Barley Mowat 

Beer and Learning: Together at Last!

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I don’t often plug events on this blog, mostly because the events I think are good enough to plug tend to sell out instantaneously so I elect to not rub in the fact that I have tickets. Hey, speaking of which, I have tickets to Hoppapalooza! Suck it, losers! But I digress.

However, one event is upcoming that you can weirdly still purchase entry for. This is likely because it’s not focused on the general public. The Business of Craft Beer (May 29th, 2-6pm) is a four hour long boot camp on starting and marketing a brewery successfully.

Things kick off with a keynote from Ninkasi Brewing’s Jamie Floyd, then a open panel takes questions on Opening a Craft Brewery in BC featuring Don Farion (Bomber), Anthony Frustagli (Parallel 49) and Jim Dodds (Red Truck). Following that a new panel discusses what to do with the beer once you’ve made (Marketing & Selling Craft Beer), with Adam Mills (Four Winds), Ian McKay (Driftwood) and Tim Barnes (Central City).

Hosting the whole thing is that mountain of beer knowledge himself: Joe Wiebe. Also, you can expect me to interject random thoughts throughout the afternoon, at least until they use the gag and tranquilizers Joe no doubt told the organizers to have at the ready.

Why go, though? You already know how to brew beer and maybe even have threatened, conned and outright extorted your way to some seed capital (sorry, mom). You see, over the years I’ve talked to many dozens of brewers and brewery owners. To a person, they’re all lovely people but that doesn’t stop a solid third to half of them from having virtually no idea what they’re doing when it comes to running a brewery as a business. The balance aren’t a whole lot better, either.

Everyone wants to live the dream and start their own brewery. It sounds attractive: taking that hobby which enthrals you for hours at a time every few weeks (and destroys your kitchen) and turning it into your full time job (which isn’t in your kitchen). Having a chance to brew creatively, put your gorgeous beer in equally gorgeous bottles and then reaping the internal reward of seeing your beer right there on the shelf next to Four Winds (only your beer will be even better, ‘natch) is all the motivation you need.


Well, your VISA statement looking like this also
nudges you towards making free, unlimited beer.

That’s the dream, isn’t it? It’s a sexy temptress of an ideal that pulls you in, then gets all “I have a headache and you have books to balance” in the cold clear light of day. Actually crafting recipes and making beer are just two small steps in a long serpent of a convoluted business process. How much should you spend on packaging? Used brewhouse or new? When do you bottle? Do you even bottle? Can? How much do you have to pay farmers to pick up your spent grain? What licenses do you need to open a tasting room? And HOLY SHIT YOU HAVE TO PAY SOMEONE TO COME GET YOUR SPENT GRAIN?!?

Running a brewery is running a business. End of story. If you’re seriously considering getting into this business or even if you’re still in the day dreaming stage, a chance to ask people pointed and frank questions in an open setting is worth far, far more than the $75 cost of entrance, even if food and beer weren’t included (which, by the way, they are).

If you just looked at that “$75” and thought “that’s too expensive” then save us all some time and keep your day job. Starting a brewery will be the hardest, most expensive, most time consuming thing you’ve ever done with your life, and saving a paltry $75 at the start of this process by not attending this event is about the single worst way to save money you could conceive of.


Seriously, saving $1/hr by hiring this guy to be your delivery driver would be smarter.

Maybe I’m recommending this event because the organizers asked me to (they did) or because they gave me a free ticket (also true), and sure, those things absolutely meet my main criteria for blogging on a topic: making my life better. However, I try to think a bit longer term. My life would be massively better if there were even more breweries in BC, and there will be more breweries if the existing breweries aren’t going out of business left, right and centre because their owners put too much emphasis on “making great beer” and not enough on “paying rent.” You can do both, folks, but you gotta learn how.

This event won’t answer all the questions you need answered in order to run brewery as a business. Heck, it won’t even start. However, if you’re lucky and pay attention, it might teach you which questions you have to ask in the first place, and that’s gotta be worth $75.

Buy your tickets here.

Written by chuck

May 20th, 2014 at 2:48 pm

One Response to 'Beer and Learning: Together at Last!'

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  1. Too bad is starts at 2pm, don’t mind the price but won’t take a day off work to attend unless I wanted to open a brewery, at which point I agree this is a can’t miss event for anyone even remotely thinking about it.

    Terry

    20 May 14 at 15:50

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