The Vitality in Relationship Development

Test Kitchen is an ongoing print column and online blog by the Publisher of Brewer Magazine and Test Kitchen Brewer Tyler Montgomery. With a 1.5 barrel brewhouse launched in 2019, this is his experience and notes from the journey along with reviews of products and services.

 

One of the most fortunate and unfortunate aspects of the Brewer Test Kitchen has been relationship building. 

As many of you can probably attest, out of the gate everyone wants to be your best friend. People you never thought you’d see in your taproom drop by multiple times a week, ask how everything’s going and offer their assistance in any way possible. 

Hopefully while this is occurring you’re having the same situation with your vendors — from distributors to equipment manufacturers and ingredient suppliers (everyone loves that first Nut Roll). 

We’ve had an amazing relationship with our city out of the gate. Not only are we the only brewery in town, but we were the first. This made some situations simple, but others a little difficult with a lack of development answers. 

Maintaining contact with your city infrastructure, while it’s not as exciting as making batches of crispy IPAs, is the secret ingredient. We’ve maintained strong relationships with our mayor, city commissioners, tourism, etc. 

We’ve offered our space for events with local businesses as well as city government. This isn’t always so we can make money on bar tabs and events in general, but simply to maintain that strong relationship. 

No one tells you when you begin to open your brewery that you’ll have to be involved in local politics. For some of you this next fragment will seem from prohibition era: we weren’t initially allowed to be open on Sunday because we don’t make the vast majority of our revenue from food. 

To ensure we could get past this hiccup in our community it took meetings with city officials, including our mayor. We had to present our desire to our city commission and they had to vote to make an ordinance that would allow us to be open on Sunday. This meant initial meetings prior to the first commission vote and meetings following the ordinance creation. Following the vote to have the ordinance created there were two additional votes for or against the ordinance. We had to receive the majority of votes in both meetings — winning one meeting wouldn’t give us Sunday sales. 

Luckily our meetings and sharing our vision with our city government helped and we had our Sunday sales ordinance passed — although we can not sell beer-to-go in terms of growlers (you’re now really rolling your eyes). 

If I’m being honest a strong relationship with city government has been highly beneficial since we started searching for property and exploring the idea of the brewery. Relationship building, while sometimes not always easy going, is crucial to the long-term development of a strong brewing business. 

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