Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy Birthday to Us...

So I let it go by without much fanfare but a few weeks ago BSBC turned 1 year old.  Yep, it was just over a year ago that we made our first sales and did our first few events at MOTR and Arthur's.  It seems like it was only yesterday and yet it seems like it was 10 years ago.  It's taken me a few weeks to get around to it but I finally got some time today to stop for a minute and reflect on "the year that was" as well as what may or may not be next for us in the coming year.

First let me say thanks to everyone who has supported us this year (and even before that).  The response to this little operation and our not so straight forward brewing philosophy has been great and without you we would not have survived to see this day.  Seeing and talking to you at events is what gives me the energy and drive I need to survive the long hot days in the brewhouse.

So here's a little of the "year in review" both positive and negative....

Our first year goal was to produce 350 BBL's of finished beer.  Well we finished a little shy of that at 290 BBL's.  Still not too bad considering I made it all by myself (and sold it myself for 4 months).  I am firmly convinced we missed this goal entirely due to the overestimation of my abilities to produce beer at a rate that would yield 350 BBL's by myself.  Turns out that I only have two hands, and that's apparently not enough!  The recent addition of Colin to the "family" should get us up to that pace (and beyond) pretty quickly though.

Demand has been steadily growing since my decision to give up self-distribution.  I never planned to do it forever, and in retrospect probably should have given it up sooner.  Stagnaro has been doing a great job of building up the business without overselling our capacity.  Unfortunately because we only made a few hundred barrels last year we couldn't just go out and start selling anywhere and everywhere or else there would be major supply issues and many unhappy wholesale customers.  I am trying to be cautious about bringing new accounts on-line if it means potentially running out of beer at other accounts.  Other than a few short term instances here and there (which were entirely my fault due to some unexpected time off that I had to take) I hope we have been successful in that effort.  Unfortunately it means that sometimes it can be hard to find us around town as we just aren't on tap everywhere.

The business was breaking even after about 8 months which was right on schedule.  Of course breaking even simply means we are covering all of the bills.  It doesn't mean there is anything leftover for frivolous things like paying me a salary....yet.

I discussed it in detail previously but the decision to start bottling and then to not start bottling was a big oops on my part.  For that I am sorry to anyone who got their hopes up.  It's a decision that I am still regretting as it has set us back a little bit in our growth plans and as of now I am not even thinking about when we may take another stab at it.

Yes, we still don't have a taproom.  I guess we have the dubious distinction of being the only brewery in town without one.  Without rehashing that story I will simply say that we will have one...someday...

I am very proud that we did 3 collaboration beers here in our first year.  Determination with Triple Digit Brewing, Savage Blank with Quaff Bro's and The Awakening with Beer and Sweat winner Brian Jackson.  Don't look for that to change this year as collaborations with Triple Digit and Quaff are already in the planning stages as well as possibly a few others including the Beer and Sweat winner again this year.

We just started barrel aging our first sour.  It took some time to get around to doing it, but we now have souring bacteria at work in the brewery.

So in summary, we are surviving.  And growing.  Slowly.  All of which has been (pretty much) according to plan.  It is every bit as hard as I thought it would be and sometimes even more so.  It is also just as rewarding as I thought it would be and sometimes even more so.

But what's next?

Well if you read between the lines above you may see that the common theme is that we just can't make enough beer.  If we could make more beer we could sell more beer.  So that's what we are going to do.  Within the next few months we will be increasing our fermentation capacity by almost 85%.  This will nearly double our output capability for the coming year.  Hopefully it will mean the ability to turn on some new accounts and push farther into the outer parts of the city (and Dayton) as well as give us the excess capacity that we will need to support a taproom sometime in the next 12 months.  Yes I said it.  Unless something goes sideways I plan to have the taproom operational within the next 12 months (actually less than that but I decided to build a lot of fluff into the timeline).

So you'll have to forgive me for not throwing a big birthday bash.  It's been a little busy around here.  Maybe we'll do it next year....