Blog

Harder Than It Looks

 

It all seems so simple on paper. You brew the beer, stick it in some packaging, then sell it to the thirsty hordes. How hard could it be? It isn’t rocket science, right?

Well, each individual aspect of running a production brewery isn’t very hard. For example, ordering supplies for brewing, not so bad. You need to make some predictions, you need to research quality and price, you need to have your timing down so that the materials are there when needed, but not so early things go stale or take up too much room in the brewery. And the brew day itself isn’t too tough. It is really just a matter of getting the right amount of grain crushed, transferred to the mash tun, starch converted and sugar extracted, boiling, chilling, pitching yeast.

But there are dozens of these types of tasks and where it gets tricky is that they are all interrelated. Your hop contracts depend on production needs and production needs depend on demand from sales and also efficiencies in the brew plant and those efficiencies also feed back to sales, since you can only sell what you have. Of course, there are more, like ordering the right kegs for your product, getting the kegs tagged with all of the government warnings and brewery branding. Making sure the kegs are clean, making sure you get it back, managing deposits collected and deposits owed.

The list goes on and on. I don’t mean to be a whiner, but I think much of this escapes the person looking to get into their own brewery. Even many head brewers are woefully uneducated about all of the other stuff that goes on to make the whole process run smoothly. Everything from working with the government to working with the public has its own set of challenges.

I have a great deal of experience in managing complex high dollar projects with lots of dependencies. I’m well versed in managing resources and timelines. I am no stranger to predicting needs, scheduling, and accounting for the unknown. But dang it, getting the amount of beer brewed to match the timing of beer consumed is every bit as tricky.

I guess I could blame it on not enough fermenters, but I’m the person that predicted how much fermenter space we would need and how much money we would need for the fermenters. I suppose I could blame it on brewing some beers that have a longer residence time in the fermenters, but then I’m the one calling the shots on which beers we brew. Perhaps I should blame it on over-reaching on our sales, but then I’m the one telling people what they can sell.

I’m sure I will figure it all out eventually. This whole business of making beer for sale is new to me, so I’m bound to have a learning curve. I know it is possible, but now I have a greater appreciation for those out there doing it in a one man show. When I consider what someone like Brian Hunt at Moonlight Brewery has done over the years, my respect for him grows. It is trickier than it looks, getting beer made, getting beer sold, and making a living at it.

5 Comments

  1. Bob Girolamo says:

    Nice site there Jamil. You might want to adjust the contrast to make it easier to see. Advice is free…..beer costs money…..especially to sell commercially. Glad to see you brave the waters! Put a Facebook tag on this website and your GOLDEN!

    Best of luck on your biz!

    Cheers!

    Bob G.

    Shark’s Tooth Beer Company

  2. Bill Curtis says:

    It’s a big leap and gamble to run your own business that supports you and your family. Each business it’s own set of challenges. Those that are successful have either inherited a working enity from family or have taken many years of experience that they can draw from to become an “overnight” success.

    I wish Heritic much success will keep an eye out for it my next time on the mainland.

    Aloha

    Bill (aka bcmaui)

  3. Travis says:

    I’m overwhelmed just reading this! I can see how more money and space would make it easier to narrow down what you need, but of course would also affect whether or not you got to eat dinner and affect freshness as you sorted out what you needed to do vs. what you were able to do.

    Keep it together and I expect that Heretic will see ridiculous success.

    TeeCee

  4. Terence Gardner says:

    Just tried some of your Evil Cousin at Rubicon in Sacramento. Great work! Glad yo see your beers close to home. I wish ya great success in your new venture and hope to see your beers in bottles at stores near me! Thanks for your work on Brew Strong with JP. It has been an invaluable resource. Keep going!

    Thanks so much,

    -T

  5. Hey man I only wanted to write and say i love reading your blog.

Leave a Reply