I have brewed beer for a few years now. Looking to take it to the next level. Will help in anyway you need me in a brewery/ brewpub.
Good Morning Darlon,
First congratulations on the 18 years served, my first advice is to finish out your 20 if you can! The brewing business is very competitive and wages are low and benefits are slim. That said if you’re getting retirement pay it can be a wonderful craft. I've started up 2 breweries and a contract brewery in the last half dozen years. I have found that you can always get someone to let you wash kegs and clean up! It's not glamorous work but it is a good representation of brewing, 80% cleaning!
The brewing aspect of owning a brewery is usually the easiest part. When I’m working with people up here I tell them ‘great beer is the minimum!’ At the end of the day it’s a business just like anything else.
Looking at your profile you want to open your own brewery. The smallest one I have seen open up and survive to year 2 was about $100,000 investment and he boot strapped everything. It’s really amazing he has ‘made it work’. The average I have seen up in the Buffalo/Cleveland region have all been in the $2 million range for production places and about $750,000 for brew pubs. I’m not familiar with property costs outside of this region so that could change, nor state laws outside of New York that could help, or hurt.
If you want I would be more then happy to work with you on a business plan.
Thanks for reaching out! If you haven't already, I definitely recommend searching through Brewbound and BrewingWork job listings. I'm not sure about Jacksonville, but there were recently some positions open in the South Florida area.
I also recommend reaching out to advisors on the AdvisorNet `Community` Tab above. You can see if any local business owners or advisors have advice on how to break into the industry.
Thank you very much for your service!
As others previously mentioned, the brewing business can sometimes be quite difficult to enter, particularly as the industry itself is shrinking due to multiple factors.
I believe Mr. Campbell's advice is spot on, particularly with respect to what you want to accomplish in transitioning your current operation to the next level.
If you have a desire to understand the supply side of the business and what it would take to bring your product to market, another option would be to explore positions within your local distributor. It may not be the most glamorous position to start, but you will learn a plethora of information in a relatively short amount of time which you can then use to your advantage while launching your brand.
If you have any other questions regarding the industry or anything else pertaining to it, feel free to reach out at any time as I am happy to help.
Check out probrewer.com for job postings.
Or volunteer at your local places and work up the ladder to pay and different positions.
I own and am the head brewer at a smaller brewery in Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati area). I know you have received a ton of great answers to your inquiry above. One thing I did not see much of is brewing education. It has been absolutely crucial to me to this point and it is what gives us a leg up on our competition. I am a Siebel graduate but there are several programs and more and more keep opening up at small colleges. Unless you plan to brew on a homebrewing system, stepping up to the next level can be difficult. Education and experience will help with it. I have also heard nothing but amazing things on that Boots 2 Business class.
I know someone stated it is a highly competitive field, it is. In finding a job and in running a business. The Brewers Association released in its last issue or two a terrific article on the taproom model. You can purchase back issue on their website. I would suggest picking up a copy of this before writing your business plan. Most brewing growth is organic and starting out with a huge brewery might be setting you up for failure.
One last thing, a brewery in your state, Wolf Branch, is veteran owned. They may be willing to take you on as a volunteer, though I know it is not just a simple commute from Jacksonville to Orlando. Please reach out with any questions you have. I am also available to share our market resources with you (it is what helped us choose our location).
I took a different path. In my last months on Active Duty I volunteered at a local 3 barrel brew pub. Amazing how this industry attracts people who - if they can afford it - will do hard cellar work for free! I showed up twice to convince the brewer that I was serious (the brewer was skeptical the first time) and soon became the cleaning guy / cellar rat. From there they engaged me in basic business operations. In the end I relocated and did not continue with this team - but the lessons: 1) There was a LOT a did not know about the basics of running a business (which, when alcohol is added, becomes more complex due to the compliance aspect) and 2) Vets work hard, we are dependable and we figure stuff out on our own - that makes us rare gems in the private sector. If you get in entry level or as a volunteer the team will see your worth and the role will expand. I realize you want to start your own - not an interest of mine - but the basics apply. I am now operations manager at a start up winery....
Suggest you start by looking at the Veterans United Craft Brewery website: https://www.vubrew.com/our-story/
Veterans United may be willing to provide you with lessons learned. On a side note, I just returned from visiting friends in Crenolla Australia (suburb of Sydney). Our friends took us to their local community beer pub which is run by the Returned Service League of Australia (http://rslnational.org/ ), better known as the RSL. Most major cities/towns in Australia have RSL clubs. The League honors Australia's fallen and their families. The clubs are open to former service members, their families and the general public. Entry does require membership which is very modest. My wife and I were able to enter the club as guests of our friends who are not veterans. RSL pubs are very well supported by their local communities. Club walls had photos of local service members that have distinguished them in Iraq and Afghanistan. At 6:00 pm every evening, the club takes a moment to perform a "Least we not forget service" to honor the fallen. It would be great if we had such pubs in our local communities.
Don't underestimate the utility of creating a business plan now. Having one now will help you understand how much you personally need to have to invest, what type of money you'll need, the state and federal licensing requirements, labor costs and employee benefits, etc. Plus, no one will speak seriously to you about investing in your start-up without one. Think of it as an exercise in making your dream in to a reality.
If you're serious about volunteering, try speaking to Bryan at Bold City Brewing (2670 Rosselle St #7, Jacksonville, FL 32204, phone: (904) 379-6551).
Great to hear that your reaching out now but more importantly it’s great to see that you’re attempting to start crafting a plan for a second career. While I’m not a brewer or expert on brewing, all of the advice here from the business side has been spot on. I did have a couple of things that seemed worth adding. As everyone has stated here I agree that the brewing industry is cutthroat. In addition, brewinf can also be a “niche” industry. The thing with the “niche” of brewing is thst if you create something people enjoy they’ll keep coming back. Over the last 20+ years with the explosion of micro, craft, and home brewing; consumers have more choices, are in the position to send messages to the conglomerate brewer, and in certain cases brewers have been able to rewrite the rules. With regards to brewing the best things I can recommend is to research the area you want to brew and see what’s missing, experiment, and go with your instincts. Best of luck and have a great day.
I would definitely follow the advice that has been placed here it sounds like you have aplan just neeeds execution
Good luck in your endeavors
As a retiree, I would follow Alexander's advise with Boots2Business. Ask your transition center about the Small Business course taught by a university, the course completion usually done by SUNY and allows you to some funds (grants) via the VA that are not otherwise available. It's a free 8 week course that helps you walk your business plan through the widgets to academically find weaknesses and strengths.
Good afternoon Darlon,
A few recs from a guy not in the beer business (except for consumption and home brewing), but interested in starting a small brew-pub post-military life.
1. See if your base holds the Boots 2 Business class. Great Business 101 stuff and there is follow-on advising.
2. I got a lot of my beer reps by volunteering and attending tastings/tours and asking questions. As that rapport builds between you and the employees, all of these great gems of information come out. Better experience than any book that I have read. Plus, you never know...you might meet your next employer or business partner.
Best of luck to you in the remainder of your military service.
Thank you for the advice! I will check out the websites you recommend for me. I have found nothing in Jacksonville yet. Just looking to help out for FREE for now. I have talked to 3 brewerys so far and they did not seem to intrested in that. But that will not stop me.
V/r Darlon B. Flint
Thank you so much for the info. I will retire at my 22 year point. Just trying to use the next 3 1/2 years to set myself up. I should have the ability to use most if not all of my retirement $ to run / set up the brewery. I will start "fundraising" and saving now for the start up $. I would love to talk business plan with you later on. Once again thank you!
V/r Darlon B Flint
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