Low-Alcohol Beer: How to Answer This Global Trend?

The global beer market, both in volume and value, has seen great expansion for many years. This growth in demand has seen both a rise in the number of breweries and an expansion in beer style diversity. Among these styles, one of them is emerging significantly around the world: no and low-alcohol beers (NAB-LAB).

A bigger market provides a larger consumer panel with different expectations and desires. Low-alcohol beers emerged to meet a need which only existed moderately in the past. Indeed, an entire segment of consumers has grown with an education around well-being, the “well-eating” and now the “well-drinking”. Modern beer drinkers pay special attention to the product’s caloric intake, have an increased knowledge about a product’s health benefits and the desire to consume locally if possible. While the third point is not always substantiated, low Alcohol answers the two first consumption trends: in a consumer mindset, less alcohol implies less sugar and a better health benefit, and generally alcohol always has a negative connotation. All other factors being equal, especially taste and price, there is no doubt that for this kind of consumer low-alcohol beer is a viable alternative to “classic beer”. Generally, we can bring this low-alcohol trend closer to the “free” trends, such as additive-free, gluten-free and alcohol-free.

To these new consumers, we must add those who’ve always had this “need” for a low-alcoholic beer. For health reasons, like pregnant women for example or for a religious conviction. Although this need always existed, it has strengthened during the last few years, due to the fact that beer is now a societal phenomenon. Consumers, by wiling to be part of the society, wants to consume trendy product. Therefore, the product must adapt itself to the consumer and give him this possibility. This is the reason behind the rise of low-alcohol beers.

Although demand is quite recent, we must go back much further to find the origin of low-alcohol beers. It’s the year 1920, in the USA and it’s the Prohibition: this constitution signs the interdiction to produce, transport, import and sell alcohol in order to reduce criminality and corruption in the country. Taking place from 1919 to 1933, this law pushes breweries to reinvent themselves to survive. Low-alcoholic beers were born!

Although the style emerged under constraint, nowadays it’s really the brewer’s choice to produce no or low-alcoholic beers to answer the growing demand. When going for this particular style, the question of the process arises: how does a brewer significantly reduce alcohol quantity without changing production process? Because Yeast is the key for alcohol production, it was our duty to help brewers in this task. We, at Fermentis, have been solicited to develop a solution.

Firstly, we had to do the work of screening among all the strains we know, a long-term task to select the ones that could match our research criterion: technical criteria but also sensorial criteria to answer to brewers need. Simon Jeanpierre, Technical Sales Support Manager Asia Pacific, tells us more about it: “To perform our first screening, our target was to list Saccharomyces and non-Saccharomyces strains able to produce only little alcohol. To narrow this list, we looked at microorganisms also able to reproduce as much as possible the expected beer flavours, as we traditionally know. This naturally led us to maltose-negative strain unable to ferment complex sugars (i.e. polymers of glucose), with yet a strong ability to produce higher alcohols, Esters and phenols, participating into the beer aromas.”

To understand our decision to steer our choice towards maltose-negative strains, you just have to look at the classical composition of a beer wort on the schema here below. Unlike the other strains of Fermentis range, maltose-negative strains only have the capacity to ferment glucose (DP1, single sugar chains), the equivalent of 10 to 15% of total sugars in wort.  Less fermentable sugars imply a lower alcohol production in the final beer.

low alcohol yeast selection

This done, the next step was to verify our hypothesis with a trial protocol, it’s Simon who explains it: “We started with the beginning: a recipe. This recipe had to produce a classic wort at a standard density of 15, 10, 8 and 6°P (1061, 1040, 1032 and 1024 in specific density) fermented at 20°C (68°F). It was then fermented with all screened strains and accurately followed-up on sugar consumption and alcohol production. A tasting with a panel of experts finally allowed us to choose the winning strain that would not only perform well in low alcohol production but also provide essential aromas expected in the beer during a proper fermentation.”  Moreover, this yeast produces “clean beers” without off-flavours that are commonly found in NAB.

The strain we have selected after duplicating this trial protocol many times is a Saccharomyces chevalieri that we named SafBrew™ LA-01, LA simply for Low Alcohol.  We chose this strain because it showed excellent results during our fermentation trials as demonstrated hereunder. For every tested density, the fermentation reached its plateau after 60hrs for an alcohol level between 0,4 and 1,2% ABV, corresponding to an apparent degree of fermentation about 14%. We have noted a positive correlation between final degree of alcohol and wort initial density, so we are able to say that an initial density of 7°P (1028 in specific density) is ideal to reach 0,5% ABV which is the maximum alcohol level tolerated in many countries to write “No-alcoholic beer” on the label.

SafBrew LA-01 Fermentation trial

As previously presented, this strain is maltose-negative, it only consumes simple sugars (glucose, fructose, sucrose) leaving behind the maltose and other complex sugars such as maltotriose and dextrins. Logically, we find more residual sugars in our low-alcoholic beer. The below graph confirms that in numbers, DP2 means disaccharides which are mainly maltose and DP3 means trisaccharides which are mainly maltotriose.

SafBrew LA-01 sugar consumption

We have seen that in purely scientific terms, SafBrew™ LA-01 allows us to brew a NAB-LAB, but what about the sensory profile of the beer itself? This is a legitimate question because such a high level of residual maltose doesn’t exist in “classic” beers. Maltose is a sugar able to bring a clean sweetness. In the majority of beers, it doesn’t have the chance to express its potential because it’s turned into alcohol and CO2 by yeasts. Therefore, it’s the alcohol which will mainly bring the roundness and sweetness perception in the mouth (or to Mouthfeel). In a NAB-LAB, residual maltose can play this role because alcohol is present in small quantity only. However, if sweetness level in your final beer worries you, it’s easy to balance it with several brewing tools as Simon explains to us: “Bitterness level plays a great role and anything above 15 IBU for 0.5% ABV is a good target to balance the sweetness level. Increasing your water hardness gives a firmer bitterness too. On the cereal side, limit the use of caramel malts and the sweet flavour associated with them. To finish balancing the bill, there is of course the acidity. You can either pre-acidify your wort prior to fermentation or use greater carbonation and its associated carbonic acid which also propels aroma.”

Another important thing when we are talking about sensory profile is the fact that SafBrew™ LA-01 is a POF + strain. By being classified positive (+), SafBrew™ LA-01 owns a gene which expresses the POF character, POF meaning phenolic off flavour. In other words, this yeast has a specific enzyme that decarboxylates phenolic acids, like ferulic acid and coumaric acid, present in wort and thus producing respectively the flavour-active compounds 4VG and 4VP. These compounds contribute to spicy, clove-like flavours which, depending on the concentration, may produce a spicy and complex character. Note that in a NAB-LABs brewed with SafBrew™ LA-01, this phenolic side will be very light as described by Simon: “From a sensory perspective we really enjoyed the slight phenolic expression it develops. Keep in mind that the expression of a POF character depends on the amount of ferulic acid you have in your malt. In a NAB-LAB, you will therefore only have a limited expression from the recommended lower amount of malt”.

Last but not the least, the pasteurization topic. Pasteurization is a technique invented in 1865 by Louis Pasteur for food conservation by killing all living microorganisms in the product. The process is theoretically quite simple: you heat the product between 62°C to 88°C (144 to 191°F) before brutally cooling it. Pasteurization is not popular in the craft beer industry because it’s linked to standardization of the product or because, with this process, the beer is not really “alive” anymore and will not evolve over time.

But in regard to our recommendation for NAB-LAB, pasteurization is mandatory. You are certainly aware of how much yeasts and microorganisms like sugars and how much residual sugars we still have in a NAB-LAB at the end of fermentation. If a pasteurization is not done, any living microorganisms could eventually ferment maltose and totally alter the beer or even create overcarbonation in bottles, which could be dangerous. Different Pasteurization techniques exist such as tunnel pasteurization, whichever technique is chosen, Simon explains how much you have to pasteurize: “As soon as you have reached your max ADF of 13-15%, it will be important to inhibit eventual living friends from further fermenting. We studied different cross-contamination levels with Saccharomyces cerevisiae and observed a minimum safe limit of 80 PU in order to prevent growth in a brew fermented with SafBrew™ LA-01. We recommend the range of 80-120 PU.” PU signifies Pasteur Units, in terms of affect, one PU is equivalent to heating to 60°C in one minute. To calculate your pasteurization level, the formula is the following:

PU= t x 1,393 (T-60)

Where t is the time you heat in minutes and T is the temperature in °C.

