Some Random Thoughts And Updates

October 6, 2011

Over the past several weeks, things have changed a bit at the brewery. We have a new brewer that’s been training for a while, which has forced some changes in the shift schedule. I’ve was first moved to the 2pm-midnight shift, coming in for 2-4 hours on Friday afternoons to finish any cleaning and close up the place. At the beginning of this week I moved to the graveyard shift, 8pm-6am, so my week is now four days long, which is a schedule that I love. Surprisingly, I’ve adjusted to the overnight shift really easily. I get home around 6:30 and fall asleep fairly quickly, getting up around 1pm.

The best thing about moving to nights is that I no longer have someone actively training me, so no one is standing behind me watching everything I do intently. That makes even the most interesting activity stressful and obnoxious. And being told a particular way to do something, and being corrected if I try to do it a different way, is frustrating. Now I can develop my own methods that I feel comfortable with, so all is well. I’m loving this shift.

One of the unfortunate things that’s happened is that, for several reasons including an inventory backlog, we’ve dropped from twenty brews per week to eighteen. I’m told this will likely last for a while, but isn’t permanent. The big downside there is we get left with not a whole lot to do at night, especially down in the cellaring area. I’ve been able to take my sweet time running CIP cycles on tanks and hot rinsing the bottler and kegger, and still have wound up with lots of down time. Next week I get back down to the brewhouse, so things will be a little more active.

On the brewery startup front, I’m still actively thinking about it and doing some reading, but the move to a less stressful shift has reduced the urgency for me. Several articles and blogs have mentioned small ‘nanobreweries’ that people have started that have been quite successful. Some started in separated garages as side-businesses, like Blind Bat in Long Island, and some start small but full-time like Barrier Brewing. The guys at Barrier, a couple of Sixpoint veterans, are starting full-time on a 1BBL system. I’ve read about startups like that all over the country, many of which appear to be profitable (there’s a particular one I’d like to link to, but can’t remember the name of it right now). That road sounds the most interesting, honestly, but also one of the more risky ways to do it.

On the one hand, starting a full scale production brewery (or brewpub) is going to give you a serious debt load to worry about, which has killed many breweries before they even opened. The other side is starting ‘nano’, selling only on premises (where the margins are high enough to be profitable), and build on peoples’ preferences for local options and word of mouth.

Anyway, this was just a brain dump before I head out to my last shift of the week. It’s basically gonna be ten hours of cleaning the brewery and hopefully running some CIP cycles.

Also, Hess Brewing has a nice list of links to nanobrewery websites. The list was written a while ago, so I’m not sure just how updated it is currently.


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