Ted Bruning, leading beer author, guides you through all the practicalities of starting up your own microbrewery; everything from how to brew right through to finding a place of your own.
First of all, congratulations on buying this book! It’s the best possible start because while, like most new businesses, you can access technical help from courses and advice from local start-up groups, nothing really prepares you for the sheer amount of knowledge you will need to run a successful brewery. A good start is to read and fully appreciate this book. Take time to understand what makes a success and obviously try to avoid the many pitfalls. This book will help.
When I was asked to write this foreword I wondered what pearls of wisdom I could impart to you, and it seemed to me that as I am coincidentally celebrating my 20th anniversary in this great industry, it would be a good idea to take a look at how much it has changed in that time. Of all my years in brewing, these are the most exciting. Gone are the days of having to look to our brewing past to find our future. The UK’s success in pioneering the small independent brewing sector sparked similar revolutions in the USA and other countries, especially Italy; and now we are benefiting in turn from their success and their incredible new vision for beer. These last few years have seen a new burst of dynamism that has cast off the narrow vision of beer promoted by traditional pubs and the Campaign for Real Ale. Real ale has never been more popular, but it's not the only kid on the block any more. Some really fantastic new-wave beers, often referred to as ‘craft beers’, have hit the market and become firm favourites with the younger drinker. Just take a look at the astonishing success of breweries like BrewDog and Camden, to name but two. No, I'm not going to get bogged down with the question of what craft beer actually is. We all know good beer when we drink it, and it can come in cask, or keg, or bottle, or indeed can. As long as it's made with passion, that’s one of the key ingredients.
Another is hard work. In 1995, when I first charged my mashtun, the secret to success lay in long hours and hard work. The only advice offered to newcomers was to produce as much as possible and sell it as widely as possible; and there are still some independent brewers for whom the measure of their success is that they work seven days a week, manufacturing as much as possible and selling it for whatever the market will pay. But for the most part the microbrewing industry has come of age. Today there are many, many more breweries than when I started up – but far fewer pubs. So quality and originality are key, rather than simple volume. I have personally discovered, on my 20 journey, that staying small and enjoying my brewing makes me a happy brewer, with time to craft my beers and build a real relationship with my customers. Start small and stay small – that may be the new way forward for microbrewers.
Buying – and reading! – this book is your first step towards joining one of the most creative, exciting, and vibrant industries in the UK. And if, once you’ve read it, you find your determination to pitch in is still strong, then my pearl of wisdom would be this: get involved! Offer to work in a brewery, paid if possible, free if necessary. That way you’ll gain both the knowledge and the experience to be certain whether this life – the life I love so much – is for you.
By Brendan Moore, Chairman of the East Anglian Brewer’s
Co-operative and owner of Iceni Brewery