Rocky Mountain Brewing News August/September 2014 : Page 1

Artist’s mock-up of the new Breckenridge brewery and farm in Littleton, CO. Photo by Jim “Doc” Damon. Below-Breckenridge Brewery in Denver. Photo courtesy of Breckenridge. Li l By Jim "Doc" Damon hile breweries continue to proliferate like rabbits in Northern Colorado, Breckenridge Brewery is building a farm. Not just a brewery, but a real honest-to-goodness farm, complete with a tasting room, a hops field, a gift shop, a ferment-ing building and of course, a brewhouse. Locally designed to attract beer aficionados, all build-Starting Your Own Brewery ILLUSTRATION BY HANS GRANHEIM I t’s the dream of almost every homebrewer that I know: saying goodbye to corporate America or that dead-end job and starting their own brewery. The biggest source of professional craft brewers is the hobby homebrewer. So what’s it all about? How do you start? What obstacles are there? Is it right for me? These are the questions of those with this particular dream. Let’s look them over! Meet Jason and Shelly Cox and Randy and Eleanor Schnose. They started Riff Raff Brewery in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, just a year ago. I first met these two couples at a 4 Corners Homebrew Club Rally. They are living the dream! Jason Cox (Cox) was a software developer that had grown tired of his job. “I got up one morn-ing and told Shelly I was bored with my work,” Cox said. He continues, “Her response was ‘I am tired of hearing you bitch, what do we do about it?’” That very day Cox contacted their friends and fellow homebrewers Randy and Eleanor. Initial Considerations One aspect to consider when transitioning from home to professional brewing is the creativity factor. “Homebrewers have creative license,” Randy Schnose chides, and continues, “The creative part has to remain, but you become more like a factory worker. You HAVE to produce your flagship beers with consistency. I used to say homebrewing is fun, but when we started Riff Raff, it became crap, now I have to quit screwing around.” See Dream p.3 This scenario is a common thread among homebrewers going pro. A prime example is Mike Paladino in Salem, Oregon. He was “sick of work-ing for corporate America so he walked away from a 20-year career, bought a motor home and toured 22 states with his family before landing in Salem. He worked his way up to Head Brewer at Ram Brewery and is now head brewer at Sasquatch Brewing. CO O Ph bJi ings are constructed to resemble rustic rural farm houses and barns. Plans also include planting a hops field along South Santa Fe Drive. But big breweries don't come cheap; this project will sit on a 12-acre site along the South Platte River in Littleton, and will cost in excess of $20 million to complete. The restaurant alone will seat 250 people and will require 75 employees to keep it running. Altogether they expect to employ 150 people, including the brewery staff. Undertaking The brewery itself will occupy some 76,000 square feet, including a 2,000-square foot barrel aging cellar. Steineker is already at work building them a brand-new 100-barrel brewhouse. Also on order is a Krones bottling line, KHS hanging line, and a Wild Goose Engineering canning line. They will be able to produce 120,000 or more barrels a year See Building p.4 INSIDE Calendar ........................................2 Sour Beer Wins GWO...................4 Original Celis Brewery For Sale . 5 Beer Directory .......................... 8-10 State by State News Utah.................5 Montana..........6 Wyoming.........6 Idaho.............11 Denver..............................12 Central Peaks..................13 Western Slope.................13 Four Corners...................14 Front Range................... 15 A Big Colorado

Living The Dream

Bill Downs

Starting Your Own Brewery

It’s the dream of almost every homebrewer that I know: saying goodbye to corporate America or that dead-end job and starting their own brewery. The biggest source of professional craft brewers is the hobby homebrewer.

So what’s it all about? How do you start? What obstacles are there? Is it right for me? These are the questions of those with this particular dream. Let’s look them over!

Meet Jason and Shelly Cox and Randy and Eleanor Schnose. They started Riff Raff Brewery in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, just a year ago. I first met these two couples at a 4 Corners Homebrew Club Rally. They are living the dream!

