The world of craft beer is an exciting and magical place. It is an ever-changing landscape now filled with thousands of breweries, tens of thousands of different beers, and millions of craft-hungry consumers drinking, talking, reviewing, and writing about the latest and greatest beers. Hazeheads chasing the juiciest of IPAs up and down the East Coast. Fanboys getting in line at 4am to get their hands on the most confected of pastry stouts. Suckers shelling out $20+ a 4 pack for 8% slushy beers that actually clock in lower in ABV than a Miller Lite. So much going on and so much to cover, it is overwhelming. Which is why none of that will be covered here.
While the rest of the crew at South Jersey Beer Scene will continue to do their thing and highlight the happenings of beer culture in South Jersey, this blog will cover something entirely different – what actually goes into starting up a brewery? In this series, which I hope to publish twice a month, we will look at the various stages and components that brewers, entrepreneurs, investors, managers, and anyone else necessary go through in order to get their brewery open and get their vision of beer into your hands.
This blog will cover things such as liquor licensing, brewery operating models, who starts breweries, equipment selection, facility requirements – all while focusing on the unique environment of breweries in New Jersey, and more particularly South Jersey. All the while, we will hope to narrate this story through my personal lens, as well as learning more from the existing and to-be South Jersey breweries about their journey to opening.
So, who am I and why am I writing this series? First and foremost, my name is Chris. We will leave it at just that for now. I was born and raised on the south shore of Long Island, NY and lived in New York City as recently as 2018 before my wife and I picked up and left the city for life at the shore. I have been in a relationship with craft beer for over 15 years. My first date was with an intriguing white bottle of Delerium Tremens in 2005. I got to first base Boulder Brewing Company “Hazed and Infused” at Mad Mex in Philadelphia (2008), second base with Southern Tier Pumpking (2011), third base with Goose Island “Bourbon County Brand Stout” (2012) and finally went all the way with Alchemist “Heady Topper” in Fall 2013. There have been countless others since then – some great, some not worth remembering.
I have been making my own beer on-and-off for just over 6 years and started out on a Northern Brewer 5-gallon extract kit. My first beer was a “Caribou Slobber” brown ale and it actually came out pretty good. This is probably why to this day I continue to brew brown ales, except now usually I adjunct them to create new flavor combinations such as baklava and pomegranate-vanilla. Currently, I homebrew 5- and 10-gallon batches in Ventnor City, NJ with hopes and dreams to eventually open a brewery in the near- to-mid future (that’s likely 1.5-3 years). As you will come to learn, opening a brewery is a long and resource intensive process. To that end, I am the founder of Shore Side Brewing Company.
Having not successfully opened a brewery yet (I am still relatively early in the process), I am certainly not in a position of authority in all of this. However, in the process of planning out my future entrepreneurial endeavors, I have learned a lot through reading, research, Googling, listening, trying, and failing. One thing I have learned is that there is no great, free, one-stop-shop for those interested in learning more about what it takes to open a brewery, especially one in NJ. There is no place to help guide future brewers or entrepreneurs on their path forward, while learning from those who have already done it. At a very high level, that is what I would like for this blog to become.
I also want this blog series to enlighten craft beer fans and consumers about the challenges and risks of actually opening a brewery. In doing so, it is my goal for this blog to create a higher sense of appreciation, respect, and loyalty to the people that took a chance, mortgaged their house, drained their 401(k), left a good paying job, all so they could get quality, locally brewed craft beer in your hands.
Finally, I believe that the best stories are conversations, so while I will do my best to give you engaging and creative content, I also want to hear from you. What do you want to know about starting a brewery? Are you a brewer and want to tell your story? What South Jersey brewery do you want to hear from? Is there anything you think I have left out, or misrepresented? Constructive criticism is always welcome. Just send me an email over at firstname.lastname@example.org or harass me on my Instagram page.
I am honored to have the opportunity to partner with South Jersey Beer Scene to get this story out there. I believe it will be a fun tangent that will add some new color to the already great things going on as SJBS. I hope you are excited and interested about the future of this blog. I know I am.