fbpx

Working at a growing brewery

Posted

Monday Night Brewing has only been around for 4 years as a revenue-generating entity, so in one sense we’re still making up for 5 revenue-losing years of home-brewing out of our garage. In those 4 short years, we’ve experienced double-digit and triple-digit growth annually, now distribute to two states, and employ a motley crew of 22 full-timers and a troupe of part-timers.

Our brewery today looks pretty different from the way we envisioned it when gathered around Jeff’s table working on a business plan and drinking early versions of Eye Patch Ale. The interesting thing is – it looks different almost every day. When sales grow, production grows. But while sales grow in a relatively smooth curve, beer production is dependent on large pieces of machinery, and you can’t just add a quarter of a tank. We’re always fighting the battle between sales outselling production or having idle capacity in the back. When we add equipment and people to brew beer, it’s a step-function, not a smooth curve.

Further complicating things (or making them fun, depending on how you look at it) – the larger we get, the more other efficiency-saving investments make sense, for instance installing a more efficient grain mill to increase the consistency of our grind and decrease the amount of grain we have to use per batch of beer brewed. This year alone we’ve undertaken quite a few capital projects that have tied up time and resources and changed the way the brewery operates. In 2015 we have:

  • Added 4 120bbl fermenters
  • Installed a new grain mill
  • Added 3 grain silos for bulk grain storage (and put a wolf, eagle and bear on them, obviously)
  • Installed 5bbl pilot system for test batches
  • Purchased a canning line – I keep telling the guys in the back to plug it in and push the “start” button, but they maintain it’s “more complicated than that”
  • Hired some good-looking brewers and continued to pay the ugly one
silos-800

We’ve had to learn to embrace change, expect problems and listen to feedback. As we’ve grown, we’ve also taught ourselves to enjoy the problem-solving process, knowing that issues are inevitable. As an example, here’s a hypothetical scenario:

There is a wedding happening at the brewery in 6 hours. Without notice, the city shuts off all water to the street, meaning toilets don’t flush and sinks don’t work. Our first solution, “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” has been lambasted by the wedding planner. Our brewmaster, realizing that our cold liquor tank is full of water, rigs up some pumps to supply all of our incoming water from a tank in the brewery. Boom. Problem solved – and even the wedding planner is impressed. She stops throwing shade and even lets us dance during the wedding.

Our ethos has always been about loving our professions, and that hasn’t changed. We love what we do and we love who we work with. And while we’ve grown rapidly, we are still tiny by brewery standards. Merely a blip on the national beer radar, as it were.

We’re expecting to grow even more next year. And we’re excited about that.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

X