Hey now....I posted this on another homebrewing forum but I think it is applicable to "going pro".
I have been brewing for a few years now and it quickly turned from a "hobby" to an obsession. So much so that I was seriously considering opening my own nanobrewery for the past year and a half. Anyways I agreed 6 months ago to pour my beer at the California Beer Festival thinking that I would be a fully licensed brewery by the date of the festival. Well my city wasn't to keen on the idea and it has been stalled due to zoning laws. The Festival though agreed to let me pour my beers. I knew this was a possibility since my homebrew club has had a booth there the last couple of years. I brewed up 50 gallons for the festival...10 corny kegs. 30 gallons of an India Red Ale and 20 gallons of a Belgian Wit.
I start setting up for the festival yesterday morning and I am a nervous wreck!! I am pouring next to the "big boys"....Stone, New Belgium, Firestone Walker, Alaskan, Anderson Valley, etc...I start thinking to myself "What have I gotten myself into?" This is a festival with 4000 beer drinkers!! The festival opens at 12 and first pour is at 1. People are lining up early in front of the "big boys". In front of my tap....not so much. Eventually a line does form and the festival gets underway. Here is where it gets good. No it gets great!! Within half an hour I have the longest line in the festival!! People are coming up to me and telling me that my beer is some of the best at the festival. They want to know where I am "located" and I tell them in my back garage. I can't believe how many high fives I got!! People waited in the longest line at the festival multiple times just to try a 4oz sample of my beer.
Here come the best part.....they have a People's Choice award. My homebrew, Two Trees Brewing Co, WON!!! When I found our little home brewery won...I swear I almost cried.
Now comes the hard part....what to do next. I already have the greatest job in the world(Firefighter) so I am NOT looking for a career change. I love my job and can't really imagine doing anything else as a "job". With that being said I also love brewing beer and apparently I have become quite good at it. The idea of owning a brewery is incredibly "romantic" and I can't believe the amount of support from friends, family, and my local community. I just don't know if I want to deal with all the headaches associated with running a business, much less a professional brewery. I currently sell my brewery t-shirts which covers most of my brewing costs. It then enables me to brew a ton and give away "free beer". In fact in some ways I have an advantage over the "real" breweries. They are donating beer that could be sold at 5 dollars a pint. If they pour 2 kegs worth of beer that is almost 1500 dollars of revenue that was "given away". I spent 250 dollars on brewing supplies but made double that selling t-shirts. I swear pouring MY beer at the beer festival and getting such fantastic accolades......well it was just overwhelming. Any advice or suggestions..??