Monday, June 4, 2012
So You Want To Own A Brewery...
If you're a homebrewer, or even just a Lover of craft beer, then it's likely you've contemplated opening your own brewery at one time or another. Of course, after looking at what it really takes, most of us can't. The cost and time investment required to open your own brewery or craft beer bar can be a daunting challenge - and it's these barriers that usually stop most people.
Personally, I'd love to open my own brewery. The problem? I work a regular, 40 hour+ per week job, have a mortgage and bills, and don't have the extra capital necessary for the initial investment nor paid months I can take off from work. Also, since laws don't allow you to open a commercial brewery fom within a residence (i.e. You can't just setup shop in your garage), I also lack the necesary space in which to setup my brewing sytem and tap room; which of course will cost even more.
I suppose I could sell every material posession I own and start living in a dinky studio apartment to save money for the brewery, but that would be a bit rough on me, my wife and our two dogs, and would be rather drastic.
So what's the solution? What's a regular, hard-working family guy who wants to open a brewery to do? The answer, for me, presented itself a little over a year ago. That's when I first heard about Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery, a new cooperative venture getting under way to start a brewery in Seattle, utilizing the priciples and practices of a co-op. I was intrugued instantly and became member number 12. I was only the third person to join the co-op, beyond the 'original 9' board members who got things rolling.
Fast forward to 14 months later and the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery now has over 500 members! We still need at least another 500 members before we'll be ready to secure a location, build out the brewery and open our doors, but 500 members in just over a year's time is quite an achievement.
A membership in Flying Bike costs just $150 per person. For your $150, you get membership/ownership in the cooperative, a member T-Shirt and a Flying Bike logo pint glass. Better still, once the brewery is up, running and profitable, everyone will, eventually, get that initial $150 investment back!
All member/owners have a say in most brewery issues, as most big decisions are put to a member vote. The day-to-day running of the co-op, at this point, is done by the 9-member board of directors. Through a member vote last year, I joined the Flying Bike Board of Directors in late 2011.
Now, some people have difficulty with the concept of buying into a business that does not yet exist except on paper. That's understandable to a point, but for those with courage and vision, a $150 investment is an extremely small risk, while the long-term rewards can be substantial.
Even though we don't have our own brewery up and running yet, Flying Bike has arleady had one beer on tap around Seattle. Perhaps you had the chance to see or try it? Following our first member homebrew competition last year, we had "Fly-PA", our first beer (an India Pale Ale), on tap at several locations throughout Seattle last fall, including: Pillager's Pub, Cooper's Alehouse, Beveridge Place Pub, and a few others.
We also just concluded our second member homebrew competition for our first Stout, and have entered into a partnership with Trade Route Brewing in Pacific, WA, who will be scaling up the winning stout (brewed by Flying Bike Member/Owner David Flynn). We hope to have this stout (yet to be named) on tap around Seattle within a couple of months. Be on the lookout for it.
I'd also like to send out a huge thank you to Naked City Brewery & Taphouse and their entire staff. Naked City provided us with the location for judging for our Stout competition this past weekend, and they were wonderful to work with. Thanks guys!
The cooperative has a financial plan in place, and we hope to be able to increase our membership as quickly as possible over the next year. The faster we can grow our membership, the sooner we can secure a location, build our brewery and open our doors to the public!
So if you've ever dreamed of owning a brewery, please check out Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery today. If you like what you see, plonk down your $150 and join us! And if you could list "Michael Dieterle" or "Beer Monger" as the person who referred you when you join, I'd really appreciate it! Climb aboard and let's get this bike off the ground!
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.