Southern Brew News February/March 2012 : Page 1
Feb/Mar 2012 Vol. 7 No. 1 Brewmaster Mark Medlin and "Big Kahuna" Freddy Bensch enjoy the first beers to be poured in the new event space bar. P HOTO BY L ARRY J OHNSON By Larry Johnson Erik Lars Myers of Mystery Brewing used Kickstarter to help launch his Hillsborough brewery. P HOTO BY R ICHARD M ITCHELL n February 17, 1997, Sweetwater Brewing officially went on line as one of the true pioneers of craft brewing in Atlanta. Now, the company is celebrating those fifteen years of phenomenal suc-cess in a very special way — by knocking down their house, and rebuilding it bigger and better. Just seven years ago, Sweetwater Brewing Company outgrew their first home off suburban Fulton Industrial Parkway and moved to what they describe as a “friendlier part of town” on Ottley Drive near down-town. Now they are bursting at the seams again. But this time they’re not moving. They love where they are and have opted to expand in place, growing from 26,000 square feet to 114,000 square feet in floor space, and increasing brewing capacity from 100,000 barrels per year to 500,000 barrels per year. The project is enormous. They tore down a building and rebuilt in the same spot where a huge facility will house phase one of the project. The new building holds a 550-bottles-per-minute Krones filler and bottling line, a new keg filler, a new and improved quality assurance lab, new offices, a new machine shop, merchandise store, outdoor deck, a beautiful event space, with a custom bar overlooking the bottling hall, and a tasting panel room. By Win Bassett hey go by “Irregulars,” “Barn Raisers,” and other not-so-obvious names, but to them, they do not care what they are called as long they stay on the “inside” of North Carolina’s newest brewing start-ups. They get there by contributing money to a new brewery’s costs, to an annual club membership with the brewery, or to both. This method of raising money using a large of number of individual and often non-professional investors is known as “crowd funding,” and in today’s economy, the prac-tice has become especially popular among breweries hoping to fill their tanks for the first time. Into the Mystery Erik Lars Myers, founder of Mystery Brewing Co. in Hillsborough, NC, blazed the trail for many of the breweries and beer-related businesses using crowd fund-ing today. Mystery was the first brewery to See Crowd cont. p.3 Environmental Designs In keeping with Sweetwater’s ongoing commitment to the environment, they are See Sweetwater cont. p.7 A panoramic view of Sweetwater's new facility. INSIDE Calendar ......................... 2 Letter From Editor ......... 2 BrewThru ...................... 4 Beer Wench's Kitchen .... 5 Tasting Notes ................ 6 Dr. Brewski .................... 8 Homebrew News ............ 9 Style Section ................ 10 Business of Beer ......... 19 State by State News Tennessee ........11 Georgia ..........16 Alabama/Mississippi ....18 The Carolinas .......20 Florida ...........22 Louisiana ............23 P HOTO BY S TEVE F ARACE
Crowd Funding The Beer Business
They go by “Irregulars,” “Barn Raisers,” and other not-soobvious names, but to them, they do not care what they are called as long they stay on the “inside” of North Carolina’s newest brewing start-ups.
They get there by contributing money to a new brewery’s costs, to an annual club membership with the brewery, or to both.This method of raising money using a large of number of individual and often nonprofessional investors is known as “crowd funding,” and in today’s economy, the practice has become especially popular among breweries hoping to fill their tanks for the first time.
Into the Mystery
Erik Lars Myers, founder of Mystery Brewing Co. In Hillsborough, NC, blazed the trail for many of the breweries and beer-related businesses using crowd funding today. Mystery was the first brewery to start a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, the most well-known online crowd funding platform. Aspiring entrepreneurs create pages within Kickstarter’s online community that detail their business ideas, and “backers” have the opportunity to pledge a certain amount of money to the projects.Project owners set two goals—the amount of money they wish to raise and the date by which they hope to raise it. If a project owner does not achieve both goals, “no money changes hands.”
Myers used his extensive network, established by his blog, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets, to reach his funding goal of $40,000 a week prior to his goal date of July 23, 2010. To date, Mystery’s campaign has raised more money than any other brewery on Kickstarter, with 243 people pledging a total of $44,259.
More Than Satisfaction
These backers received more than the satisfaction of knowing that their money would allow Myers “to chase [his] passion and…to share it with others by raising a toast to the world with [his] own beer.”