A true alternative to pasteurization doesn’t really exist, it remains the best technique for ensuring optimal microbiology of a beer. We know that this technique is not accessible to every brewer and as Simon explains, we are constantly looking for solutions for small breweries: “Fermentis is aware that such equipment can be limited to big scale breweries. This is why we are working on alternatives to offer craft brewers the best performance in fermenting flavourful NAB-LAB with our SafBrew™ LA-01. Such alternatives exist through intrusive (biotechnology) or non-intrusive methods (cool chain). Feel free to reach out to us to learn more and receive tailor-made advice on your NAB-LAB fermentation management and hygiene practices.”

Simon Jeanpierre, Hugo Picard

Growing Your Distillery to Meet Demand

By: Kris Bohm: Distillery Now, LLC

Years ago, it all started with the dream of your own whiskey. Through meticulous planning, hard work, blood, sweat and tears your dream of a craft distillery became a reality. Then the real work began, with long days and nights of distilling. Barrels were filled with whiskey and tucked away to age. The whiskey aged and what came out of the barrels was not only delicious but loved by all those who tasted it. The distillery you dreamed of and built up is no longer in its infancy. The spirits of your distillery have been embraced by the public and sales growth is strong. Now here comes the harsh reality. The whiskey your distillery has created and the brand that you built up does not have enough supply to meet demand. The problem gets worse as your equipment is nearly maxed out, since you started with a small budget and limited equipment. With no immediate way to keep up with the demand for your whiskey, you stand at a crossroad where critical questions arise and important decisions must be made.

  How will you meet a demand for whiskey that greatly outstrips supply?

The good news is there are solutions that can allow your business to sustain the growth curve. We will take time to consider the problem in detail, by examining the routes others have taken to solve this exact problem. Some solutions presented here are simple and inexpensive, while other growth options are costly and complex. To help prepare you for the future, let’s break down production growth options with pros and cons of each option to help you find the optimal path to grow your business.

  Outsource Your Problem:  There are companies who produce spirits that are already aged, finished and ready to go in your bottles. Sourcing whiskey from another distillery is the most direct path to an abundance of ready to bottle spirits. Barrels of aged spirits can be obtained faster than producing them yourself and in large quantities. In some cases, distilleries will blend their whiskey with sourced whiskey to stretch their house made supply for the short term. Barrels of aged whiskey are often expensive per proof gallon, but this is certainly the quick route to continue to meet your growing demand.

  Is sourcing whiskey the right choice? If more whiskey is needed immediately, it is likely that sourcing is your only option.

Bringing in aged whiskey from another distillery is an immediate solution to fulfill the demand you worked so hard to create and certainly do not want to lose. Sourcing is the least expensive path forward worth considering. When it comes to cost, other than buying the whiskey, there is no requirement to spend money on equipment when you source whiskey.

  What is the downside to sourcing? Sourcing will require a change in label to disclose the use of sourced spirits.

Spirits from another distillery are unlikely to have identical flavor profile to spirits distilled by your distillery. This can be a challenge if your whiskey has a unique flavor profile.

Sourced spirits are not always received well by an increasingly aware consumer and furthermore may require changes to your marketing story to match the sourced spirits.

  Make More Whiskey: If there is room in your existing distillery to grow, producing more whiskey is often the most logical decision to meet growing demand. The addition of another still, or a stripping still, and more fermenters may be the best choice for you. An equipment addition can greatly increase your output. The decision to add equipment is often the first step a distillery will take to increase output. To grow in this way, a distillery must have additional capacity to add this equipment. Additional capacity is measured several different ways.

  First things first, do you have the space to grow? Additional space is needed to add the equipment, raw materials, and more barrels. A bigger still, more fermenters, and many more barrels of whiskey need to go somewhere and the space must be found first and foremost. The second constraint of additional capacity is heating and cooling. The boiler and chiller must have enough capacity to heat and cool the additional equipment, without overly stressing the equipment. If you have the additional capacity, let’s weigh  the pros and cons of going this route.

  Upside of Adding Production Capacity: The addition of new distilling equipment can greatly increase output of spirits produced daily. This allows you to continue producing your product from grain to glass, and maintains existing flavor profiles and processes to produce the exact spirits you are after. The addition of another still and fermenters is not nearly as expensive as an entirely new distillery build out, as long as the boiler and chiller have capacity for additional load.New equipment added to existing equipment can quickly increase output to work toward catching up with demand.

  Downside of Adding Production Capacity: The new still you add will be hungry and more spirits mean you need more raw materials. Increasing production will invariably increase operating expenses. This sharp increase in spending on raw materials, like grain and whiskey barrels, must be planned for in advance to ensure you have the capital to produce more spirits.Adding a new still will take months to procure, install, and get it up and running. This means it will be sometime before you are able to increase output. An extra still will certainly increase output, but may not be a big enough increase to meet demand in the coming years. This leads to a critical question one must carefully consider when planning to add capacity. Will this planned addition of equipment meet the expected demand in growth for the next 5 years?If the answer to this question is no then it is worth considering jumping into the big leagues of distilling whiskey with a continuous column still.

  Big Distillery Growth: For many distilleries that are making good spirits, they hit a ceiling rather quickly in their whiskey production that requires the consideration to build a new, larger facility to produce enough. If your distillery is on a growth track that many distilleries are currently seeing of +100% growth of sales year over year, the addition of another batch still may not meet your long term demand. Sales growth at this rate requires a massive jump in output of spirits that the addition of another still can not meet. You can look up to nearly any whiskey producer in America where their products are found nationwide and you will find they distill their spirits on a continuous column still. A continuous column still has a proof gallon output level that far exceeds the daily output of even the largest batch stills. There are many unique challenges that come with operating a continuous column still, but their capacity is massive in comparison to pot stills. If your distillery needs large production quantities to keep up with fast growing sales, a continuous column should be considered.

  The Mighty Continuous Still: The output of a single pass continuous still can easily produce seven hundred proof gallons of whiskey in 8 hours. Continuous column stills are extremely efficient and require less labor and energy cost per proof gallon produced. More proof gallons per pound of grain can be distilled on a continuous column still versus with a batch still as well. Distilleries running a continuous column often have excess capacity and can use that capacity to contract distill and create additional revenue streams. This means you have room to grow in your own production as needed.

  Downside of the Continuous: The manufacture, build out, and installation of a continuous column is a much more expensive project than the simple addition of a batch still. Producing large quantities of distilled spirits requires large amounts of raw materials and its downright expensive to operate. Distilling spirits on a continuous column requires an abundance of operating capital to purchase grain and barrels to keep the still running. When running a continuous column and producing dozens of barrels weekly, the need to store those barrels becomes a new challenge. A large barrel storage area or rickhouse is a must when planning to operate a continuous column.

  What is the Best Choice for You? First off, let’s take a moment and celebrate! You have built a successful distillery with growing demand. Hats off to you and your team as this is a massive accomplishment.

  Where to go from here is a daunting decision as the long term success of your business very well hinges on it. Careful planning and consideration is key here as you plan to make this critical decision. There are plenty of options and ways to go to create the opportunity for your distillery to grow. Long term strategic planning must be employed if the next stage of growth is going to work to support your business. If you are unsure which path is the right one for you, drop us a line and let’s talk about it.  Dream big and plan well for it.

  Kris Bohm runs Distillery Now Consulting and has helped oversee expansions for several distilleries. When he is not distilling Kris can be found racing cyclocross or defending his beer mile record.

Future of the Liquor & Spirit Industry: Based on the Integration of the Metaverse

By: Rohan Doodnauth, Co-founder — OpaLink

In late October of 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced his company’s intention to rebrand from Facebook to Meta and build an immersive platform fueled by augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). This platform — the Metaverse — will further blur the boundaries between our online digital lives and our more tangible, physical ones. In his 2021 Founder’s Letter, Zuckerberg remarked how the Metaverse “will touch every product we build,” and will allow users to socialize, attend events, create, work, shop, and more in ways that transcend how we think about the internet and digital technology.

  If the past few years have shown the liquor industry anything, it’s that staying on top of emerging technologies and shifts in consumer trends is vital to the success of our brands and businesses. Look at the growth of omnichannel marketing and sales, for example. Between December of 2019 and November of 2020, retail wine sales at multi-outlet stores in the US grew by some 11.4%. For some businesses in the industry, this operational pivot spelled the difference between surviving or closing during the initial stages of the pandemic.

