Wanna start a Brewery? Sure, why not.
risks, staff and steam engines
Wanna Start a Brewery? Sure why not!
In our blog we also want to give you an insight as to what is it like to be 2 twenty-five year old friends running their own business; what we have learned, key decisions and breakthroughs and an idea of the highs and lows involved in starting a brewery from scratch.
We decided over a game of pool in late 2006 that we should open our own brewery and the first BrewDog batch was brewed 2 weeks later on a 50 litre pilot plant in Martin's garage. Ever since we were flatmates at university (Martin studied Brewing and Distilling, James Law and Economics) we had dreamed of one day running our own brewery. Our brewing teeth were cut by home brewing in our student flat and getting all out friends round to, quite willingly, drink the results. Then in late 2006, 2 years after finishing university, we decided that we had enough experience, and more importantly just about enough funds to invest to give ourselves a chance of succeeding and that now was the time to take the biggest risk we ever had.
As ardent beer fans we were always completely disillusioned with the UK beer scene. All the microbreweries tend to produce very boring, similar beers and market them in a way that would put my grandparents to sleep. We knew exactly the type of beers we wanted to brew; we both love innovative, strong, progressive beers and these were impossible to find in the UK amidst the plethora of 3.8% Best Bitters and industrially brewed lagers. We thought the best way to rectify the situation was to brew our own. We also had really firm ideas about the brand we wanted to create, we were determined to make our brewery's brand be one that was capable of appealing to a far wider audience than a bottle of beer with a steam engine on the label or with a sleepy name ever could. We were inspired by the amazing craft beer scene in America and the more we read about Stone and Dogfish Head the more we thought that with enough belief, passion and effort we might too manage to start making our own beer and selling it.
Martin quit his job in an English brewery and James stopped working on a North Atlantic Trawler, with our life savings, a pre-credit crunch reasonably obliging bank and a few soft loans from local enterprise organisations we just about had enough capital to get going. We managed to lease premises in the form of a basic unit in a pretty little industrial estate overlooking the Ocean. Even as modest as it was it stretched our budget. However we were delighted with it; our brewery had founds it home and we had moved closer to our dream.
The first batch of beer was brewed in April 2007, we started off with a 10% Imperial Stout, destined for Coal Ila casks (Paradox Islay 001). We were Scotland's newest, youngest microbrewery and we were finally making beer. Over the course of 2007 we made around 15,000 bottles per month; absolutely everything was done by Martin and James. On our 2 head manual bottling machine we would often finish bottling at 5am and start the next day's brewing at 6am. We were bottlers, accountants, brewers, cleaners, administrators, salesmen and delivery drivers, it was tough, gritty, at times desperate but damn it all completely rocked. No matter how tough financially, physically and mentally our first few months were we never lost sight of what we wanted to achieve and our belief in what we were trying to do.
2008 has been a crazy year for us so far. Our production has gone up a bit as we added some shiny new tanks. We have gone from having 2 staff (ourselves) to having a dedicated and passionate team of 10 BrewDogs. We have taken on 3 additional units and now lease the whole building our original unit was in. When we started our main goal was simply to educate the consumer and expose as many of them to the concept of craft beer as we could. Our artisan little brewery is committed to making the best beer we possible can and pushing the boundaries of innovation in beer. We want our beers to be completely unique and introduce original flavour profiles that make up our different beers. If we ruffle a few feathers, defy a few industry conventions and cause a little controversy along the way it is all part of the fun.