Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Nanobrewery - The Lessons I've Learned

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Originally posted by PVHops View Post
    their was a question a few pages back that someone asked if 3 people splitting work load could handle full time jobs, and starting a brewery. And I don't recall seeing anyone answer
    Short Answer. Yes. You and two other people working day jobs and brewing nights and weekends would probably cover the workload.

    Long Answer. Expect all three of you to be working the near equivalent of two full time jobs. Assuming your day job is 40 hours a week, expect to put in another 20-30 on top of that. But also realize that most of the rest of the business world doesn't work on a night and weekend schedule. You can't receive grain orders at 9:00 at night on a Saturday. UPS/FedEx won't leave that emergency pump seal you ordered and had overnighted on your front porch so somebody's gotta take off work and sit around and wait for those types of things to show up. Most bars don't like to get keg deliveries in the middle of the big game on a Saturday afternoon. The idea of taking off one day a week to brew is a good start, but realistically you will probably have to spend a lot of that day catching up on business related items that have to take place during business hours...

    You mention not having money for a tasting room. I'd seriously consider waiting until you have the money to do that. Selling wholesale involves more costs and produces less margin. Other nanos can chime in here but I think most (if not all) of them will tell you that the only way to make a nano work is to sell almost everything through the taproom.


    So. If you are willing to work an extra 30 hours a week on top of your day job and receive very little (to no) compensation for it then you'll be just fine...oh, and you'll probably never see your family more than an hour or two a week from now on...

    Just remember the passion you have for it now WILL fade if you burn yourself out timewise and financially.
    Scott LaFollette
    Fifty West Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Comment


    • Originally posted by PVHops View Post
      We don't have money for a tasting room so distributing to local bars/restaurants would be what we're thinking to start.
      Don't expect to be making any money distributing kegs on a small system like that. If you don't have any money for a tasting room now, you'll have even less money after 6 months of distributing. Kegs to bars are a loss-leader to get people to become familiar with your brand and hopefully bring them into your tasting room. You need to get well past the 3bbl/7bbl double batch stage before production brewing and wholesale keg sales makes sense.

      I sell around 20 to 25 bbls a month out of my tasting room, with around 5bbls going to various accounts around town. I try to place those kegs close to tourist centers and high traffic areas and always ask if I can leave a large business card with a map on it with those accounts to hand out. Kegs are advertising until you get to 1000+ bbls/year (generalizing).

      People don't need much ambiance if the beer is good. Even less so if you have a real farm house setting. Some picnic tables, a little music, a nice brewery dog/cat - it really doesn't take much to flesh out a tasting room and it will make all the difference with the bottom line.
      Last edited by populuxebrewing; 07-13-2015, 03:08 PM. Reason: in before people asking for data to back up 1000 bbls/year

      Comment


      • Every nanobrewery I know of around Washington and Oregon that has closed in the last couple years has died from a) a zoning, neighbor, rent, or landlord conflict, b) overworked owner burnout and conflict among the principals, or c) insufficient profit due to using a distribution only model. (Or some combination of the three.)

        Note that "d) making terrible, terrible beer..." is, regrettably, not on that list.
        Russell Everett
        Co-Founder / Head Brewer
        Bainbridge Island Brewing
        Bainbridge Island, WA

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Bainbridge View Post
          Note that "d) making terrible, terrible beer..." is, regrettably, not on that list.
          +1 to this. Nano or not, sometimes I can't believe how some guys stay afloat despite the poor quality of their product...
          Scott LaFollette
          Fifty West Brewing Company
          Cincinnati, Ohio

          Comment


          • Plus 1

            Originally posted by yap View Post
            +1 to this. Nano or not, sometimes I can't believe how some guys stay afloat despite the poor quality of their product...
            I have just started telling people when their beer is terrible. I used to sugar coat it. Stop bringing me infected, under attenuated, under/over carbonated, off flavor beer that you think will win you a gold medal at the world beer cup! Pretty simple and affordable test people can do as a nano or larger to increase your quality, like use your senses. In the words of Paul Gataz "don't f#%& it up!"
            Cheers,

            Matt Whalen
            www.goodnaturebrewing.com

            Comment


            • save up

              I would save up for the bigger system. Could you save for a 10 bbl system? I have a 4 bbl system, and it is not enough space. We sell out of our more popular beers within 10 days. If I had a 10 bbl system, I could keep up with demand. Well, if I had a 10 bbl system we could have enough money to save up to purchase a larger 20 bbl system, which is what we really need. Instead, I am going to have to make the painful 10 bbl step, then immediately make another 20 bbl step within a year. Or work more harder?