  With these notions in mind, it’s difficult for us not to consider how the Metaverse could impact the liquor industry as a whole. According to Zuckerberg, the Metaverse aims to become a new central hub of e-commerce and consumer activities. As such, brands in the liquor industry will be forced to rethink how its integration into their operations, marketing, and sales will reshape the future of their business, those of their competitors, and even their consumer markets. Furthermore, brands and businesses must possess the capability to remain agile as they integrate more deeply within the Metaverse, and take notice of how this integration might spur shifts throughout the liquor industry.

Unique VR Dining Experiences

  Within the Metaverse, customers won’t be confined by geographical distance or other physical limitations in exploring the dining or drink options available to them. Rather, upon entering the Metaverse, they will have the availability and opportunity to talk with chefs, foodies, and beverage makers all around the world in the palms of their hands. This will inevitably create a deeper integration of and connection to other cultures, as customers will be able to connect and chat with anyone anywhere in the world at practically any time, and open the door for businesses to provide them with truly unique dining experiences.

  For instance, imagine logging into the Metaverse and browsing a list of restaurants you wouldn’t normally be available to visit in person. Upon selecting a restaurant, you and your party can enter that restaurant’s virtual space within the Metaverse and begin browsing menus for the dishes or drinks you’d like to have. Once your orders are selected and placed, the restaurant’s e-commerce sales system will automatically register the items ordered and be able to virtually send them to you and the others in your party, even without any of you being physically present. Additionally, this method of sales could be utilized for those guests who may not want to show up in person, but still want to try food or drinks they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

  This blend of convenience and experience, fueled by the AR/VR technology the Metaverse is founded upon, will grant brands the ability to offer customers a truly personalized, customizable experience. Through integrating their sales platforms into the Metaverse, businesses can not only reach a far larger range of customers directly, but also indirectly by allowing their customers to send meals and drinks to family or friends who cannot be physically present with them.

  Because such integration of businesses’ operations with the Metaverse will allow them to provide each individual customer with a one-of-a-kind dining experience, this will inherently create greater competition between brands. Much like we saw with the rise of omnichannel sales during the pandemic, those brands and businesses which are able to capitalize on such value earlier on will be far better positioned to outperform their competitors. Likewise, as the technological capabilities of the Metaverse continue to evolve, the businesses that are better able to remain agile to those evolutions and pivots will likely be the ones who see the most success from their integration with the Metaverse.

Adapting to a Hybrid World Amidst Growing Competition

  Whenever a new technology or trend emerges that impacts our business, it brings with it new sources of competition. This is simply the nature of business. Liquor and beverage industry brands seeking to integrate with the Metaverse will need to take note of how this hybrid digital space could affect their initiatives and create new competitive advantages both for them and their competitors.

  For example, dining experiences in the Metaverse will likely become a blend of futuristic physical features of restaurants and high-tech interactive technology. Knowing this, one method businesses could use to stand out from the competition is by making customers part of this immersive and interactive dining experience. Perhaps a craft brewery or small distillery might offer customers a VR-led tour of their facilities to learn more about their business, its history, and its available products. Maybe a gastropub offers new customers a coupon for a certain percentage off of their first purchase in the Metaverse, or offer them a redeemable code that customers can use to virtually send food or drinks to others. Because our appearance in the Metaverse will be one not of our physical selves, but instead a VR-generated avatar, another possibility might be for businesses like these to offer a free side dish or drink to customers whose avatars are sporting their brand’s logo on a piece of their avatar’s clothing. These are just a handful of examples of how businesses in the liquor and beverage industry could remain agile in adapting to growing and emerging consumer trends after integrating with the Metaverse.

  As a virtual universe that is speculated to become a converging point of consumer activity and e-commerce, it can be assumed that the AR/VR technology used to explore and interact with others will inevitably expand the possibilities businesses have to innovate. Although there is still much we don’t know about the Metaverse — and likely won’t know about for the better part of a decade, at least — this should not stop businesses from forming strategies to implement once they are more deeply integrated into the Metaverse itself.

Implementing a Metaverse Strategy

  Consider for a moment the ways in which the emergence and subsequent growth of social media platforms have impacted business over the last decade. If your own business was in operations prior to the rise of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or other social media platforms, it’s safe to assume that the way your business functioned then is vastly different compared to its current strategies and initiatives. When thinking about how your business can integrate successfully with the Metaverse, it’s likely that there will be similar variances — albeit to different degrees or extents — between its current strategies and those used in a realm driven by AR/VR technology.

  For starters, contemplate the initiatives your business has implemented for its marketing strategy. You might be paying for ads on social media to cast a wider net to rein in a greater amount of potential customers, or targeting existing customers with regular email newsletters to alert them of upcoming events or deals you might have. In the Metaverse, those paid ads might transition from sponsored posts on users’ social media feeds into a virtual brand ambassador traveling throughout different e-commerce sectors in a VR-driven environment to offer exclusive tastings or VIP events. Likewise, your business’s email newsletters could transmute into a kind of exclusive membership program for customers to use solely within the confines of its virtual establishment in the Metaverse.

  As another example, look to your business’s current strategy for handling reservations or private parties for events. When integrating these operations into a fully-virtual space, the tickets or codes used for referring to reservations could become their own kind of non-fungible token or NFT; a digital token representing a reservation. If your business boasts a signature dish or beverage, each sale of this item to a VIP member could come with a transferable NFT that could be redeemed at a later date for additional rewards like a free entree, bottled spirit, or customized apparel for their avatar in the Metaverse. Eventually, it may even be possible for chefs or brewers to mint the dishes or beverages they create as NFTs themselves, offering them greater creative freedom and additional means of providing (and earning) value from niche sectors of consumer markets.

  Each aspect of your business in its current state will need to eventually evolve to integrate with the Metaverse. Whatever that means or looks like will be subjective for each liquor and beverage brand seeking integration with the Metaverse, but nonetheless must be made if you wish to remain relevant and competitive in this next iteration of the digital world.

Final Thoughts

  Regardless of how far off we truly are from integrating our businesses and lives into the Metaverse, its influence has already left a lasting impression on markets and industries the world over. Though selling virtual drinks, beverages, food, or other consumables to customers sounds like a counter-productive initiative better left to the realm of science-fiction, the Metaverse’s projected capacity to blur the lines between our digital lives and physical ones could easily turn this into reality in a matter of years.

  Indeed, the Metaverse is perhaps the most literal representation of a “Brave New World” if there ever is one. The potential for brands integrating their business with this new frontier of virtual reality to experiment with marketing, e-commerce sales, and communication with customers will be essentially limitless. In turning passive consumption into active participation with their brand, the first round of businesses in the liquor and beverage industry to successfully integrate with the Metaverse are bound to set new precedents for the industry’s next generation of innovative technologies and tools.

Tales From the Crypto

By: Raj Tulshan, Founder of Loan Mantra

StillFire Brewing is the first brewery in Georgia to accept cryptocurrency and customers are invited to use Bitcoin as payment for beers and other beverages, as well as, their merchandise, which includes t-shirts, caps, gift cards, and more. The small business decided to accept crypto so customers could use a fast, secure payment method, and the brewery owners appreciate crypto’s benefits, including no third-party involvement or bank fees. StillFire uses CoinBase, a Bitcoin payment processor, to handle the payments. CoinBase offers fast, next day deposits and a low fee – just 1% of transactions, as opposed to 2-4% typically charged by credit card companies. Notably, the brewery has joined more than 30% of U.S. small businesses that now accept cryptocurrency, as this payment method becomes more mainstream and popular.

  Threes Brewing, with locations in Brooklyn and Long Island, is also accepting cryptocurrency. The pandemic forced them to adjust their business model, which included updating their website and offering beer delivery direct to consumers. People were excited to buy the brews online and asked the brewery owners to start accepting PayPal. The owners decided to go one step further, offering a cryptocurrency option, as well, which was easy to integrate with their Shopify. Like StillFire, Threes Brewing uses CoinBase as their payment processor.

  Cryptocurrency is a digital medium of exchange that relies on peer-to-peer blockchain technology. It’s decentralized, meaning no central bank or government regulates or backs crypto. Buyers transfer funds directly to sellers without the third parties traditionally used to process payments. And people store their crypto through an encrypted wallet and are the only ones with a key to unlock it.

