In going through the process of starting a brewery, I’ve learned an awful lot. And this is my second brewery*!
*The first was the “practice brewery”, never intended to be a stand alone business but, rather, an exploration intended to let us learn how to run a brewery at a pico** scale before “going live”.
** Honestly, at barely a handful of barrels per year, the original (Santa Cruz County) brewery hardly even qualifies as a nano-brewery, which is typically described as “2000bbl/yr or less”. I mean, sure, it’s technically “or less”, but calling it a nano-brewery feels like over-stating things.
Anyway, I’ve learned a ton and, while I feel pretty confident with the way we’re planning and executing (still in process; likely for another couple of months), there are a lot of things that fall into the “well, it would’ve been nice to know that ahead of time…!” category. Of course, there are plenty of books on starting businesses — and breweries in particular — and we read several of those and incorporated the learnings, but there are still a lot of items — mostly around the “my first commercial/retail space” area — that were surprising.
For example: if you don’t have any experience in the area, the process of making an offer on and negotiating a commercial lease might come as a surprise. In a lot of ways, it’s just like renting your first apartment. But in a lot of important ways, it’s not. Or hiring/working-with an architectural firm — it’s 90% like you might expect but, for someone who likes to over-think and over-plan everything, that 10% can be a major lesson in patience & relaxation (“personal growth!” 😉 ). The city building permit process is fairly straightforward, except where it’s not. Commercial insurance is only vaguely similar to homeowner’s/personal insurance. Things like that.
So I started to write a few pages that might turn into a book — tentatively titled How Not To Start A Brewery — full of stories about what I learned, what was as I expected, what I might do differently next time, what felt like “I sure wish somebody would have explained that in a way that made it sink in, beforehand” things, etc. Actually, I don’t have any of the “book” part written, yet; I just wrote the Forward, as a sort of note-to-self: This is the direction I want to take things; it basically describes in slightly more detail what I say in this blog post.
Thing is: while it feels vaguely interesting to me — especially in the “I wish I’d-a known that before” areas — I can’t tell if it’s anything anyone else might care about, or if it’s mostly just for my own self-therapy (which, if that’s the case, I’ll probably continue to write anyway, but perhaps with less focus or drive to actually finish). So, if it seems like the kind of thing that you think would be interesting, let me know in the comments (hopefully, you can comment without logging in. Is that a setting I control?) Or, if it seems like something that probably nobody but me cares about, tell me that, too.
Stay friendly, my thirsts!