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Nanobrewery - The Lessons I've Learned

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  • #76
    Originally posted by einhorn View Post
    Also, just for conversation sake, 2500 pints means 83 pints every day of every week. How many seats do you have?
    Indoor seating for 26, outdoor for 12. Remember also, that is peak sales. I think you also have to understand my area. I live in Loudoun County in nothern Virginia, always ranked in the top three richest counties in the U.S. There is a booming wine trail that runs through here, and an emerging beer trail. My friend who runs a nano in the middle of nowhere is only open for four hours on Saturday and four hours on Sunday, and he sells a barrel a day. I'm not kidding when I say I have the best location in the county, too, so I should be able to do better than him. I based my forecast partially on his sales. There are literally not enough restaurants and drinking establishments out here; everywhere is packed on the weekends.

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    • #77
      Crooked Run piqued my curiosity in Loudoun County. From my quick research there have been at least 6 nanos opened or planning to be opened in Loudoun County. It certainly sounds like a nano should be able to sell a lot of pints, but I wonder how the new entrants will alter the environment. Will they just be stealing sales from each other, will they grow the whole area up, or a combination of the two?

      I'm also curious about how 2500 pints per month will work if you only have 38 seats, and your area is (apparently) dominated by weekend traffic. But I don't know anything about Loudoun County, so maybe people like standing around when they drink. I wonder what the fire marshal's limit on people in the bar is there?

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      • #78
        I guess all I can say is good luck. I think it would also be cool if you could come back to this thread 6-8 months after opening and after the honeymoon and let us know what unexpected, underestimated and uncalculated things you ran into, as well as if you sales numbers were accurate.

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        • #79
          Originally posted by einhorn View Post
          I guess all I can say is good luck. I think it would also be cool if you could come back to this thread 6-8 months after opening and after the honeymoon and let us know what unexpected, underestimated and uncalculated things you ran into, as well as if you sales numbers were accurate.
          Thanks! I will definitely come back and share my experiences.

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          • #80
            We are weeks from getting our new brewery open but I think the biggest things we have learned so far are:

            - Don't buy used equipment site unseen unless you know about it. 2 glycol chillers, both non-functioning within a month.

            - If you are doing things on a budget (not paying contractors for everything) add a couple/three months to your starting time. We planned on 3 - 4 months and it is taking 6 months into our lease to get it going with licensing, build out, more licensing etc.

            - Even if you think you have enough electricity, check with the power company, we had to pay for a new transformer to be put in on the street which killed our budget really fast.

            - A happy wife is a happy life... don't forget this while you are starting and running your brewery!

            Anyhow, I won't go too far with this since we're not yet open, but figured this business knowledge may help someone.

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            • #81
              The beginning

              When all of you Nano Breweries got started did you go with an attorney from the beginning or use a online company like Legal Zoom to do all of your Registering of the Business, Articles of Organization, Shareholder/Member agreements,...?

              maybe a mix of both was used. Please share and let me know if starting that relationship from the outset is valuable or should I just bring on that muscle when it is needed?

              Thanks,

              Guy

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              • #82
                Originally posted by BrewerGuy View Post
                When all of you Nano Breweries got started did you go with an attorney from the beginning or use a online company like Legal Zoom to do all of your Registering of the Business, Articles of Organization, Shareholder/Member agreements,...?

                maybe a mix of both was used. Please share and let me know if starting that relationship from the outset is valuable or should I just bring on that muscle when it is needed?

                Thanks,

                Guy
                We decided to go with Legal Zoom and used them to handle the trademarking of our name and create our S-Corp. Didn't run into anything unexpected so we didn't turn to a lawyer, though I image we would have if anything out of the ordinary came up.

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                • #83
                  Navigating the legal side isnt too tough to do yourself if you are willing to spend the time and do the research. As far as a lawyer goes, I recommend beginning the search for one right away regardless of whether you need one at the moment or not. Finding a GOOD lawyer that understands your needs, answers your phone calls timely and overall makes you feel comfortable is hard to find. Lawyers are a dime a dozen these days but GOOD lawyers are a little tougher to come by. You may never need one but when you do its usually something that needs addressed immediately and that is the worst time to begin searching the yellow pages. I've been in business for less than 2 years and am currently searching for my third lawyer because I didn't have it squared away earlier and it has certainly cost me...
                  Scott LaFollette
                  Fifty West Brewing Company
                  Cincinnati, Ohio

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                  • #84
                    O How I Have Learned!

                    Hey dudes.

                    My nano is now in its 6th month of operation. I just wanted to come on here and point out that when I was starting this whole thing, I had read this post and thought "Im going to prove this guy wrong, you just watch!" Well, I'm here to say that I agree with almost every point on here, and to everyone looking to start a nano, just remember that its REALLY REALLY HARD.

                    It does look like I did things a bit differently from the OP, so here are the four best bits of advice I could think of to add to this thread:

                    -Find a good building in a high traffic area. Enough with the warehouses. You want to sell your beers at retail, so find a spot that A. has foot traffic and B. Has room for you to grow.
                    -Make your taproom a fun and aesthetically pleasing place to hang. Your "brewhouse" won't look nice, but people will hang around and drink longer if the space is welcoming and doesn't look half-assed.
                    -Hire a bartender. If you do of all the above and your beer is decent you will need it because, like me, you will be brewing 10 batches a week and barely keeping up.
                    -Bank loans are for suckers. Have the cash in the bank for all your build plus 1 year in rent payments. We own EVERYTHING in the brewery, including the 3BBL system and 7BBL fermenters that are in the mail, and it feels damn good that of all the things that could put us out of business, a missed loan payment isn't one of them.

                    That's about it. You can do it, just don't be dumb about it!