  Part of the appeal of crypto stems from the surge in credit card fraud that was accelerated by the pandemic. In 2020, the dollar volume of attempted fraudulent transactions rose 35% in April 2020 vs. April 2019, and, sadly, small businesses are often the targets. In contrast, crypto is considered to be a secure form of payment, with merchant protection, lower transaction fees, and other benefits.

  Increasingly, small businesses are accepting cryptocurrency. It’s innovative and trendy, attracts customers and prospects who use crypto, offers more e-commerce opportunities for beer retailers, and can reduce fraud.  And companies like Shopify and Square make it easy to accept crypto. Square even has a crypto team to support development. But is crypto right for your business?

When determining whether to go crypto, consider the following pros and cons.

Pros:

•    It offers lower transaction fees than credit cards. As StillFire and Threes discovered, there’s a lower transaction fee when using crypto vs. credit cards. While each credit card transaction costs a company 2-4% of the total transaction, crypto reduces these costs to less than 1% of each transaction. Over time, these seemingly small fees can amount to a substantial savings.

•    It provides another loan option for businesses. Small businesses often need to take out loans, especially during these disruptive post-pandemic times. Some business owners – especially those with large amounts of cryptocurrency – are opting for a crypto loan, where you pledge an asset (in this case, your cryptocurrency) to secure financing. Crypto loans often come with a host of benefits, including low interest rates, same-day funding, and no credit check.

•    You’ll get your money faster. Tired of waiting several working days for a bank transfer to clear? Crypto is much faster and can be processed almost immediately. Small businesses that need and want their money faster will appreciate this perk.

•    It’s more secure than credit cards. Crypto-

      currency is considered more secure than credit and debit card payments since crypto doesn’t need third-party verification, as these other payment types do. When someone pays with cryptocurrency, their data isn’t stored in a centralized hub, where breaches commonly occur. Instead, their information is stored in their own secure crypto wallet – and they’re the only one with the key to unlock it.

•    Crypto offers some merchant protection. Crypto, with its decentralized set up, protects merchants from fraudulent chargebacks. Transactions are final because no third party can reverse charges, as is the case with credit card purchases. As crypto regulation continues to evolve, there may be more merchant protections introduced in the future, especially as crypto becomes more mainstream and accepted by more small businesses.

•    It opens up more e-commerce opportunities. As Threes discovered, customers want a fast, easy, secure way to shop online. Now, they are selling to people in more than 30 states, accepting crypto as well as PayPal to give their customers purchasing options. Threes was able to expand their audience, moving beyond their New York customer base to sell beer and merch on a bigger, more national, scale.

•    It’s another option for customers. Accepting cryptocurrency offers customers additional ways to pay and provides them with extra protection and security for their transactions.

While cryptocurrency offers a variety of benefits, there are also some risks associated with it, and small businesses should be aware.

Cons:

•    Customers might not be ready for it. Since this type of currency is still relatively new, many people still don’t understand or trust it. Crypto might not be appealing to tech-averse or risk-adverse customers. Using crypto also requires some effort, as customers would need to set up their own digital wallet and learn how to buy with this type of currency.

•    There may be technical barriers for business owners. While Shopify and Square make it easy to add a crypto purchasing option, if a small business doesn’t use those platforms, it might be a bit trickier. Businesses need to set up a digital wallet on a digital currency exchange to accept crypto, which some people find difficult, especially if they aren’t particularly tech-savvy. Also, since cryptocurrency is an ever-evolving, information-dense space with a steep learning curve, it can be an overwhelming option for some business owners. It is volatile and unpredictable.

•    Digital currency is volatile and unpredictable, so if you’re a risk-adverse business owner, this might be too much drama for you. Keep in mind that Bitcoin was first valued in pennies in 2009 but rose to more than $65,000 per coin in February 2021. That’s obviously a huge range! Using a merchant service company, like BitPay or Coinbase, helps protect small businesses against price volatility by immediately exchanging digital currency for its current cash value. Be sure to do your homework, carefully researching cryptocurrency to decide if it’s right for your business (and your personality type!).

•    It’s not completely safe from cybersecurity threats. Crypto reduces the risks associated with credit card fraud, but it’s not completely safe from cybersecurity threats or breaches. There’s no proven way to completely prevent cybercriminals from accessing users’ crypto wallets, and crypto isn’t backed or insured.  Some cryptocurrency companies are working to reduce the risks of security breaches by fully insuring losses, but insurance doesn’t currently cover personal accounts, so you’re still responsible for securing your personal wallet. But if a crypto company like Coinbase is breached, your funds would be protected.

•    There’s uncertainty around crypto regulations. The regulations around cryptocurrency will likely continue to change and evolve over time, which means business owners will have to follow – and adapt to – these changing rules. Since cryptocurrencies are relatively new, the government is still looking at regulations and rules about things like reporting gains and paying proper taxes on crypto transactions.

•    It doesn’t cover basic business expenses. Businesses typically can’t use crypto to cover operating expenses, such as rent and payroll, so they’d need to convert payments to cover these monthly costs.

  Some breweries have adopted cryptocurrency and are proud to be early adopters of this technology.  Others are sticking to the tried-and-true cash and credit payment options. There are pros and cons to crypto, so give it some thought before deciding whether to accept this form of payment. Also, consider your personality and whether you’re willing to learn about crypto – and accept that it’s volatile – before finalizing your decision.

About the Author

  Neeraj (Raj) Tulshan is the founder and managing member of Loan Mantra, a financial advisory firm with best-in-class and proprietary fintech, BLUE (“Borrower Lender Underwriting Environment”). Loan Mantra, Powered by BLUE, is next-level finance: a one-stop-shop for business borrowers to secure traditional, SBA or MCA financing from trusted lenders in a secure, collaborative, and transparent platform. Clients turn to Raj because they know he will always pick up the phone and offer unparalleled financial counsel in a remarkably human—even friendly—way.

About Loan Mantra

  Loan Mantra is a financial services company designed to serve small and medium businesses with offices in New Jersey, Charleston, SC and New York. At Loan Mantra your success is our success.  This means that our attention, purpose, and intention are all focused on you, our client.  We are your ally to overcome obstacles, bringing peace through uncertain times to achieve your highest goals and aspirations. Your friendly, responsive agent will listen respectfully, and service your account actively through one of three locations in the US.  We speak your language whether it’s English, Spanish, Hindi, Bengal, Hospitality, Laundry or Manicure.

 Let us help you today! Connect with us at www.loanmantra.com or call us at 1.855.700.BLUE (2583)

Bent Brewstillery:  Innovation on Tap

By: Nan McCreary

Bartley Blume may work twice as hard to produce both beers and spirits in Minnesota’s first combination brewery-distillery, but he also enjoys twice the opportunity to roll out new products that come from his ever-creative brain. They include a hoppy IPA without bitterness and a whiskey aged in American white oak and finished on toasted pimento wood to complement the spice of the grain.

  “When I opened the brewstillery, I wanted to bring more diverse beverages to the market, so we were not always drinking the same old pale ales, IPAs and sours,” Blume told Beverage Master Magazine. “We wanted to get away from mass consumption to a true appreciation of craft beverages, to sip and not swill.” 

  As the brewstillery’s name “Bent” implies, beers and spirits are “bent” and not made strictly to style. “This sometimes comes from combining the best parts of two different styles,” Blume said, “and sometimes from just making something I think my friends and family will like.” 

  Judging by the brewstillery’s success, not to mention its multiple awards, innovation-on-tap has been a big hit with consumers. Clearly, this is the place to go when you want to try something distinctive.

A Way to Make Money Off a Hobby

  Like many craft brewery owners, Blume started making beer as a hobby. While working as an engineer in the aerospace industry— and tiring of the corporate world — his wife gave him a Mr. Beer Kit. “This was in 2007,” he said. “I started brewing little batches of beer and quickly became addicted. I thought to myself, ‘This could be a way to make money off of a hobby,’ so I sat down and wrote a business plan for a brewery.”

  During that time, another brewery opened near Blume’s home in the Twin Cities, adding to the fifth or sixth already in the market. To Blume, that was too many, so he switched his interest to distilling. After poring over distillation books—and crafting whiskey and bourbons on his back porch — he rewrote a business plan for a brewstillery. Combining a brewery and a distillery seemed logical to Blume because the processes are similar, and the skills are complementary. “At the time,” he said, “there were only six brewstilleries in the country. Mine would be the first in Minnesota, which was pretty exciting.”

