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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Thoughts on Starting a Craft Brewery: Location, Location, Location!

Many of us have the dream of opening a bar, though you may not have any real knowledge on how to run one. If you have ever seen an episode of Spike TV's Bar Rescue staring Mr. John Taffer then you know that its not that easy. Opening a bar requires knowledgeable bar tenders, a marketable location, and if you are going to include food service a clean kitchen with a good cook. Now imagine, on top of all of those responsibilities having to continuously brew delicious beer that will attract customers to your establishment over the large number of beer bars and breweries. Why would anyone want to get involved in this large undertaking knowing that the industry, to some, is becoming saturated with small brew pubs and craft breweries. 

Farmington Brewing Co. Brewing System
The neighborhood pub was where everyone knew your name. When I think of a quintessential neighborhood pub I think of Cheers. NORM!. There are three things that make up a community, the people, a park, and a bar. The bar is where the adults gather and discuss neighborhood topics and carry on with each other. It is where the softball teams meet to celebrate a win or a lose. It is where the drunks go during the day, and the workers go at the end of their shift to blow off a little steam before going home. These bars may exist still, but they are becoming few and far between. I know of a couple around the Ferndale area that fit this description. Instead of serving only Macro beers like Bud and Miller they have to include craft beers as well. The pallet of your everyday customer has evolved and to survive you must evolve as well. That is why craft breweries (brew pubs, micro breweries, etc.) have become so popular. 

It is an exciting time in the craft beer world. According to the Brewers Association, there are now over 3,800 small breweries operating in the United States. The craft beer industry can be broken up into segments with each segment with different production and distribution regulations. Many Microbrewery and Brewpubs are popping up all over the country and taking the place of the neighborhood bar. 
Draught Horse Brewing Taps and Logo
 While interviewing a number of owners and brewers from local craft breweries throughout the Metro Detroit area a common theme as to why they chose the area where they established their brewery. In each instance, the location to start their brewery was very important. Many of these breweries will remain self distributed and may not get into bottling/canning for some time, so being embraced by the community is very important in sustainability. Jason Landis of Draught Horse Brewery said that they had been looking around for a building for some time before finding their current location at 57721 Grand River Ave, New Hudson, MI. During their search they checked out the building to verify it met their requirements but they also investigated the surrounding neighborhood. Jason and Brad walked around near by apartment building and neighborhood to get a feel for what the community wanted. Once the neighbors heard Brad and Jason were opening a craft brewery they were hooked.

In the case of Canton Brew Works and Farmington Brewing Company they are the only brewery in their respective cities. In both cases their cities have been very supportive and excited in having a brewery established in their city. When talking to the guys behind Farmington Brewing Company (Jason Hendricks, Jason Schlaff, and Gary Schlaff) they said they had been calling around to different cities to see where they could start their brewery when they talked to the people in Farmington, who jumped at the opportunity at having a brewery in the city. Now after being open for over a year the community has embraced Farmington Brewing Company. They have been told that Realtors are using the proximity to the brewery as a selling point for houses around the city.
 
Batch Brewing Co. Brewing System

As you can see, the neighborhood bar is being replaced by the neighborhood brewery. Many of these neighborhood breweries are opening knowing that they will never reach the production level or notoriety of a Bell's, Founders, Shorts, or Sierra Nevada. They want to be the go to bar for their neighborhood. Providing exciting and unique beers and a warm and inviting environment to enjoy them. Most of these bars force you to interact with other patrons of the bar. Both Canton Brew Works and Batch Brewing Company do not have TVs around the bar. When you walk into Batch Brewing Company, one of the first rules is talk to someone you don't know. This is a great idea and brings people together with different backgrounds but similar interests, that interest being kick-ass craft beer.