Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Burlington Northern Pulling Out of the World

Our business plan is ready to shop around! We still have a small amount of revising to do, but I don't expect that to change as the fundraising process generates feedback. Jane is taking over the business plan tweaks while I assemble an investment offering. I use the word 'assemble' instead of 'write' because I'll be stealing most of its content from the investment documents of two other breweries.

I haven't bought any hops yet, primarily because most of the ones for sale were grown in 2007. Brewers are selling off their old stashes while the 2008 crop comes in. Properly stored year-old hops would be fine if I needed them right now, but I don't want to be using them next summer. I met with James from Gorst Valley Hops a couple of weeks ago, and it looks promising that I'll be able to buy all of my citrusy American hops from him next fall. At the risk of digressing, he's a horticulturist who's more interested in turning Wisconsin farmers onto hop growing than he is in growing them himself. His main reasons for growing them right now are to prove their worth and to test a mobile processing facility that he's building. It was pretty awesome to show him my beer list and hear him say "I can get you that" almost every time I mentioned a weird ingredient. He even knows some used equipment dealers.

It's been a while since I talked about pilot brewing. First off, my beer fridge is working again! A sloppy moisture control vs. energy efficiency switch is a much better problem to have than a fridge that's actually broken. 'Nuff said. The second mint porter tasted awesome, except when I drank it too cold. Low temperature gave it an unpleasant shaprness - I still believe a hop/mint interaction is involved, and I'll name CO2 as a suspect as well - but the beer is basically a dessert at "cool but not cold" temperatures. Despite it's warm leanings, the beer made an excellent custard float. Much better than the first batch. Reducing the beer on the stove to use as a syrup, however, did not taste good. Holy bitterness! Although I reduced the hops dramatically, the beer wasn't too sweet. I suspect the mint lends its own bitterness, which balances malt sweetness in a similar manner as hops. Next time, I'm gonna brew the beer with no hops whatsoever. I transfered the maple farmhouse ale into its serving keg on Monday, which tasted very nice in its uncarbonated state. I have a batch of pale ale in bottles as well, which will be given away at a Locksley after-party this Friday, and I brewed a batch of Belgian pumpkin ale last week for my brother's wedding. That's about it for now!


Anonymous said...

I don't get the headline??? Perhaps I'm too dull?

Joe said...

It's a line from a Tom Waits song, as well as a bad metaphor for feeling like I'm on a train that's slowly leaving its station.

KJS said...

Damn. I was hoping it was a reference to missing B'town so much you wanted to come back and open the pub here instead. :P

RebelsXC said...

Hey Joe,

What are the two other investment documents that you're going to be using? Joe (my brewer) and I have been very thankful for your FileCabinet as we've been preparing our own Cash Flow documents. Those calculations did not look like they were fun to create.

It's been a while since I commented on here, but your House Brews look great. Good selection and unique ideas. Are you going to be serving any non-RePublic brews?

One thing we're struggling with up here is what to offer that is not our own. American Flatbread serves some Stone, Allagash, etc., but Vermont Pub and Brewery does not.

We'll see what Vermont On Tap decides... We're thinking of 9 taps for house brews, plus 5 or 6 on a rotating basis for other breweries.

Joe said...

No way kjs, Saint Albans is the place for me.

rebelsxlc: the documents are both private placement memorandums that were shared with me by the owners of two other startup breweries. A private placement memorandum (PPM) is essentially a prospective that isn't advertised publicly (the brewery owners who solicit investors on may be shooting themselves in the feet unless they're already registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission). Anyway, the documents aren't mine to share but I'll be happy to send you RePublic's once I get a legal buy-off. In the meantime, talk with other brewers you know and see what kinds of info they'll be willing to share. I'd bet that Paul Sayler would be happy to help, if you can catch him when he's not running around like a chicken with his head cut off.

We're planning on keeping the guest beers minimal. Maybe one rotating craft beer tap, a rotating gluten-free tap and some Miller bottles stored next to the boiler. Part of that decision is because Madison has a number of excellent multi-taps. One of the reasons why Paul chose go the other way with Flatbread is because opening a traditional brewpub right across the street from VPB would be a slap in the face to Greg Noonan. In addition to how you'll fit into the local beer scene, you should think about how long each batch of your beer will be on tap. With 9 house beer taps and six guest beer taps, you could conservatively estimate that 2/5 of your annual barrels sold will be from guest beer. Factor that into the equation [average batch serving time (days) = 365 x number of house beer taps x batch size (barrels) / annual house beer production (barrels)] to crudely estimate how long each batch will be on tap for. Or just tweak the "other beverage sales %" cell in my spreadsheet, which has probably been updated since you last downloaded it :). When are you going to go public with your weblog?

Joe said...

Whoops, I meant to say 'prospectus' instead of 'prospective'.

RebelsXC said...

Hey Joe,

We just put our blog up. Most of our work has been done, up till this point, over e-mail instead of the blog. Hence, only one post. We did however put up a "File Cabinet" similar to what you have, which includes parts of our business plan in draft form. We will hopefully be updating it regularly, as it is currently very basic, but feel free to check it out at

Thanks again for letting us use your resources.