Here’s my round-up (a couple of days late) of last weeks best stories and articles for Small Business and Beer Business.
I often advise clients on when is the right time to incorporate or form a business (i.e. start acting as a business and not as a person) and why. Thanks to Nina Kaufman (@ninakaufman) for summing this up in this short video. 3 Reasons to Incorporate Your Business
In real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.” In small business, it’s all about “planning, planning, planning.” That means that, at least for a period of time, your personal and business life will revolve around your business plan. Make sure it’s thorough. Why Your Business Plan Is Probably Incomplete
Remember, even if you’re small business, it’s not all about you. Your team (internal or external) is what will make the biggest difference to your success. To Be Number One, Get the Right Number Two
More on Leadership: Crisis management is a topic for every small business person. What makes a good manager in a crisis? When Good Management Is a Matter of Life and Death
Ok, so that’s what to do. How about what not to do (on a day to day basis)? The Seven Deadly Sins of Management
Continuing on the HBR bandwagon (they’ve had a great week!)… I remember a line from a movie “everyone *thinks* they have a sense of humor, even the ones who don’t.” Everyone *thinks* they’re a good boss. Are you? Really? Are You Sure You’re Not a Bad Boss?
Employee of my dreams? I don’t think so. I’d settle for a “good” employee. Maybe even “decent.” There are days when I’m desperate enough to take someone as basic as “breathing.” Here’s some things to look for in your employee search. How to Hire the Right Employees for Your Startup
Here’s an interesting article on what may be a direction for the beer industry/business down the road. Focuses on the technology and sensory options for deconstructing and developing a beer. Yeast of Eden: the future of beer
Love that many small farmers and agri-businesspersons are rediscovering the economies that drove our great grandparents. It used to be that brewing beer on the farm was the norm, not the exception. Here’s a great story on it. Maryland farmers try beer production
Good LORD! Have you been watching this story unfold? Heineken & Tiger Beer. here:
You know that right after they planted it, they had to have made beer from it. Can we brew again with einkorn? Bulgarians cultivating ancient einkorn grain
I happen to think that there should be more of this sort of cross-pollination between the alcohol industries. Cheers to Anderson Valley! Anderson Valley Brewing Co. forms partnership with Wild Turkey Bourbon
Here’s an interesting article out of the UK. I don’t know that this is a huge issue in the US right now, but with the rising cost & popularity of craft beer, maybe we should be on the watch for tax dodges like this. Bootleg Beer Hitting Lawful Traders
Speaking of prices fluctuating (up anyway), here’s a good video and article about how/when beer prices shift. Grin and Beer It: Some Beer Prices Will Increase.
Love Oskar Blues‘ beer, and I’m thrilled they’re coming to NC. IF you haven’t heard, they’re planning on brewing their Dale’s Pale Ale in NC before the end of the year! I was a project manager in a former life/career. For something of this scale, that’s a really, *really* fast build . Cheers to them! Beer Guy: Oskar Blues plans quick build
Not to be outdone, Sierra Nevada has accelerated their build timeline as well. They’ve moved their “open” date to July 2013 (another *fast* build). Sierra Nevada changes opening date to July 2013
I’ve never understood where the stigma for Contract Brewing came from. Just because you don’t physically *own* the equipment, it’s not really brewing? Please. I’ve got to give credit to Shaun O’Sullivan at 21st Amendment Brewery (563 2nd Street, “that’s right, cans.”) – I like his re-invention to calling it Partner Brewing. Contract is Not a Dirty Word in Brewing
I *just* posted on this a few weeks ago. Sounds interesting, I’d like to hear more. Oregon Public House: The First Nonprofit Pub (VIDEO)
Here’s good article on the dangers (no matter which side of the fence you’re on) with market consolidation in the beer industry. One Company Will Soon Control Half of the U.S. Beer Market
Speaking of market consolidation… U.S. Department of Justice formally requests more info on A-B InBev/Modelo deal
Market impact: How will the weather/crops so far this year effect the beer industry? Here’s the skinny - USDA August 2012 Crop Report: update on barley, hops and apples
Just for fun
I love Mental Floss (http://www.mentalfloss.com)! Here’s one of their recent goodies: 11 Tips for That Benjamin Harrison Birthday Bash You’re Probably Planning
(back when being many meant facial hair! Benjamin Harrison – our last bearded president).
