My micro brewery dream

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Wilson Brewing Company

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Hi everyone.

So I thought with what I’m getting up to recently I should start a post and document the happenings as someone might be interested in some of the stuff I’m getting up to! I also go by my other username on AHB ‘Pilgrimspiss’.

I’m currently building the dream of starting my own microbrewery in Albany, Western Australia. With full support from the wife which is a must!

It’s been a few years in the making now but it’s starting to move quickly as the energy snowballs and we are hoping to open early next year.

A little bit of history first. I’ve probably missed a thousand things but this will give you an idea of what we are up to.

I am 32 and married with two young children (3yo and 10 month old). Currently working FIFO to pay for the dream. (Hopefully stop that soon!!)
My wife and I built a large ‘dream home’ on a few acres and realised I’d be working away for the next 15 years to pay for it. So instead of starting a business using my trade I thought I’d start a business using my passion.

I submitted a planning application to the local council and got the ok with ‘conditions’. These conditions made it pretty much impossible to run a brewery.
No public access.
No cellar door sales.
No employees.
No trucking to/from the premise.

So after talking and planning everything through with my wife (she runs a business managing business’s!) for about 6 months, we decided to put the ‘dream home’ all of 18 months old on the market.

We had an offer in 8 weeks. Shit was getting real, really quickly.

We’d identified what we needed to look for in a prospective brewery property but had only just begun looking. It was seeming a bit surreal.

· Power.
· Mains water supply.
· Over 3 acres so we could grow our own hops.
· A large shed / building to start the brewery in.
· A house so we could live in on the premises and run the brewery (way more financially viable).

We started the search.

Lucky a family friend of ours is a local real estate agent of 20 odd years. He was also selling our house.

After searching everything on realestate.com and tip offs from our family friend / real estate agent we still had nothing.
We’d signed the papers to sell our place.

We were looking down the barrel of potentially having to rent if our place settled before we found another place and losing our equity. Then we’d be dead in the water.

While I was at work I was looking through realestate.com and I don’t know how but the first time I had missed it as it was just advertised as an old house that was really expensive.

When I looked closer I realised it was a rundown nursery.

· Older, renovated brick and tile house.
· 700m2 shed with security fencing, carpark, office, toilets.
· 4 acres (1 acre house block, 1 acre shed block and a 2 acre paddock for hops!)
· 5kms from the city centre.
· On a main tourist route.
· Power (Single phase but a good start).
· Mains water.

This place was ticking all the boxes. I was excited!! As I’d dealt with the City council at the previous property I knew exactly who to talk to. (This was really helpful having done the process before).

I got a verbal agreement from the planner and in writing saying ‘The city council would consider an application at this location’.

That was good enough for me. I put an offer on the place about 20% lower than asking price to keep within my budget…..just…..and they bloody accepted it!!

You can’t imagine how happy we were. Everything went fast from here. Within 4 months of putting the ‘dream house’ on the market I was loading a removal truck with my brothers and getting handed the keys to a place I could build my brewery.

There was so many things that could of stopped it happening but it all fell into place at the right time.

So over the couple of years before the property move my wife and I had spent a lot of time on our logo design and business concept, target market, and how we would run a micro-brewery. We’d both had experience in many industries and we believe this has been our success so far.

· I’m a boilermaker that spent some years making stainless steel wine tanks by hand so that was a good start!
· I’d worked production lines in abattoirs.
· I’d worked as a planner and coordinator in oil and gas and iron ore.

· My wife runs her own business helping other business out of financial trouble.
· She has a training and assessing diploma.
· She’d also worked coordination and planning roles in oil and gas and iron ore.

We felt confident.

While living at the ‘dream home’ I’d started to purchase some second hand gear to build our brew house. Stainless steel tanks I could re-purpose. I was aiming for around 5 barrels. I still wasn’t sure exactly how it was going to come together but I had some ‘disposable income’ from working oil and gas so I thought ‘may as well have a crack’. If it turns to poo I’ll have a nice homebrew system!

After moving to the new place we re-assessed the business plan and decided the bare bones structure would be as follows.

· 5 barrel system built by me.
· Producers licence.
· Cellar door tasting and sales.
· Micro production brewery. (I want to make beer and sell cartons and kegs to retailer’s but I didn’t want to run a pub). So Kegs and cartons.
· All Australian produce, utilizing as much local produce as possible.

Once you have a workable space in front of you it really starts to throw images into your mind of where it’s all going to go and how it’s going to fit.

I could see it in my head, now to get it out and into real life.

For the last few years I’d been buying, borrowing, stealing, copying, downloading and listening (podcasts) to ANYTHING related to brewing and starting a brewery. I think this really helped me stay on track and having a lot of info available out of America was a bonus. GET AS MUCH INFORMATION FROM AS MANY DIFFERENT SOURCES AS YOU CAN!! You have to immerse yourself in it 24/7 to have the best chance at a positive outcome.

