Thursday, April 2, 2009

11 Months In Business

I thought I'd attempt to write a new blog entry, seeing as how it's been a few months since I've written anything of substance on here. Our anniversary is coming up and this is a good opportunity to think back to where we were only 11 months ago. We sold our first case of beer to Hollingshead's Deli on April 28th, 2008, so I've decided to roll over our anniversary date to the month of May. Close enough, right? Last night Tyler, Rachel, Jonas, Jay and I sampled all of the barrels of our anniversary beer, picking out the most exceptional barrels for the single barrel versions of Papier. I couldn't help but feel a little sentimental that we were tasting our fifth batch of beer brewed last April, when things were vastly different than they are today.

In the beginning, I wondered how we were going to sell 15 bbl (465 gallons) of beer, the smallest volume we typically produce of any single batch. Tyler and I were the only people working here, and we brewed the beer, sold the beer, and I attempted to run a business. Within a few weeks of our first releases sitting on store shelves, we received complaints of over carbonation. Luckily, we were a new brewery, and people drank the beer anyway and understood we didn't really know what we were doing at this point. I bought back beer from places that weren't selling it well. I'm still sitting on 30 cases of grossly over carbonated Black Orchard and waiting for a great idea on what to do with it. A not so great idea was bobbling for apples in Black Orchard, which we attempted on Halloween.

In June, Stone Brewing Co. started distributing our beer in Southern California, which is one of those events that made my life a lot easier and gave us the opportunity to grow quickly. Steve, Greg and Arlan recognized we are making great beer and I recognized I cannot do everything and do it well. I could now see it was possible to sell 15 BBL batches of beer.

In September, we opened our tasting room, which has wildly exceeded my expectations. I expected the tasting room to be a place where we'd get the occasional visitor wanting to check out our brewery. It has become a North Orange County attraction, and we recently hired Stef, Tasting Room Manager, and James, to run the tasting room.

Our beers were distributed exclusively in Southern California until November, when I decided to branch out to other states. Stone was doing a great job for us in Southern California, but we had extra capacity and I felt it was important to build ourselves in other markets. Over the past 6 months, we've partnered with the best distributors in states that have an exceptional beer culture. We're now in Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Northern California, and will soon be in Arizona and New Jersey.

The Bruery family continues to grow. My wife Rachel joined us full time in September, and Jonas joined the team in December to help brew and handle our expanding distribution. Bryan joined in January to spread the word of our beers in Southern California. Jay will shortly join us full time as assistant brewer as our production needs increase. Ben, who once helped us brew, is now working with us as our marketing director. My brother Chris is working in Portland, Oregon to build our account base there.

We're currently undergoing a major expansion, bringing our fermentation capacity from 75 BBL to 210 BBL. The work is almost complete and we're prepared to fill the new fermenters in the next two weeks. The fermenters couldn't have come at a better time-- we're almost out of beer and struggling to keep up with demand. In the next few months, we'll also be adding a faster bottling line.

In another 11 months, I wonder where we'll be. I honestly have no idea. Maybe we'll have maxed out our fermentation capacity and trying to fit more fermenters in our now cramped space. Perhaps we'll be constructing a new brewery. Whatever the future brings, we know it'll be shaped by our hard work and high expectations. Thanks for supporting us!

9 comments:

Phil said...

Patrick,

You've grown more in a year than most breweries could ever hope to. And I think that is largely due to the simple fact that your beer is superb. If it wasn't, the 'word on the street' would have worn off by now.

You and Rachael have a unique approach to the business, and have been warm and welcoming to everyone who visits your brewery. People remember that, and it makes them want to come back, as well as spreading the word to their friends about how great your beer is.

I see your growth, and wonder where you'll be in another year. I'd like to think you're following Stone's growth path. Whether that rings true or not, we all look forward to your continued success, and all of the exciting new beers you have in store for us.

Congratulations on your first year!

Phil

Brent said...

It's sure been a wild year Patrick. Congratulations and keep up the good work!

Brent

Benjamin Weiss said...

Cheers Pat! It's been great being a part of it all.

Patrick Rue said...

Thanks for the very nice comments, guys. I'm grateful with how things are going and I owe this to great friends who understand what we're trying to do.

Cheers,
Patrick

Kyle said...

Hey, I thought bobbing for apples in beer was a great idea. I got a nice Bruery t-shirt out of it, anyway.

Your success has been well-deserved and I can't wait to see what great stuff rolls out of Placentia in the coming year. Keep it up, guys.

Matt said...

Just some ideas on what to do with the overcarbonated beers.....

-Give it out to the homeless as a tax write-off
-host a burp contest
-wet t-shirt contest
-change label and offer as a spa treatment...
-Sell to the fire dept as a fire suppressant (doesn’t C02 put out fires??)
-make a brew batter
-a one day Soft ball tournament. Call it the "Black Orchard Beer League Blowout" at the park for local customers.

spkrtoy said...

Patrick,
I am so glad of your success in less than a year and it shows your love and passion of beer!
and throughout all of the trials and city problems you've exhibited the utmost professionalism that most craft brewers forget to do once they start brewing commercially and somehow forget the reason they started it in the 1st place.

I envision that your Bruery will be the BEST small craft brewery this year for 2009, and I hope you'll clean up at the alphabet soup of beer competitions, oh, and if you need an unbiased opinion on your beers, please give me a call!

All kidding aside, Patrick, you're vision and future are so bright and I'm humbled to have been able to share this dream or yours that's come true! All those hours driving to beer judging events and all the work you've done trying to get a brewery (I keep wanting to type Bruery) up and running for a profit, (pllus all the frustrations with that happened with the city (see previous blog entries) and now you've not only started one, you've "hit it out of the park"!

Great big Congradulations to all the Bruery staff on a job not well done but done World Class!. Mr. Jackson would be so proud of your beers too, so keep it up!

Sorry for this long comment, but credit's due for Patrick and his awesome crew for a spectacular job in just 11 months.
I am proud to have been some small part in your lifelong passion of brewing.



(Think DogfishHead and Sam C back in the day and even today they still can't meet the demand!) What a nice problem to have!

Brew On and on........

Prost,
Lyn

nate said...

Somehow I got a newsletter in my inbox from the Bruery and found myself here.
I haven't tried the beer--i doubt you sell to Ohio--but the packaging looks great. I'll put a link to you guys on my beer site. We have several subscribers in CA...maybe they'll seek you out.

I hope to open a brewery myself some day. Look forward to seeing you guys expand!

Cheers!
Nate

Rational Realist said...

Patrick & Crew,
Congratulations on one year. You guys make great, creative and most importantly, enjoyable beers. I have shared your beer with friends and hound my local beer store (Olive Tree Marketplace in Ocean Beach) for your new releases. Every time I mention or share one of your beers with one friend, his reply is "Oh, this is from "your" brewery in LA." If I could be so fortunate.

Keep making great beers and I'll keep sharing them and spreading the word.

Nat