  Blume introduced the Twin Cities to his first product — and his innovative spirit — at the 2013 St. Paul Summer Beer Fest, wowing the crowd with an American Imperial Stout infused with ghost peppers, the world’s hottest chili pepper. At the time, he was brewing his beers under contract at Pour Decisions Brewing Company in suburban Roseville. Through working together, the two entities decided to merge under the Bent Brewstillery brand. The partnership was serendipitous for Blume. He now had a “home” when breweries and taproom locations were hard to come by. He also acquired the talents of Pour’s head brewer, Kristen England, long-time brewer and Grand Master Beer Judge from the Beer Judge Certification Program.

  After renovating the taproom in Roseville, Bent Brewstillery opened a 1,700-square-foot space in 2014. The taproom seated 115 customers and offered 10 beers on tap. Within months, Blume added the distillery. From the beginning, the brewstillery’s mantra was to set itself apart by creating fresh products and staying at the forefront of innovation. “Even if the market wasn’t ready for it, we’d do it anyway,” Blume said.

  As enthusiastic as Blume was initially, the business presented — and still presents — some challenges in operating as both a brewery and distillery. “Yes, there are some parallels,” he said, “but it isn’t quite as complimentary as I’d hoped it would be. You have to do all the work you need to do for a distillery and all the work you need to do for a brewery.” 

  Specifically, Blume explained that he has to rely on different ingredients, bottle suppliers, distributors, and even different marketing strategies for each entity because the audiences are different. “It’s really twice the amount of work, which is why most people haven’t decided to bite this off.” 

  According to Blume, there are currently only several dozen brewstilleries in the country. “It’s good for me because I’m a workaholic,” he said. “It’s a true family thing. My wife is the bookkeeper and CFO. Even the dog comes to work.”

  Despite the work, or maybe because of it, for a brewer who started with a two-and-a-half gallon Mr. Beer Kit, Blume has seen his vision surpass expectations. Now in its eighth year, Bent Brewstillery has grown into a 20-barrel brewhouse with four 40-barrel fermenters, plus three-, five- and ten-gallon fermenters that allow for the production of small-batch brews. The distillery features a column reflux still with four plates. The still can be converted to a pot still with a restrictor plate on the bottom, designed specifically by Blume for maximum versatility. Annual production is 2,000 barrels of beer and 2,000 gallons of liquor. Beer is sold in the taproom by the glass, pint, growler and crowler. Whiskey is sold straight or in cocktails. Besides offering products in the taproom, Bent Brewstillery distributes 16-ounce cans and liquor bottles to liquor stores and kegs to bars and restaurants. The brewstillery has 450 accounts in Minnesota, the south side of North Dakota and the west side of Wisconsin.

Invent, Innovate and Inspire

  With Blume at the helm as distiller and England as head brewer, Bent Brewstillery continues to invent, innovate and inspire. Since the beginning, it’s brewed over 200 beers. “When we started, we made lots of sour beers, reawakening old-style beers that no one had made until recently,” Blume told Beverage Master Magazine. “Now we have a whole line of sours, including barrel-aged sours and straight-up kettle sours.”

  One of their most unique products is a Chilean Stout, made in collaboration with a local brewery in Santiago and created from ingredients that England brings back after judging an annual beer competition there. Next on the agenda is a cold-fermented IPA. “Fermenting an IPA cold as opposed to fermenting it warm is extremely rare,” Blume said. “The process makes it more crisp, clean and clear. It’s the opposite of the hazys.”

  In the spirits category, Bent Brewstillery offers a traditional vodka and a nontraditional gin with 14 different botanicals. Blume prefers to use fresh botanicals when he can get them, which means the gins will vary from batch to batch. Some products are especially distinctive:  Flame Bringer, a bourbon barrel sriracha-infused rum, and Tropical Whiskey, brewed and distilled like any other whiskey, but includes passion fruit, guava, coconut and citrus, added during distillation. “These are the little fun things that make us distinctive in what we create,” Blume said. “These spirits are all great by themselves, but they really compliment a cocktail. Our signature drink is the Old Fashioned created from our whiskey, and the sriracha-infused rum makes a great spicy Margarita or Bloody Mary.”

  According to Blume, it took a while for the public to accept his distinctive beers and spirits. “At first,” he said, “people would say, ‘Oh, that looks weird. It’s different. I’m afraid of that,’ but now I can’t keep those products on the shelves.”

  Customer preference is mixed, Blume said: 50% like the same beer all the time because they are familiar with it; the other 50 percent want something new. It’s the same split in the liquor stores and bars. Blume also sees a mixture in beer versus spirits preferences. “Having a taproom that serves both beer and cocktails is huge for us,” he told Beverage Master Magazine. “We get so many ‘mixed couples,’ where one likes beer and the other prefers spirits. Instead of drinking a beer here and then leaving to get a cocktail, they simply stay here. It’s been pivotal to our growth.”

Pandemic Problems…and Solutions

  Like all breweries and distilleries, Bent Brewstillery’s growth took a big hit during the pandemic. But, again, like others, it turned lemons into lemonade by making hand sanitizer. Blume dived into this project with both feet. The brewstillery bought tankers of ethanol and produced 65,000 to 70,000 gallons of hand sanitizer. It provided supplies to a large portion of the police and fire departments in the state and to hospitals and support companies. Bent also offered raw materials to distilleries at cost so those distilleries could help their local communities. “We went all out,” Blume said, “and it’s a great feeling to know we did so much to help. We had a supply of beer and spirits in our taprooms, so at least we were able to sell products to-go. We survived just fine.”

  With the pandemic waning, Blume plans to go “full-throttle” ahead, both in creating new products and staging events. Traditionally, the brewstillery has offered a winter luau, beer dinners, a St. Patrick’s Day dinner and car shows in their large parking lot. This year Blume hopes to bring back one of the brewstillery’s biggest events — a crawfish boil that attracted 2,500 people. Bent also plans to hold its annual barbecue competition on the anniversary of September 11. The competition, which draws 25 to 30 cooking teams, is a fundraiser for the Invisible Wounds Project. The local charity provides services to Minnesota’s military, first responders, front-line medical staff, corrections, dispatch and their families relating to mental health, PTSD and suicide issues.

  Blume and his staff (the brewstillery has seven employees, not counting the dog) will continue to innovate, always looking for new opportunities. “We’re always looking to grow,” he told Beverage Master Magazine. “On the brewing side, we want to keep giving people something different to try. With the sheer number of breweries out there that are coming out with new beers, people can literally have a beer every day and never have the same beer twice. On the distilling side, we are playing around with different products that people will hopefully like. Growth is difficult, but it’s the challenge we signed up for.”

For more information on Bent Brewstillery, visit www.bentbrewstillery.com

The Brewstillery Movement

By: Kris Bohm: Owner of Distillery Now Consulting LLC.

Breweries make beer and often their equipment has the capacity to brew more beer than there is necessarily a demand for. Plain and simple, idle equipment does not help generate cash flow. An alternative use to consider to keep idle brewery equipment running is whiskey. American single malt whiskey is the new hot trend in spirits. Single malt whiskey has been touted for decades in America as a premium whiskey, and now bourbon whiskey is absolutely booming worldwide. If your brewery has a brew house that is sometimes sitting idle, it is time to put it to work. With the addition of a commercial still for distilling, a brewery can turn an idle brew house back on, and start producing single malt whiskey. The addition of a distillery will create a new business avenue for a brewery that can bring in new customers and generate more revenue for the overall business.       

Brewers Making Whiskey

  A few of the well known breweries, who have jumped into the distilled spirits world, are Ballast Point and Rogue Ales. There are amazing spirits being produced and distilled by breweries all over the world and your brewery can seize this opportunity as well. Brewstilleries, as we will call them, are pioneering a new business model. By using existing equipment to produce the wort or mash for distilled spirits, a brewery can create a diverse portfolio of products which can appeal to a broad base of customers.

  Ballast Point Brewery is a notable and very successful brewery that added a distillery to their operation. The Ballast Point took on a wild side project in 2007 where they added a still to their brewery in California, to experiment in spirits production. The brewers there mashed a beer recipe, then lautered an un-hopped wort that was then fermented and distilled into single malt whiskey. They also used their equipment to cook corn mash for bourbon production. A few years later, their whiskies had aged in barrels and it was bottled then released. Both their single malt and bourbon were wildly successful and well received spirits. Ballast Point Brewery sold a few years after the distillery was started and their distillery branched off to become Cutwater Spirits.