- Love on tap: Va celebrating craft beer industry (cbsnews.com)
- Oskar Blues Beer in Alabama (geekalabama.com)
- Brewing Stone Age beer (ancientfoods.wordpress.com)
- Beer Battle Brewing: Heineken’s Bid for Tiger Beer Draws a Thai Rival (dailyfinance.com)
- Brewing up Love: Weddings Tap Craft Beer Craze (abcnews.go.com)
- Yeast of Eden: the future of beer (guardian.co.uk)
- Munich: Three Boozy Beverages Beyond Beer at Munich’s Oktoberfest 2012 (jaunted.com)
It’s that time again! It has been a busier week than I had realized, there’s a lot to cover, so get ready. Here’s my summary of the best articles in (small) Business and (craft) Beer
This year has some special issues going on for personal and corporate/business taxes. Here’s a good summary of upcoming changes that you need to know about The Fiscal Cliff: 3 Tax Changes You Need to Know Are Coming:
When you’re a startup company, you need a lawyer (whether you think you do or not). One question comes up: do you pick a lawyer from a big firm or a small firm or solo? Hiring a Lawyer for Your Startup – Big Firm or Small Firm?
The title says it all: What to Know About Investing in Your Own Business:
Every business has that one (or sometimes more than one) employee that’s a little… out there. I’m thinking red Swingline staplers here. How do you deal with them? Especially if their the wunderkind that’s helping you stay afloat? How to Manage Your Smartest, Strangest Employee:
Since we’re talking about employees here, have you ever had anything go… missing? If you run a business with employees, you need to understand your legal rights (and obligations) regarding employee theft. Employee Theft and Fraud in the Workplace: Legal Considerations
Working for tips? What are the tax rules around tips? Think you know? You may not. When is a Tip Not a Tip? – When the IRS Says So.
Here’s the “hot sheet” of current Employment Law trending topics -> Lewd Conduct, Lactation Accommodation, and Other Steaming Hot Employment Law News!
Veering away from employees and over to leadership, here’s a good article on how leaders make the bridge between the strategic and the tactical. How Smart Leaders Translate Strategy into Execution:
Can’t let a week go by without a social media legal issue. This seems like a “duh” moment, but, if you didn’t know… You Don’t Own Your Tweets:
(Craft) Beer Business
eBay auctions for beer bottles that just *happen* to be full (wink wink nudge nudge) have been an ongoing issue for the Craft Beer industry. Here’s Cigar City’s take. An eBay Auction that the Brewery Embraces:
Trader Joe’s has their house brand(s) of beer contract brewed at some very respectable breweries and offer some seriously good beer at reasonable prices. But… there’s trouble “brewing” in TX. Dispute Brewing at Trader Joe’s:
Midwestern (and global) drought. It’s starting to show signs of impacting the food market for grain. Will beer and rbewers be impacted? Grain Prices Pushed to Record Highs:
Jolly Pumpkin et. al. getting a new, expanded, operations base. Northern United Brewing Company (owners of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and other beer brands) is opening an larger brewing facility in Dexter MI. Thank goodness Ron Jeffries will still be overseeing the beer! Jolly Pumpkin’s Parent Company Opening New Facility Expandable to 150k Square Feet:
We’ve talked about cans before (“That’s right, cans.”), but have you considered that some beers or brands might work better in cans than in bottles, simply because it’s in a can? Here’s Midnight Sun’s Experience, “[they did ] ‘okay’ in our 22-ounce bottles…. When we put them in cans, they started flying off the shelves….” Alaska Beers Get Canned:
Just for Fun
If you don’t read Mental Floss, you totally should. Give it a day, or just follow them on Twitter. It’s addictive.
- Three Matts new brewers in capital (stuff.co.nz)
- Capital’s craft beer reputation grows (stuff.co.nz)
- Reboot Charlotte: Breweries Tap Into NoDa’s Artistry (foxcharlotte.com)
- Small Brewers Are Fermenting Hope for Passage of Brewery Law (njspotlight.com)
- Minn. Craft Beer Gives All To Fight Invasive Species (minnesota.cbslocal.com)
I’ve been thinking about the Big Beer companies, the big and the getting-bigger companies.
