Discover more from Last Call with a Beer Guy
If I Ruled the World...or Just A Brewery
How would I run a brewery if it were mine?
There was a point that I really wanted to own my own brewery. I believed I had a great partner to run it along with me and a really solid concept. A couple years ago the planning just fell off the rails and it’s essentially dead. I think about it from time to time and still believe that it could have worked if everything lined up better. Why didn’t it? There are a lot of answers but one of the biggest is that shit’s expensive.
Let’s say you’re a chef that has worked for awhile sharpening your skills. You decide that you want to open your own place. While opening any brick and mortar business is expensive you can open a small restaurant with a hell of a lot less capital than a brewery. Brewery equipment is pricey, even used, and takes up a lot of space. Space costs money. You need a spot big enough to do your brewing and have an area carved out for a taproom. All this space you are going to be paying rent on while buildout, permitting and licensing is done. You aren’t making any money during all this. Makers of alcohol have a lot of extra hoops to jump through that need inspections and licensing from the federal and state governments. Time and money.
I wanted to open a 7-10 barrel (bbl) brewery in a space that was around 5000 square feet. It was our feeling this size would be adequate for being a mostly all in house operation. We had no real desire to do distribution and instead wanted to focus solely on having an excellent taproom experience coupled with stellar beer to keep people coming back. We did some research with similarly sized breweries and thought that was the sweet spot.
In addition to that we believed that having a taproom that was located close to people would be better than than the normal industrial spot we see many breweries in. Some industrial areas that have been converting to more commercial, or even mixed used with residential, we on the table for us as we saw those areas becoming widely accepted by communities. And that word right there was so important to the concept. Community.
We truly wanted to be a part of a community and not just another business that opened it doors and expects locals to just come in and support. Nope. Blind faith like that is silly to expect. A business should work for its business from its neighbors. We wanted to meet other local business owners and offer our space as a gathering place for all to come together. We wanted to work with local artists to provide a space to show off their work. We wanted to work together and achieve goals that would be beneficial for everyone in the neighborhood. Businesses and residents alike.
The beer would be extremely important. This might seem obvious to most but there are a lot of breweries out there that the quality of beer is nowhere near the top of priorities. Our focus would be mostly on creating beers that were to style. Experimentation would be minimal in the sense of what we have come to know in the craft beer world. Something with fruit or adjuncts would be enough to get the notes of the ingredient without going overboard.
Flagships would be minimal at about 1, maybe 2. At a small size there isn’t room to be making 4-6 of the same beers all the time. While there is something to be said about doing something over and over until perfection there are plenty of brewers I have met that bore over brewing the same recipes again and again. Exploring the potential of different lager recipes or English ales would allow for us to flex our creative muscle on the brew house. Sure there would be IPAs because we like IPAs and other people like IPAs so why not sell IPAs? But there certainly wouldn’t be a taplist that consists of 80% IPAs.
Yeah, money is an issue but there have been places that have opened that were run by complete morons who found funding. Why couldn’t we? To be honest, we didn’t even get far enough there. We had a few people say that they would love to see a business plan but I think what it ultimately came down to was my business partner and I being in completely different places in our lives.
Despite us both living in Florida it didn’t seem that Florida was the right place for this. Sure some spots made sense and we think they could have been successful but our hearts aren’t in Florida. The political and social climate in the state have deteriorated just in the last 2-3 years alone. That’s not to mention the climate climate that is out of control. Can’t really plan well for a business when the business could be literally underwater in 20-30 years.
So why not somewhere else? Way easier said than done. While we both will likely move out of the state at some point in the near future our ideas of where we would want to live differ greatly. I won’t go into too much detail with that because it’s none of any of our businesses where someone wants to live and why.
Ultimately, I only saw myself doing this concept with that business partner. I don’t see myself doing it with anyone else. Not to say I wouldn’t do something with someone else but that name and that attention to detail in the concept will always just be me and him.
I’ve tried to think about other ways of doing the concept but slightly different. A contract brand working with different bars or breweries to do pop-up takeovers for periods of time was floated at one point but it very clearly deviated from our no distribution goal. That would essentially be all distribution. Plus contract brands don’t do well generally. Without a place for people to go to and say “Hey, I visited that brewery.” It just doesn’t seem to grab people’s attention. I know there are some contract brands that do ok but even when I asked a friend who is a higher up at a large liquor store chain which contract brands do well he couldn’t think of a single one. Maybe it’s just Florida but it didn’t make sense.
