If you’ve been following our blog posts up until now (THANK YOU!) then you probably already know that we’ve been in the planning phase to open our own brewery for some time now. Other then experimenting with different recipes there’s been a lot of work put into turning this goal into a reality. Logistics, financials, strengths, weaknesses, marketing, legalities, all of these either have been, or are about to be analysed and developed to make sure our future brewery is as successful as possible. As you’ve probably guessed there is a ton of information that needs to be sifted through before we can even start building a business plan. Luckily we’ve had a lot of help. Here’s a look at where we’re at so far and what we have planned for the near future.
The Business Plan
This is probably the longest, tedious, and least exciting part of the process (at least at first). Everything gets analysed and picked apart, statements need to be supported with sources that use something called “facts”, and long term goals are broken down into medium term goals, which are then broken down into short term goals. That’s all on top of figuring out how much cash is needed, who’s going to get it, what they going to use it for, and when the person lending the money can expect to get it all back. Right now we have a good chunk of this process done with a lot of help from some friends in the industry and a lovely, intelligent lady whom I’ll be marrying come September (I asked before she helped with the plan, but if I hadn’t this pretty much sealed the deal).
The good news is that once you get most of the plan done, things do start to get exciting. If you’ve done your research and planned things out properly using these “facts” you start to see the viability of your business fleshed out before you without spending a single dollar. Lucky for us we’re looking to open a business that’s part of a rapidly growing industry. So, needless to say, the outlook so far is pretty good. There’s still plenty to do before we can start shopping our business plan, but the meat of it is close to being done and hopefully we’ll be pitching it to investors later this year.
While this will always be a big part of brewing for us (homebrew or commercial), we try to pursue formal classes whenever possible. Last year we attended classes that brought us all the way back to the very basics of brewing, which did wonders as a refresher while providing us with small bits of new info to stream line our brew day. We also took some classes on off-flavors and hop profiles to sharpen our palettes which were provided by the BC Beer Awards. It’s a good bet that we’ll expand on these smaller education classes this year with offerings from CAMRA Vancouver and our local homebrew clubs. On top of that I will be attending SFU’s new 8 month Craft Brewing Course certificate starting October. It’s not quite as in-depth as other offerings, but will definitely help strengthen our brewing theory as well as providing education on the business side of the brewing industry. Two areas which could really help us in the near future.
Another big change for us this year will be with competitions. Classes and such have been good for helping our brewing processes, but getting feedback from trained judges has worked wonders for perfecting our recipes. Last year our scores averaged between 30-37 points (Very Good). This year our goal is to push that average to the “Excellent” category (38-44 points) and maybe even place. The number of competitions we’ll be entering will also dramatically increase. Last year we entered three, while this year it’ll be more like ten or more. The more competitions we enter, the more feedback we get, which means our beer just keeps getting better.
Marketing and Branding
Up until now our branding and labels have more been about having fun and being creative. It’s always satisfying to have your homebrew mistaken for a commercial beer. However, lately these fun little art projects have turned into full blown market research to see how our branding measures up. Practicality has also moved into the conversation and has forced us to rethink the size and shape of our labels as well as how to to streamline the labeling process. The neck labels look really cool, but after labeling a single case of bottles we’d most likely look at the 20-30 remaining cases and let the explicits fly. In the coming weeks you’ll start seeing the fruits of our labor as we begin revealing new beers.
Our social media efforts have, so far, been paying off. Our efforts have even resulted with us being referred to as the “Silver Valley Guys” by fellow club members. Needless to say it put a big smile on our faces since it meant we were doing something right and had a name that was gaining traction. This year we hope to build on that with our expansion into Twitter and more frequent blog posts. Since there will be a lot more going on this year, there will definitely be a lot more to share. We may also begin offering apparel to those who wish to show their support. Stay tuned for that and many other cool announcements. There will be plenty in the near future.
Brewing and Recipes
Just like our increase in competition entries, 2015 will see us making more beer. A lot more beer! Between our large system and small Brew-In-A-Bag set up we have total of five beers planned already…and that’s just for February. Another brew day is already booked for March as well with more to follow once we get a few of these beers get knocked out. Don’t expect as many weird experimental beers as we’ve done in the past. This year will have a stronger focus on fine tuning recipes that we plan to eventually produce commercially. That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t mix things up once in a while. After all, 2015 is supposed to be “the year of the sour”. A style we have yet to explore.
So there you have it! Lots of changes and new stuff for 2015. We’re very excited and can’t wait to share it all with you. Many of you reading this are probably already familiar with our Facebook page already, but if you’re more of the Twitter type please follow us @SVbrewing and feel free to ask us questions. We’d love to hear from you!