              It seems easy to upgrade the systems as you grow, but it is quite difficult. When we upgraded from 1.5 bbl to 4 bbl, we were shut down for 2 weeks. We ran out of beer because we couldn't brew, I think we had 2 beers on tap for a week? Very embarrassing, not to mention it hurts financially.

              I don't want to tell you that you cannot do it, because I did with very little money. Im pretty sure you can do it, but it would be more funner with a bigger system.

              Comment


              • All great advice, And id assume more than just me think this way at first, but we were looking at it as paying ourselves for the brewing part of things, but not truly thinking about keg cleaning, distributing the kegs, etc. And if you added that up I see where at a few bbls week would be like working for 10$/hr. Which unfortunately can't pay mortgage that way. So I think we could save for maybe 6 more months and just spring for something like a 10bbl and some sort of tasting room, overlooking 15 acre hop yard is pretty cool ambiance I think.
                About the whole bad beer stuff, That was one of the driving factors of going with a smaller system at first to he'll get used to brewing on a larger scale without ditching a 10bbl batch, bc if a beer isn't good, you can't sell it, And all it takes is one bad beer to ruin your name in this town, We do have a new well being drilled in the next few weeks for the hop yard/brewery final location.
                Love this site, although sometimes harsh reality gets brought to the main stage, id rather hear it here vs in my pocket and sanity.

                Id love to hear from the guys who posted back in 2013-2014 to check in see their thoughts as the craft beer boom as taken off even more.

                Cheers!
                Dan Carroll
                Pleasant Valley Hops inc.
                Prospect Point Brewing
                Frederick md

                Comment


                • Originally posted by PVHops View Post
                  All great advice, And id assume more than just me think this way at first, but we were looking at it as paying ourselves for the brewing part of things, but not truly thinking about keg cleaning, distributing the kegs, etc. And if you added that up I see where at a few bbls week would be like working for 10$/hr. Which unfortunately can't pay mortgage that way. So I think we could save for maybe 6 more months and just spring for something like a 10bbl and some sort of tasting room, overlooking 15 acre hop yard is pretty cool ambiance I think.
                  About the whole bad beer stuff, That was one of the driving factors of going with a smaller system at first to he'll get used to brewing on a larger scale without ditching a 10bbl batch, bc if a beer isn't good, you can't sell it, And all it takes is one bad beer to ruin your name in this town, We do have a new well being drilled in the next few weeks for the hop yard/brewery final location.
                  Love this site, although sometimes harsh reality gets brought to the main stage, id rather hear it here vs in my pocket and sanity.

                  Id love to hear from the guys who posted back in 2013-2014 to check in see their thoughts as the craft beer boom as taken off even more.

                  Cheers!
                  We started back in January of 2012 and there were 85 breweries in NY there are now well over 200. We are lucky that NY was going through a big change in the way the lawmakers saw the industry and have been able to benefit from these changes. We are legally licensed as a Farm Brewery, which requires us to use at 20% malt, 20% hops, and 20% any other ingredient in making of our beer. It has some great benefits allowing us to open up to five satellite tasting rooms where we can sell beer by the glass and cider by the glass. We can even sell bottles of wine and or spirits as well. These all must be made in NY and labeled as "NY product."

                  Now that being said, we started on a 2 BBL system with a small tasting room and we were only allowed to sell growler fills or bottled product and we had one wholesale account. Even at this size we accounted for loss batch protection in our finances and coming from a homebrewing background there were certainly a few times we needed it. Thankfully insurance companies have caught up with the industry and are now offering brewery specific insurance to even the little guys. This didn't really exist when we started. Also, I don't care how great of a home fewer you are there is huge learning curve moving into a commercial system. Even on a two barrel.

