When we started planning Migration Brewing in 2008 we had no idea that there was a huge influx of breweries preparing to open. Now we are in the midst of the largest craft beer expansion in U.S. history. The market is hot and with that comes long wait times for new equipment, a short supply of desirable hops, and a competitive retail market. While there is currently a huge push to increase production numbers it is important for young breweries to understand their niche. At Migration our goal has always been to become a successful neighborhood brewpub. This requires much different planning versus becoming a large scale production brewery. We have also realized that this is a marathon, not a sprint and in order to run a successful brewery in today’s mature market there is a lot of hard work, planning and sacrifice.
While brewery owners know that it’s all about the beer; it’s also about so much more than the beer. It’s the people. Your investors, employees, vendors, customers and community all come together to help make it happen. This is the core group that is going to see you through to the next level of growth. It is essential to establish strong relationships with the vendors that you depend on to get things done. In our first year of business we got burned several times by hiring the cheapest instead of the best. You always end up paying more in the long run. Now we have an established team that can help us when making expansion plans or simply for regular maintenance needs. We have also benefitted from having a strong financial team in place so we can make wise decisions about how to access capital in a way that makes our bean counter happy. And above all we have learned the power of communication and trust. As a business grows, you become dependent on others to help grow your company and we will need to trust them with our baby.
Planning is obvious. If you have ambitious growth plans than you have to plan how to get there. The risks increase with every new tank and expansion, so take the time to put a second business plan together. Annual planning has been a great tool for Migration and is always useful when seeking additional capital. It pays to be involved. The craft beer world is full of good people, great organizations and awesome events. In a dynamic marketplace it’s essential to keep pushing the development of new products and to keep drinking other people’s beers. While the increased number of breweries may lead to more intense competition, this is still a collaborative industry that is based on the sharing of ideas and good times. So keep it simple, and never lose the passion of pursuing great beer.