And basically, that’s how a dream just fades back into the void. It’s a bummer but not worth getting worked up about. We didn’t pour a whole lot of money into this to where we reached a point of no return. An LLC filing costs some money but that expires if you don’t renew. I got some stickers and shirts made but, oh well. I still see some of the stickers I put out there and smile. It's fun that I know what that is and no one else does. A really inside joke for myself.
Today I wonder if it is even worth it to open a brewery. I’ve been pointing out stagnant sales and mergers and closures and all of that over in this space. Why on Earth would anyone want to open a brewery then? I guess I am pretty hardheaded some days and think that through all these middling breweries trying to get chain activations, mandated lines and expand their distribution that there is a place for a neighborhood brewery that only wants to be a part of the community making good beer and being good neighbors.
Have you subscribed to Last Call With a Beer Guy yet? It’s free! Do it now receive new posts every Monday or Tuesday and support my work.
I’d Have a Beer
It’s fucking hot out there in South Florida. I feel like we could coin a new phrase.
If the heat don’t kill you then the humidity will. And if the humidity don’t kill you the mosquitos will. And if the mosquitos don’t kill you then the hurricanes will. And if the hurricanes don’t kill you then something else will because it’s fucking Florida.
So with all that I need a beer. Something easy drinking and tasty at once. I’m really enjoying our Bee’s Squeeze over at Copperpoint lately. It’s a Kolsch style base that is brewed with local orange blossom honey and orange peel. The honey is from Loxahatchee and the Orange Peel is from Indian River County. Super local ingredients in there.
This beer has been interesting because it was supposed to just be a seasonal last year. The good tasting beer and eye catching design (see the bee?) gave it some legs that allowed us to add it into year round status. Its sales have done well enough to do some digitally printed cans and it has been a pleasant surprise.
You can grab some Bee’s Squeeze at our taproom or throughout the state of Florida.
This is a Photo
San Francisco, CA
When we were strolling around the San Francisco Botanical Garden there were a number of uprooted trees that were leftover from crazy storms the city got hit by early in the year. This one, in particular, caught my eye. It reminded me a bit of the Mindflayer from Stranger Things. What do you think?
Dig my shots? I have prints for sale if you are interested. All sales are super appreciated.
I would also like to take a moment to rant a bit about Instagram’s algorithms. There isn’t a whole lot I can say that hasn’t already been said about Meta’s killing of the Instagram app. It now prioritizes short videos over photos anymore because it says that what people want all while they are the ones telling people what they should want.
If you are on the app and have used it consistently over the years you have probably seen your engagement plumet. I’ve seen it on my personal account as well as the business account. Images in your feed just don’t get the reach that they used to including to people who already follow you.
Last week I did a test on my personal IG. I posted one image a day from Monday through Friday. Posting more than once a day is frowned upon by the algorithm and can work against you. I posted at different times of day to see if it worked better in the mornings or midday or late afternoon. After those 5 days I reached only an average of 7.4% of people that follow me. That’s fucking abysmal. One day I hit 10% but after that it was more around 5-6%. People opted to follow me and around 93% of them don’t see my posts.
But we’ve known this for awhile. IG has doubled down on Reels and keep on saying that the reason you aren’t doing well is because you aren’t making things people like and they say people like videos less than 6 seconds in length that use music from their library that has been used a good bit but not too much. They say this because that’s what they want. They want to be TikTok. They want everyone to make the same fucking things. Just trends and memes and that’s it. Fuck off!
Recently IG’s head made a video explaining new tweaks in the algorithms for each part of IG (feed, reels, stories). When talking about feed (still photos) and what factors into their reach the number 2 factor is literally “how popular the post is.” Read that again. The algorithm for feeds will expand the reach of a post to more of your followers if the post is popular. How does one’s post become popular without a huge majority of one’s audience seeing that post? This is what we are dealing with.
Yeah, it’s their platform. They can kill it however they see fit. A huge chunk of their users have complained and want the app to go back to the way it was but they will just keep trying to be a different app and keep telling us that it’s what we want. Got it. Got it. Carry on.
Thanks for reading Last Call with a Beer Guy! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.