                  We lasted in the two bbl for about six months and went immediately into a 7BBl system which we can comfortably produce 1200 bbls on. I don't recommend it but you can make a heck of a lot of beer on a 7bbl system if set up properly. Same goes with any system really. Add a separate mash mixer, over size your HLT by three or four times, add separate whirlpool, etc. 4 brews a day times 7 days week with the right tank farm and you can easily produce 10,000 BBLs a year.

                  We live in a pretty rural area (but it is a college town) and we go through about 300 bbls a year at our tap room. The rest goes out to wholesale. As someone stated above that beer is basically advertising for our tap room. We make very little money selling beer wholesale.

                  After four long years we are now up to 9 employees including my wife and myself. We are in the process of building 12,000 sqft facility in which we are putting a 4 vessel 30 BBl system or a 20hl (17 bbl) HEBS system with full packaging line. With a lot of hard work, good business sense, a lot of research, and perseverance, it can be done. Oh and make good beer. You don't make good beer because your friend tells you a me good beer. You make good beer because you care about the quality of your product, you set up a small lab and do test, and you learn what it takes to be a really good brewer.

                  I hope this post gives you a little inspiration and makes you put in a lot of thought before making the plunge into what will be a life altering event. Remember there is a lot of competition out there and if your beer is not good the customer will just move on to the next place. Good luck!
                  Cheers,

                  Matt Whalen
                  www.goodnaturebrewing.com

                  Comment


                  • This does help alot, we have officially decided to wait, are currrently pricing biuldings that could house brewery and taproom in one with some outdoor seating, also dealing with getting our driveway relocated to better acomodate traffic, etc. at this point hoping for still a possible 2016 opening! only time will tell tho, when everyone works full time jobs where commuting an hour to work is involved it makes it that much tougher to get things settled! i do love hearing your up to 9 employees too, creating jobs for local economy is great! i will be in ny soon for other hop realated activities, hopefully they will be close enough to come check out what you have going on while were there.. thanks again for the update!
                    cheers

                    Originally posted by goodnaturebrew View Post
                    We started back in January of 2012 and there were 85 breweries in NY there are now well over 200. We are lucky that NY was going through a big change in the way the lawmakers saw the industry and have been able to benefit from these changes. We are legally licensed as a Farm Brewery, which requires us to use at 20% malt, 20% hops, and 20% any other ingredient in making of our beer. It has some great benefits allowing us to open up to five satellite tasting rooms where we can sell beer by the glass and cider by the glass. We can even sell bottles of wine and or spirits as well. These all must be made in NY and labeled as "NY product."

                    Now that being said, we started on a 2 BBL system with a small tasting room and we were only allowed to sell growler fills or bottled product and we had one wholesale account. Even at this size we accounted for loss batch protection in our finances and coming from a homebrewing background there were certainly a few times we needed it. Thankfully insurance companies have caught up with the industry and are now offering brewery specific insurance to even the little guys. This didn't really exist when we started. Also, I don't care how great of a home fewer you are there is huge learning curve moving into a commercial system. Even on a two barrel.

                    We lasted in the two bbl for about six months and went immediately into a 7BBl system which we can comfortably produce 1200 bbls on. I don't recommend it but you can make a heck of a lot of beer on a 7bbl system if set up properly. Same goes with any system really. Add a separate mash mixer, over size your HLT by three or four times, add separate whirlpool, etc. 4 brews a day times 7 days week with the right tank farm and you can easily produce 10,000 BBLs a year.

                    We live in a pretty rural area (but it is a college town) and we go through about 300 bbls a year at our tap room. The rest goes out to wholesale. As someone stated above that beer is basically advertising for our tap room. We make very little money selling beer wholesale.

                    After four long years we are now up to 9 employees including my wife and myself. We are in the process of building 12,000 sqft facility in which we are putting a 4 vessel 30 BBl system or a 20hl (17 bbl) HEBS system with full packaging line. With a lot of hard work, good business sense, a lot of research, and perseverance, it can be done. Oh and make good beer. You don't make good beer because your friend tells you a me good beer. You make good beer because you care about the quality of your product, you set up a small lab and do test, and you learn what it takes to be a really good brewer.

