The Challenge of the Next Step

The Green Man is feverishly thinking about his next step toward the target of turning home-brew into craft-brew/ micro-brew. It’s still early days but it doesn’t hurt to think about how things could go. However, the road is fraught with danger and risk. And as a father of three I can’t just gallop off and do my own thing without serious thought and attention paid to security.

So this is one big challenge. But, this whole adventure is built around challenge. I could just throw the towel in, but that is not my way. I need to be tenacious and not get downhearted. Of course, I need to not let this take over my whole life. I must avoid neglecting my family, to do so would be a recipe for emotional disaster, not to mention, my wider health. On the other hand, I’m not doing this without reason, so as with everything in life there will have to be a compromise.

My wife knows of my plan and is broadly supportive, as long as it doesn’t cost us (i.e. ruin us) and does not threaten our health insurance, which I currently provide through my full-time job. These are all reasonable concerns and I need to do make sure I cover all the bases.

So just how do you start your micro-brewery and not decimate your income (and the lifeline of your family?)…erm…well, you can probably hear the cogs wherring from where you are. There seems to be only a couple options and both involve a part-time approach, at least initially.

As you will know, I need to produce 6,000 litres of ale a year. So, that’s 500 litres a month. At present, I work split shifts with a few hours free in the middle of the day. My spare time could be used to work in the brewery, but a few hours is probably not going to suffice for a brew day. Luckily, I start at 12:00 on some days too. Bingo! That’s my brew day right there. If I am lucky I have two of those a week. I can probably bank on at least 5 a month even during peak periods. So time-wise, it looks like it could work. I will be working very long days, but then with my strange shift pattern I am away all day anyway. And, I’m not expecting this to be forever, only until the brewery becomes profitable enough for me to go part-time with work and, perhaps, eventually move all my working hours over to the brewery.

The biggest barrier, as is usually the case, is money. Alas, the Green Man is not blessed with plenty of the green paper (in the US sense). A new Brewhouse and brewing equipment alone looks like $26,000 (£20,000 or 2,850,000 yen) for a complete set-up, including kegging and a manual bottler. This doesn’t even include the costs of kegs (which I’ll need a large number of) and the deposit on a property. I’m sure there are other charges such as marketing and website design etc… to think of too. Running costs will be fairly low once I get going. Rent can prove cheap, if you choose the right location. Raw materials shouldn’t be that much. Then it is a case of cash-flow and marketing, getting the ale out there into the faces and mouths of bar owners and shop keepers.

I think I will have to just turn my grey matter to the challenge of developing a sufficient war-chest to take the part-time plunge…or research cheaper methods of building/sourcing brewing equipment…now that’s an idea!


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