Progress This Week

The Cleaner Here's a lesson: Don't try go get anything important done during Chicago Craft Beer Week. I've attended exactly two events with a third and final one coming tonight and I am very, very tired. My wife told me last night that I have bags under my eyes. As much as I love this annual event, I won't be sad to see it go simply so I can get my focus back and maybe a good night's sleep. But guess what?  I still learned a ton of stuff this week. How? Because I attended Chicago Craft Beer Week events. The irony is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

Here's a rundown of the tidbits I learned from a variety of sources in my standard-engineering-nerd-number-ordered list:

  1. You may have seen my Facebook post earlier this week asking folks to send me links about start up breweries and how much beer they sold their first year. Well, I got no responses. But guess what? I DON'T NEED YOU! I'm kidding. I need you desperately. Where was I? Oh, yeah start up breweries. I spoke to the brewmaster from one of Chicago's newer craft breweries. They sold 2400 bbl in the first twelve months of business. Yeah, 2400 bbl. That's waaaay more than I've modeled in my business plan financials, but very much inline with other brewery's stories. That makes me happy.
  2. Chicago has complicated liquor license laws for taverns and packaged goods stores. I actually already knew that. What I didn't know is that these licenses are $4,400 every two years. And you would do well to hire an attorney who knows their way around city hall to help out. Another fun tidbit: there are people you or your attorney can hire who are basically "expeditors". People who know all the right people in city hall, will wait in lines if necessary, and can easily navigate the archaic system known as the City of Chicago government.
  3. Beer is lovely.
  4. Dupont's saison yeast strain is not as finicky at commercial levels as it is in homebrewing. Consensus from Phil Wymore of Perennial Artisan Ales, Pete Crowley from Haymarket Brewing, and Internet research suggests that this strain shows no sluggishness during fermentation and does its best around 90 degrees F. Pete starts his fermentation in the 70's and let's it free rise, a very Belgian method. Dupont appears to ferment around 86 degrees F according to the book "Farmhouse Ales". I'll be brewing with this strain for the first or second time this weekend for my flagship Belgian beer which is still trying to find its way in this world.
  5. According to some folks at, a great point of sale (POS) solution for a retail store is an iPad using the Square Register app. Cheap to get started, low transaction fees, and it's an iPad. Sold!

See my previous post on what I learned about SBA financing this week. That's a big one.

Finally, I completed more of the marketing plan portion of the business plan. Progress was slow this week due to CCBW, but I'll be full on next week.