                    I hope this post gives you a little inspiration and makes you put in a lot of thought before making the plunge into what will be a life altering event. Remember there is a lot of competition out there and if your beer is not good the customer will just move on to the next place. Good luck!
                    Dan Carroll
                    Pleasant Valley Hops inc.
                    Prospect Point Brewing
                    Frederick md

                    Comment


                    • We have been very successful at our little 1.5 BBL 600 sq ft brewery, but it's been a really hard journey. We've since upgraded to a 3 BBL Stout electric system, built a bottling line and started bottling, started doing tons of sours, and started a barrel program. We are opening a second 10 BBL location this summer! Not bad for two 25 year-olds with no money!

                      Originally posted by goodnaturebrew View Post
                      I hope this post gives you a little inspiration and makes you put in a lot of thought before making the plunge into what will be a life altering event. Remember there is a lot of competition out there and if your beer is not good the customer will just move on to the next place. Good luck!
                      Congratulations! You've got the right idea--nano is a stepping stone to something bigger. You can make money with a nano. I could pay myself about 60k a year if I didn't reinvest a lot into our expansion. But it's very frustrating being a nano...people expect you to be able to do the things that bigger breweries do, and we try, but it's quite hard.

                      On that last point, I work pretty tirelessly to try to wow people with beer. I've learned a lot about what makes some waves. We have two massive IPAs, a cherry cayenne IPA, imperial golden stout w/cocoa, vanilla, and coffee, and numerous brett kettle sours that we do. Keep one or two sessions on, and pull out all the stops on everything else. We do cask, nitro, and randall beers, too. We grow a lot of our own ingredients and are going to start doing spontaneously-fermented beers.

                      I have a pretty good blog at crookedrunbrewing.wordpress.com if you want to go more in-depth.
                      Last edited by CrookedRun; 12-25-2015, 08:36 AM.

                      Comment


                      • my $.02

                        Ive been open for almost 14 months. 5BBL brewery, tap room sales only. Town/County of ~60,000, fairly rural. Worked in foodservice all my life, most recently running an institutional kitchen with 60 employees for almost 20 years. Registered Dietitian and self taught homebrewer.

                        I was right list:
                        -Going 5BBL instead of 1.5BBL. Would have had to upgrade almost immediately
                        -Financing it myself. Loan out of retirement and a fistful of credit cards. In all, about 2/3 paid off this month.
                        -Getting a space that can expand. 3000sq/ft building. Been working out of the first floor. Getting ready to expand into 2nd floor.
                        -Not overpaying for the space and getting a good deal on the lease (no rent first year...but of course it took 16 months to open)
                        -Getting space in a retail district. 25% of my customers walk in from neighboring residential areas/nearby stores.
                        -Keeping taproom simple. Doesnt have to be perfect to start. Improvements can be done over time.
                        -Dumping bad batches. Dumped 7 batches over the year. Variety of reasons, mostly stupidity. Never having to lie about the beer is nice.
                        -Its a shit ton of hard work. Averaged 100 hours a week between day job and brewery. (had 5 days off in 2015. Not 5 days and weekends. 5 days.)

                        I was wrong:
                        -Used 3 plastic fermenters for ~9 months before getting proper vessels. Would have bought 1 stainless instead and grown from there.
                        -Way underestimated renovation costs. Added a bathroom, brewery plumbing and new electrical. I guessed $10k. More like $40k. And it all belongs to my landlord now.

                        You can make money as a small tap room. Depending on overhead and assuming its a one-man-show, you could prob make a go of it with as little as 30 seats. Ive since quit the day job, not making the same money of course, but happy and now have a few bucks after reinvesting every penny for a year. Started only opening Thu, Fri, Sat. Now open Wed-Sun. Anything under 10BBL I wouldnt even consider distribution, and 15 or larger prob makes the most sense. I am thinking about refusing even personal keg orders at this point. Not worth the hassle and I 'lose' at least $300 in sales every time a sell a keg directly.

