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Starting a Brewery? Read This Book First

February 12, 2020 – So your dream is to start your own craft brewery.  Can’t be that hard.  There are thousands of them now – over 7,000 in 2019 – and they’re all making money and having fun.  Or so it seems and besides, everyone loves your homebrewed beer and they’re always telling you that you could make a fortune.  The famous joke about how to make a small fortune in the wine business is to start with a large one holds true in the beer industry and the pitfalls are many.

Kelly Myers of New Braunfels Brewing Co. of Texas opened his brewery along with his wife in his hometown in 2012.  He has just released a book titled “How Not to Start a F**KING Brewery” which is a must read for all would-be brewery entrepreneurs.  We spoke to Kelly and he told us, Eight years, 18 distributor relationships, nearly 150 beers produced and 4 brewers brewed, we hit a solid wall at the end of 2018. This book is the sordid tale of learning what I did wrong. 

Admitting it takes courage and sharing it is noble.  The good news is he believes he’s found the key to staying in business, profitably, and that will make his many fans very happy.  Kelly’s book will be available in paperback on Amazon on March 1 priced at $19.00.  Below are the first few paragraphs of  “How Not to Start a F**KING Brewery” followed by a breakdown of the chapters:

Being an idiot is easy; it’s owning a brewery that’s hard. So you think you want to start a brewery? To take the grains of the field and turn them into liquid dreams. To pour a part of yourself into a glass so that thirsty patrons can pour it into their gaping mouths. According to modern archaeological research, history will teach us that you’re a home brewer who actually won an award or two at a local homebrew competition. Or you work at a brewery now as an assistant brewer, cellar man or brew master and you think you could do better than the clowns currently signing your meager paycheck. You might be a hyper-rich guy who‘s current P&L doesn’t have near enough depreciation to offset a gargantuan tax liability. It’s quite possible that you’ve got enough money and time and you have the ability to waste both on a new venture. But I know you’re not an investment banker looking for a healthy return on some institutional money you have access to. You’re not even a hedge fund manager that sees a great way to return 60% annually without having to channel their inner Steven Cohen. You’re definitely not a successful entrepreneur looking to diversify your holdings. Nope, those guys are too smart. 

For the rest of us dummies who are as long on passion as we are short on common sense, we’re brewery owners. This job can be the most rewarding one you’ve ever had. You get to express yourself artistically and that’s sadly rare in most careers. You’ll be the boss who leads a team to build a company, a brand and, if you’re very lucky, a legacy. And you’ll literally imagine something into existence every single day. You are directly responsible for putting smiles on people’s faces and the happiness in their souls. We’re not selling life insurance or managing a bank. We’re making and selling beer, man.  

And it’s f***ing gorgeous. “

And here’s a breakdown of the 10 Mistake Chapters:

  1. Focus on quality over marketing/branding
  2. Start small and build
  3. Hire a guy to make beer instead of investing in a f***ing brewer
  4. Just brew whatever is popular (instead of what is profitable)
  5. Use a mobile canner
  6. If you F*** up, don’t dump It
  7. Trust distributors to sell your beer
  8. Build a small, intimate taproom
  9. Give every f*** you have about online beer reviews
  10. Don’t figure out how to manage Cash Flow

/end

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