Home Brewing Businesses

Yesterday I received an email from an editor at Thomson Reuters asking me to evaluate the business model of Brooklyn Brew Shop. They have a video pitch that I looked at.

Brooklyn Brew Shop’s business idea, a small one gallon home brewing starter kit, is a good. It is small enough with a low cost to be appealing to first time home brewers, particularly those who live in apartments.  Erica, one of the-owners, talked about the cost savings of home brewing, especially if you want to brew higher alcohol content beer. This is one of their main selling points. You also avoid taxes as a home brewer, which further lowers your costs. I thought the beer prices in New York were astoundingly high.

The appeal of home brewing is getting exactly the taste you want. This is something that Brooklyn Brew Shop should stress more in their promotions.  Home brewing also involves creativity and this aspect could be stressed more as well.

Erica is a good spokesperson and she highlights the growing role of women in the brewing industry. Traditionally women did the brewing at home in their kitchens and this is something that could be mentioned as well.

I am not sure about going into retail as their next step. I would continue to try to build the business online and at festivals and fairs before going retail. What retail avenues do they have in mind? I am not sure about package stores or other home brewing supply stores. They probably need a broader brand identity before they can approach places like Target and Wal-Mart. They could try to sell the kits on Amazon.

Beer and the New Jersey Turnpike

There has been ongoing discussion in the beer blogosphere about Flying Fish Brewing Company’s decision to name a variety of  it’s beers after exits on the New Jersey turnpike. My first thought was that for anyone who has ever driven the New Jersey Turnpike this wouldn’t be very appealing or effective  marketing. Other people had more serious objections. A spokesperson for New Jersey MADD  initially released a statement claiming the Exit Series Beers were endorsing drinking and driving. Most beer bloggers responded to this claim with ridicule. MADD later retracted the statement.

Yesterday,Alan McLeod, A Good Beer Blog proposed that beer bloggers take the issue of drunk driving seriously and called for a new organization, Beer Bloggers Against Drunk Driving or BBADD.

In a followup post today, Alan suggested that the interests of brewers and beer bloggers differ. “From those in the trade, there’s a reluctance to look anything like MADD or to discuss the negatives related to craft beer.”

Historically however, the brewing industry tried very hard to work with and help fund MADD and other neo-temperance organizations.  While the USBA still existed they were very careful to not express an opinion on the minimum drinking age and were totally supportive of MADD’s efforts to reduce drunk driving. The Beer Institute, successor to the USBA, has pretty much followed this line. The larger brewers organizations generally save their energy for fighting taxes increases and any attempts to restrict their abilities to market their products.

I have been reading beer bloggers for about three or four years and it is my observation that  beer bloggers, who are sometimes also home brewers,  are the most vociferous in their complaints about neo-temperance activities. I think Alan will have an uphill battle  promoting BBADD.

BBAD
BBAD

Beer Wars

Beer Wars LIVE

Thursday, April 16 — ONE NIGHT ONLY

Live from Los Angeles, an evening dedicated to celebrating the world of craft beer and the American entrepreneurial spirit.

With over 95 million beer drinkers, beer is an American icon and is interwoven into our culture, yet the real story of these independent brewers has never been told. Beer Wars introduces the who’s who in beer while following the journey of small, independent brewers who are challenging the corporate behemoths. The evening will feature the world premiere of the groundbreaking documentary Beer Wars, followed by a spirited LIVE discussion with brewers and experts from the film. Using clips and never before seen footage to spice things up, this inspirational event will cap a movement 25 years in the making at a time when everyone is looking for proof that the American Dream is alive and well.

Panelists include:

* Sam Calagione – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery founder
* Rhonda Kallman – Founder of New Century Brewing Company and co-founder of Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)
* Greg Koch – Stone Brewing Company founder
* Charlie Papazian – Brewers Association president
* Maureen Ogle – Beer historian and author of “Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer”
* Todd Alstrom – Beer Advocate founder

Playing in 440 movie theatres nationwide on Thursday, April 16th, Beer Wars LIVE will begin a conversation about the future of beer in America.

