best to add some color to the previous posts:

Yep, kids are hard -- that's why my wife and I have dedicated ourselves to bulldogs. I doubt that we'll ever know the happiness that goes along with having kids... but that's a CHOICE. Sure there's probably a parallel here (can't tell you for certain because of the aforementioned reasons); but I've never heard as much cynicism about being a good parent as I have about blowing tons of money and making crap beer no one will buy. I would hope that we (as humans) would be more honest with the first, rather than the latter. And if a failed brewery owner looks back with the question 'why didn't anyone tell me it would be so hard?', that's the exact reason why they failed -- lack of 'owning' it and expecting someone else to 'tell me'.

Yep, brewing is hard, blue collar work -- but that's where I come from... I grew up on a farm and have been working since before I was a teenager. Anyone that says farming isn't as hard as brewing has never farmed. I concur that it's highly probable that a number of folks looking to start a brewery haven't worked a string of hard days in a row. But to assume that someone doesn't know what hard work is chaps me.

Yep, small business is hard -- that's why I got two degrees is business (self-financed education, by the way) and haven't stopped there; I began working as a financial consultant to get the best experience and exposure to business as I can. I've clocked plenty of 100+ hour weeks in the last five years consulting for breweries, can manufacturers, and BIG startups (read: hundreds of millions).

As far as Anchor is concerned:
Did I say it was wrong?  It just made it easier for him and less risky than it might be for others.  And actually I do know quite a bit about it since I grew up a couple blocks away from him.

Denny?! Come on, buddy;D... cooooommmmmmeeeee oonnnnnn........

1) Yes, Fritz had some financial resources -- that's why I specifically stated 'purchased'. I wouldn't say that having financial resources made it easier for him -- it made turning Anchor around POSSIBLE. I don't think that anyone will argue that you'll need a hell of a lot more than financial resources and a good product (see #2 below) to run a successful brewery. Work ethic, smarts, determination, creativity and luck are VITAL components to making it work -- amiright, Keith? 

Anchor steam??? Common giys. We are talking about building a brewery ground up not starting with an established brand and family fortune. Doesn't work here. Rich guys are racing yachts not home brewing.

Keith?! Come on, buddy;D... cooooommmmmmeeeee oonnnnnn........

2) An established brand? You're kidding, right?
Per Wikipedia:
"By 1965, however, it [Anchor Brewing Company] was doing so poorly that it nearly closed again [yep, twice!]. Anchor's situation continued to deteriorate largely because the current owners lacked the expertise and attention to cleanliness that are required to produce consistent batches of beer for commercial consumption. The brewery gained a deserved reputation for producing sour, bad beer. In 1965... [Fritz] bought the brewery, saving it from closure. Maytag purchased 51 percent of the brewery for several thousand dollars, and later purchased the brewery outright."

I would argue that the road of taking a crap reputation with existing copper/stainless (AND KEEPING THE SAME NAME!!) is infinitely more difficult than building a solid reputation from scratch. The 'family fortune' is minuscule in comparison to what Fritz was able to accomplish. Oh, and did I mention that he started doing it at 28? ;-D

I don't want to cause TOO much of a stir (OK, maybe a little bit ;-D), but I do want to point out that (in general) the posts I've read are put forth from a 'one size fits all' perspective. A number of them are condescending and patronizing -- I've only ever gotten that once from the 30+ brewery owners I've spoken with. And actually, here's a great story that goes really well along with the sentiment of 'putting a different spin on it':

Matt Cutter from Upslope Brewing Company sold me my first 7 BBL fermenters over two years ago. I showed up with a Penske rental truck, a cashier's check in hand, and a half full corny of blueberry wheat that I had thrown in the back of the truck (and had bounced all along the road to Boulder). After loading the fermenters, I asked Matt if he would like to try the beer (at something like 9:00 AM). He smiled and said "Sure", went inside to grab a few glasses and came back. Obviously, the beer poured like s*** after bouncing along in the back of the rental truck, but Matt smiled and sipped it nonetheless. Matt, being inquisitive, asked how I planned to unload the fermenters and if I had a CIP system set up to clean them -- I believe my response was "CIP? I'm open to suggestions..." At that point, I'm sure Matt couldn't believe the new home his (now my) fermenters would be going to. Again he smiled, and began to show me his CIP system....

