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Is It Just Me.?

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  • Is It Just Me.?

    Yes I'm am yet another Home Craft Brewer who has dreamed for years of starting his own full fledged professional brewery. I've been making Craft beer at home for twenty years and in the process discovered I more love and passion making Craft Beer now than I ever have. I've gotten angry both at myself, others, and even my equipment more than once but never once lost my love or passion for brewing beer. So why is it now after I've made the decision to start my own brewery I feel like I have become lost in what I am trying to do.? Is is just me or is this something everyone goes through as part of the process.? I use to read all the time everything I could get my hands on about brewing with the greatest of enthusiasm and now I feel like I'm drowning in a sea of state and federal regulations designed more to prevent start up breweries than to help them get started. Is it just me or is there, even with all the brewers out there sharing knowledge, a distinct lack of A to Z guide lines to help us along. I understand every brewer and brewery out there are going to be unique in there own way but still the essence of making craft beer is the same whether it's 2 BBLs or 2000 BBLs. Okay all that aside, why now all of the sudden do I feel so damned lost in what I'm trying to do.? Is it just me.?

    AKA Gila Monster

  • #2
    I don't want to tell you that you shouldn't open a brewery, it has been one of the biggest learning experiences for me in my life, as well as one of the most fun things I have done. That said, maybe running a business is not something that you will enjoy. I think there are a lot of people that really like brewing and making new beers; a brewery is a business, and that is a different animal. The only common thing between breweries is likely to be the paperwork, so its no simple A to Z thing. Each brewery has had a different experience based on the expectations that were set by the ones that started before it. If you want to brew, but not do the business side of things, I would get a partner who does, it will allow you to focus less on the business and more on the fun stuff.


    • #3
      If your process has been like mine, you will have to suffer through many non-brewing related items. Permitting, construction, design, equipment decisions, equipment setup, etc. These are are all unpredictable non-linear processes that tend to last much, much longer than expected and provide many surprises (usually bad ones). All of that stuff ends though and then you can begin to re-focus on the brewing part. The balance on our project is beginning to shift away from the construction hell side and into the brewing/pub side and I my attitude is also shifting from feeling defeated to being reinvigorated. I am looking forward to the evolution of our business more than ever-somewhat due to the satisfaction I get realizing all that has been accomplished so far. Persevere! Cheers!


      • #4
        This one is pretty simple. You want to be a brewer. You don't want to run a brewery. They are two very different things, in the grand scheme of things.

        Running a brewery requires you to deal with licensing, taxes, personnel decisions, cash flows, logistics, inventory, accounting, sales, marketing, graphic design, draft quality and a bazillion other things that I"m not even thinking about right now.

        Either, as someone else mentioned, you need to find someone who likes doing those things, or I fear you're going to get burnt out very fast. This may sound counter-intuitive, but running a commercial brewery at a small scale, the breakdown is about 75-80% non-brewing, and about 20-25% brewing until you get big enough where the scale of the operation can make the overhead piece go away a bit.

        If you've got the business plan laid out and you understand what you're trying to do, the regulations and licensing are only asking you for information and stuff you should already know.

        And here's the worst part of it all. The catch 22 you'll find yourself in as you grow, is that since you're a founder, you'll end up doing less and less brewing and more and more business stuff because that's really the more important part of the puzzle in the long run.

        I don't mean this to be a negative post. It's just reality. It's a LOT of work, and while a fair bit of it is brewing, a lot more of it is just the business of running, well, a business.


        • #5
          It's just you.

          Nah just kidding.

          But I think the relevant points have been made. Starting, Running, and Working For a business are all different things. I realized pretty early on that I wouldn't have the time to run the brewhouse day to day, and would need help brewing. Which, if you get into it for the brewing, is kinda a let down. But this is a business first, and a lot of people don't seem to realize that.

          Not sure who I heard this from, but I take it to heart:

          "Making beer is easy. Selling it is a bitch."
          Russell Everett
          Co-Founder / Head Brewer
          Bainbridge Island Brewing
          Bainbridge Island, WA


          • #6
            Lots of dudes on here already basically said all this, and they are all right. You sound a lot like me when I started up; I definitely got into it thinking I would just brew every day for the rest of my life. You will learn pretty fast that, if you are the main founder and owner, you will have less and less time devoted to brewing. In fact, you will eventually have to admit to yourself that you actually manning the mash paddle is a huge waste of time.

            I have only brewed a couple batches on my own this year (and ive still got it, thank you very much), but the beers and overall smooth running of the company got much MUCH better once I let go of the reigns and hired people that I knew would do a much better job than I could. Its turned into a pretty fantastic place to work, a friggin dream job with a the best team a man can ask for and an overwhelmingly supportive community behind us.

            And that would not have happened if I just stayed in the back making the beer on my own.


            • #7
              If all else fails keep homebrewing for fun and keep your day job. Maybe running a business isn't for you, it's not for a lot of people.


              • #8
                I agree with everything said on this thread. My head brewer starts on Monday.

                I had hoped to be able to "do it all," but have concluded it would a) make me insane; and b) probably make me drink myself to death.

                My job now is to make sure we're profitable and a good member of our local community.
                Kevin Shertz
                Chester River Brewing Company
                Chestertown, MD


                • #9
                  This is the the experiential difference between a hobby and a career.

                  Glacier Brewing Company

                  "who said what now?"


                  • #10
                    So, not fond of starting a business?

                    The good news is that you can carry on with your dream of becoming a professional brewer. Lots of breweries looking for brewers. I don't understand why you'd want to start a business if your true passion is brewing. Especially a business type that you've not ever worked in. Go work for a brewery to understand what being a professional brewer is all about. If you think you'd want your boss's job, then you can open a brewery of your own. Until then, go do what you want to do. Good luck.
                    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--


                    • #11
                      Unfortunately you won't be in the business of making beer anymore, you will be in the business of selling beer.