4 New Breweries Share What They Did Right At The Start

As more than 800 new breweries went online starting in 2016, a few have already rose to be “the cream of the crop” in a poll conducted by consumer beer magazine, Beer Advocate for a recent feature that runs annually.

Brewer Magazine contacted some of those same breweries that have been given the distinction of the best from 2016 and asked founders and brewers what they felt they have done right from the start to get such notoriety.

Opening in March of 2016, The Virginia Beer Company’s Chris Smith is a co-founder and managing member. He said a major bonus was hiring a Brewmaster with production brewery experience. Jonathan Newman came with experience from working for SweetWater in Atlanta and Jackalope in Nashville, Tennessee.

“We were home brewers but we knew we needed someone who could handle a 30-barrel brewhouse,” Smith said.

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Opening in April of 2016, Minneapolis’ Modist Brewing recognized that professional experience in the industry was a key to success.

“All four of us co-founders took positions within the industry to hone the skills needed for the roles we would eventually take on,” said co-founder Eric Paredes, the brewery’s Chief Manager. “We did this for the first five years — before we drafted the first line of our business plan. With eyes wide open, the business plan became easier to craft.”

Taking their time was also key. While seeing more and more breweries popping up around as the Modist crew continued its planning fueled fears that they would launch in an ultra-competitive and crowded market, they remained undeterred.

“We spent time crafting a vision that would be the key to differentiation,” Paredes said. “That time also allowed us to research and vet all our options on every front — everything from equipment, brewing philosophy, branding, financing and the ever-so-important investors and employees.”

Over what became a total of six years before opening, the group also created genuine and lasting friendships with people — many of whom are in one facet or another of the industry — whom to this day are the biggest champions and supporters of the brewery.

“Starting a brewery isn’t easy and having this support network has been invaluable,” Paredes said.

Opening in July of 2016, Matt Shirah of Atlanta’s Scofflaw Brewery said that to be successful in their minds it took a will to dedicate the resources — both people and capital — to making sure the brewery would have what it needed to make the best possible product.

“We also focus on connecting with the community,” Shirah said. “We are always cognizant that we are developing a relationship with our neighbors and we are grateful that they have supported us from the beginning. They are a large part of our success and they are now part of our family.”

Opening in October of 2016, Indianapolis’ Round Town Brewery gathered its team early, starting with five original founders in early 2013, including their head brewer, Jerry Sutherlin, who is also an owner.

“We knew the one thing we couldn’t ‘fake it ‘til we make it’ on was the quality of the beer,” said fellow co-owner Max Schenk. “As the original founder, I didn’t wake up and decide I wanted to open a brewery and then begin to look for a brewer. Rather, I worked with a highly skilled brewer for years, saw what was happening with the craft explosion, and did everything I could to capitalize on the opportunity in front of me.”

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