Myers rewarded each backer with perks ranging from listing the backer’s name on Mystery’s website for a $5 contribution to Myers “hold[ing] a personal, private beer dinner with you and a few of your friends using the first four beers that Mystery Brewing produces” for a $5,000 contribution. Though most of his backers contributed in the $100 or more range, which rewarded them “with an induction into the Mystery Brewing ‘Irregulars’” club, Myers had at least one investor earn that personal beer dinner.
In an effort to raise more funds for “the final push,” he recently announced the details of Mystery’s “Irregulars” program.
A one-year membership costs $150 and gives inductees, among other benefits, an opportunity to buy two limited-release beers every year before they go on sale to the public and invitations to attend quarterly meetings regarding “what’s going on behind the scenes at Mystery.” Myers says he does not wants its members to “just feel” like insiders. “I want insiders. Exclusivity is a valuable commodity.”
Haw River Capital
Ben Woodward with Haw River Farmhouse Ales recently offered similar insider experiences to beer enthusiasts in return for their capital contributions to his brewery slated to open in Saxapahaw, NC.He wanted “to offer a chance for our friends and fans to become involved in the business from the ground up.” Woodward chose not to use an existing crowd funding platform such as Kickstarter because “it’s rife with startup breweries these days, so we wouldn’t have necessarily stood out from the pack as much as we would have a year ago.” He adds, “We’re also a fiercely independent group of folks, so ‘doing it ourselves’ seemed like the best way to move into this phase of our fundraising.”
Woodward wants to raise approximately $50,000 that will “head into our general startup budget.” To accomplish this goal, investors can purchase a “Barn Raiser Founder’s Collection” for $295 that offers “the opportunity to reserve special versions of all kinds of things from our first year.” Woodward says that contributors will “both figuratively and literally help us raise our barn, which is essentially what our brewhouse and taproom will be when we begin construction next year.” These packages also include a ticket to a private founder’s opening party and a “raffle ticket for the chance to spend a full day in the brewhouse with Haw River.”
Woodward decided to offer these types of experiences because he “wanted to balance some of the branded merchandise… with a few intangible items that no one else will be able to get their hands on.”
“That makes things a bit more special to the folks who decide they want to help us reach our goals,” he says.
Woodward plans to “concentrate on hybrid Belgian styles and sour beers,” both of which make up a small percentage of the beer brewed by North Carolina’s existing breweries. He says that “if we can bring something new to the table in both how we make our beer and how we build our brewery, our fans will recognize that and want to be involved to help us get there.”
IndieGoGo for NC Brew
Michael Hayek also believes that his fans want to help him get there, and in his case, it means raising $4,000 to help him obtain the required permits and create a website for NCBREW2U, a “web-based craft beer retailer that features only North Carolina beer.” After considering a traditional bank loan and private investors, he settled on IndieGoGo, an online crowd funding community similar to Kickstarter but with more “flexibility in the type of campaign you want to run,” says Hayek.He states that while Kickstarter “focuses on creative projects…for musicians, designers, and even brewers,…IndieGoGo provides a platform for anyone with an idea and the willingness to put the effort into promoting it.”
His biggest challenge in getting contributions has been exposure. “It is easy to forget that not everyone is using the same means of communication that we do,” Hayek says. “The reality is that there are a whole lot of people out there who do not use Facebook, Twitter, etc…These people may still love your idea and want to help.” Despite the recent trend of raising money from individuals via Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and independent online campaigns, not every attempt ends in a success story.Woodward has “seen a number of folks try to raise large sums of money online without first securing a solid network of contacts or putting the time into the messaging or goals.”
He says, “If you want to go the crowd funding route, you have to make sure there’s first a crowd there to hear your message.”
For Myers, Woodward, and Hayek, the crowd of supportive beer enthusiasts appears to be listening.
Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Crowd+Funding+The+Beer+Business/966695/99227/article.html.
Flowing More Freely Than Ever
On February 17, 1997, Sweetwater Brewing officially went on line as one of the true pioneers of craft brewing in Atlanta. Now, the company is celebrating those fifteen years of phenomenal success in a very special way — by knocking down their house, and rebuilding it bigger and better.
Just seven years ago, Sweetwater Brewing Company outgrew their first home off suburban Fulton Industrial Parkway and moved to what they describe as a “friendlier part of town” on Ottley Drive near downtown.Now they are bursting at the seams again. But this time they’re not moving.