The industry (and this forum) needs more of Matt and less of what we've been hearing...

PS -- we got the fermenters unloaded and used them that weekend....


... and made crap beer -- but the beer has been constantly improving ever since ;-D Hell, maybe one day we'll actually be able to sell it. Anyone who wants to learn how to unload 7 BBL fermenters without a forklift or pallet jack, feel free to PM me.

Cheers!
« Last Edit: April 21, 2012, 09:30:58 AM by wiley »

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #53 on: April 21, 2012, 10:11:26 AM »
Avery Brewing Company: started by Adam Avery at age 27.
Oskar Blues: started by Dale Katechis at age 28.
New Belgium: started by Jeff Lebesch at age 27.
Sierra Nevada: started by Ken Grossman at age 25.
Anchor Steam: purchased by Fritz at age 28.

With the comments on this, remember that some depends on when you get in on the growth of an industry. The Bill Gates and such in the software industry were in at a ceratain time. Same can be said of the captains of the steel and oil industries when those were in the growth phase - see Malcom Gladwells books.

Fritz did have the family stock to sell, and the number of $5000 is stuck in my mind for the original inverstment in Anchor, which was essentialy a failed brewery.  That is more than $50,000 in todays money though.  Not like that was an overnight success either.

Ken Grosman has said they started with loans from family, and it was really hard to go back and ask for more money after they made one good batch, then dumped the next 10-12 due to quallity issues.

Juff Lebesch is no longer at New Belgium.  There are many that have started breweries and then lost control of them.  Happened to a guy here in MI recently.

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Offline narvin

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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #54 on: April 21, 2012, 10:33:27 AM »
On the other hand, a little dose of reality is good.  ;)  The people who are serious will still open breweries.  Remember the 90s when "microbrewing" was a fad that everyone wanted to get into?  The result was lots of bad beer, a bubble, and a crash that set back the whole industry for a while.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #55 on: April 21, 2012, 12:39:18 PM »
+1 to Narvin.

As far as age goes, I don't find it as much of an issue as some might. I'm not sure how good a brewer I would have been at 24 but that doesn't hold true for everyone. I was making pretty good beer after 2 years of brewing. I was making (IMO) excellent beer at about 8-10 years in. In my case any success I have is all situational. I took a buy out from my employer of 15 years. My wife works a good job so that I can do this. I have three partners that helped me fund it, along with a bank loan. This would not happen for me if any one of those puzzles had not fallen into play.

As far as Fritz goes, good post Wiley. But I think you underestimate the power of marketing. Clever marketing can turn around a bad brewery assuming the beer improves. I'm not saying it's easy. BUt it's easier than starting up a brewery from scratch. In Fritz's case he not only had a brand, but he had a story - the Cali common. That's a gold gem right there, worth $250K at least.

Also, a lot of problems go away when you throw money at it. If I had $100K sitting around I could olve a lot of my problems. OTOH that would just open up more problems and then I'd need $200K to trow at them.  ;)
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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #56 on: April 21, 2012, 01:06:22 PM »
Clever marketing can turn around a bad brewery assuming the beer improves.

It also can keep (and has kept) a bad brewery in business. ::)
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Offline majorvices

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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #57 on: April 21, 2012, 01:13:24 PM »
True dat.
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Offline phunhog

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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #58 on: April 21, 2012, 06:17:44 PM »
On the other hand, a little dose of reality is good.  ;)  The people who are serious will still open breweries.  Remember the 90s when "microbrewing" was a fad that everyone wanted to get into?  The result was lots of bad beer, a bubble, and a crash that set back the whole industry for a while.

Exactly! I am just wondering if we won't see another brewery bubble crash in the next few years. I don't even think it a matter of making bad beer. It's a matter of too many breweries competing for too few customers. It seems like every week I hear of another half dozen planned breweries, most under 7bbl. As has been stated before running a brewery is a lot of work.  How many people will stick with it if the financial incentive is not there? As someone else said....at the end of the day it is a job/business and if you aren't making money how long are you going to be around?

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Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« Reply #59 on: April 21, 2012, 07:21:50 PM »
Maybe it'll be a crash, maybe it'll be a consolidation, maybe a little of both.  I agree though with everyone and their brother opening up a brewery something's gotta give.
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