Author Topic: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make  (Read 2061 times)

Offline BrewBama

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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 »
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Offline el_capitan

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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.

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Offline tommymorris

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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. 


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Offline majorvices

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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.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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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
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Offline Buckeye Hydro

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Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2019, 11:09:56 AM »
Because we are a water treatment company...

I see many new breweries getting close to opening without giving adequate thought to water treatment.  That yields situations where there is no floorspace available for needed equipment, where there is no money available for adequately sized equipment, where there is little interest in learning how to use needed equipment, etc. 

Russ

Offline Michael Brown

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Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2019, 01:25:49 PM »
Old thread but for what its worth I am in the process of helping open a small brewpub in just a month or so as the head brewer and as an investor. Its been quite a two year journey to get to this point.  Just my observations to date:

1.  Decide whether you want to be a brewpub or a brewery.  There can be a big difference in business models and there can be significant differences in what you can do legally depending on what state you are in.  I didn't appreciate enough the difference when we started this process.  Some lessons learned apply to both types of licenses but many apply to one more than the other. 

2.  Understand the legal restrictions in your state and local area.  Don't make any assumptions and hire a good attorney with local beer/alcohol experience. Many don't want the expense, but trust me you will save yourself time and money in the long run. 

3.  Join the Brewers Association (not the AHA) and join your state's brewing guild or association.  Attend as many conferences and seminars as you can.  Attending CBC in Nashville, taking advantage of BA online training and webinars, and regularly attending my state's guild conferences and training has been invaluable.  Again don't shy away because of the expense; it will save you time and money in the long run.  Industry/peer mentoring and assistance from local brewpubs and breweries is invaluable.  Ditto for the Master Brewers Association.  We made and changed decisions based on what we learned from these events and contacts. 

4.  In some ways coming up with the beer recipes and making the beer is the easy part.  You need to spend as much, or more , time thinking about production management, business management, marketing, etc. as you do the beer.  This is arguably the biggest difference between homebrewing and professional brewing.

5.  Create something you can realistically manage from a knowledge and resource perspective.  The initial vision we had was a 20-30 bbl brewpub in a 10k sq/ft space.  No way we could raise that kind of capital and frankly outside our ability to manage at this point in time.  We will be opening a 7bbl brewpub in about 2k sq/ft in a matter of weeks.  It will be a challenge, but we have come a long, long way in the last two years.  In another few years, maybe a 20-30 bbl system in 10K sq/ft space will be very realistic and achievable.

6.  18-24 months of planning/preparation or longer is quite the norm even after you really start to get after it.  Licensing alone can take up to six months depending on your state.  You will likely need to come out of pocket for rent/lease for most, or all, of that time due to licensing requirements. Again check your local state laws. You will need an address that meets state and local zoning requirements just to get your Federal TTB license, which is generally needed to then get your state license.   Make sure you understand the licensing requirements.  Also finding a space that makes business sense and meets state and local zoning requirements can take a while-6 months is not out of the realm of reality. 

I'll update in a few months after we've opened!

Offline denny

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Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2019, 02:49:22 PM »
#4 above is the most important.  All too many people think a brewery or brewpub is about the beer.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2019, 02:58:18 PM »
Good list. Glad you got an attorney upfront.

Here in Michigan the business models between brewery and brewpub are distinct. What state are you in, if you care to say?

I know how to make beer. I know very little about selling beer in a production setting. Good luck!
Jeff Rankert
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Offline Kevin

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Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2019, 03:48:12 PM »
Have a market analysis done before you start. Especially if there are other small brewers in the area. With other brew pubs and craft breweries... even grocery stores with large selections to chose from... your marketplace may already be at or near the saturation point.
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Offline Michael Brown

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Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2019, 12:50:11 PM »
Ref above:

Were in Texas.  If anyone is at CBC next year in SATX look us up-were in town.

Marketing:  Good point on analysis but there are essentially three market areas: brewpub/taproom, bars/restaurants (other taps), and store shelves.  Based on being either a brewery or a brewpub and your business plan you need to look each of these.  For example, shelf competition for canned/bottled product might be tight, but there might be more market room at bars/restaurants, and you may have even better market dynamics for your brewpub/taproom.  This is really important for you to narrow your business plan since these three market areas represent very distinct margin tiers. 

Offline BrewBama

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Re: Common(or Uncommon) mistakes that new breweries make
« Reply #26 on: September 21, 2019, 02:09:44 PM »
San Antonio is a fun town!


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“From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world.” — St. Arnold

Brewed in the Tennessee Valley. Rocket City — Huntsville AL