More and more people have been asking me what it’s like to open a brewery. I always tell them it’s awesome, and that’s not a lie. It is awesome. I’ve been dreaming about doing this for years and to finally be following through on this dream feels really, really great. There is still a lot of work left before we open, but the craft beer industry is so amazing and special that even with so much on my plate, most days it doesn’t actually feel like work.
What I don’t typically tell them is there are many more emotional peaks and valleys than I had ever anticipated. I’m finding there is a large ambiguous component to every task I do. On any given day, I could be working on the layout for the brewery equipment, talking to a vendor about payroll options, discussing recipe design, or trying to find the best price per foot for unbreakable windows in the taproom (side note: shit's expensive). I’m all over the place on a daily basis, but it needs to get done and right now I’m the only one to do it.
Things are also taking a lot of time to complete, although that’s somewhat by design. See, we’re not exactly working with unlimited funds – and our money tree isn’t in bloom yet – so a large focus of mine, even at this early stage, is keeping expenses in check. As a result, I’m trying to do a lot of the work myself or at least learn as much as possible about the non-brewing tasks (e.g., permitting, environmental rules, building codes, etc.) rather than hiring consultants, lawyers, and other expensive helpers. That’s not to say I haven’t relied on experts when it’s abundantly clear I need them, but I’m trying to do a lot of it myself which naturally takes longer.
However, despite the lulls and seemingly long periods without identifiable progress, there are still moments of pure elation and celebration. For instance, a couple weeks ago, after much planning and redesign, I received the nearly final version of our floor plan for the brewery. It’s stunning and I can’t wait to see the physical space when it's all done. Sure this moment of joy was preceded by 4-5 months of brainstorming, meetings, phone calls, voice messages, hair pulling, and frustration, but seeing those plans and envisioning a bustling brewery churning out amazing beers made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.
So yes, working to build a brewery from scratch has been incredible, but it’s also been demanding, frustrating, and humbling. And although the period of time between each milestone can be difficult, I’m willing to trade these lulls for that occasional hair-on-the-back-of-my-neck moment. Totally worth it.