Tools of the Trade

  Breweries and distilleries use equipment that is very similar for the production of beverage alcohol. Fermenters, pumps, hoses, yeast, mash tuns, lauter tuns, and fermenters are common tools utilized by both distillers and brewers. Some breweries have capitalized on this opportunity and co-utilize their equipment and expand into distillery operations.  Let’s detail a few of the tools that brewers use that distillers can co-utilize for whiskey production. Of course this can only work if the brewers are willing to share.

Brew House Mash Tun

  A brew house is the essential tool used for the production of beer. This brew house will sometimes be idle when there is not enough demand. The steam heated mash tun in a 4 vessel brew house is used to mash malted barley for brewing beer. This equipment can also be utilized to produce mash for whiskey. With a few small changes, a mash tun can be used to produce cereal mash, made with corn or rye, that is cooked and fermented for bourbon whiskey.

  The production of malt whiskey in the Scottish tradition, using 100% malted barley, requires more complex equipment than the basic cereal cooker utilized by most distilleries. The lauter tun is a unique equipment for separating barley from the sugary wort in beer production. When making American single malt whiskey, the lauter tun is used to produce wort for distillation in the same way it is used to make wort for beer.

Fermenters

  Every brewer and distiller has fermenters in which they transform grain from sugary liquid into alcohol through fermentation. The fermenters used in a brewery work perfectly for fermenting wash or wort destined to become whiskey. If the excess space is available to ferment, a distillery can make use of otherwise empty tank space. Often distillers ferment their wort for whiskey fast and warm. A fermentation is often finished and ready to distill in as little as 4 days.

Pumps and Hoses

  The workhorse tools of brewers and distillers are their pumps, hoses and tri-clamps. The same pumps and hoses can be used to accomplish liquid transfers in a brewery and a distillery. Sanitization is important to mention here as it is easy to introduce unwanted bacteria or yeast into hoses if a distiller is not careful and conscientious of proper sanitization, which is required in a brewery for beer production, but not as necessary for a distillery.

Yeast

  The essential ingredient that all producers of beverage alcohol must utilize every day is saccharomyces cerevisiae, or the fungi simply known as yeast. The yeast used by distillers and brewers is closely related. In fact, many brewstilleries will use the exact same strains for both brewing and distilling. The use of yeast and the knowledge of how to handle yeast effectively is similar for brewers and distillers. Sharing yeast strains and yeast propagation equipment between a brewery and distillery increases the value reaped from every batch of yeast.

  All of these tools above can be made to serve double duty for a brewstillery. Careful planning, management, and execution are key to successful sharing of equipment.

Behind the Scenes

  Many questions come up in the discussion of adding a distillery to a brewery. Let’s go through and look at some of the common questions.

  How does a brewstillery function and get licensed from a legal perspective?

  The answer to this question will vary widely depending on the location of the brewstillery. Every state and country has different laws on what a brewery and distillery are allowed to do when working in conjunction. Typically, the distillery operations are required to be separate from the brewery both in physical location and in bookkeeping. The way a brewery meets this requirement of separation is as simple as a wall that keeps the two businesses apart with a separate exterior door to enter the distillery. A distillery can share steam for heating and glycol for cooling with a brewery, but the key here is that the still and the vessels holding distilled spirits are kept separate from the beer. On licensing a distillery will need to get a federal and state distiller’s permit before they can start producing spirits and may also need local licenses or permits.

  How are records and bookkeeping managed for a brewstillery?

  When it comes to bookkeeping, the distillery part of the brewery is typically an entirely separate business. This means a separate business entity or LLC must exist for the distillery which will hold its own business license, separate books, and tax reports. For the day to day operations and transactions, a distillery within a brewery will often buy the grain from the brewery and lease the brewing equipment on a daily basis to make wort for whiskey production.

  How is a distillery taxed?

  Taxes are a big concern because distilleries and distilled spirits are taxed very differently than beer. Although they are taxed differently, by having the distillery operate as a separate business it makes the bookkeeping and taxes simple by not mixing them with the brewery. Volumes have been written on taxes of distilled spirits all about proof gallons, wine gallons, and gauging, but we will save a deep dive into taxes for another day.

  How much beer does it take to make whiskey?

  In the production of a single malt whiskey the sugar content of the wort is on the high side to maximize the potential amount of whiskey produced per batch.

  Often the ABV of a fermented wash is as low as 7% to upwards of 12%

  There are a multitude of factors that will affect the amount of whiskey produced per pound of malt, including mash procedures, fermentation, distillation and maturation.

  When distilling a beer you can expect to roughly see the following yields. This estimated yield includes the distiller’s cuts and loss from barrel aging.

  A single 31 gallon barrel of 10% abv beer can produce upwards of 25 bottles of whiskey.

Beer to Whiskey and the Hops in It

For the vast majority of whiskies both malt and bourbon are strictly made from grain. No hops or other flavoring agents are added. Beer, of course, has hops and specialty grains in it. A beer that is distilled into whiskey which we will call “hopped malt whiskey,” will carry the distinct flavor of hops and into the spirits. This can be good or bad, depending on who you ask.

  Let’s weigh the good side of whiskey made from hopped beer.

  Hopped malt whiskey tastes very different from traditional Scottish malt whiskey. Because it tastes so different and can be marketed as part of the beer story, a hopped malt whiskey is often well accepted by the public as a new kind of whiskey, since it is not compared against bourbon or scotch.

  There is a downside to distilling hopped beer into whiskey. Beer that is distilled into whiskey and then barrel aged carries a strong and unique flavor profile dominated by the hops. For some consumers, this flavor is off putting even to the biggest IPA loving hopheads. Most people that enjoy whiskey have a pallet that is trained to like bourbon or scotch single malt. A hopped malt whiskey tastes nothing like either of these spirits, your average whiskey drinker may not like unique flavors of such a spirit. This warning is not to deter a creative brewstillery from distilling such things, but to merely inform.

Let’s Make Some Whiskey!

  For those currently running breweries, you may be considering getting into distilling. If you are, be sure to do your homework or hire a pro to help you, as there are many differences between brewing and distilling. This learning curve can be expensive without prior experience. For those just getting started, the brewstillery model is a business worth considering that will give you access to a larger customer base, and create better returns on your equipment. Consideration of state laws is essential as they vary widely on the legality and requirements to operate on this business model. The future is looking bright for craft beverage alcohol production and brewstilleries are on the lead in producing new variations of traditional spirits.

  Authored by Kris Bohm the Owner of Distillery Now Consulting LLC. When Kris is not helping folks build distilleries and creating great whiskies, he is out riding cyclocross or defending his beer mile record. Would you like to talk about making whiskey? Drop us a line. Distillerynow@gmail.com

Bringing Brewing Full Circle From Craft to Culture

By: Quinton Jay

In the heart of Fresno, California’s Central Valley, Arthur Moye enters the doors of Full Circle Brewing Co. (FCB), the region’s oldest-running brewery. Some days, he says, he still can’t believe it’s his.

  Prior to purchasing the brewery in 2016 and taking over as its CEO, Moye spent 15 years moonlighting his passion for craft beer as a homebrewer. During the day, he ran his own CPA practice as a successful career accountant, leaning on his academic studies at San Jose State University and prior experience working for two of the nation’s “Big Four” accounting firms to refine his strategic skills with numbers and business acumen.

  But, in true entrepreneurial fashion, Moye eventually wanted more, something that allowed him to blend his technical efficacy, his longstanding passion for craft brewing, and his deeply ingrained want to do more and give back to others within and around his native Bay Area community.

  “I definitely took a leap of faith when I sold my CPA practice to buy FCB,” says Moye, “but something in me knew that it was a chance I had to take. I needed to know if I could combine my experience as an accountant and strategist with my passion for craft beer, and if I could build a business model around the two.”

  Not only did Moye manage to successfully create a business model, but in the first four years after purchasing FCB, he was able to ramp the brewery’s production by some 3,000%. This explosion in production prompted Moye to expand the facility’s older 7.5BBL brewhouse, one that only produced draft beer locally to Fresno’s Central Valley, into a brewhouse with a 15-barrel capacity that was able to package and distribute its uniquely-flavored craft products all across the US.