                        Still working 7 days a week almost every week, but Ill take nights off from the tasting room. Brewing 1-2 days a week and at least one other day packaging. Some days are still 16 hours+. Somedays I just work on a little project for a few hours and watch netflix on the TV. Glad I did it. Life is good.

                        Comment


                        • Bump!

                          How are all the folks with 5-7 bbl systems doing these days? Anybody at this size 'not' selling most out the front door?

                          Comment


                          • There's so much wisdom in this old thread, and it's kind of funny it's gone so many pages as if the original post wasn't clear and to the point It's even funnier to me that nano breweries continue to open. Just visited one last week, great people, great location... so so much work.

                            re: the 5 - 7 BBL system question. We are 4 years and change into a 7 BBL system but in a very different market than most. We are in the middle of nowhere in north-central Wyoming, so while our sales to this point have been 50/50 retail/wholesale, the retail is all June - August and the wholesale is busting our asses 24/7 on this small, super-manual system and still not meeting orders. I consider it a "nano" given the business model we evolved into. We maxed out the space last year and brewed at capacity pretty much all of this year (which for us is 4x/week). I think you could make a decent living on a good 7 BBL system if most of your sales were out the door and you had enough business to keep more than a couple fermenters busy. Not big enough if you think wholesale sales might be in your future. We are working on a "sensible" expansion.

                            WITH THAT SAID, the regional guys are flaming out folks. The overall beer market grew at 0% last year. The craft market grew at like, 6%. And all of that was driven by micros. So I would be (super) ware of "going big" right now. YMMV

                            Data from the BA (love those guys).
                            Click image for larger version

Name:	i-QxrS4JH.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	50.3 KB
ID:	191526
                            Justin Smith

                            President & Business Development
                            Ten Sleep Brewing Co., Inc.
                            2549B Highway 16
                            PO Box 406
                            Ten Sleep, WY 82442
                            tensleepbrewing@gmail.com
                            www.tensleepbrewingco.com
                            www.facebook.com/TSBCo

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Coolhand View Post

                              WITH THAT SAID, the regional guys are flaming out folks. The overall beer market grew at 0% last year. The craft market grew at like, 6%. And all of that was driven by micros. So I would be (super) ware of "going big" right now. YMMV
                              with some specific regional exceptions, trying to go big distribution now is a good way to burn lots of cash. Anyone who asks, I tell them to look to small, brewpub-type operations where (as much as possible) 100% of your sales are retail out the door.

                              In the case of Alabama, brewpub has an annual limit of 10,000 barrels. I have heard people sneering at that cap, as it's "so small!". But look - honestly, properly, open-mindedly - at the production figures for the 6000 or so breweries that now operate in the USA. How many of them are over 4,000bbl? Quite a small percentage. Wouldn't you rather be doing 2,000bbl RETAIL sales rather than 4,000bbl WHOLESALE sales?

                              End rant

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by sjcarter View Post
                                with some specific regional exceptions, trying to go big distribution now is a good way to burn lots of cash. Anyone who asks, I tell them to look to small, brewpub-type operations where (as much as possible) 100% of your sales are retail out the door.

                                In the case of Alabama, brewpub has an annual limit of 10,000 barrels. I have heard people sneering at that cap, as it's "so small!". But look - honestly, properly, open-mindedly - at the production figures for the 6000 or so breweries that now operate in the USA. How many of them are over 4,000bbl? Quite a small percentage. Wouldn't you rather be doing 2,000bbl RETAIL sales rather than 4,000bbl WHOLESALE sales?

                                End rant
                                More like 2,000 bbl retail rather than 8,000 bbl wholesale! (smiley emoji not working...)

                                If I was doing 2,000 bbl retail I'd be a darned happy camper. That's a lot of full price pints...
                                Justin Smith

                                President & Business Development
                                Ten Sleep Brewing Co., Inc.
                                2549B Highway 16
                                PO Box 406
                                Ten Sleep, WY 82442
                                tensleepbrewing@gmail.com
                                www.tensleepbrewingco.com
                                www.facebook.com/TSBCo

                                Comment

                                Working...
                                X