The main points that continually stuck out from all this information were:

· Whatever you estimate your brewery to cost, ‘double it’.
· Don’t study brewing, study business.
· It costs about $1,000,000 to start a brewery.

Now another Aussie saying is ‘Take everything with a grain of salt’. As I have some spreadsheet knowledge I broke down everything into steps and pieces so I could cost it accurately. To be honest it didn’t turn out to bad. About $100,000 excluding the property we bought.
Looking at the first point, whatever you estimate your brewery to cost ‘double it’, and scoff, as I did. I’d like to try and point out where these costs come from as I didn’t really understand it until I started down the road.

The extra cost comes from the unforeseen expenses. I thought I was pretty good on my capital budget but as I started to update my costs I realized it was quickly blowing out. If you were building your 2nd or 3rd brewery I don’t believe you’d miss these costs and your budget would probably come in bang on.

Some unforeseen expenditures that caught me out:

· Engineering and architectural requirements (hourly rates are pretty damn impressive!!).
· Private Building Certifier.
· Trademarking – This is a good one, I allowed a certain amount then found out its HEAPS more than you think.
· Cool room purchasing costs. (I ended up buying a used 40’ refrigerated container).

Where we are at now (I can see the finish line but it’s still around 6-9 months away) it turns out not too far off the above points!!

· So far we are about $200,000 deep for equipment and setup costs.
· Brewing the beer is the easy part, getting everything done AROUND the beer for the business is way harder.
· Including the brewery, property and startup costs I’m going to be at about $800,000 ($600,000 of that is property)

We wanted to fund the whole thing with our own money (yep, budgeting from hell) and not take any loans other than the bank loan for the property (in case it went tits up, I could still keep a roof over our heads on a ‘local’ wage). After doing the figures including living costs, I realised it was going to take me a while to get the money together but it was do-able. Being a resourceful guy and know lots of people I had managed to infect a fair few people with my dream and passion and I was lucky enough to secure about 30% of the required capital through associates. I utilized a lawyer to develop an agreeable contract that provides the ‘Arms-length’ Lender with an acceptable return. This was a really good move and turbo charged our timeline.


My Brewing History.
I’ve been brewing for about 4 years, started K&K as my cousin brewed BIAB all-grain and I thought if he can do it I’ll have a crack. After about my 10th K&K in a couple of months I researched and built a small RIMS 3 vessel system and started all grain.

HEY PRESTO, first few batches were ok, then I started making REALLY good beer. Took me a while to believe it but after genuine responses and feedback from everywhere I started believing I can make really good beer!!!

I upgraded to larger vessels and stuck with RIMS which I really like now. So I’ve decided to move this over to my 5 barrel system.

OK……

So onto the good stuff.

This is where we are at now. I’m building the brewery while still working FIFO. 2/2 roster really helps here but its hell on the little ones. (They’ll be ok though!).

· Modifying the shed / building to meet BCA, council and RGLWA requirements. What a mission. So much red tape. My council has been great so far.
· Assembling the brewing rig.
· Sorting the power system for the brewing rig.
· Build our 4 head filler / crowner.
· Re-concreting the brewery floor and the public access areas floors.
· Build the bar and bar area.
· Obtaining letters of support for our producers licence application.

Some of the major things we’ve done already.

· We cleaned out and gutted the old nursery garden and shed utilizing ‘family days’ (Busy bees , BBQ and beer for friends and family in exchange for labour).
· Submitted our Planning Scheme Consent Application with local council, this is waiting on the shed works to be finished.
· Got 3 phase power installed (32amp) to run the fridges and our cool room.
· Purchased and transported our ‘power plant’.
· Secured around 30% or required capital from ‘Arms-length Lenders’.
· Purchased majority of our required equipment to brew beer.
· Transplanted and established the first section of our hop yard.

As I said, I’ve probably missed a million things but hey, you don’t have much time to blog when your building a brewery!!
This is pretty much a ‘shoe string’ brewery but I’m following my dream and my passion and I have no hesitation that my wife and I will succeed.
If you’d like to ask any questions about any stage I’ve completed or what I’m doing go right ahead. Comments are welcome as well.

I've attached a random bunch of photos below for you to look at. These are from a few different points this year. I'm writing this on my break at work and will endeavour to upload more 'shiny' photos once I get home.

I wanted to start this post now so that I can capture more of the actual brewery components construction that guys on AHB might be interested in. EG building and tuning a 500L 3 vessel RIMS system.

