We’ve said in the past that we’re in a phase where there isn’t much exciting happening with CBW on the outside, but internally we’re bustling away working on businessy type stuff. Well, the thing with blogging our development is that you get it all: we’re going to be as transparent as possible, because that’s kind of the point. And besides, opening a brewery is the dream of quite a lot of homebrewers, so hopefully our journey can be of help to someone in the future, Hess-style. So, today you get some boring stuff.
That’s the issue though, isn’t it? You decide to start a brewery, and you say ‘I’m starting a brewery!’ You say that to a few friends, and they say ‘You’re starting a brewery!’ It gets said over and over again and it’s awesome and maybe you jump up and down a bit. But then You have to actually start a brewery. It’s a play on the South Park business plan:
- Decide to start a brewery
- Start a brewery
That #2, she’s a kicker. There’s so much that you have to do, and most of it is hidden in shadows or just behind corners. I realized very early on that there was no way I, on my own, could ever have started a brewery. When looking at potential buildings, Ethan and Greg began talking about the size of water pipes. Pipes come in different sizes? You don’t just, like, turn the tap and then what you need comes out? Obviously I was a bit naive, but you get my drift: we had to get a zoning variance for the building, but then what? We’re still waiting to close on CBW HQ, actually, and then we need to start renovating the building both to our specific needs but also to adhere to all sorts of regulations that I have absolutely no clue about. Greg? He’s an architect. That’s what he does. He is my hero.
Community Beer Works’ strength is in its numbers. We have people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Not only are there enough of us to handle the incredible number of tasks on our plates — and this is before we have to worry about making beer! — but we all bring with us different expertise, different connections. This isn’t a ‘how to start a brewery’ post: it’s ‘how we’re starting a brewery.’ But still, friends. Friends are key.
With strength in numbers comes complexity, however. We all have different amounts of time and money to contribute. As much as we’re sort of hippie socialists and are basing this business on all of us getting along and doing what we can, at the end of the day it is a business and so there need to be formalities set up to make sure that we all get our fair due. How do you do that? The way that would seem the best isn’t always practical, and we’ve been becoming increasingly aware that the way most businesses do things is the way most businesses do things because it’s the best choice. That’s not to say we’re beat down and defeated by the rat race already. Not at all; it just means that the back end of CBW as conceptualized in August is not the back end that’s conceptualized now, and may not be the back end as it finally is decided. Like we’ve said: there’s a lot going on right now!
The bit about us coming around to our lawyers’ advice? That’s actually pretty key, and is the second most important thing I’ve learned in all of this, besides ‘I couldn’t do it without everyone else’: hire professionals and listen to them. I was talking in the Homebrewtalk chat room this morning and someone admired our logo. It’s awesome. I love — love — our logo. You know why it’s great? Because I didn’t do it. We got someone who knew what they were doing (Julian Montague, if you’ve forgotten), and he did an amazing job.
Much like with our legal operating agreement, we had some ideas that weren’t things he thought would be beneficial. He sort of shrugged and did another batch of concepts for us, and in each instance we decided to use his original design. What you see atop this page is the design as it initially sprung from Julian’s mind. Ethan commented on this to him after it was done; ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘That happens a lot.’
Trust your experts.
I hope this doesn’t come across as whiny or unappreciative. Far from it! Even a year out from pouring our first beer, this has been a blast. Today we passed our 700th fan on Facebook. Seven hundred people. Maybe I’m supposed to play it cool and act like that’s not a big deal, but I can’t.
My goal with this was to show that while we certainly will be living the dream soon enough, it’s not all debauchery and concocting our next single batch release. There’s also a lot of sitting around a table and having frank discussions about whether or not voting should be done on a one-man, one-vote system or by the relative percentages of ownership. What constitutes a quorum for voting? What do we need to do to adhere to the new 2010 city zoning code? You don’t get to have a job as awesome as brewing beer without putting in some hard work beforehand.
(I also feel as though I can’t talk about hard work while pretending I don’t get the longest end of the stick: my duties are ‘blog and tweet and stuff.’ Meanwhile, Dave’s working nonfreakingstop, Ethan’s super busy, Greg’s doing his architect thing, Rudy’s going Bill Nye [for you kids, that’s like Alton Brown] on recipes… as far as the ‘operators’ of CBW go, I’m the lazy bastard.)