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Brewpub benefits

Ever since make my initial post on my brewery or brewpub last week I been bouncing ideas around in my head like crazy. I have a bunch of them written down, even the ones that I know are unrealistic or totally unobtainable. I’ve gotten into the habit of writing everything in my head down lately. It might stem from a product design class that I had in college where we were encouraged to embrace the crazy. During that class we read a bunch of books about the product design process and how ideas develop over time. Like the first computer mouse was made from a butter tray and a deodorant ball. Sounds crazy, but it did wonders to improve the functionality of a computer and today how many of us could operate without a mouse?

So with that said, I have a notebook that is getting ideas jotted down in it whenever an idea pops into my head. The more I think about a brewery or brewpub the more I lean towards a brewpub. While I have no experience in the restaurant business, I have worked in a kitchen off and on for eight or so years. Does that really mean anything, probably not but I have an understanding of what it takes to run a kitchen efficiently and cost effectively. Going the brewpub route gives me a few more options. First there is an added benefit of having an additional source of income in the food sector. While profit margins are usually around the 3-5% range on food, it is additional income that a brewery only would not have.

The second benefit is that a bottling line and some of the other “finishing” products that are needed in a brewery are not needed for a brewpub. Basically you need your brewing, fermenting, and serving equipment and it is ready to go. The cost of  brewpub sized brewery equipment is also slightly less since the volume of beer made is so much less. Another benefit is that you have a built in tasting panel on premises. Each customer can provide valuable information that might not be possible with a production brewery since most all of the product’s tasting is done off site. You also do not have to worry about distribution. The final benefit that I see is that you have a much better chance of developing loyal customer who keep coming back. Having access to the brewer and seeing where the beer is made can be huge selling points. There is also more opportunity to market directly to repeat customers and build brand loyalty.

I guess this would be following the Dogfish Head model since they essentially started as a brewpub and used it to finance the main brewery. Growing up in the Philadelphia area and going to college roughly around the same area also allowed me to see what successful brewpubs can look like and get an idea of how to differentiate my perspective brewpub. There are multiple brewpubs and even brewpub chains in the area. Iron Hill Brewery appears to be the most successful as they have multiple locations (eight to be exact) and have built a strong membership of mug club members and repeat guests. There is room in that particular market for more brewpubs and ones that fit a different mold than IHB.

Granted, I am still in Texas so the Philadelphia market is kind of off limits for right now. Lubbock, Texas, where I am sadly, currently at, has a huge potential for a quality brewpub as the only one in town focuses on food and not beer. Too bad I hate it here and cannot wait to leave this summer. Where was I, O that’s right, the brewpub idea. I think I want to pursue developing a brewpub more than a production brewery right now. The next question is location, equipment, how big, and a billion and one other things that need to be sorted out. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any other benefits to going the brewpub route or reasons why a production brewery would be better. I’ll post about the disadvantages sometime later this week or next.

My brewery/brewpub

If you have been reading this blog for any period of time you should know that want to start a brewery or brewpub with my good buddy Pete. It has been something that has consumed my mind for longer than any single idea/dream ever has. The only thing that has been in my head on a more constant basis is my wife (awwwe). And according to Stuff White People Like “most white people want to open a microbrewery at some point.  One that uses organic hops.” I don’t know about the organic hops part, but the first part of that statement is true for me.

I have been reading The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery since I got it back in early January. While a book does not give you everything you need, it surely has helped me in thinking about what I need to do to make this dream a reality. I also read Brewing Up a Business and Beer School which have also been very useful. I think I could handle the beer part and even create a “culture” for my business, but connecting all of the dots seems like a task.

The other thing that you need to look at is the numbers. According to the Brewers Association figures, for every brewpub that closes 1.3 opens. Not exactly encouraging figures, but I’m guess a lot of that is do to the harshness of the restaurant business as a restaurant with a brewery on premises closes at one tenth the rate of a restaurant without one. Promising! Microbreweries have a much better outlook. For each one that closes 3.7 have opened on average for the past 3 years. I kind of want to go the route of Dogfish Head and start with a brewpub and get all of the kinks worked out and have a reliable product and steady cash flow to support opening a full scale brewery.

I am also encouraged by guys like Monday Night Brewery who were a group of friends who loved beer and decided to start a brewery with a unique style. Their blog is fairly hilarious as well and they also drop lots of great information on starting a brewery and the like. One of my favorite breweries back home is Victory, which I can actually purchase in Lubbock (score). They have grown by leaps and bounds and they started as two college roommates who loved beer. Much like Pete and myself I might add.

My brewery or brewpub is still very much a pipe dream at this point, but I think I am going to start posting about my thoughts and ideas on it here and get some feedback. Even if I don’t get feedback it will give me a place to put down all of my ideas and allow me to develop my dream a bit more. Also writing it down helps it become more real in a sense.