They love where they are and have opted to expand in place, growing from 26,000 square feet to 114,000 square feet in floor space, and increasing brewing capacity from 100,000 barrels per year to 500,000 barrels per year.
The project is enormous. They tore down a building and rebuilt in the same spot where a huge facility will house phase one of the project. The new building holds a 550-bottles-per- minute Krones filler and bottling line, a new keg filler, a new and improved quality assurance lab, new offices, a new machine shop, merchandise store, outdoor deck, a beautiful event space, with a custom bar overlooking the bottling hall, and a tasting panel room.
In keeping with Sweetwater’s ongoing commitment to the environment, they are installing a 157 kilowatt hour solar array which should pay for itself in three years.Trails will be constructed to connect the street in front of the brewery to the Beltline, a connected series of parks, trails, and transit that is presently under development. The Sweetwater brewery sits near the end of one of the spurs of the Beltline.
The expansion is occurring in three phases. The first phase, which includes all of the above, except the increased brewing capacity, is due to be finished in early 2012.
The second phase of the project will be the installation of the new 1000 barrel fermenters and brite tanks. These are planned to be on line around June 2012. The third phase, the new brewhouse, should be completed by the end of next year.
But the benefits of expansion will kick in before the new fermenters and brewhouse come on line to increase the capacity. With the new quality assurance lab, QA Manager Paul Chlup says he will be able to provide more precise data on alcohol content, density, bitterness, color and clarity — the kind of data the brewers need to maintain quality and consistency.
“We will be doing more types of tests, more sampling of the product at every point of the process,” says Chlup. “We will be able to establish baseline numbers for many more of the brewing variables, which we will then use to set upper and lower limits of those numbers and work to keep the beers within those limits.”
Scientific measurement doesn’t take the place of good, old-fashioned artisan judgment, however. The new facility includes a room for the Tasting Panel to meet. “We meet and taste the beers to ensure that they are all maintaining what we call ‘trueness of brand’,” Chlup says. “The last thing we want is for someone to come to Atlanta and try, say, a 420, then go to a bar in their hometown and order a 420 and it tastes different.” The new lab will allow Sweetwater to increase the number and kinds of tests on things like foam stability (head retention) and haze.
The new lab also includes a new microbiology room for yeast plating and yeast quality maintenance. The scientific precision of the new QA lab will be crucial to the success of one Sweetwater’s future pet projects – bottle conditioning.
“Bottle conditioning is a process that really will make use of the more scientific, more precise measurement and control,” Chlup says. “It’s easy to under-carbonate or over carbonate if you if you don’t add just the right amount of fermentables and yeast at the bottling.”
The new lab will also have office space for the brewmaster and the QA manager, Chlup says, “We both will have offices adjoining the lab, so if there’s any issue that requires our attention, we’re right here.”
The second phase of the expansion project must wait on the completion of the first phase. That’s because the big, new 1000-bbl fermenters and brite tanks will be going into the space vacated by the old bottling line. So as soon as the new bottling line is up and running, the old one comes out and the new fermenters and brite tanks can be installed.
The Real Fun
The third phase must wait, you guessed it, on the completion of the second phase.Just as with the previous phase, the space for the new brewhouse includes the space vacated by the old fermenters. As soon as the new fermenters and brite tanks are in and running the new brewhouse can be installed in that spot. And that’s when the real fun begins.
“The initial brewing capacity will be 200,000 to 300,000 barrels per year, with an increase to 500,000 barrels to come soon after,” Brewmaster Mark Medlin says.“That’s a 400% increase from their present brewing capacity. What to do with all this extra capacity?Medlin emphasizes that getting into more markets is not the goal. “We are absolutely not looking to expand geographically right now”, he said.
“We just want to be able to completely supply our current market and do some things we haven’t had the space or capacity to do.”
For instance, the expansion will allow Sweetwater to take some of their more popular seasonal beers, such as Exodus Porter. And make them year-round offerings. “We want to do more high gravity beers, get into bottle conditioning, barrel aging, more specials like the Catch ‘n Release and Dank Tank series,” Medlin says. “These are things that we’ve wanted to do but were limited by space and capacity.”
Sweetwater’s first fifteen years have been sweet ones, indeed. Hard work, creativity, and ingenuity have paid off big time, and there’s every reason to think that the next fifteen will be just as good to the fine folks who have done as they have always advised us all: “Don’t Float the Mainstream.”
Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Flowing+More+Freely+Than+Ever/966699/99227/article.html.