What’s In a Name?

Apparently everything.

How do you start talking about, marketing and gathering investment for a brewery with no name? Very carefully.

When I first mention to friends, family, strangers, enemies that we are planning to open a(nother) craft brewery in Southern California I cringe a bit expecting what has now become the expected response. You’d think the idea of sharing our plans to be a player in one of the coolest industries around and doing something we love would get me bursting with pride and enthusiasm. It does. But then that expected response comes: “What’s the name?”

Working with, for and starting numerous small businesses through the years makes me not worry about this problem too much especially considering we have solid plans, heaps of information others have shared about their brewery startup plans, budgets and finances figured out, investment, delicious recipes and a ton of confidence in our abilities and our beer. But it is a bit unnerving and unsettling to start a venture like this without identity.

There is also the ever-present anxiety about having to get it right. Our branding, reputation, others’ perception and buying behaviors, all seem to rest on a name. And the trademark issues along could make anyone freeze with fear – how do you find a name that defines the brewery, the types of beers you want to serve, what you stand for AND make sure it’s protectable? Then again, we’re probably overthinking it. We can always name it after the street of our first location….

I guess the best answer is the honest one: “We don’t have one yet. Any suggestions?” If you have any, please share. Our brewery is going to be about community so feel free to get involved!

[Editor’s Note: Since writing this blog we have obviously chose a name. Look for a future post that discusses how/why we found/chose the name.]

Planning Process

It’s Saturday night and I’m reading brewing regulations. Fascinating, I know. But there is something oddly satisfying and fun about it. It seems everything we do gets us another step closer to having our own commercial brewery. Check “study regulations” off the list (unless some legislators decide to change everything in the next year… so I guess don’t check it off the list).

The planning process has been very educational and, as you’d expect, time-consuming. I believe that any good brewer (as well as business owner) has to be very-detail oriented. I’m consumed by any and all information I can get my hands on about starting a brewery. Whether it’s books like Brewing Up A Business by Sam Calagione  or Beyond the Pale by Ken Grossman , blogs documenting brewery startups (some of my favorites are Hess Brewing, Monday Night Brewery, Modern Times Brewing, Beau’s Brewery, I’m Starting a Craft Brewery, Enegren Brewing, Alarmist Brewing (née Panic Brewing), and Roughtail Brewing Co.), and podcasts that talk about the trials, tribulations and tips for starting a brewery (The Brewing Network did a great series on “Going Pro”).

The biggest issue seems to be what permits and licenses you need to get going. In California, we’re lucky to have a website like this that breaks it down by city and industry. It’s not perfect but I like that it seems to fall on the side of overkill instead of not being complete enough.

We’re forever grateful to those that have provided their insight and experiences to make our start-up process more efficient. Cheers!

[Editor Note: There have been a couple more beer business podcasts that have popped up recently including MicroBrewr Podcast, Brewing Business and Craft Conscious Podcast.]

Yes, We’re Starting a Craft Brewery

It seems like breweries are popping up all over the place these days. We’ve heard all sorts of numbers like a new brewery opening every 16 hours, the absurdly high number of applications into the TTB and other required licensing/permitting. Are we afraid? Yes and no. Starting any new business should be exhilarating and terrifying. The brewing business is no different, and probably better/worse.

There is a lot of talk about too much beer for too few consumers (although mostly debunked in articles like this one: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/03/is_there_too_much_oregon_beer.html) and that the market is too saturated. But with that you see the crowds of people at good new breweries clamoring for more. You hear about the year over year growth from craft breweries and the market as a whole (http://www.brewersassociation.org/statistics/national-beer-sales-production-data/ and http://www.brewbound.com/news/the-brewers-association-top-50-u-s-craft-breweries-of-2013). And then you throw in a dose of common sense about saturation points from smart guys like Van Havig, a PhD in Economics and Master Brewer/Owner at Gigantic Brewing Co., discussing “the saturation point” among other things: http://goodbeerhunting.com/gbh-podcast/2014/2/15/episode-1-gigantic-brewings-van-havig

We’ve done our research prepared our loved ones, and hopefully prepared ourselves. We’ll do our best to document the process here and any other place we can to help others along the way.

So, what the hell, let’s go for it…

Brewery in Planning