Owning/running a brewery is hard work, and at Craft Brewing Business, we try to help where we can with insight into better business practices, more efficient brewing techniques and news about cool new technology to make your life easier. Before we headed out this Labor Day weekend to tap the last drops in this keg called summer, we wanted to honor the day and relay some of our better labor-saving features.
OK, this might sound like work, but really working on your business plan — even if you are already in business — is a great way to focus on the stuff that really matters while eliminating tasks or goals that were maybe getting in the way or leading you down the wrong path. From the article:
O’Bryan and Mann recommended these four tips for other aspiring craft brewers out there as they try to tackle their own detailed business plan.
Read, read, read. Read books, studies, surveys, articles and anything else you can get your hands on. And just because you finish the plan, don’t stop reading.
Be prepared to be as detailed as possible with your plan. It helps to define hidden costs, expose holes in your ideas and force all parts of the plan to work in concert.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of brewers and breweries. You’d be surprised at what information and tips you can get.
Research trademarks heavily if the name of your brewery is a critical component of your plan. We learned that lesson early on, thankfully.
For a craft brewery to be successful, these many vessels need to be maintained and run properly and safely by a well-educated staff of employees. Because the scholarship of brewing is a constant journey, we decided to tap the big brains of top craft brewers and top brewhouse manufacturers and suppliers. We asked them to share their advice for safety and maintenance in the brewhouse, and the nuggets of wisdom below are the result. We raise a big pint of thanks to everyone who participated.
You, professional brewer, can’t predict how much of the yeast is viable, or inspect it at a micro level, but the right technology can.
While ‘brewing professional’ is the dream of many aspiring entrepreneurs, with that dream comes the responsibility of business ownership. As a craft brewer who lives and dies on the quality of your craft beer, the product is the one thing you can’t let drop. But where can you turn for brewing advice? Look no further than the relationships you are forging with your suppliers. Suppliers of nearly all beer supplies – from brewhouses and fermentation tanks to hops and yeast – offer more than just ingredients and equipment. They offer a helping hand in the brewing process.
Keg ownership means you now must accurately account for keg utilization (turns), loss rates, repair and maintenance costs, opportunity costs should demand exceed forecasts and the overhead and operational complexity that comes with ownership. That doesn’t exactly sound like freedom. So the question is, why fret about all of these issues when you don’t have to?
Growing craft breweries need to straddle a line between their local heritage and a modern, scalable, nationwide operation. Each batch requires care and a hands-on approach for even the largest craft brewer. Maintaining that ethos while also producing and moving enough brew to enter five states, and then 10 states, and then 25 states and so on is a delicate equation. Successful craft brewers know that the best way to achieve this is by identifying areas of the process that can be streamlined or automated — without detracting from taste, experience or concept.
One of those areas is at the end of the line. Packaging is an important part of the overall operation, but its best handled by an automated solution when your production volumes and future outlook justify the initial equipment investment. As an example how to move to an automated packaging solution, let’s look at the story of Boulevard Brewing, which replaced its manual palletizing operations with a conventional automated palletizing system.
Rick Blankemeier, Stone Brewing Co. quality assurance supervisor, Robert Christiansen, Avery Brewing Co. quality assurance manager, and Kelly Tretter, New Belgium Brewing Co.microbiologist and micro lab manager, took the stage at the 2014 Craft Brewers Conference during the seminar entitled, “Three ways to quality: How three breweries of different sizes diagnose and solve QA/QC issues.”
Before establishing a meaningful and honest dialogue, Blankemeier stated bluntly: “We all have our different quality issues that we solved in the past or we’re currently experiencing…Whatever problems come your way — and there are eventually going to be quality problems with your brewing systems and processes — it’s important to open that dialogue between breweries where you can actually get together to talk about the problems you’re having and solving them as quickly as possible.”