For more information, and to purchase tickets for the LIVE event on April 16th at 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm MT/8pm PT (tape delayed) visit http://beerwarsmovie.com/ .

I received this press release from Anat Baron, who is the person behind this movie.  I think Ben Stein, comedian and journalist, is the moderator for the panel. I have no idea what he will bring to the conversation. All the panelists are connected to the home brewing and craft brewing movements except for Maureen Ogle who has been more sympathetic to big brewing, particularly Anheuser-Busch before In Bev purchased the  mega brewery. Several blogs, especically Andy Crouch, have indicated the theme of David versus Goliath or big versus small brewing may be passe. I hope to see the movie prior to the 16th and write a review which will be on the US New and World Reports website. If possible, I plan to attend the event and post about that as well.

Beer Books on Amazon

Right now, 12: 55 p.m. on Saturday January 10, 2009, the hardcover version of Brewing Battles is number 87 in Amazon’s  list of  “The most popular items in Beer. Updated hourly.” Yesterday the paperback was 84 and the hardcover 100.

The rankings really do change by the hour so it could all be different by 2 p.m. I have always intended to write at least one blog about Amazon and I have been trying for a while to catch a moment when at least one of the versions of the book was on the list so I could write about the contents  of the list rather than its meaning and value .

Number One right now is How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Right the First Time by John Palmer. Of the nine other books in the top ten,  eight are about home brewing, including  Charles Papazian’s classic, The Joy of Homebrewing which is number 3. Number 5 is  The Alaskan Bootlegger’s Bible which, according to Amazon, tells the reader  “how to make beer, wine, liqueurs, cider and moonshine whiskey.” Home distilling is  illegal in the United States.

In my recent AHA talk, I discussed the fact that scholarly work on alcohol and temperance has been more weighted towards temperance than the industry. The reverse is true for popular literature as the Amazon list indicates.

Number 10 on the list is Charles Bamforth, Grape Versus Grain: A Historical, Technological and Social Comparison of Beer and Wine. Bamforth is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at the University of California, Davis.

The next fifteen follow the same general path, being either about some aspect of brewing geared toward the home brewer, or about beer styles and types of beer. Number 18 , Stan Hieronymous, tells you how to Brew Like a Monk while number 23 is the late Michael Jackson’s opinion on the best beer in the world, Ultimate Beer. Charlie Papazian makes another appearance with the same book at 24 ( one of the many peculiarities of  Amazon’s list – for another post).Shine on Shiner Beer rounds out the top twenty-five and commemorates the 100 year history of the Texas brewery.

Numbers 25 to 50 cover more brewing how-tos,  a book on beer drinking games, a beer memoir by Steve Hindy, Beer School:Bottling Success at the Brooklyn  Brewery, Brewing For Dummies, another book by Michael Jackson as well as another by Charles Papazian. Numebr 36 New Jersey Breweries by Lew Bryson, is a guide book; the first history on the list is number 49, Maureren Ogle, Ambitious Brew, the hardcover.

Numbers 51 -75 include books on wine, sake, and root beer as well as another book by Charles Bamforth. Number 72 is Maureen Ogle in paperback ( that peculiarity again)

Okay I have been writing this for forty-five minutes . Let’s see if Brewing Battle’s is still on the list. I am but at 89.  Number 77 is Gregg Smith, Beer in America: The Early years 1587-1840 which is a good , popular history of the pre-German American brewing industry. The rest of the groups is more of the same with  beer drinking games, sake, Michael Jackson, The Big Book O’ Beer which is shaped like a beer can, and several cookbooks. Number86 is Ken Wells, Travels with Barley,a  journalistic endeavor. The final book, number 100 is Bill Yenne, Beers of the World. Yenne has written several books on beer.

Even though the list changes every hours and did so while I have been writing, the actual content of the list does not vary very much. You can pretty much count on Jackson and Papazian as well as a  few others; then books on home brewing and beer styles with a very small smattering of more serous works.

It would have been surprising to find an anti-alcohol work on this list, but having examined the beer list, I think I will try to find a similar list for health, temperance, prohibition or the like and see what that holds.