“Beer” + “Entertainment” = “Beertainment”

  Moye will be the first to admit that he could not have acquired FCB, nor grow it into the Central Valley powerhouse it has since become, fully on his own. Like any tried and true entrepreneur, he knew he needed to rely on two vital components for its success: an empowering vision for what it could become, and the buy-in of the local community into that vision.

  “FCB was here long before I came along,” Moye says, “and so many members of this community wanted to see it revitalized just as I did, but I knew I needed to convince them. I started brainstorming ways we could turn FCB into the heartbeat of the Central Valley’s craft beer and entertainment scene, and the phrase ‘beertainment’ popped into my head.”

  As Moye explains, he not only wanted to create a successful brewery known for its winning craft flavors, but a gathering place where others could converge to disconnect, detach, and simply be mindful in the present moment. So, Moye and his team set out to establish FCB not just as a revitalized brewery, but one that doubled as an event and entertainment venue all under one roof. With his vision now clear, Moye set out marketing FCB’s rebirth to the community in Fresno’s Central Valley, and was fortunate enough to find funding from a group of local investors.

  “I’m not sure if I would call it ‘luck’,” Moye clarifies, “because that might imply that there wasn’t all this effort we put into refining the vision for FCB or acquiring funding to actualize it, but it just made sense that the investors who aligned with the vision were all locals to this area and its community. When you think about venture capital or investments in California, most people tend to think of Silicon Valley and companies like Apple or Tesla—not a craft brewery.”

  Moye’s adherence to his vision for what FCB could become, however, ultimately paid off. In 2016, he was able to acquire the brewery in full and immediately got to work. In 2017, he began reaching out to members of the entertainment industry, making introductions, fostering relationships, and creating partnerships to manifest his vision of “beertainment” for FCB. By the time the brewery had closed its crowd equity campaign and canned its first product of craft beer in 2018, FCB had already experienced triple-digit growth.

  With his vision and business model for FCB’s rebirth now in full swing, Moye started signing agreements with distributors throughout California to get his product in front of more customers in 2019. Less than a year later, FCB’s brand was being placed on shelves at major retail stores throughout the Golden State.

  But as Moye and his team at FCB would soon find out, not all that glitters is gold; even in California. Just months after FCB’s craft beer landed on shelves throughout his home state — each can sporting his coined phrase, “beertainment” — a new threat to business emerged in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pivoting to Find Value Amidst a Pandemic

  In mid-March of 2020, the world was wracked by the WHO’s declaration of the COVID-19 virus as an official global pandemic. All across the country, businesses that weren’t deemed to be “essential” were forced to close their doors virtually overnight, leaving Moye and his team at FCB scratching their heads as to how they could keep their business (and its vision) afloat. With the threat of a pandemic looming overhead, the “entertainment” aspect of FCB’s “beertainment” draw was shut down, so Moye had to once again get creative with his strategy in order to help his fledgling business survive.

  “During the pandemic, two of the most famous venues in town closed, one of which had been open for over 50 years,” says Moye. “FCB had taken over ownership of that venue, but we had to close it during the pandemic since it had no outdoor seating. My team and I put our heads together and collectively brainstormed ways we could pivot the business.”

  Ultimately, Moye and his team at FCB managed to keep their business alive by regularly hosting virtual shows with comedians, musicians, and other artists over Zoom. At the same time, they doubled down on FCB’s packaging and distribution, getting larger amounts of their craft beers into chain stores and craft liquor stores in California and 6 other states. They also picked up another brand, Sonoma Cider, and implemented their own iteration of a D2C sales model, deemed Full Circle 2 Go (FC2G), at a time when omnichannel retailing in the beer & wine industry was taking off in the US.

   “Running a brewery is one thing,” Moye adds, “but running a brewery that doubles as an entertainment venue also requires employees who can manage things like sound and security. When the pandemic forced us to shut down, suddenly these employees had no key role, so we asked them what their other skills are in order to keep them on board. Our security guards were repurposed as delivery drivers, and our venue’s promoter became the program director for FC2G.”

  As Moye explains, in a matter of mere months, the revenue from FC2G was able to match the revenue earned from their entertainment venue. Furthermore, by being able to pivot not only his brewery’s business model, but also the roles of his employees during the height of the pandemic, Moye was able to foster greater loyalty amongst his employees with FCB’s brand while simultaneously providing value to his brewery’s community. Now, nearly two years since the pandemic began, FCB still hosts comedy shows every Sunday night and has since been able to reopen its entertainment venue to more musical artists, albeit at lessened capacity.

Do What You Love, and You’ll Want to Work Every Day of Your Life

  Despite the onset and lingering effects of the pandemic, brewing craft beer has remained a thriving industry. With an economic impact of over $9 billion in California alone, Moye remains dedicated to his original vision for FCB as a communal hub where anyone and everyone can come together to unwind, destress, and share in their mutual love for uniquely-flavored craft beer and live entertainment.

   Additionally, as a black entrepreneur, craft brewer, and business owner, Moye is grateful that he is able to allow FCB to contribute towards the 1% of black majority-owned craft breweries in the US. Though black majority-owned craft breweries are still a distinct outlier in the industry, Moye hopes to see more post-pandemic events and gatherings like Barrel & Flow fest bringing black-owned-and-operated breweries together to celebrate Black arts, artists, and creators to help foster deeper DEI initiatives within the craft beer space.

  “It’s a little funny to me whenever I mention the ‘1%’ thing,” Moye adds, “because I still get responses from people like, ‘why does it have to be a black thing?’ But it’s not just about that—it’s a craft brew thing. It’s about finding a tribe of people who support you and your vision. It’s about finding other black-owned businesses breweries that support you because you all want to see more diversity, more inclusion, more representation, and more equity in the craft beer space. When you’re able to find those feelings in what you love to do, your work doesn’t feel like work.”

  It’s rare that we are able to find ourselves in a career that allows us to blend our technical acumen, interpersonal skills, and passions. Although, perhaps this is what makes the draw of craft brewing so attractive to so many. It grants those of us with a deeply-rooted love for craft beer to build a community around our ardor and share our enthusiasm with others, regardless of who or where they are.

Vegan-Friendly Beer

A Growing Trend To Watch This Year

By: Natasha Dhayagude, CEO, Chinova Bioworks

In an industry as competitive and ever-changing in terms of new products and trends, the ingredients for developing beer are constantly evolving. One trend to watch is the plant-based movement. Whether consumers are vegan or not, many consumers are paying more attention to what is on the ingredient label before they consume their favorite foods and beverages.

  Examine most beer labels carefully and currently, you will find that many beer brands are using animal-based compounds to process alcoholic beverages. Some animal-based compounds that are widely used throughout the production process of beer and alcoholic beverages are pepsin, a foaming agent obtained from stomach enzymes of pigs; chitin, derived from lobster and crab shells; and carmine, which is found in the crushed scales of cochineal insects. Another commonly used compound is isinglass, which is a kind of gelatin obtained from fish swim bladder. These compounds are often used in the alcohol production and filtering process to make drinks appear clearer and brighter. Clearing is an aesthetic concern and stability issue; it does not only look better, but it is more stable than cloudy beer.

But what if you Live a Vegan Lifestyle? Can You Still Enjoy beer?

  Because the vegan lifestyle is grounded in plant-based products, beer manufacturers must ensure the animal add-ons are completely taken off the list during alcohol production. With new technology, leading beer makers, including Budweiser, Coors, Corona and Heineken, have already begun shifting its processing to incorporate vegan-based ingredients instead of animal-derived ones.

  Vegan brewing is a growing trend, as more consumers are looking towards environmentally sustainable, plant-based options when purchasing food and beverages. While the market for vegan, gluten-free and low-calorie beers is still somewhat small, this industry is set to begin expanding as future generations become increasingly aware about the ingredients in their food and beverages. The growing trend of vegan brewing stems from millennials who are making more conscious decisions about what they consume, even when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Vegan beverages require a series of preparation and ingredients to meet the expectations of vegan consumers. Veganism has inspired the alcoholic beverage industry to incorporate plant-based and animal cruelty-free products. For many, being vegan has gone farther than just a trend; it is a lifestyle that many live by.

