How does one start a brewery? It is a long and involved process. To give myself some grip on this endeavor, I broke down the process in 4 steps.
I already passed the first stage: conceiving the idea, thinking about it, giving it shape, deciding a direction and plan. This is probably the most important, but least visible stage. Talking to different people, getting a feel for the business, the laws, the amount of funding needed... It bones out the specifics of that simple idea: let's make beer!
Now is the second stage, acting on that idea! It now comes to preparing to collect the necessary investment funds and laying the foundation. Right now I am, for instance, very busy setting up meetings with distributors, to negotiate a good distribution contract (what good to have a store house full of beer, if there is nowhere to ship it to?). Other steps include gathering or preparing the necessary permits and licenses, gathering more detailed plans for the actual brewery (size brew house, training with this brewer in Belgium, contacting suppliers,...), designing the 'image' of the company: logo, name, labels, marketing materials, etc. And, as you have noticed, starting our presence online: Facebook, Twitter, this blog! (Have I kindly asked you yet to pass this on to as many beer loving friends and people you know, and to ask them to do the same? ;)
Hopefully within 5-6 months I can then start the third stage: building up the structure of the brewery, both the physical infrastructure as the legal and internal structure and workings of the company: employees, operational standards and practices, marketing plans,... Ordering the brew house is an exciting part of this stage. Then the anxious waiting for the shipment, the installation... Once this is installed, the brewery will finally start to look like one: glittering stainless steel kettles and maturing vats, bottling line,... You bet I will proudly be posting pictures of all this as it arrives and gets installed!
And then, finally, the brewing stage. First the water brew, to check and fine tune the system. This will be so hard, almost there, but just not yet, yearning to get to the actual goal we by then will all be so thirsty for: making the beer. Being refreshed after the long hard work, we then need to get ready for more long hard work: bringing it out to you all and to a lot more of different people, and establishing, stabilizing and growing the business. Within a year, I think we should be able to get to this fourth stage.
Now you have, from this and the previous few posts, a sense of where we are at, and a glimpse of what is still ahead. Feel free to post comments with questions or stories, I think we will all love to share them and read them! In the meantime, next time you open or order a nice brew, toast to our success, that we might soon toast together with a fresh, delicious Saint William beer!