How to open a brewery in 2,364 easy steps – Part 1

So, this is the official first post to the Half Batch Brewing blog. We are a little late getting this thing up and running, so my plan is to use the first few posts to catch you up on how we got to where we are at.

This will not be a primer on how to do everything necessary to open a brewery. Some of that is too tedious to write down, some of it is private, and I haven’t actually opened a brewery yet – so a lot of my advice may turn out to be useless in the end.

The first step is to decide to open a brewery. That may seem obvious, but I mean to really decide to do it. I don’t think there are many homebrewers who have not stood in the garage, driveway, back yard, or wherever, brewing a batch of beer, and thought “Man, what if I could do this for a living”. I know that thought crossed my mind the first time I brewed a batch of beer in my college apartment in 1995. Finishing up college with a degree in History, not really feeling graduate school but realizing there was not a lot of demand for historians out in the job market, I set about trying to get my foot in the door of the craft brewing industry.

There were close calls and actual opportunities, but for this or that reason, nothing ever panned out. I have some interesting stories about trying to convince small breweries to hire an ambitious homebrewer in the mid-90’s, but I can’t tell them here. I continued to brew at home and even went to Chicago for a week long ‘Brewpub and Small Brewery Operations’ class at the Siebel Institute, but the dream of working in the craft brewing industry fell victim to the practicalities of life. With a young family to support, I accepted an entry-level IT job and shelved my brewing dream. The dream never died, though. It just lay dormant, in a sort of pupal stage.

I guess I believe that sometimes in life, things you have given up on have a way of coming back around again. If you are open to them, that is. Let’s just say about a year ago, a chance encounter or two caused a spark in the long smoldering ashes of my brewing dreams. I looked around and saw that I was in a place, time, and situation that were pretty promising to open a brewery of my own. Perhaps the pupa of my brewing dream could escape its cocoon!

I thought about how to get from where I was at to where I wanted to be, and I decided, really decided, to open a brewery.

And that’s it for Part 1. I can’t say at this time exactly where I was when I made the decision, but let’s just say I took a little life inventory and decided I wanted to spend more time doing things I loved. I’ll try to get another post out in a few days to continue the story (or whatever else I want to post).

One more little thing you may be wondering – “Why is it called Half Batch?” Well, Half Batch is a homebrewing nickname of mine. Let’s just say that there have been some times in the past when I have made some water volume miscalculations and ended up with less than a full batch of beer.

– Nate