You can follow along on our face book page. https://www.facebook.com/WilsonBrewingCo

Cheers everyone,

Matty Wilson
Owner / Brew Master
Wilson Brewing Company

bar area.jpg
bar tops.jpg
brewery1.jpg
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brewyer6.jpg
busy bee 2.jpg
busy bees.jpg
controlpanelgear.jpg
geni.jpg
hop crown.jpg
hoptrellis.jpg
HX.jpg
mendadconcrete.jpg
New wall.jpg
replacing wall.jpg
replacing wall2.jpg
RIMS.jpg
tables.jpg
tanks.jpg
 

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Curly79

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Far out Matty. You've been a busy boy. Good on ya mate. I'll be keeping an eye on this thread for sure. Best of luck[emoji106]
 

n87

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If you didnt spend 3 months typing this novel you may have been opened by now :blink:

Good luck :beer:
 

real_beer

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Excellent! Whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve. Great too see your dream becoming a reality, make sure you keep yourself surrounded with all your terrific friends and their positive encouragement on the journey ahead. Your setup looks great, good luck. :icon_cheers:
 

MartinOC

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In a word.....FUCKMESWINGING!!!!

As real_beer quoted above, Napoleon Hill's book "Think & Grow Rich" seems to be in your library.....

That's REAL dedication & I wish you all the best in your endeavours. Just brilliant!

:beerbang:
 

Camo6

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Well done mate! I don't usually have the patience to read long posts on here but I did for this one.
Sounds like your living the dream. Wish you the best with it.
 

Grott

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Bloody well done, excellent and a big tick to your wife as she is a big part of the dream. Credit to you both.
Cheers
 

blotto

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What a find that place was mate! Best of luck with it all! If I'm down that way when you open I'll be sure to drop by :beerbang:

Good luck
 

Spohaw

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Looks excellent .... Can't wait to have some decent local craft beer in the area ....So far I don't seeing you guys having much competition locally

What's the big "wheel" for ?

Its great seeing it all come together

Let us know when the grand opening is , I'm sure you will get a few ahb'ers there to check out your wares ! Haha

Good luck guys !
 

Wilson Brewing Company

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Thanks for the positive feedback and comments guys. Greatly appreciated.

I really agree with your comment grott.

My wife is the biggest advocate for our beer and what we are trying to achieve. She makes a bloody good sales woman for beer!!

Cheers

Matty.
 

Wilson Brewing Company

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Spohaw said:
Looks excellent .... Can't wait to have some decent local craft beer in the area ....So far I don't seeing you guys having much competition locally

What's the big "wheel" for ?

Its great seeing it all come together

Let us know when the grand opening is , I'm sure you will get a few ahb'ers there to check out your wares ! Haha

Good luck guys !
Dan the Man!!

Those are massive cable drum ends to turn into tables, should seat 15 - 18 beer drinkers comfortably!!!

I still have two of your growlers, I will fill them if it will make you come visit!!

Cheers
Matty.
 

doon

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Nice stuff mate. Seriously though the size of that property would make a great brew pub. Yout gonna make a hell of a lot more money selling kegs over your own bar with a brew house that size then trying to distribute let alone the labour that goes into bottling etc. Take it from someone who has worked in the industry the last twelve months casual and now going full time as assistant brewer. Bottling enough yo make a profit is hard work.
 

Spohaw

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Haha sounds like a deal !

Got some beers I'll be sending to the wa state comp this year so I'll drop around a sample of each next time your in town

Would mind trying some more of your beer while I'm there too !! Haha

Going to have a decent sized tap room looking at those drums .... Can't wait to spill some beer on them haha

Cheers
 

Wilson Brewing Company

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doon said:
Nice stuff mate. Seriously though the size of that property would make a great brew pub. Yout gonna make a hell of a lot more money selling kegs over your own bar with a brew house that size then trying to distribute let alone the labour that goes into bottling etc. Take it from someone who has worked in the industry the last twelve months casual and now going full time as assistant brewer. Bottling enough yo make a profit is hard work.
Thanks Doon, I appreciate the comments mate. Unfortunately, even after rezoning my property, a pub isn't on the cards with the council at this stage. As development moves towards my property over the next few years it will become a viable.

I understand bottling is going to be hard work and labour intensive but we've made it work on our business plan so we have to try and fail for ourselves if need be.

Cheers
Matty.
 

Samuel Adams

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Awesome work Matty, good luck with everything.
Thanks for the interesting & educational write up.

I look forward to trying some of your beers !
 

kaiserben

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Good stuff and good luck!

Any chance you could elaborate, or at least give us an idea, of what a 30% 'arms-length' lender would get in return for his/her cash?
 

Wilson Brewing Company

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kaiserben said:
Good stuff and good luck!

Any chance you could elaborate, or at least give us an idea, of what a 30% 'arms-length' lender would get in return for his/her cash?
10% P.A. on their investment over 3 years with principle paid on the third year.

There's a few extra perks negotiated in there as well as it is a brewery!

An arms length lender purely invests money for an agreed return, they don't purchase any aspect or part of the business or have any control over what happens within the business.

It also builds trust for future investment from both parties. You need to find people that believe in you and what your doing 100%. Mine all happened by chance and people approached me to be part of my future.

Cheers

Matty.
 

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