Some Challenges To Ponder In Opening A New Brewery

There is so much to think about when you open a brewery. Here are just a few small topics that were challenges prior to opening for Boise Brewing and Tennessee’s YeeHaw Brewing.


Having a proper process flow can be a key to reducing headaches later.

Cris Ellenbecker, the Brewmaster for YeeHaw, located in Johnson City, Tennessee, says the brewery was planned to have a great layout with the brewhouse at the front of the building with packaging back behind it and right by the loading dock door. All overhead process piping and trench drains were installed as well.

Ellenbecker noted in an email to Brewer that “LOTS” of trench drains as are needed and planned for.


Six years ago, Boise Brewing consisted of Collin Rudeen and a business plan. He had no prior experience running a business and no experience in the brewing industry.

“And not really any money either (or not much),” Rudeen said.

To address lack of experience, it was key to get an experienced brewer on board. Fortunately, Rudeen said he was able to lure Lance Chavez away from nearby Sockeye Brewing to take on the head brewer position.

“He’s been making lights out beer since then,” Rudeen said.


As for the money aspect, Rudeen said his assets consisted of a few ideas and analyses he called a business plan and a homebrew system.

“That was about it,” he said. “No bank would ever loan us anything based on that balance sheet and finding an investor willing to put up the kind of cash we needed to get our start seemed really unlikely.”

So Rudeen took a different route altogether: a public offering, right out of the gate. They sold shares to the public in the state of Idaho, with a minimum investment of $1,000. Along with an equity share in the company, the share-holding owners have a mug at the brewery, growler fills, and other bonuses.

“We were able to get the community to invest in our idea, an idea that they felt was worth supporting,” Rudeen said. “We raised about $400,000 in equity and then were able to go to the bank and finally get that loan.”


On the biggest challenges during the formation and layout of YeeHaw was the mill room’s specifications.

“We had a hard time with getting a mill in due to some of the regulations about flammable grain dust,” Ellenbecker explained. “We … had to put a lot of work into [it].”

Ellenbecker noted that flammable-proof lighting, outlets, and switches are needed to assure compliance.

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