Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Where we are...

Good, so a brewery, huh?
Yes, that is the plan.

At this point I have a principle agreement with a Flemish craft brewer, to brew some of his beers under license here in the US. Part of that deal is that he will train me on his new 30 barrel brew house (1 barrel is about 117 liters, or 31 US gallons). The great thing about that is, that I will learn things you can never learn on small brew systems, or on home brew systems. The brewer and his brewing engineer will support my start-up all the way, as they want to see me succeed, proud as they are of the beer they are allowing me to brew.
These beers will become the flagship beers, but seasonal beers of my own making will add to the lineup.
But I am still far away from putting my first bottle of beer in front of a thirsty customer.

Now it comes to putting this idea into reality. A lot of small things, a lot of paperwork. Getting all the necessary licenses and permits is one fun part of this undertaking: the TTB Federal Brewers Notice, posting the Federal Brewers bond, New Jersey State Limited Brewery License, the State Brewery Bond, as soon as I get a location, the several environmental permits and licenses...

Second, the business plan with all the financial planning. Apart from the obvious necessity of this step, it is important to think things through and calculate the cost of every step. Just keeping a maturing room at a certain temperature will cost a certain amount, something that will determine the final cost of a unit of beer.

With this, I can calculate the price tag of the building, the brewing equipment, the office equipment, everything needed to start brewing. But that only leaves you with a nice set of stuff. Equally important is the running cost. Water, electricity, sewage (some brewing waste water is acidic, other is alkaline, some is heavy on sludge... and waste water treatment plants have you pay extra for water that requires extra treatment), the malt, hops, yeast needed, wages, loan payments, and not in the least the costs for marketing... When I try to find investors, I need to make sure I cover both the equipment and the running costs.

Then there is the need for employees. A dedicated sales person, to promote the beer, find new bars, restaurants and liquor stores to carry our beers, is a necessity. Then I’d need a brewing hand, and an administrative assistant. Figuring out all the regulations concerning hiring people, setting up the contracts, finding the people, holding interviews are the next step for me to bring me closer to completing this project.
This is the way ahead of me, all the preparation. I will keep you all posted about the progress. Some news will be dry statements: 'I finished filing 7 different forms to apply to have the labels for the bottles approved'. Not a lot of fun there. But other news will be more exciting. I look forward, for instance, to be able to let you know the new brew house is ordered and on it’s way. 

Stay tuned, and don’t forget to support my fellow brewers as we all wait for the first batches from Saint William Brewery to become available!

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