Obviously, I haven’t been writing. Haven’t been brewing, really, either. Three or four batches in the last year, which is pretty much an all-time low since I started all-grain brewing.
What happened? As Raoul Duke said, “What’s the score here? What’s next?”
I spent much of the summer of 2013 researching what was needed to start a brewery. I’ll spare you the gory details, or I would if I hadn’t already written them, but the basic answer was obvious: Money. More specifically, money I didn’t have.
There are varying levels of investment for various levels of expectation. I could start a brewery out of the garage for a relatively small investment of time and a few modifications. My intent, though, was to create a new job for myself, and virtually no one is supporting themselves out of a garage brewery. Income minus expenses would equal bankruptcy and loss of the brewery.
A real, income-producing brewery involves a much larger scale that I could not afford. I had no industry experience to bargain with, or borrow against, as it were. No one was lined up to invest, and even if they were, it would be difficult for me to relinquish any sort of control over the business.
The same was true for the taproom idea. Leases, build-outs, employees, little cash, and no real experience to work with were not a winning combination.
The real deal breaker, though, was that over the months I had ceased to be income-positive.
So I went back to work. Having a generalized IT background and years of experience means I can still get a job around here, in most cases, pretty quickly. As it worked out, I found one within a couple of weeks and am still working there, this time as a supervisor. Managing a team of six is a great opportunity, and the experience gained should help me when I revisit the brewery and taproom idea a few years down the road.
I’m eager to get back to brewing more regularly. I brewed a stout and brown ale on back-to-back weekends and it was fun to get back to basics. I only brewed five gallons, didn’t use the Tower of Power for anything but the hot liquor, and relied entirely on gravity to move the fluids around. Hit all of my marks on the stout, but flubbed the brown a little. Nothing fatal, but too hoppy.
Proximity to my LHBS has had an impact on me. My previous job was less than five minutes from Larry’s. Now I work a good bit further away, and Larry’s isn’t really on my way to anywhere, so I’m less likely to go. I need to get over my aversion to ordering ingredients online.
At any rate, this site will probably be changing over the coming months. I’m spending time on other projects, like Madera Verde Garden, and I’d like to showcase some of that work (most of which is my wife’s). I still enjoy writing, and I’m looking forward to presenting some topics for which I have a passion equal to brewing.
In the meantime, support another local brewery, and cheers!