The dream of setting up microbrewery

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wrightpc87
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The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by wrightpc87 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:21 pm

Hello all...

So just to briefly introduce myself... My name is Pete, I'm 31, and an extremely passionate home brewer from Crewe (Cheshire).

I have been brewing since 2010, originally just kits for around 7 years, but more recently I've discovered the magic of all grain.

I have a basic set up in my garage where I do 25 litre batches, probably 1 a month. But I have also had a dabble brewing for a local pub, using the equipment in their microbrewery (400 litre batches).

I enjoy it all that much, I now can't stop dreaming about setting up my own microbrewery locally. I don't have much money, so would have to go down the route of a business loan. But I also don't have the business building and marketing experience, just the passion for physically brewing beer.

Does anyone have experience with going for it and taking the risk and jumping in head first? Setting up their own brewery without financial backing or business know how?.... The only other (slightly safer idea would be to carry on brewing at home, and try and sell some bottles to local farm shops. Obviously I realise i would have to have H. A. S checks and pay beer duty for this.

Any advice welcome! 🍻 Thanks ☺

Secla
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by Secla » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:49 pm

I (as have we all) have looked briefly into setting up on a small scale.
Brewing at small scale is not really that financially viable. i think its generally accepted than anything below 5bbl (around 800l) is the minimum to sustain a business and thats if you managed to sell everything.

I know a few local people who have set up 200l kits up in the garages etc. but they do it more for the love than the money as at that scale your not really making anything for the hours you put in. Also theres alot of paperwork and hoops to jump through when your commerical brewing which may well take all the enjoyment out of it for you

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Mjr6313
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by Mjr6313 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:00 pm

I agree I helped out at a local brewery to me it is a one man job and he spends most of his time finding sales and marketing luckily he secured a spot with a distributer but again its another business taking a cut of his profit, on the flip side he really enjoys the cleaning side as it gets him away from the phone and emails.
It can be done "brewdog" and all the other companys started out the same its long and hard it is my dream to, but I think its best to have many different products not just beer to help supliment income.
My wife wanted me to get a hobby now I make beer. She says I'm always in my shed I KEEP TELLING HER IT WAS HER IDEA.

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Jim
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by Jim » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:47 am

Welcome Pete. :)

It's great you're enthusiastic about brewing (as we all are on here!). My take on going commercial is that it's not producing great beer that makes for commercial success (though obviously that helps), but being good at the marketing and business management side, which are the very areas you say you lack experience in, so.....
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away" - Philip K. Dick

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Kingfisher4
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by Kingfisher4 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:35 am

I completely understand your dream and would love it to work for you, but without wishing to put too much negativity to you would offer 2 observations and 1 positive practical suggestion.

The first observation is that I feel I'm still at the lower end of my all grain brewing experience having started a year ago and brewed 23 batches now, your time line and monthly all grain brew suggest a similar experience level.

I have a close friend who is a recently retired successful accountant with a keen lifelong interest in brewing and beer so was naturally his firm's microbrewery specialist in the Southwest. He only saw 2 clients make a living from brewing, but many others go bankrupt.

My brother in law, with decades of small scale all grain experience thought redundancy a few years ago was his opportunity to take the microbrewery plunge too. I discussed my accountant friends experience and we found a course, coincidentally quite close to me for him. He enrolled on a 4 day course in Bakewell (geographically close enough to you to commute I guess) to explore this further and found it enlightening. Very practical and improved his brewing knowledge significantly but most importantly, covered the commercial and marketing side as well; suffice it to say, after very careful reflection he considers the £500 fee at that time money very wisely spent as it persuaded him to continue pleasure brewing not try to set up his dream microbrewery.

Please don't think I'm being negative, just passing on real life observations. Conversely, I really enjoyed seeing another local. Microbrewery, Derventio had indeed done just what you are considering and are successfully brewing over a decade later, but if I recall they were ex engineers who probably didn't fit your initial business model. It would be fantastic to hear via this forum in a few years time that your business was thriving if you do take the plunge.

I think this. Is the course (which I have no affiliation to whatsoever!):
http://www.brew-school.com/courses/micr ... ng(4-day)/



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Kev888
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by Kev888 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:23 am

Brewing isn't particularly difficult, and because of this lots of people have a go commercially. But provided you are competent, most of the challenges are about getting the sales; you really need talent (or luck) with marketing and business if the micro is to build up enough custom to survive. The brewing itself might be just one day a week for a one-man operation.

