This past week we joined our fellow brewers from around the nation, and from many different countries, for the Craft Brewer’s Conference in Washington D.C. If you are interested in opening up a brewery you need to make the investment and go to CBC before you open. One of the first things I did before heading down the path of opening up the brewery was attend CBC 2011 in San Francisco. I learned a lot about the industry first hand, attended great workshops/seminars, spoke with vendors, and began learning about fellow start-up brewers and what they were going through in their start-up phases. This really helped me on my journey to put things into perspective and get an idea of what I was going to get myself into. You really gain a wealth of knowledge and the Brewer’s Association does an amazing job of planning and executing a great event. It doesn’t come cheap, but here you’ll get a chance to meet face to face with suppliers that you may have been speaking to, you meet great brewers and get to drink amazing beers. From our opinion, it’s a worthwhile investment.
One of the speeches that I enjoy most during CBC is the status of the Industry report. The reason being is because it allows you to get a great snapshot of how the industry is doing overall from year to year. They also do a great job of presenting what seems to be an industry SWOT analysis. They present the strengths and the continued growth, the opportunities that we as craft brewers have, the trends and then continue on with the weaknesses and threats. One continued theme that I saw at CBC11 and again this time around was the concern for low quality beers and the number of breweries coming online. A lot of craft brewers are concerned that with the large amount of breweries opening and with the large demand that is out there for craft beer, some people will establish businesses just for the sake of making a quick buck and not for the passion and ultimately produce low quality beer. As craft brewers continue to grow and market share expand, we cannot allow customers to relate bad beer with craft beer. This is a huge negative for all of us.
On the more positive side of things, we are in the process of working with vendors in regards to our tap handles, bottles and peripheral equipment we will need to purchase. It was great to speak with these people at CBC because you get a good sense of how some folks work, if you even like their work and if you want to give them your business. Let’s be honest, there are countless of companies that do labels, glassware, tap handles etc. For us, we want to make sure we get along with the folks we do business with and have a long lasting business relationship. We are working on some neat concepts for our marketing. So we’ll share once we have everything developed :D. I am very excited to share them with you all and get your feedback.
In other news, while I was about to leave to CBC last week I saw that some state legislators were trying to kill the growler bill that was proposed and on it’s way through the legislative system. I am truly upset at myself because I felt a little aggravated with government and their lack or reasoning and logic behind their motives. Later I learned that it was big business breweries that were behind these motives. That’s when I became upset at myself because what the heck was I to expect? An honest politician? HA! So naïve of me. I am still amazed by the lack of logic and reasoning some of these folks show. It is inevitable that Florida catches up with the rest of the country in regards to the craft beer movement. Although we are far behind, and killing this bill shows why, we will have larger craft breweries move down and small ones like ourselves continue to pop up. However, while evaluating this whole process I realized one thing. That us as brewers and in the craft beer community have to continue to band together to create one loud voice and mobilize our coworkers, fans, followers, fellow beer drinkers to influence the government to vote in our favor. It’s saddening the fact that this is a pay to play system. Us little guys do not have the capital resources to hire on countless lobbyist to fight of the big king. The next few years will be interesting to see how things change in the craft brewing landscape in the state of Florida. You can hardly recognize how it was 3 years ago. We’re in the middle of a huge shift.
On the permitting front, like previously mentioned we’ve received our Brewer’s Notice from the federal government. This means that in the eyes of uncle Sam we are officially a brewery. However, here at home the news are not as nice. We are in month 8 of permitting. However, Miami is not accustomed to seeing a lot of breweries come their way. After speaking to some breweries that are doing the same in areas with little to no breweries that have gone through the same path I felt that at least I wasn’t the only one. I also spoke with folks that did open a brewery in North Carolina whose permits only took two months and I wished that Miami will hopefully get there soon with all the breweries in the horizon. I just truly hope we are carving a path for the folks following. This is not an easy process. It’s not fun dealing with people that do not give a crap about you or your money and love making peoples live miserable. Either way, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We only have a few minor hurdles and are still working towards that June opening. We will keep everyone posted when we release a grand opening date. This will happen as soon as we receive an OK from our final inspections. At that point we don’t have to rely on another entity, we will be ready to brew. I am very much looking forward to that day.
Until next time,