​The Challenges of Going from Brewer to Owner​

One of the toughest decisions for someone as their brewery goes is to put down the mash paddle and sit down at a desk.

​It was the paperwork that Brett Mason — the co-founder of Hourglass Brewing in Longwood, Florida said was the most consuming part of his days now. It’s not stuck mashes, slow fermentation or a boil over.​

​After moving from the original 1,000 square foot home a little over two years after opening in 2012, Mason and co-founder Sky Conley split in 2015. At that time Mason stepped back from day-to-day brewing and promoted two brewers to help create the products.

That meant two challenges, finding a new financial partner while also taking the challenges of growth, especially keeping up with office work.

“Paperwork,” he said, “dealing with the federal marshal and all that. It’s a pain, it’s more that than anything.

“Brewing isn’t brewing anymore. I haven’t brewed a beer in years.”

Mason noted that the consumer beer market is constantly changing, so Hourglass has to constantly change with it.

“At first we said no flagship beers,” he said. “We wanted to do new things all the time to keep people coming in. And we found out that people don’t want new things all the time. People like to come and drink the same beer they like to drink all the time.”

So what Hourglass started doing is making a few of the same beers over and over, but with slight flavor changes and rotating them.

“We always have a Lager on or a Stout, but have different flavors,” he said. “There are some beers though that were starting to lean towards flagship, and we’re doing 20 barrels instead of 10 barrels [double batches on a 10-barrel system] just to have it on tap more frequently.”

Mason is very confident in his brew team, led by Michael Delancett.

“It kind of stopped for me when I and my partner separated because that drive and that funness just kind of fell out of it for me,” he said. “Then I became more of an owner, unfortunately. I went from that [brewing] position to drawing and doing more art things.”

That has led to helping develop a connection with the community by adding art shows and other events.

“We’re in an industrial part of the city and we have to pull customers to us,” Mason explained. “We are far enough away from downtown where that crowd isn’t us. So we don’t get a lot of … the big drinkers.

“It’s very homey. We know everyone that walks in here. And when new people come in, they sit down and they come back and stay.”

The new Hourglass home was originally six times larger than the 1,000 square foot facility. The addition of 4,000 more square feet in 2017 helped launch the brewery’s Sourglass brand. The name gives you an idea of where the program is going as barrel-aged and sour beers have been added to the menu.

​”The foeders over there are definitely cool to look at,” he said. “The vibe over there is really neat.”

Consumers can rent the sour facility out for parties and events.

“We needed the warehouse space and it made us money for the parties and stuff like that,” Mason explained. “So it’s kind of its own identity.”

Of course, it cost the brewery more to make things over there, but Mason said that they are looking at it as a loss-leader for the time being.

“We know we weren’t going to make a lot of money off of it because Sours are hit or miss with a lot of people,” he said. “So it’s still chugging along. I think in the future it will be more predominant as people understand it more. Aside from a handful of breweries [in Central Florida], not a lot of people do Sours around here.”

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