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                    • #85
                      Originally posted by nateo View Post
                      Crooked Run piqued my curiosity in Loudoun County. From my quick research there have been at least 6 nanos opened or planning to be opened in Loudoun County. It certainly sounds like a nano should be able to sell a lot of pints, but I wonder how the new entrants will alter the environment. Will they just be stealing sales from each other, will they grow the whole area up, or a combination of the two?

                      I'm also curious about how 2500 pints per month will work if you only have 38 seats, and your area is (apparently) dominated by weekend traffic. But I don't know anything about Loudoun County, so maybe people like standing around when they drink. I wonder what the fire marshal's limit on people in the bar is there?
                      2500 pints per month is pretty optimistic for a nano, even in a hot VA market. 20 kegs a month = 5 kegs a week. Make sure that is a cool place to hang.
                      Hunter Smith
                      President/Head Brewer
                      Champion Brewing Company
                      Charlottesville, VA
                      434-295-BREW
                      hunter@championbrewingcompany.com

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                      • #86
                        Originally posted by CrookedRun View Post
                        Indoor seating for 26, outdoor for 12. Remember also, that is peak sales. I think you also have to understand my area. I live in Loudoun County in nothern Virginia, always ranked in the top three richest counties in the U.S. There is a booming wine trail that runs through here, and an emerging beer trail. My friend who runs a nano in the middle of nowhere is only open for four hours on Saturday and four hours on Sunday, and he sells a barrel a day. I'm not kidding when I say I have the best location in the county, too, so I should be able to do better than him. I based my forecast partially on his sales. There are literally not enough restaurants and drinking establishments out here; everywhere is packed on the weekends.
                        I'd love to hear how your pint sales shake out. My nano is roughly the same size as yours, seating-wise (we have a 1.5bbl setup), although I have a larger outside area. Big enough for 6 picnic tables. On a "good day" we do around 200 pints. We've been open since March 8th, and are located 10 miles from the Space Needle in Seattle (as the crow flys). Since so much of our seating is outside, I feel like our sales figures will really be weather dependent, particularly in Seattle.

                        We're only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with Thursdays being REALLY slow. We range from 1 to 3bbls sold per week. I am sure we could do better if we had Sunday hours, but since everyone involved still has day jobs, it's nice to have a day off.

                        Almost forgot, if you're getting to that kind of volume, invest in a glass washer. Doing that many glasses by hand stinks.

                        Anyway, good luck with the nano. It's hard work but a lot of fun.
                        Last edited by populuxebrewing; 04-27-2013, 04:00 PM.

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                        • #87
                          Originally posted by ParishBrewingCo View Post
                          Kevin - we started with (and will still use for another 2 weeks) a 1.5 bbl electric brewhouse. I have a few 1.5 bbl fermenters and also 3 bbl fermenters - all plastic.
                          We're starting the same way, except with a single 2 bbl FV. How do you like using the plastic fermenters? We're using 55-gal Blichmann BoilerMakers for the brewhouse.
                          Mike Slone
                          Co-Founder, Head Brewer
                          23 Brewing Company
                          Instagram: @23brewingco - Facebook.com/23BrewingCompany

                          "Beer is the drink of men who think, who feel no fear nor fetter. Who do not drink to senseless sink, but drink to think the better" - Anonymous

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                          • #88
                            Plastic Fermenters

                            Originally posted by StarCityBrewing View Post
                            We're starting the same way, except with a single 2 bbl FV. How do you like using the plastic fermenters? We're using 55-gal Blichmann BoilerMakers for the brewhouse.
                            We use plastic at Populuxe and I think they work fine. We're a 1.5bbl brew house and 1.5bbl fermenters (60 gallon Ace Rotomold INFD-60) retrofitted the "Hess Brewing" way. Check out his build page for more on that: http://hessbrewing.blogspot.com/2010...-restivus.html

                            We started with 3 vessels, but quickly purchased 2 more as we felt just 3 left us pretty limited. I would say almost half of our beers are dry hopped, and when you are making 3 kegs at a time, with thirsty customers draining them pretty fast, tying up fermenters for 3 weeks as opposed to 2 can put a real dent in the production flow. More vessels means we can have 3 dedicated to "running beers" which will finish in 2 weeks and 2 dedicated to longer fermenting or dry hopped beers.

                            As for the plastic itself, I think it's fine. Our build is actually the vessel, a stand, 5 bits of stainless terminal hardware (2" threaded triclamp from the bottom of the cone, into an elbow, into a reducer, into a valve, into a hosebarb/cap), casters for the stand so we can wheel the tanks in and out of the cold room as needed. We are heating the vessels with a contact heater.

                            The plastic is a little thick, and isn't as thermally conductive as I'd like, so warming does take a little time. Being careful with the starting temp really helps make for more gradual changes. At 55 or so gallons into the fermenter, we only need to warm, not chill, during fermentation.

                            I think the biggest flaw, if you can call it that, with the plastic tanks is the lid. It's a 2 piece ring and lid set with stainless screws attaching the inside ring to the vessel. It's not airtight and you have to remove the ring and clean the entire setup if you want to feel right about sanitation.

                            My 2 cents on plastic.

                            Pete
                            Populuxe Brewing

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                            • #89
                              Seems kind of dangerous to be rolling around a conical full of beer. What casters are you using, and do they roll the tank pretty smoothly?
                              Troy Robinson
                              Quirk Brewing
                              Walla Walla

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                              • #90
                                rolling fermenter isn't dangerous but it is a pain in the ass but I think when you're on a tight budget those are some of the things you do. We've been using plastic since day one and they are great. costs a few hundred for a fermenter instead of a few thousand.
                                Tim Eichinger
                                Visit our website blackhuskybrewing.com

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