Jason Cox (Cox) was a software developer that had grown tired of his job. “I got up one morning and told Shelly I was bored with my work,” Cox said. He continues, “Her response was ‘I am tired of hearing you bitch, what do we do about it?’” That very day Cox contacted their friends and fellow homebrewers Randy and Eleanor.

This scenario is a common thread among homebrewers going pro. A prime example is Mike Paladino in Salem, Oregon. He was “sick of working for corporate America so he walked away from a 20-year career, bought a motor home and toured 22 states with his family before landing in Salem. He worked his way up to Head Brewer at Ram Brewery and is now head brewer at Sasquatch Brewing.

Initial Considerations

One aspect to consider when transitioning from home to professional brewing is the creativity factor. “Homebrewers have creative license,” Randy Schnose chides, and continues, “The creative part has to remain, but you become more like a factory worker. You HAVE to produce your flagship beers with consistency. I used to say homebrewing is fun, but when we started Riff Raff, it became crap, now I have to quit screwing around.”

Schnose’s first piece of advice to start-up professional brewers is to perfect your recipes, procedures and learn to make a consistent product. Cox agrees, stating, “If you throw out a 10 gallon batch [as a homebrewer] it’s no big deal. Two hundred gallons thrown out as a pro is scary.”

Finding a place for your brewery is key. “We looked at 18 properties before settling on this one,” Cox continued. “Words of advice from me - be flexible. Finding something that fits your vision is not always a reality, so you have to be flexible to what is available.” Then there is the equipment offered by hundreds of purveyors. You have to find one that is reputable, and who can fit you into their schedule, since there is quite a backlog with the growth of the craft beer industry. “We decided to go with brand new equipment from Portland Keg Works,” Schnose told me. “For an additional 20 percent investment over used equipment, we got all new customized equipment and they even came onsite to install it.”

Think Big

Plan from the get-go for expansion! Cox shared, “We are expanding to a new walk-in cooler three full years sooner than we expected due to demand. We simply need more room.”

That is also something common among upstart breweries. Derek from 192 Brewing in Kenmore, Washington, recently said in an interview, “What’s one of the most common responses that we got? People loving their beer too much! Planning for expansions from the start is key, especially with how quickly the craft beer industry is growing.”

Money, Money, Money

Of course, there is financing. “We were able to go with conventional bank financing along with some good investors,” Cox explained. “We also offered some sweet equity when we brought a restaurant consultant onboard.”

And with expansion comes additional expense. Devin from 7th Sun Brewing in Dunedin, Florida, said, “You know that budget you planned on and the amount of time that you think you’ll have to put into the brewery? Well, you might want to increase those numbers a bit, maybe a lot!”

Licensing is also a huge part of the business. Seth from Bull City Burger and Brewery in Durham, North Carolina, said, “One of the unfortunate realities with our beautiful industry is that it is highly regulated which can cause multiple road blocks through the process.” When I asked Cox about this, his response was, “It is all about relationship building. We worked closely with all the local and federal agencies to ensure there would be no hangups.”

Tuning In and Educating

Knowing your market is key. Greg from Sleeping Lady Brewery in Anchorage, Alaska, shared, “Like no other industry, members of the craft brewing community are so generous to share their advice on how to be a success. Talk to everyone you can and be ready to take notes!”

You may also want to educate your market. Riff Raff Brewing takes it a step farther. They have a “training room” where they educate their employees AND their customers. “If a customer gets a beer they do not like, our staff’s experience AND the customer’s experience can suffer,” Jason explained. The solution? Take the customer to the back room, ask them what they normally drink and show them some options. Everyone benefits from this approach.

Erich from Studio Brew says it best: “I honestly wouldn’t have changed a thing. I think by being a brewer that has thrown caution to the wind, we’ve done many things that we did successfully because we didn’t know any better. The only things we knew going in were the existence of an amazing community of brewers, killer beers, and support from our local communities. I believe that was all that we needed to get going and keep us going.”

Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Living+The+Dream/1783871/220951/article.html.