There is the paying hobby approach that people might try instead, with rather less risk. But there are still costs and legislation to comply with if you sell the beer, and duty will likely become applicable to your homebrewing too if done on the same premises, so still worth working out if the time and finances are viable. It 'might' cover costs if things go well, but isn't going to make much else at a small scale, so more of a hobby than a viable business really.
Kev

Robwalkeragain
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by Robwalkeragain » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:50 am

Pro brewer here. Go get yourself some experience/IBD qualifications and you’ll find an assistant job eventually. Let someone else worry about financial ruin while everybody around you meticulously drives the price of a cask down.
Either that or just cuckoo brew, focus on your brand and sales, only a small outlay and all the fun.

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Jocky
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by Jocky » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:30 pm

The first step in starting any brewery would be to figure out how you're going to SELL the beer.

Who's going to buy it? How much/often?

I know of more than one person that has started a micro and then realised nobody locally will buy direct. They're either tied, don't want any 'guest' beer, or are limited in who they buy from.

There's a lot of sense in keeping it as a hobby - you can brew what you want, when you want, without risking your financial security.
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BarnsleyBrewer
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by BarnsleyBrewer » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:42 pm

Jocky wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:30 pm
There's a lot of sense in keeping it as a hobby - you can brew what you want, when you want, without risking your financial security.
My kind of reply entirely. :wink:
I know people who've taken the plunge and they've advised me to keep it in the pipe-dream box unless I fancy working silly hours for less than the minimum wage, and risking your savings or perish the thought your house!! [-X
I'm now at the point where I'm quite happy making good quality ale at around 20p - 30p a pint without any financial commitment, plus brewing when I fancy it.

Could also possibly be that because I'm now 52 and suffering from sciatica flare-ups every now and again so brewing, cask washing, and stacking would finish me off..

Good luck if you decide to but be very careful. :unsure:

BB
"Brewing Fine Ales in Barnsley Since 1984"
- - - - - - - 30 years (1984 - 2014)- - - - - - -
Pints Brewed in 2019......... 208
Pints brewed in 2018.. 416
Pints brewed in 2017.. 416 - Pints brewed in 2016.. 208
Pints brewed in 2015.. 624 - Pints brewed in 2014.. 832

wrightpc87
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by wrightpc87 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:27 pm

Thanks for all your responses and advice ☺

It was kind of what I already thought myself, that it would be a huge financial risk and without being a marketer, will be hard to sell it... But its nice to have the dream! 🍻

Anybody have any experience with selling bottled home brew to farm shops? Or investing in some steel kegs and selling to free hold pubs?... Just keeping it as a garage at home brewery operation

BarnsleyBrewer
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by BarnsleyBrewer » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:17 pm

wrightpc87 wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:27 pm
Anybody have any experience with selling bottled home brew to farm shops? Or investing in some steel kegs and selling to free hold pubs?... Just keeping it as a garage at home brewery operation
I would think going down that route would also be a PITA with all the food & drink regulations around, plus you would also need to register if i'm correct??
You could do it on the sly but it's if there's complaints or investigations from somebody snooping around farm shops looking for this kind of product on sale..

BB
"Brewing Fine Ales in Barnsley Since 1984"
- - - - - - - 30 years (1984 - 2014)- - - - - - -
Pints Brewed in 2019......... 208
Pints brewed in 2018.. 416
Pints brewed in 2017.. 416 - Pints brewed in 2016.. 208
Pints brewed in 2015.. 624 - Pints brewed in 2014.. 832

Secla
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by Secla » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:55 pm

yup you still have to go through the same processes and regulations whoever you sell to. the smaller the scale though the less youll be making out of it. a few kegs/bottles here and there in my opinion wouldnt be worth the hassle of all the hoops you have to jump through

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PhilB
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Re: The dream of setting up microbrewery

Post by PhilB » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:55 am

Hi Pete

You're from Crewe, and you're interested in beer ... but I won't assume you're familiar with all that's been going on at Offbeat Brewery over the last few years :? ... and will suggest you have a read of Michelle's blog post there (link) to see how all the highs, lows, successes and pitfalls has played out, as a sort of "case study" of the comments, advice and guidance above, in and behind the Borough Arms just down the road from you, for a brewer whose beers you've probably drunk :?

Cheers, PhilB

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