Author Topic: What point made you go pro?  (Read 885 times)

Offline F16pointy

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What point made you go pro?
« on: October 28, 2018, 08:06:43 AM »
So i have been home brewing for awhile. Recently entered a few home brew competitions. I won first place in a local comp and i took gold and a bronze in a state wide comp. i love making beer, probably my favorite thing to do. Im a retired vet and currently in school for engineering. There is a chance i could attend Siebel, but before taking that leap I am curious at what point did the pros decide they had what it takes to open a brewery? Im in a small market area of about 100k population with 2 microbreweries. I am thinking of doing a 3.5 barrel setup with 7 bbl fermenters where i can do double batches. My biggest concern is what i dont know about large batch brewing. The business side i have a better grasp on though. I guess im looking at the resources availible to learn large batch if i dont attend seibel, and what convinced you that what you brew is marketable? Thanks! I appreciate any feedback!

Offline Visor

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Re: What point made you go pro?
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2018, 03:50:20 PM »
There are other programs out there besides Siebel and most are less costly, but theirs does seem to be the most accelerated, read as least time commitment. Depending on your location you might do some checking around before committing to Siebel.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: What point made you go pro?
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2018, 06:48:30 PM »
I'd suggest that a good first step is a temp job/apprenticeship at a small brewery. A lot of the processes that are best-practice in a brewery just aren't available or necessary to home brewers. Plus, enjoying home brewing doesn't necessarily mean the sweaty back-breaking stuff will appeal long-term. Though if you enjoy engineering I suspect the production side won't turn you off too much. A business background is great; that's definitely been my biggest hurdle.

Siebel is a great program for honing your skills as a professional brewer but I wouldn't recommend it as anyone's first steps into the industry. I've worked with a couple Siebel grads with no industry experience and they weren't much more help in the brewhouse than an experienced homebrewer. Two cents from someone who hasn't attended but bought the course books.

On system size, I wouldn't go smaller than 7 bbl unless it's a small (<30 seat) taproom with no outside sales - or you're planning on doing a weekends-only semi-hobby kind of model. So little of your costs will be in the stainless that there's just no margin in it once you value your own time, plus vessel prices don't scale linearly. We paid ~30% more for a 15 bbl than the 7 bbl FVs.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 06:50:37 PM by a10t2 »
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Offline James K

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Re: What point made you go pro?
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2018, 09:33:46 PM »
On system size, I wouldn't go smaller than 7 bbl unless it's a small (<30 seat) taproom with no outside sales - or you're planning on doing a weekends-only semi-hobby kind of model. So little of your costs will be in the stainless that there's just no margin in it once you value your own time, plus vessel prices don't scale linearly. We paid ~30% more for a 15 bbl than the 7 bbl FVs.
That’s cool. I’m working on a business plan and I’ve been thinking of a 5bbl system. Double batch. Or quad batch, but never single.
Also a tap room a little larger than 30. Very few outside sales. Local, self, distribution is how I think of it.
I feel like home brewing (20 times or so a year) has helped me realize what I’d want. Such as main stay flagship beers. And smaller batch special beer.
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Offline boulderbrewer

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Re: What point made you go pro?
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2018, 05:03:39 PM »
I agree with a10t2. Work at a small brewery, just to see if you like it. Plus you should learn enough that when you open your own it is not such a large jump. I would not start a brewery again without at least a 10 barrel system. Also I would try to find used inexpensive equipment (ie Franken Brew). That will help when you first start when cash flow is slow. It will help you sleep at night, not worrying about a payment for that brand new brewhouse.
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Offline F16pointy

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Re: What point made you go pro?
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2018, 06:11:21 AM »
Unfortunately we only have a few small micro breweries, so not much chance for volunteering or picking up a job. Thats why i was thinking of going to school. Ill keep trying to find a spot so i can get some experience. The lack of breweries is why i want to open a brewery. Im not afraid of the work, i nerd out on the science of making beer. So it seems like a good fit. Appreciate all the advice!

Offline majorvices

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Re: What point made you go pro?
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2018, 03:54:25 PM »
What point? The moment I lost my sanity. ;) Seriously if you love making beer and it is what you want to do do it. It is a fun, challenging and satisfying career (well, the latter not so much financially.)

The jobs in the brewing industry that pay the most are going to be on the QC side, think micro biology and chemistry. A head brewer will make an average of $29-50k per year (the latter for lots of experience.)

I should add I opened my own brewery over 8 years ago. While I'm worth more on paper I make a lot less than I did annually at my original career. If you open your own business you better have a solid understanding of business management. That is where most companies, including breweries, fail.

Offline F16pointy

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Re: What point made you go pro?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2018, 09:22:47 AM »
Thanks, yeah i already have a decent income so i dont need to be pulling in $100k a year. I will finish my engineering degree and then look at doing volunteer work to learn the large batch stuff. Thanks again!

Offline Visor

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Re: What point made you go pro?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2018, 04:14:09 PM »
If you're seriously thinking about the brewing industry and still in school, I'd suggest learning as much biochemistry as you can squeeze in.
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Offline Ellismr

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Re: What point made you go pro?
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2019, 11:06:38 AM »
I’m a retired vet and I went to the American Brewers Guild as a nonresident I think the program is about six months but I got a lot out of that.  A little background though I had about 20 years of homebrewing experience and my home set up was pretty robust. 

Having said that I made the transition after an internship at a brewpub in Virginia to become an assistant Brewer at a start up brewery in Massachusetts when my wife transferred.  Two concerns I thought of when I read your post were the most breweries don’t want to take on assists for unless they have at least an internship or 2 to 3 years of brewing experience. 

When I attended the American Brewers Guild the last part of it after you pass the final exam is they set you up with a minimum six week internship with a partner brewery.  Several of my classmates were offered jobs at those breweries because they got to work there for free for a couple of months and they got to see if they liked the candidate. 

With regard to the size of your system if you don’t want to kill yourself working don’t go smaller than a seven barrel brewhouse with 15 barrel fermenters because you will be brewing all the time just to keep up with your over the counter sales and variety.  I have a buddy that has a brewery couple miles from me and he has a 3 1/2 barrel kit and he brews every day just about just to keep up. 

When I was looking to open up my own brewery I did the training at the American Brewers Guild I also read the book about starting a brewery by dick can’t well I think it’s published by the Brewers Association it’s a very good read it covers a lot of information that is still relevant today also there are courses that are like over the weekend courses for people that want to start a brewery there also offer by the American Brewers Guild I know some people that have attended those and it helped him make the decision of whether they really wanted to own one or work at one I will tell you that the profit margin‘s are not huge and you can make a living but you’re not going to be a millionaire. 

The one positive thing to owning your own brewery is have control over what gets brewed but keep in mind you also have to brew what sells if you want to keep the doors open.

Good luck




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