Since I made my initial announcement about the brewery plans, lots of folks have been asking me how it’s been going, how are the plans coming along, when are you opening, do you know where you’ll be yet? And I always have to sigh, and resign myself to having to bursting their little bubble. I’m glad that so many other people are excited about my brewery plans too, I just wish I had more to tell them than, “No, I haven’t gotten any closer this week to opening than I was two weeks ago, or a month ago.”
It’s hard to show much progress on the plan at this point, because a lot of what I’ve been doing is simply fine-tuning the plan that I’ll need in order to be able to secure funding. All of the Big Stuff – finding a space, applying for permits and licenses, starting the build-out, setting the opening date, and setting up the brew-space – all of that hinges on me getting the funding I’m seeking, which will rely on having a comprehensive and well-presented business plan.

The sad truth that I’ve been struggling with, is that it’s taking a lot longer for me to get confident about my plan than I thought it would. I mean, it’s a pretty solid plan, and I can talk anyone through the basics and get them excited about it, but when it came to the details I got a little worried. I knew that a lot of the numbers in it were based on assumptions. My big fear was that I was going to take it in to a bank, who would take one withering look at my extremely conservative growth plan and minuscule amount of ambition and pizzazz before laughing me squarely out of their marble-clad halls and onto the street.
So, this week I’ve been spending a lot of time getting a professional analysis of the business plan, and making some better-informed assumptions and adjustments to the projections. It’s still very conservative on the rate of growth (making such small batches, it’s going to be difficult to build much momentum toward expanding production or storage capability), while trying to also be more realistic about my costs and sales estimates. I still plan on taking the plan in to a local SBA lender early this week to get that process started, which is the necessary first step. The fine folks at SCORE have provided invaluable advice, and I’d recommend any entrepreneurs looking for advice to give them a call.
I also had a great conversation with the owner of Bushwhacker Cider, and he was able to give me a lot of information about running a tap room/bar, working with the state and the Department of Agriculture on getting permits and licenses, and also gave me some great resources for when it comes time to start searching for a good space to set up shop. He also allayed a lot of my fears about the process of actually opening, and reassured me that it’s okay for a taproom space to evolve after it opens, and to slowly become closer to the imagined finished space.
I’ve also begun working on something to get excited about, planning my first promotional beer sampling party! I’m in discussion with some good friends of mine who host regular events at their space here in Portland, and the talks so far look like I’ll be providing a beer sponsorship to one of their events in late May or early June. There will be a modest admission fee to see the show they’re putting on, and that will include several beer sample tickets which you can redeem with me for samples of at least my three main Pillar Beers, which I’ve already started brewing for the party. We’re also talking about making a House Beer for their venue, and I hope to have a test batch of that ready in time for the party as well, to get some feedback on it before we settle on anything. I probably won’t be able to announce anything definite for another week or two, but keep your eyes peeled for details as they get worked out.
I’ll continue to post semi-regular updates here, chronicling the process of getting the brewery up and running, doing promotional stuff, and posting some of the branding & design pieces I’ve been working on for it in the meantime.
Until then, onward! To Beer!