Author Topic: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make  (Read 614 times)

Offline BrewBama

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1491
    • View Profile
Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2018, 03:10:11 PM »
I've been at a startup brewery for a year now and one mistake I see (among the many) is that the owners didn't consider that they'd be leaders of people. For any business with employees, an owner/partner must must must realize that they will be leaders. Employees will be looking to you to make decisions, set examples, provide performance feedback, etc. You must must must realize that "President of Human Resources" will be among your many job titles. If you don't manage your people well--if you don't lead them, in the truest sense of the word, all you'll be doing it tying one hand behind your back.

Great point.  Keith won't tell you this, but his brewery was voted one of the best places to work in Huntsville AL.  Remember, there are multiple breweries in Huntsville and he's the only one I saw on the nomination list.  http://hsvchamber.org/2018-best-places-work-see-contenders/ 
« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 03:13:26 PM by BrewBama »
Huntsville AL

Offline el_capitan

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 490
    • View Profile
Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2018, 09:10:59 PM »
 The  main problem with my local brewery is that they rush the beers and release them too soon. Nobody wants a cloudy undercarbed beer. It's really bad. So having enough space to adequately condition a beer before serving is key.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-J727AZ using Tapatalk


Offline tommymorris

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1996
  • Tommy M.
    • View Profile
Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2018, 12:34:39 AM »
My pet peeve is selling obviously bad beer; diacetyl bomb, infected beer, etc. I won’t even give away my bad batches. 


- formerly alestateyall.

Online majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 9640
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2018, 02:50:36 PM »
I've been at a startup brewery for a year now and one mistake I see (among the many) is that the owners didn't consider that they'd be leaders of people. For any business with employees, an owner/partner must must must realize that they will be leaders. Employees will be looking to you to make decisions, set examples, provide performance feedback, etc. You must must must realize that "President of Human Resources" will be among your many job titles. If you don't manage your people well--if you don't lead them, in the truest sense of the word, all you'll be doing it tying one hand behind your back.

Great point.  Keith won't tell you this, but his brewery was voted one of the best places to work in Huntsville AL.  Remember, there are multiple breweries in Huntsville and he's the only one I saw on the nomination list.  http://hsvchamber.org/2018-best-places-work-see-contenders/

Thanks for the shout out Dwayne! Yes, agree with the sentiment that business owners are leaders or people. Goes back to my point that most homebrewers who open a brewery aren't getting into it for the right reasons. They think they will be brewing as a job when in actuality they will be running a business. And if your vision is so narrow that you see yourself as being a brewer you either aren't going to have a successful brewery or you haven't opened your eyes to reality. What you end up doing is managing a brewery which is far more interesting than actually brewing.

Online hopfenundmalz

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8876
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2018, 03:03:44 PM »


Thanks everyone for the feedback! I appreciate the words of wisdom but as JT said this isn't exactly what I was hoping to uncover with my question. I feel as if your five points can be wrapped up into saying the biggest mistake you can make is not understanding that you are starting a business. I do agree that there is an over-saturation of breweries stemming from vanity projects but I don't agree that giving advice not to open a brewery is the answer. Might as well not get married because it will lead to divorce ;). Thank you for the input though!

OK since you didn't like my first five I'll give you a few more.

1) Not starting with enough funding.

2) Not starting with a lab or understanding the basic principals of operating a brewery lab (The "Yeast" book by White and Jamil can give you a good basic understanding of the test you need to be running)

3) starting way too small (see #1) or starting way too big. (I think 10-15 bbl is a good starting point. Start with 10-15 bbl fermentors then you can add 20-30 and double batch then you can add larger and triple or quad batch.)

4) Not having a good marketing plan which includes a talented graphic designer.

5) Not having a good business plan or a good business minded person on the team. I restate this because it is so important and can't be done by the head brewer and is a full time job. Wait till you see how many hours it takes to fill out your TTB and local ABC report.... LOL the look on your face please take a selfie. ;)

As far as vanity project what I mean is the idea of a brewery whose goal is to open a place to simply give the brewer a chance to offer his product as a source of pride (which is part of the reason we all homebrew - we love to offer our beer to our friends and have them say "wow!") as opposed to doing the same but framing it around a viable business plan that creates jobs and income not only for you and your partners but for the community. You can start on a 5 gallon system as long as you understand the path needed to get out of that model. If you start with a 5 gallon just because you have a dream of serving your beer you are in it for the wrong reasons. You can do that as a homebrewer (and have weekends off ;) )

Also, 69franx mentioned something about me being the "brewer" and, technically I am the "brewmaster" or "headbrewer" and while I still write recipes and help a lot with the labor I have 2 "leadbrewers" who actually do most of the labor of actual brewing (they come up with recipes too for tatsing room). In fact, yesterday was the first day I totally brewed a batch of beer in a long time. So that could be another mistake, thinking that you will be a "brewer" and brewing every day. Your job will become way, way, WAY too big for that. Essentially I am a Production Manager. Hell most days I don't even want to brew, I want to run the production it is much more challenging and fun job than turning valves and creating wort.

When Ken Grossman’s talk from Homebrewcon gets put up, you will be inspired while shaking your head. It was a different time.

They were broke, had rudimentary plans, and tons of determination. Started with a 10 barrel system fabbed from dairy equipment. He showed their simple lab as they had a commitment to quality from the beginning.

I agree with everything you said Keith, but one I could add is “don’t be afraid to dump some batches”. Ken said they dumped a dozen or so before they figured out that the yeast had a high requirement for O2.
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
AHA Governing Committee
BJCP National
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!