Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery

Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery

Steve Hindy

Language: English

Pages: 306

ISBN: 0470068671

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

What do you get when you cross a journalist and a banker? A brewery, of course.

"A great city should have great beer. New York finally has, thanks to Brooklyn. Steve Hindy and Tom Potter provided it. Beer School explains how they did it: their mistakes as well as their triumphs. Steve writes with a journalist's skepticism-as though he has forgotten that he is reporting on himself. Tom is even less forgiving-he's a banker, after all. The inside story reads at times like a cautionary tale, but it is an account of a great and welcome achievement."
—Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter(r)

"An accessible and insightful case study with terrific insight for aspiring entrepreneurs. And if that's not enough, it is all about beer!"
—Professor Murray Low, Executive Director, Lang Center for Entrepreneurship, Columbia Business School

"Great lessons on what every first-time entrepreneur will experience. Being down the block from the Brooklyn Brewery, I had firsthand witness to their positive impact on our community. I give Steve and Tom's book an A++!"
—Norm Brodsky, Senior Contributing Editor, Inc. magazine

"Beer School is a useful and entertaining book. In essence, this is the story of starting a beer business from scratch in New York City. The product is one readers can relate to, and the market is as tough as they get. What a fun challenge! The book can help not only those entrepreneurs who are starting a business but also those trying to grow one once it is established. Steve and Tom write with enthusiasm and insight about building their business. It is clear that they learned a lot along the way. Readers can learn from these lessons too."
—Michael Preston, Adjunct Professor, Lang Center for Entrepreneurship, Columbia Business School, and coauthor, The Road to Success: How to Manage Growth

"Although we (thankfully!) never had to deal with the Mob, being held up at gunpoint, or having our beer and equipment ripped off, we definitely identified with the challenges faced in those early days of cobbling a brewery together. The revealing story Steve and Tom tell about two partners entering a business out of passion, in an industry they knew little about, being seriously undercapitalized, with an overly naive business plan, and their ultimate success, is an inspiring tale."
—Ken Grossman, founder, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
















appeal of the small brewers was that of geography. Their competitive 48 ★ BEER SCHOOL advantage only began with the quality of their beer. It was crucial to go to the next step and develop local roots, to inspire affection and loyalty from their hometown. If that was true, then the best place to start a brewery was where you found the best potential local base. Where would a lot of people root for the home team? In 1986, small breweries were beginning to open up like crazy. It seemed every big

think much of people like Steve and me. They all knew each other, but didn’t much care to know us. When we hired Bill Moeller in early 1987 as our professional brewer, it opened up additional brewery gates for us to visit. Bill was a veteran and respected brewer from a family of brewers. He had been going to brewmaster conferences for practically his whole life. He had seen the East Coast brewing industry shrink from hundreds, in his youth, down to dozens at the time of his early retirement from

SCHOOL distributors, we charged cash on delivery. Many customers laughed at our audacity in just joining the market and demanding such a level of respect. “Why, that’s the same price as Heineken,” they would say. We just looked them in the eye and said, “That’s right. And our beer is better than Heineken.” We were getting lots of press early on by being in Brooklyn, and enough people bought our beer to keep us going. That team—Mike, Ed, and the veteran—worked very long hours in order to

spread of my meeting, the 172 ★ BEER SCHOOL workers returned to the job. The wages my contractor was paying were comparable to union wages, but the work rules were more flexible. They all said I was right to stand up to the union guys, and they assured me they would not abandon me in the end. Richard Wolf said he left the union men to me because he thought I stood a better chance of dealing with them than he did. Maybe he was right, but I shudder to think of the other possible outcomes of this

fees to decide the ownership of a brand that was stillborn. They had no sales. They also had no partnership agreement and therefore no basis for resolving their dispute. A partnership agreement might not have been the answer to all their problems, but it would have forced them to define their relationship at the outset and given them a set of parameters to work within when trouble did arise. This process might have resulted in a sound foundation for their company, or it might have forced a

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