23 Apr 2010

Pragmatism

"I don't drink commercially produced beers anymore..."

This must be the most stupid comment about beer I've ever read (the author then mentions that he likes Bernard a lot).

Lately I've been discussing this and other closely related topics quite a lot. I think I've already made myself clear, but it's still worth repeating it: every brewery that exchanges their beers for money with the aim of making a profit is commercial. Regardless of its size, philosophy and all that. To divide breweries into "commercial" and "non commercial" is just silly.

But it's not this what I wanted to tell you about today. I'm sure many of you, at least once, have dreamt about having your own brewery. These days I've been meditating about this (the beauty of having a long commute), but trying to do it from a more realistic point of view.

Let's say I've come across a sum that could be enough to set up a micro-brewery (OK. This is not realistic, in fact, I think I have more chances of coming across a Hobbit. It's just a basis for the argument). As with every project, a plan will have to be made, at least a preliminary one for the moment. My plan has the following points.

1- Is it sensible to start with something like this in these days?
Yes. There's no doubt. Actually, it seems there has never been a better time than now. The market is getting more receptive, it's far from saturated and, in general, micros are doing quite well.

2- What is going to be my business philosophy?
To make an honest product. To have respect for the consumer. This is not idealistic, is, I think, something basic if I want my company to prosper.

And also very important: Fuck romanticism, love and passion, the poetry and, to a certain extent, fuck what I like or don't like as well.

My brewery is going to be a company, I will have to make a large investment, and I want to make a good living out of it. In other words, and I hope nobody gets offended by this, I'm in this for the money.

3- What kind of brewery do I want to have?
Not a brewpub, definitely. I don't want to manage a restaurant and I can't be arsed with looking for a trustworthy partner. Too much hassle. So, my brewery will be something like Matuška's.

Regarding it size. Well, I would like to start with a 2000-3000hl 500-1000hl/year capacity. For that, of course, I will have to talk to people who are specialist in putting together breweries. I want to have professional equipment. I think it's important to minimise the risk of contaminations, etc.

The location is not as critical as a brewpub's, but I would still like to have the brewery close to my place. This will depend on the availability of adequate facilities in the area, so I won't muse too much about it for now.

4- Who will be making the beer?
You can have top of the range gear, but If you don't have anyone who knows how to work with it it's pretty much useless.

I'm not qualified to brew commercially, so I will need someone to do it for me. That shouldn't be much of a problem, finding qualified people is not too hard here.

5- Whom I will sell my beers?
Provided quality is taken care of I don't think I will have much trouble finding buyers. I've got a good relationship with the owners of several hospody in Prague and I'm sure they'll be glad to buy my beers. From then on, it will depend on people liking them. 

Another alternative would be to get in touch with a restaurant owner who wants to have "his own beer", but doesn't want, or can't, have his own brewery.

6- What kind of beers will I make?
Those that people want to drink, no doubt.

I will have lagering equipment, but I would like to focus more on top fermenting styles. Not because I think they are essentially better, but because a few of them are more flexible, they can be ready to take the streets in a couple of weeks, while a decent lager needs at least a month. Oh! Yeah! And because I think they are very salable. I would also like to make seasonal beers for the same reason, they are very salable.

Once the business is running well enough I will sit with my brewer and see if we can put together more unconventional and more personal recipes. I will also explore the possibility of bottle conditioning since this could open the doors for exports and also, could allow me to brew "Vintage Beers" and other similar stuff that I will sure sell at absurd prices (he! he!).

Bugger me! This is a great plan! I will start calling people right this moment. I want to know about the costs, etc. What am I doing still sitting here? Let's get to work!

Oh! Yeah! I'm missing something. Money.

Hmmmm....

Well... It seems having my own brewery will have to wait. So, give me back the romanticism, the passion and all that bollocks. As a consumer I have the right, no, the obligation, to demand it from those who actually do make a living out of brewing and selling beer.

Na Zdraví!

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2 comments:

  1. Money, Why Do we need it, for Everything, never mind Max !. Was talking to Sheffield Student last night, who is writing a Thesis on the Success of Micro Brewery,s. Light & Low Pale Ale,s in Abundance, biggest Attraction to Women !. Research found, more Women drinking Real Ale, Boosting the Industry.

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  2. No surprise there! Here, for example, wheat beers are quite popular among the ladies.

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