4 Things New Breweries Need to ​Know Before Opening

Craft beer industry veterans have traditionally passed on words of wisdom to colleagues who are planning to open a new brewery. 

‘Never set a date’ is one that seems to pop up quite a bit. Always expect to pay more and wait longer in the building process is another. But after the pandemic, a new wave of ideas has surged and breweries from across the country shared their insights with Brewer.

“A question for new breweries to keep in mind is: How will you weather a storm? What would happen if you did lose 30% of your revenue overnight?” asked Indeed CEO and owner Tom Whisenand​​. “We all learned this lesson through the pandemic, but a disaster can strike any day.”

  • Diversity in Product: Creating fun, new, and unique offerings to keep the customers excited was important to Houston’s Saint Arnold. “We put a heavy emphasis on creating new, small-batch beers, which was a lot of fun,” said Aaron Inkrott, Brewing Innovation Manager. Indeed also found that diverse brands supported in developing new brands throughout the pandemic. “One avenue would go up temporarily while another went down,” Whisenand said. “Then that avenue would go down while another went up. We were thankful to have diverse revenue streams and the ability to create new products.”
  • Diversity in Channels: For Wormtown, the Worcester, Massachuttes brewery was a very draft-driven vehicle so when the lockdowns first went into effect the majority of its business went to zero, said GM Scott Metzger. “Since then, we’ve built a more well-rounded market strategy that isn’t so reliant on one specific channel,” he said. One thing learned at Indeed during the pandemic is that it’s important to have diversity in what you do as a brewery or as a company. “We benefited from having two taprooms that sell beer to-go as well as pints over the bar, ongoing distributor relationships, and self-distribution methods,” Whisenand said.

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  • Digital is the New ‘Across the Bar’: The most immediate effect from the pandemic is how a brewery like Lone Tree services and reaches customers came to mind for Dennis Stack, Sales & Marketing Director. “I think this will also continue to evolve moving forwards as it typically would but the pandemic accelerated this rate of change,” he said. “Digital menus and order-along with touchless or mobile payment. I also foresee the hospitality industry as a whole looking towards different models of service in the future.”
  • ​Be Somewhere People Want to Work: Whisenand​​ explained that they have learned that a brewery like Indeed needs to be a place where people truly want to work. “When shit hits the fan, people aren’t going to stick around somewhere they’re not happy,” he said. “It’s important to create a positive environment and experience for your employees.”

Metzger​ added that he believes the biggest learnings ​they have gone through just helps get a better understanding of your customer base and developing a more well-rounded one as a matter of risk management​ as well.

Photo courtesy Wormtown Brewery

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