The story starts a few weeks ago. I had been watching a thread on a forum where a homebrewer started off by saying something like “I can’t drink macro lager anymore. I can’t believe anyone who like craft beer can stand to drink that other stuff.” There were a lot of comments like “I can’t drink that swill,” or “there’s no substitute for flavor.” There were some comments to the tune of “yeah, but at the ball park or the beach on a hot day,” or “I still have a macro beer at a party now and then.”
So here’s my thinking: Whether you like their product or not, you have to give credit to the breweries that are turning out light american lager on a global scale. Any homebrewer that has tried to do it can tell you that Light American Lager is a *very* difficult style to brew and brew well. Yet, here are the massive companies turning out millions of gallons of the stuff all over the world and achieving flavor and production consistency that most small commercial brewers can only hope to emulate. Clearly, these macro breweries know their business and have the brewing down to a science. Folks like AB-InBev, MolsonCoors/SABMiller have developed, used, re-invented, and forgotten more beer science than most people will ever know. They have their process control tight and their Quality Control tighter. They know how to brew beer.
And they’ve got money. And they’re not stupid – they’re watching the steady growth of craft beer year over year. And they’ve got to want in. Examples of attempts include everything from AB-Inbev’s Shocktop and Amberbock to MolsonCoor’s Blue Moon. Some forays are more successful than others (Budweiser American Ale anyone?).
So: (1) they’ve got the money (i.e. capital to invest), (2) they’ve got the science know-how, (3) they’ve got creative people (surely out of those hundreds of thousands of employees, someone’s got to be creative right?), and (4) they’ve got the marketing and desire to do it. Why aren’t they bigger players in the craft beer segment. Some have turned to buying up craft breweries to help augment their foothold, but these guys are science and marketing juggernauts, why do they struggle with getting into craft beer?
This seems like a conundrum from the outside. I have my thoughts on why this is, I’m sure you do too. My question here is, what do you think the long term role of the marcro beer companies is going to be in the craft beer market segment?
- Budweiser: The Great American Lager No More? (winemag.com)
- Why the hell would you open a brewery? (jslawcenter.wordpress.com)
- For the Love of the Craft Brewer (winemag.com)
- Oregon craft beer production up 5.5 percent in 2011: 1.168 million barrels (oregonlive.com)
- “Budweiser, Coors & Miller aren’t brewed by American companies. Support your local craft brewery this 4th of July.” (elephantjournal.com)
- MillerCoors Nabs Nine Medals at 2012 World Beer Cup (sacbee.com)
Ok, so here’s the round up for this past week. I’m going to try and separate by topic area, but there’s a lot to cover, so buckle in!
Beware the Paralyzing “Whac-A-Mole” Trademark Mentality
Trademark: develop a trademark strategy. First, don’t run after a trademark after someone else has started using it. Then don’t fall into the “whack a mole” trap of trying to secure marks after you’ve started using them in… unpredictable ways.
Is your business protected in Bankruptcy?
You May Need a Lawyer for that
Start-up are often (wisely) concerned with saving money up front. When is it a good investment to pay for professional services (like a lawyer).
Capital Gains Tax Opportunity: Permanent?
Be sure to keep up on what’s going on tax wise. Unless you’re not planning on making any money ever.
Social Media Tips for Trademark Protection
Ways you can prevent cybers-quatting and trademark-hijacking.
At Will Employment: Does it Matter?
If you have (or are gonna have) employees, you need to check this out. You’ll need to have an employee handbook or some set of personnel policies, but what should be in them/it?
Contract Brewing Revisited
Contract brewing goes through cycles, but remains an important part of our industry. How do your brewery and Contract (or Partner) Brewing fit together?
So You Want to Open the Next Great Craft Beer Bar?
If you’re looking at opening a bar (or even just your taproom at your brewery), Chris Black of the award-winning Falling Rock Tap House shares his thoughts on what it takes
Financial / Progress Report from Boston Beer Co.
Check out how well one of the big micros is doing.
Global Beer Prices (per pint)
Just saw this today. I don’t know if I’d say it was determinative, but it does give you a good perspective on how beer prices work at the consumer, front-of-the-house, lay-your-money-down level.
Just for fun (Humor/Trivia)
Weird History. Follow them on Twitter for your daily dose of the absurd that seemed TOTALLY spot-on at the time.
