Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Books on beer: The Brewers Association's Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery

Image credit:  Brewers Publications
Don't look now, but odds are there either is or will be a brewery operating within a few miles of where you currently live.  In fact, according to the Brewers Association, 2360 craft breweries were operating in the U.S. at the end of March 2013.  That may sound like a lot, but judging from the number of breweries in development (over 1500 as of last month) it may just be the tip of the iceberg.  Looking at those numbers, contemplating such a venture may seem like a daunting task, but according to author Dick Cantwell, there's "never been a better time to open a brewery."
That quote comes near the beginning of The Brewers Association's Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery, and anyone entertaining thoughts of doing so should probably commit this book to memory.  That's not to say it's definitive, but then again it's not supposed to be.  Cantwell himself points out that no single book can tell you everything you need to know when undertaking an endeavor such as this.  His goal is simply to get you thinking, and to give you a framework to work from based on his over 25 years of experience with things you're likely to face on the journey ahead.
He does this by essentially asking the five W's and one H (who, what, when, where, why, how) as he covers all the bases and then some.  Decisions related to planning, start-up and growth, branding, equipment and brewing are only the beginning, as he breaks each topic down into a virtual laundry list of things to watch out for and/or keep in mind.  As they say, the devil is in the details.
On that note, it would be easy to turn such a guide into one big checklist, but Cantwell goes the extra mile by trying to place the reader in scenarios meant to mimic the process.  Granted, you can jump to the end of chapter summaries and get the gist of the discussion, but you'll gain far more insight by following the narrative and imagining yourself in situations where you have to try to find a way to jam the proverbial square peg into a round hole.
Starting a brewery is serious business, and in that light the book's $95 MSRP should be looked upon as an investment.  This isn't some stroll down memory lane, but more a practical look into the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur in one of the fastest growing industries in the country.  The rewards don't come without a healthy dose of risk, and reading this book will give you a sense of what you're in for.
The Brewers Association's Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery is available in paperback from Brewers Publications.  It can also be found online at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
Review copy furnished courtesy of Brewers Publications.
* Originally published on Examiner.com.

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