The 3 Things Bonfire Brewing Has Used to Grow — and 1 Lesson They Learned — in 1st 10 Years

Ten years ago this week, in a town of about 7,000 people, the lights to Bonfire Brewing flipped on. A decade later, co-owner Andy Jessen — along with his wife Amanda — are in the midst of celebrating the double-digit anniversary with a week-long and social-distant celebration.

It has meant digging into the brew log and finding old favorites to release for the Eagle, Colorado brewery (about 120 miles west of Denver) along with live music and the release of its 10th-anniversary beer, Demshitz Quadruple Brown Ale.

“Ten years have certainly flown by,” said Andy Jessen in a release, “and it feels good to hit the milestone, especially with the challenges we’re all currently facing.”

Added his wife Amanda: “We’re more invested in, and thankful for, our community than ever. Ten years of beer has led to a lot of great conversations, friendships, and lessons. We can’t wait to see what the next ten bring.”

Andy Jessen took some time to share what Bonfire has learned from and how it has built itself to stay strong for a decade now.

Three ideals topped the chart when asked for key growth drivers.

Community

“Our faithful taproom customers, retail partners, distribution relationships, and current and past employees have created a supportive web that continues to grow stronger.”

Adaptability

“The industry never stands still, and neither have we. For the most part, we have managed to stay slightly ahead of the innovation curve, or at least on it! We know there’s a balance between changing things up versus improving existing products and service incrementally; walking that line effectively to this point has been a key part of what has kept us around.”

Fiscal Conservatism

​”We started out with strong individual credit, and that has continued with the business books. Being prepared to access credit when needed for expansions and understanding what it might take to sustain that as the business evolves has been crucial to our ability to grow when the opportunity presents itself.”

That doesn’t mean all ideas have been bulls-eyes. ​An interesting stumbling block Jessen said they learned a lot from helped shape future cost-benefit analysis on new equipment purchases.

“We bought our own shrink-sleeving machine for cans when we first started packaging,” he said. “The idea was that it would allow us to remain nimble and quickly pivot to different packaged varieties.”

But the idea didn’t work well for the smaller amount of cans they were doing.

“We weren’t doing enough volume to justify the expensive carrying costs of the machine and the labor necessary to run it,” Jessen said. “When all was said and done, it was actually costing us more to source and apply our own sleeves when coupled with the cost of the machine, than it would have been to simply outsource it.”

After that experience, Jessen said they worked at building a much better system for assessing the cost-benefit on a piece of equipment, and when it would pay for itself.

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