- The Difference Between a Trade Name and a Trademark – And Why You Can’t Overlook Either (bizsugar.com)
- Why the hell would you open a brewery? (jslawcenter.wordpress.com)
- Not Too Big, but Too Many? (jslawcenter.wordpress.com)
- Get Ready To Drink Airport-Themed Beer – Anheuser-Busch Just Trademarked A Bunch Of Airport Codes (businessinsider.com)
- To Trademark or Not to Trademark (thefarmchicks.typepad.com)
- Best of… for the week of June 11, 2012 (jslawcenter.wordpress.com)
I’ve been thinking about the craft beer market lately.
I work with several craft breweries and folks who want to get into the craft beer and beverage industry and I’ve been reading a lot about new breweries opening, new beers out there, and what the latest and greatest “extreme” beer to come down the pike.
“Oh look, a beer that’s higher in alcohol than my favorite bourbon!” or “Wow! I’ve never had a beer dry-hopped with turnips!” (you get the idea).
Also I’ve been drinking since the mid 90′s and I remember the boom/bust of the 1990s brewpub.
And, I’ve read that now we have more breweries in the US than we did pre-prohibition. Which is great. But it makes me wonder… is it too much?
I love craft beer, and I”ll be the first one to order the new beer I’ve never heard of before. And I totally support local beer and local ingredients, etc. I’ve argued that you can’t be too big to be a craft brewery (it’s about the craft, not about the size of your fermenters, at least in my opinion). But, it seems that everyone with a plastic bucket and a bag of grain is opening up a brewery. Is there enough room in the industry, in the marketplace, for all the players?
I go in the grocery store and its clear that there’s serious politics involved for shelf space in the beer aisle. If you don’t believe me, check out Beer Wars. As we add additional breweries, that’s only going to get more cut-throat.
Now, a key difference between now and the mid-90s is that in the mid-90s a lot of the beer was crap. I’m not pointing any fingers, but a stainless steel pot and a bag of hops, does not a brewer make. At least now, the beer is good. Not all of it is great, but nearly all of it is good.
Making good beer isn’t an option anymore. If you’re not making good beer, you don’t get out of the gate. But, on the other hand, making great beer isn’t a sure thing either. I’ve seen people with great beer not get off the ground because they’ve got other issues working against them (you know, like they’re a jerk or something). You’ve got to make great beer and have your marketing/business strategy straight to stay in the game. Is there a point where there are so many craft breweries that, as an industry, we’re all hurt?
NC is one of the fastest growing beer markets in the world right now, and I love it. But it makes me wonder if this growth curve is sustainable? Are we headed for another brewery shake out or market consolidation? I think the Beer Culture has changed in the last 20 years (good Lord, the mid-90s *WAS* almost 20 years ago!) Do you think that makes a difference?
- Why the hell would you open a brewery? (jslawcenter.wordpress.com)
- Craft Beer Demand Brews Up Businesses in Eastern Iowa (thegazette.com)
- The Coolest Craft Cans (aleheads.com)
- Where We Stand (aleheads.com)
- Why Cans Are Good For Beer (triplepundit.com)
Quick note: This week’s entry is a guest post from Chris Creech at Fortnight Brewing in Raleigh/Durham. Chris and his team are a great group of people and blazing a path toward opening the newest brewery in the area. They’re focused on English inspired beers and are constantly out in the community working toward their goal of bettering the local beer culture.
Why the hell would you open a brewery?-Chris Creech
I have heard that question, often phrased a little less bluntly, a lot over the past few months. And to be honest, it was a while before I really sat down and thought about the actual answer to the question.
At first, I just said, “Well, I’ve been brewing beer for a while – I enjoy it and I think the beer is pretty good, and I’ve been given a great opportunity, so we’re going for it.”
While that is all true, it doesn’t really answer the core of the question. Why are so many people quitting their good day jobs to open a small business to produce beer – a highly regulated product with razor-slim profit margins?
The craft beer industry is an industry of passion. There are so many great people involved in the production, distribution, selling and promotion of craft beer, and they all have one thing in common – passion. It’s a passion for a unique product, a passion for the fellowship and community that beer promotes, and a passion for sharing their passion with others.
Sure, there are some super-stars in the beer industry, from Jim Koch (Boston Beer Company/Sam Adams) to Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head Brewery), but for the most part, you don’t brew beer for fame or fortune. Most of us will spend long hours brewing beer, and then spend our nights and weekends selling and promoting our beer at bars, restaurants, festivals and events. And what’s the pay-off? It’s not often a huge paycheck, but it comes back to that passion.
