Baby Steps

Naked Mole Rat Last week was a hodge podge of productivity.  I spent quite a bit of my time collecting and submitting all the documentation for my home refinance and had the home appraisal completed last Friday.  Everything is done and submitted.  Just waiting to hear back from the bank.  I was also distracted by a minor income tax issue that had to be resolved regarding documentation for medical flex plan crap.  Nothing major but required way more of my time than I planned.  That task is now complete and income tax season is over for me, thankfully.

So far, it would appear that I make little progress with the actual business plan last week, eh?  Oh, hold on fair reader, lots of good stuff happened last week.

First, I was contacted by Frank Lassandrello whom I met a few weeks ago at a homebrew competition.  He had read my blog postings on Facebook and thought maybe I could use some advice.  Frank is in the midst of opening Broad Shoulders Brewing on the near south side of Chicago.  By "in the midst of" I mean the brewing equipment is ordered, being manufactured at this very moment and he has a space about to be built out.  That's a nice place to be in the process.  Frank has a wealth of experience in the craft brewing industry.  He's worked at Goose Island and Lakefront Brewing and is quite knowledgable in QA/QC.  That means he knows how to handle yeast and keep beer spoilage microorganisms out of the beer.  Frank and I had a few beers and discussed our plans.

I learned quite a few tidbits from Frank, but one of the best ones was his choice of canning lines.  Most craft brewers who decide to can are going with Cask Brewing Systems out of Calgary, Canada.  Cask has been a pioneer in the canning of craft beers and until recently, were the only game in town.  Now, however, there are other manufacturers getting into the game including a company called Process & Packaging Machine Corporation (PPM).  PPM has been manufacturing bottling and canning lines for years, but always larger systems.  Now, they're building smaller systems for craft brewing.  Frank told me about some very nice features that PPM offers with their canning lines which appear to make them more competitive than Cask.  PPM builds everything in California, so no Chinese garbage to deal with.  I'll be keeping PPM in mind for sure.

Another nice consequence of my meeting with Frank is that he helped me get some attention from his brewing equipment vendor, DME out of Canada.  I emailed DME a quote request a few weeks ago, but never received a reply.  It now appears the email was lost or spammed, which happens.  I emailed the quote request again and they've verified receipt, so I should have yet another quote this week.

Look for Broad Shoulders Brewing to open later this year.  They will be producing lagers and ales and I can't wait to try them myself!

The other great event that came out of last week is that I was hooked up with the general contractor who is building out the Revolution Brewing production brewery.  The contractor is Helios and they worked with an architect friend of mine, Jeff Sommers, on an environmentally friendly prefab home here in Chicago a couple of years ago.  Jeff is the owner/principal of Square Root Architecture + Design and when I asked him if had some contractor connections to get an idea of build out costs, well, he hit the ball out of the park.  I'll be taking a tour of the Revolution jobsite this week, and I'm very excited.

So despite a major distraction and some tangential tasks, I managed to move a few steps closer.  The business plan numbers are getting firmed up nicely now.  This week will be dedicated to finally getting the construction costs estimated and getting the cash flow analysis started.