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From homebrewer to nanobrewery

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Ciekawy post na HBT dotyczący przejścia do stajni "pro", pełen dobrych rad dla początkujących profesjonalistów. Oczywiście, po angielsku.


Well, I've been a licensed nanobrewery for about a year and a half now and it occurred to me the other day that I've learned a few things that might of interest to other folks. So off the top of my head, here goes...


1. Go bigger. Unless you've got way way too much spare time get at least a 1 bbl brewhouse. If you don't need a ladder, the brew house should be bigger. Having built your own rig helps when things inevitably go wrong, and is an advantage.


2. Fermentor size matters. This is your chokepoint for production. You'll need as many gallons as you can effectively temperature control.


3. Love your yeast. Effective yeast harvesting is a must (and easier with larger batches and regular brewing). And you'll get way more than you need. I get around 2 gallons of settled slurry from a batch. Washing every once in a while is good too and its a good idea to learn how to chemically/acid cleanse slurry too. I'm now using a 5g ale pail to harvest yeast and hold starters. Learn everything you can about yeast. Super important.


4. Its not as hard as everyone who gives you unsolicited opinions will try and lead you to believe. The legal stuff is manageable. Really. Production just takes more time, more (bigger) gear and a dedication to regular production. Calendaring really helps.


5. Learn everything you can about fermenting. Yeast nutrients. Temperature is critical. Pitching rates. Sanitation. Everything. Adding hops to beer in a 90 minute boil is fun, but then there's two weeks that need as much attention to avoid having to dump what could be $400-500 worth of beer down the drain.


6. Its a business, it needs to act and look like one. Learn accounting and do it yourself so you personally understand what's financially happening with your brewery. This pays off in spades. Among other benefits, you can get a tax deduction for your office, back yard (if you host a party), utilities, garage, etc. Beyond this, all your gear is deductible and depreciable, expenses for "professional development" ie. beer = "style samples and comparative tasting" expense, beer festival tickets = "market research", dinner and a beer at a bar you sell your beer to then becomes "travel and entertainment: meals" expense. Seriously.


7. Talk to everyone in the brewing business that you can. Pro brewers are (with extremely few exceptions) really really happy to help. For most of them, you're doing the "pure" version of professional brewing and not having to deal with health plans, payroll and insurance, etc. and they throw a lot of love. Vinnie from Russian River recently told me "We've all been there." Be respectful, don't name your stuff similar to anyone elses (in the area or out of it). Chances are good that you'll be able to piggy back their grain shipments and end up paying $0.72 a pound for malt and delivery will cost around $2.00 for a 55 bag, and picking up their overstock hops is a possibility too. Speaking of hops, hops in 11 lb bags from distributors are about $14/lb now and less at the end of the year when people are blowing out last year's crop.


8. Confidence. There's a reluctance to step out and take nanobrew to a bar and try and sell your beer-child. Its a personal thing that most people, outside artists and creative professionals, don't have a lot of experience with (myself included) and the prospect of rejection can cause you to undersell your self and your beer. Trust in your brew - it tastes better than 99% of what's out there. If it didn't we would be homebrewing.


9. Sales. This is the new part. Figure on spending at least as much time marketing and selling your beer as you do making it. Start local, find a publican with some love for the local and use that for momentum. I was "underground" for over a year selling to chefs, caterers and other folks which helped create a buzz and gave me time to get my act together (and recipes, my IPA is the 9th variation of the original recipe) before going and getting some bars to give me a tap. Personally meet the managers and bartenders and be available by cell. Tell the story of your beer and why you're doing this and offer to answer any questions. Make it clear that you may not be able to make enough beer to keep their pipeline full and tell them they need a plan B for the tap if you run out of inventory. Make this clear at the start to avoid problems down the road. Worst thing you can do is be spotty with delivering product.


10. Sanke kegs are a must. Buy used ones, and take the valve apart and clean them and put them back together. Repeat. This is like training to field strip and clean your M-16. Once you get used to them, they're way better than corneys (in my opinion) and no bars are going to pour from corneys.


11. Charge more money per keg. You are limited production, hand crafted artisan brewery. Charge for it. Find the distributor's price for the most expensive similar sized keg in your area and add $10.00.


12. Naturally carbonate in the kegs. Helps with keeping the beer fresh, it a good story and point of differentiation and easer than than force carbing in bulk and transferring under counter pressure. Also forces you to delay release of the beer and gives it some conditioning time so you're not releasing green beer.


13. Love. There's a ton of love out there for nanobrew. I just went to my first beer fest after being "underground" for the last year and a half. We had a line 6-8 people deep for the duration of the event. We got a shout out from the band. TONS of "hell yeah" comments about garage brewing. Can't say enough about the reception we got. Makes toiling in my garage alone at 1am for two years putting this together all worthwhile.

I dalej równie ciekawa dyskusja.

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