stuff… • Rockhopper Brewing Co ◦ The plan (beers / niche / customers) ◦ Scaling up from homebrew (recipe / process) ◦ How it went (the day-to-day running etc) ◦ The end (why I stopped brewing) ◦ Retrospective (lessons learnt / how did it go etc.) • So… Back to homebrewing
B2 (light industrial) use class • Location ◦ Are you planning on opening a tap room? If yes, consider transport links etc… • Access ◦ Large delivery vehicles need to get to you • Storage ◦ Lots of stuff - ingredients, process aids, chemicals, packaging, finished product • Drainage ◦ Mopping up 100’s of litres of beer is not an option if things go wrong… • Temperature ◦ Storing finished beer warm won’t do it much good…
your supplier, e.g. Thames Water • Beer is >90% water - better make sure you can get adequate good supply • Register as a heavy/sensitive user ◦ You get updates when the water company are planning on changing the supply • Undertake regular analysis of the supply (Murphy’s can help with this but simple things like tasting as the CLT is filled also important) Sewage Disposal & Water Supply
pay attention to this ◦ Adequate cleaning area ◦ Good process control ◦ HACCP (Hazard and Critical Control Point) documentation ◦ Stock and finished product control ◦ Data safety information for all chemicals / process aids ◦ Adequate information on your labels (refer to Trading Standards) • How much detail you have to go into on all of the above is down to your local council Environmental Health
licensed premises (pubs, shops etc)? ◦ NO • Do you plan on selling direct to the public for special events? ◦ YES - you will need a personal alcohol license, and a temporary event notice for each event • Do you plan on selling/shipping direct to the public from your brewery? ◦ YES - you will need a personal alcohol license ◦ YES - you will need a premises license for the brewery Do I Need an Alcohol License?
and packaging • That IPA you brew with all those sexy hops… forget it ◦ You can sometimes get in-demand varieties on the spot market but they’ll be last year’s crop ◦ A contract is the only way to guarantee supply but for in-demand varieties, still hard • There are a few good ‘one stop shop’ suppliers covering a range of things (Muntons, Niche Solutions, Charles Faram, Simply Hops) • Considering the packaging formats you’ll be using (cask, keg, bottle, can) and the margins you’ll need to apply to each to cover material costs and labour
your beer is awesome, people will be queuing up for it. • Do plenty of legwork and research to identify likely customers and talk to them. YOU need to generate the demand! • Don’t get roped into supplying PubCos from the outset - it’s very hard to make any kind of margin on those sales (plus high initial cost of joining SIBA’s BeerFlex/DDS). • Focus on what works well and do more of it, rather than spreading yourself too thin and eating into margin that way.
2016, Luton (and the home counties - my target audience) were a craft beer wasteland. There weren’t many independent bottle shops and pubs to target, so you couldn’t go very large in scale without distributing way further. Start small was the plan.
massive jump really ◦ No major recipe alterations needed • Main Considerations ◦ Single infusion only ▪ No step mashing ◦ Mash tun capacity ~80-85kg ▪ ~6% ABV limit for all-grain ◦ Transfer to FV time ~40 mins ▪ Take into account for hop stands etc ◦ Full batch brew (300L) only ▪ The cooling system just doesn’t work otherwise…
◦ 3 Bottle shops ◦ 1 Jazz club ◦ 2 Luton council ran shops (local parks) ◦ 1 Take away (one-off order) ◦ Numerous beer festivals throughout the year • Local community was great ◦ Most local breweries, pubs and shops were very welcoming and helpful - one not so much… ◦ South Beds CAMRA were great
were complete sell-outs ▪ 4-5 firkins/casks per batch ▪ Remainder in bottles • 9-12 months in… ◦ Cask sales still mostly good ▪ Lots of chasing required - even of regular customers ▪ Infrequent customers were hard to get payment from ▪ Some batches I ended up with a cask I couldn’t sell ◦ Bottle sales slow ▪ A single case could take a month or two to sell at the shops
the same as before plus… ◦ GOOD: ▪ Occasional big orders as name got out • Cambridge Beer Festival (2 full batches) • #saveourtown (1 full batch) ◦ BAD: ▪ As those orders were so big (full batches), the “regulars” were not happy they couldn’t get them at the same time and were not interested in a re-brew ▪ Local craft beer place opened after a year after I started (bottle shop and cask/keg lines) would never order even a single cask or keg despite my always trying 😢 ▪ LOTS of chasing for payment - one invoice (to another local micro-brewery FFS) took over 18 months to get payed…
were basically covering the costs with very little profit ▪ Any issues - costs came out of my pocket • Time ◦ Draining… ▪ 10-12 hour brew days ▪ 4 hour packaging days ▪ 4-5 hour sales calls or delivery runs most weekends ▪ Chasing people for payment
Some bottles in a couple of batches had an infection that developed over time… ▪ Bottle bomb in one shop 😱 • Storage in shop wasn’t great (under halogen lights) but it’s not an excuse ▪ Complete recall of 2 batches (bottles only) and refunded ▪ ~300 bottles had to be destroyed ▪ Customers were understanding but it took a lot of time to get them to have confidence in us again
(local and not so local) venues ◦ “THAT’S MY BEER ON THE BAR!” • Got to know lots of people in the local beer/food scene ◦ Collaboration with Luton Town FC Supporters Club and Chicken George (#saveourtown) was a real highlight • I got recognised on the train several times! ◦ “Are you the Rockhopper guy?” • I think it helped me become a better, more consistent brewer
honest… I quite like paying the bills, having weekends and seeing my family. Maybe one day in the future (if time/money is not a factor) we’ll see. I enjoyed the experience and met a lot of nice people so I have no hard feelings about it.
the brewery, it was a good 6-9 months before I fancied doing a batch of homebrew so this does resonate with me a bit… • I enjoyed running the brewery mostly - I met a lot of nice people, got my beer into some cool places and it’s always a popular thing saying “I run a brewery” 😁 • If I hadn’t given it a go I’d always have that “what if?” in the back of my mind… I’m glad I tried it.