Not only are the people involved with the supply-side of beer passionate about it – the beer consumers are also passionate, and it is their passion that drives us.
As the interest in craft beer grows, more and more folks are becoming craft and local beer enthusiasts. And when you can hand someone a beer, or see them ordering your beer at a bar or restaurant, and see, hear and feel their reaction to your creation, it is a fantastic moment. To then see these people become passionate about your product, becoming ambassadors for what you’re doing, gives you great pride and sense of accomplishment. That is the pay-off, and that passion is why we are opening a brewery.
So, if you are as passionate as I am about craft and local beer, then I would encourage you all to continue to drink local, support your local breweries, and keep an eye out for some great new breweries coming to NC in the near future, including Fortnight Brewing Company.
- 4 Things You Can Learn from the Craft Brewing Industry (triplepundit.com)
- Beer People Give Back (jslawcenter.wordpress.com)
- Pop-Top Beers: More Craft Beers Moving Into CansBeer Sessions (thekitchn.com)
- Highlights From Chicago Craft Beer Week 2012 (drinks.seriouseats.com)
OK, here’s a free bonus post!
It’s been a week+ since then, but I have to tell you about a recent event I attended. It’s really just an example of many events and something that I really LOVE about the Craft Beer Culture.
I attended Casks for a Cure at Rockfish Grill in Durham, NC on May 6. What a great event! Breweries donated casks of beer to the event and proceeds went to Pints for Prostates. Here’s the *really* cool thing about this particular event: all the breweries in attendance haven’t officially opened yet! These were all breweries in planning and all in NC. How great is that? The event featured Four Saints Brewing Company, Haw River Farmhouse Ales, Steel String Brewery, Fortnight Brewing, Deep River Brewing Company, and Sub Noir brewing Company. All the beer was really great with a couple true shining stars. The breweries also collaborated on a cask of Breakfast IPA that was available as well. If “breakfast IPA” doesn’t sound good… well two things: (1) you haven’t had enough to drink and (2) more for me! The event raised
$9300 $2500 for Pints for Prostates. (*Thanks to Chris Creech for double checking my numbers!)
That event was terrific, but is just one of the many, MANY such events around the state and around the country that craft breweries are hosting on an almost daily basis.
Every craft beer person, especially brewers, that I talk to – without exception (so far) – really believes in giving back to the community, to the world sometimes. Whether its Sam Adams‘ Brewing The American Dream or Sweetwater Brewing helping out the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers, craft beer has an unwritten mission to make the world a better place and not just a better place for beer (that’s just a side benefit). It’s great to see an entire industry embracing the moral need to do good, have a good time, and make a difference.
I just responded to an email about breweries and lawyers. Trying to develop a niche practice in serving the craft beer industry is tough and I thought about why that is. I believe craft beer (whether brewing, distributing, or serving) people often don’t consult an attorney because either
- “I can handle all this stuff myself. If I ever need to trademark something, then I’ll get a lawyer.” OR
- “All lawyers do is make things more complicated and cost money. Why should I pay for them to get in my way.” OR
- “I think I need some help here, but I can’t afford one, so I guess I’ll go it alone anyway.”
I’ve been working with the NC Brewers Guild to try and educate brewers and the support industries (who are also largely small or Mom & Pop shops) about how attorneys can actually make things easier and protect you from future issues.
I also spend a good deal of time counseling people on the concept that an attorney – a good attorney - is one that will work with you on your business. Someone that’s interested in seeing your business grow and helping to manage your risks before they become problems. I can only speak for myself, but I want to help you make things less complicated. Make things easier now *and* in the future. I really feel that’s a critical role for a lawyer.
Thinking that you “can handle” all the aspects of your business by yourself is just silly. You may know more about your body than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that you should perform your own gall bladder surgery. The same applies with brewing equipment, accounting, and legal issues. If you don’t have special training or expertise in the area, get some help.
Also, thinking that you can’t afford an attorney is also not right. If you’re concerned about that, talk about it with your attorney. More than likely, they’ll work with you to come up with a plan that fits your needs and budget. No one wants to see you or your company struggle because of a legal issue or not get help when you need it.
What have been your experiences with this? If you’re a brewer/brewery/bar why don’t you get a lawyer involved?