So You Think You Want to Open a Brewery…

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I brewed my first batch of beer at home about seven years ago. It took me three years to land my first professional brewing job, and one more year to start HenHouse Brewing with my partners Scott Goyne and Shane Goepel. It was humble beginnings—a year of jumping through legal hoops and fine-tuning some recipes, followed by two years of brewing beer 60 gallons at a time on nights and weekends on a brewing system Scott built from an essential oils extractor and a 1960 A&W Root Beer Syrup kettle, while we all worked other jobs and daydreamed about the future. In November of last year, HenHouse raised enough investment capital to hire me full-time and expand from nano-brewery to micro-brewery status, which is the most dream-come-true thing I’ve ever experienced.

Curious about what it takes to go pro and start a brewery? Looking for advice? I’ve got some. A lot of it, in fact. The bad news is that what I’m about to say may not make opening a brewery sound like that much fun.

I’ve come to a general theory of brewery work: it’s not what you think it is. None of the jobs I’ve had in the brewing industry have been close to what I expected they’d be. Is life working in a brewery—or opening your own—for you? Read on.

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