Building A Farm

Jim "Doc" Damon

While breweries continue to proliferate like rabbits in Northern Colorado, Breckenridge Brewery is building a farm. Not just a brewery, but a real honest-to-goodness farm, complete with a tasting room, a hops field, a gift shop, a fermenting building and of course, a brewhouse. Locally designed to attract beer aficionados, all buildings are constructed to resemble rustic rural farm houses and barns. Plans also include planting a hops field along South Santa Fe Drive.

But big breweries don't come cheap; this project will sit on a 12-acre site along the South Platte River in Littleton, and will cost in excess of $20 million to complete. The restaurant alone will seat 250 people and will require 75 employees to keep it running. Altogether they expect to employ 150 people, including the brewery staff.

A Big Undertaking

The brewery itself will occupy some 76,000 square feet, including a 2,000-square foot barrel aging cellar.

Steineker is already at work building them a brand-new 100-barrel brewhouse. Also on order is a Krones bottling line, KHS hanging line, and a Wild Goose Engineering canning line. They will be able to produce 120,000 or more barrels a year and thus triple their current brewing production.

The groundbreaking on this behemoth project began in April of this year; the city even renamed their street "Brewery Lane."

Conquering the Red Tape

Expansion of their brewing capacity had been blocked by a state statute that prevents licensed brewpubs from brewing more than 60,000 barrels a year. Last year their efforts to change that law failed, but they were finally able to coax state officials into an agreement to increase their brewing capacity. They immediately squashed their proposal to leave the state and move their entire operation east.

Past History

In the 1980s, a self-confessed ski bum named Richard Squire got pretty serious about homebrewing. He parlayed his efforts and founded the original Breckenridge Brewery on Main Street of Breckenridge where it remains today. At that time it was Colorado's third craft brewery, and success came quickly, allowing expansion to Denver in 1992. They now operate two brewpubs in the Mile High City.

Breckenridge became the first craft brewery to package beer in 6-packs and 12-packs and have now expanded to selling their brews in a total of 32 states. Starting by making just 3,000 barrels a year, production has been ramped up to 52,000 barrels at this time.

The Joint Venture

In 2011 Breckenridge and Wynkoop combined forces to form a joint venture. The first new project was establishing The Ale House at Amato's, which serves brews from both parents (and also contains a fine restaurant). In all, Breckenridge operates restaurants at the main brewery on Klamath Street, on Blake Street near Coors Field, another Ale House in Grand Junction, Amato's, and the original brewery in Breckenridge, all of whom require lots of beer.

Continuing success has been their theme; with three straight years of more than 20 per cent growth, that figure jumped to 30 percent in 2012. Breckenridge had obviously outgrown their brewery and the need for a larger production facility became obvious.

Present plans include selling the brewery on Klamath Street, as they have it listed for sale.

New and Special Brews

Their brewers have recently created a new series of barrel-aged brews, but don't get too excited - they're only available on a limited, seasonal basis. One of these specialty brews is Barleywine Batch #1, their first barleywine, cold conditioned for three months and then barrel-aged in oak barrels for six months. Another specialty is Twenty, a small batch ESB with 55 IBUs and 7. 8% ABV, also aged for six months in oak, but in a whiskey barrel. Summer Cab Ride is a golden ale made with wheat, pale, and Munich malts, lightly hopped (15 IBUs) and aged 14 weeks in a Cabernet wine barrel. Rounding out the series is Well Built ESB, a strong ale featuring Target, Fuggle and Northern Brewer hops (55 IBUs), aged for six months in Stranahan's oak whiskey barrels.

Their best-selling flagship beer is Avalanche Ale, an American amber beer made with pale malt and a touch of caramel and chocolate malts. It's lightly hopped with Pacific Northwest hops at 10 IBUs, and weighs in at 4. 4% ABV.

Present Status and Future

At press time, the foundations have been poured for all three buildings, and framing is proceeding. There's a lot more to do, but when finished this will be a unique addition to the Denver area brew scene, and will undoubtedly become a must-visit for touring (and local) beer geeks. Present plans call for the restaurant to be finished and operating first; target date is now set for March 2015. The brewery will be finished a little later, now slated to start brewing in April or May of 2015.

Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Building+A+Farm/1783874/220951/article.html.

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