Building a Microbrewery
Class, there is a lot of information here and much does not apply to what we are doing. So pick and choose what you think you can use
Part one of three
The step-by-step approach to
planning, building and running a small brewery
is the only way to fly.
Written by: Mike Coulter, P.Eng. cemcorp LTD. - Copyright 1987 So you want to build and operate a brewpub or microbrewery, huh? This article is intended as a brief reference and summary of the steps to building a brewing operation from start to finish. GETTING STARTED
You have been reading "The New Brewer" for a couple of years, maybe even right back to the premier issue in November, 1983. You have become an enthusiastic homebrewer producing an excellent beer in your basement. You have sampled a number of speciality and imported beers. You have seen a proliferation of microbrewers suddenly appear in the market place and you believe that now is the time to stop thinking and talking about it and to do something about it since you see a great potential in an exciting new industry that has all kinds of possibilities for growth, profit, and fun. Your problem at the moment is that you still have a few unanswered questions on how to go about it. And a lot of answers about brewing and the brewing industry about which you are not sure what the question is. You have already determined the following facts and have arrived at the following conclusions: • Imported and specialty beer sales in the U.S. have been growing at 8-10% every year in the 1980's to a market share of over 20,000,000 Bbls., while the total beer market in the country has remained essentially flat. • The new microbreweries and pub breweries are competing in the specialty and imported beer market and are able to command a premium price for their products. • Pub breweries are illegal in some states (and you know the status in your state). • Licensing and distribution laws are different from state to state and in some cases not clearly defined or are in a state of flux (You know where you stand in your state). • It is going to take a lot more money than you originally thought to get into the brewing business in the right way. • Mankind has been brewing beer for 5,000 years so it can't be that complicated a process. After all, over 90 new breweries have sprung up in the U.S. and Canada in the 1980's, mostly successful (and naturally a few failures amongst people who didn't do it right). Out of the above known facts, you are left with the primary question - How do I go about building a microbrewery the right way to minimize risk and maximize the chance of success? From all your reading of the articles in The New Brewer and other national magazines aimed at the brewing industry such as Modern Brewery Age, Brewer's Digest, the Master Brewer's "Technical Quarterly" and other periodicals; from the many textbooks on brewing technology; from conferences, exhibitions, beer tasting competitions, you have acquired a wealth of information on the subject. In fact, you have too much information on some subjects, some of it even conflicting and contradictory, and not enough information, data, or hard facts on other topics. What you have probably found is that you are still not quite sure how to boil down all this information to suit your particular circumstances so that you can devise a good, sound business plan. In saying this to yourself, you have just recognized the most important point to remember which is that, unlike homebrewing, building and operating a microbrewery or brewpub is a business, a commercial venture, that must be profitable to survive, not just a hobby. Just because an enthusiastic homebrewer can produce an excellent beer in his basement which his friends and acquaintances applaud and encourage him to branch out and commercialize, does not guarantee that he can successfully own, operate and sell his great brew...
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