  Chinova Bioworks launched a major research initiative with College Communautaire du Nouveau Brunwick’s (CCNB) INNOV centre, supported by the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s Voucher Fund in 2021 to develop a new fining agent for vegan-friendly beer. Fining agents are used in breweries to clarify and brighten beer. The term “fining” is used to describe the forced clarification process. It increases the brightness of the finished beer by removing suspended yeast and haze-forming proteins and polyphenols. A beer with elevated levels of haze tends to deteriorate rapidly. This process also shortens aging times by removing the excess flavor-destabilizing components from the finished beer.

  For years, CCNB’s Grand Falls campus has developed technologies around brewing and distilling. Now, our company, Chinova Bioworks, has provided CCNB with a viable product and is putting its clean-label expertise to leverage the vast depth of brewing expertise at CCNB’s campus. Through this research, Chinova Bioworks will develop a new application for its proprietary white button mushroom fiber, Chiber, as a rapid fining agent for breweries. White button mushrooms contain many health benefits. Aside from the white button mushroom improving the quality of a product, it also has a notable amount of vitamin D minerals infused within the mushroom itself.

  Chinova’s mushroom extract is also a natural solution to reducing food waste and assisting in the production of vegan-friendly alcoholic beverages. Chiber is a cost effective, sustainable and vegan-friendly solution for the brewing industry. Before being used by breweries, Chiber has also been used for plant-based meat, dairy alternatives, sauces and condiments. It is a pure fiber extracted sourced from the stems of white button mushrooms that help improve quality, freshness and shelf-life and does not contain any allergenic materials from the mushroom, which results in increased consumer satisfaction and reduced food waste. Testing is also conducted to confirm the absence of regulated allergens. Chiber is odorless and tasteless; it does not alter the taste, color or consistency of beverages.

  Early results have shown that Chiber works eight times faster at settling yeast post-fermentation and can leave residual antimicrobial benefits to the beer, which makes it stay fresh longer. Chiber is a one-for-one replacement for artificial preservatives that provides the same protection from microbial spoilage, while being a natural and clean label ingredient. Chiber holds many certifications including: vegan, kosher, halal, organic compliant, non-GMO, declared allergen-free, paleo, keto-friendly, low FODMAP, gluten-free, Whole 30, and it has no sodium contribution.

  This research initiative comes at a time when many breweries are working to shift to vegan-friendly beverages to keep up with consumer demand for more sustainable products. Chinova Bioworks’ technology would provide brewers a vegan alternative to animal-based, isinglass fining agents and synthetic polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP) that has long been used in the beverage industry as a processing aid. Because many people are searching for vegan and plant-based options in every aspect of their lifestyle, Chinova Bioworks is committed to providing sustainable solutions through our white button mushroom fiber. Our goal is to help manufacturers produce clean-label ingredients and reduce food waste. Alcoholic beverages, beers in particular, are filled with animal-derived and synthetic ingredients, so we believe Chiber can make an impact for beer brands looking to expand their offerings to consumers. With this research, producers in the beverage industry will be able to consider the opportunity to incorporate vegan-friendly and sustainable products into their own beverages using clean ingredients. This research initiative will pave the way toward more vegan-friendly and sustainable beer and alcoholic beverages.

  In 2021, Chinova Bioworks worked on the research portion of the vegan beer initiative and with early adopters for market testing, while actively seeking innovative companies to take part in this initiative. Once this research initiative phase is completed, we expect that Chiber for alcoholic beverages will become available during the first half of 2022. The future for beverage companies is exciting and new technologies like Chiber may help many expand beverage offerings to a wider range of consumers looking for a good brew.

  Natasha Dhayagude, CEO and co-founder of Chinova Bioworks, a food technology company founded in 2016 to develop natural, clean-label preservatives extracted from mushrooms for the food and beverage industry. Chinova is headquartered in New Brunswick, Canada, and 90% of her team is made up of women practicing in STEM fields. Dhayaguede was named Startup Canada’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017 and Startup Canada’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019 for her role in co-founding Chinova. Since then, she has raised $4.5 million in capital investment from major food-technology venture capitalists and has formed strategic partnerships with major multinational producers in the food-technology industry. Dhayagude earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of New Brunswick.

 For more on Chinova Bioworks, visit https://www.chinovabioworks.com

Unpacking Findings From the Craft Spirits Data Project

By: Becky Garrison

While Jason Parker, co-founder and President of Copperworks Distilling Company, reported an 80% drop in revenue in 2020 due to Covid-19 closures and restrictions, in 2021, Copperworks actually expanded their operations. After the furniture store directly next to their Seattle water-front property closed, they plan to lease this establishment with plans to turn this facility into a cocktail bar and event space.

  In January 2022, Copperworks signed a lease to build in the former Nine Yards Brewing facility in Kenmore, Washington. They raised $2 million for this expansion, which will allow them to distill ten times more spirits since their partner breweries, Pike Brewing Company, Elysian Brewing and Fremont Brewing, cannot produce enough product to meet the growing demand.

  Copperworks’ ability to grow during this global pandemic was emblematic of other craft distiller-ies, evidenced by the 2021 Craft Spirits Data Project report. The report was presented on De-cember 7, 2021, by the American Craft Spirits Association and Park Street Companies at the Annual Craft Spirits Economic Briefing during ACSA’s Annual Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

  Since its inception in 2016, the Project has been a research initiative designed to quantify the number, size and impact of craft spirits producers in the U.S. Among the industry groups who participated in this project include the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the Na-tional Alcohol Beverage Control Association.

Assessing the Growth of Craft Distilleries

  Despite the global pandemic, the U.S. craft spirits category as a whole did grow in both volume and value in 2020, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years. Park Street CEO Harry Kohlmann attributed the slower growth rate to the early period of the pandemic when on-premise sales were shut down in a significant portion of states and consumers were “pantry loading” the brands that were available at off-premise locations. Pre-pandemic, craft spirits brands often prioritized onpremise to brand build, so it stands to reason this period was detrimental to the category.

  However, as Copperworks’ story illuminated, craft spirits companies are nimble and innovative. Kohlmann noted that the majority of them were able to transition to a market strategy that relied more on e-commerce and off-premise sales. Also, Kohlmann pointed to a 2020 trend that partial-ly made up for the drop in sales early in the pandemic regarding consumer buying habits. “Consumers went from purchasing big staple brands early on in the pandemic to more premium ex-pensive products like craft spirits when the pandemic panic subsided.”

Craft Distillers by Size

  In compiling this report, the Project team utilized data from surveys, regulatory agencies, nation-al and regional industry data sources, survey data, interviews and team assessments. The report defined a craft distillery as a “licensed U.S. distilled spirits producers that removed 750,000 proof gallons (or 394,317 9-liter cases) or less from bond, market themselves as craft, are not openly controlled by a large supplier, and have no proven violation of the ACSA Code of Ethics.”

  The survey delineated between small, medium and large craft distillers by a range of gallons and 9L cases removed from bond annually. A large craft distiller produces 100,001 to 750,00 gallons (52,577-394-317 9L cases), a medium craft distiller produces 10,001-100,000 gallons (5,259-52,576 9L cases), and a small craft distiller produces 1-10,000 gallons (1-5,258 9L cases).

  Small producers make up 90.1% of all U.S. craft producers though they are responsible for just 10.3% of annual case sales. While larger producers only make up 1.6% of the total number of craft producers, they are responsible for 56.6% of cases sold.

  As of August 2021, the number of active craft distillers in the U.S. grew by 1.1% over 2020 to 2,290. To put this growth into perspective, Park Street charted the growth in distillery numbers from 2015 to 2020. During this time, large craft distillers grew from 23 in 2015 to 37 in 2020, a 61% increase.

  Also, the number of medium craft distillers more than doubled from 73 in 2015 to 188 in 2020, while small craft distillers nearly doubled from 1,067 to 2,054.

Sales of Distilled Spirits

  The survey compared results from 2020 sales compared to sales in 2015. These statistics were not broken down by ecommerce versus brick and mortar sales. Nor did this Project address the impact of grassroots marketing strategies employed by some distillers during Covid-19, such as pairing with restaurants and bars to offer cocktail-to-go kits or forming collaborative local alcohol delivery services.

  The number of cases produced by medium craft distillers has grown from 1.3 million 9L cases to over 3.9 million 9L cases. On average, the number of cases produced by a medium-size craft distillery rose from 18,000 9L cases to 21,000 9L cases. Small distilleries grew from 597,000 9L cases to over 2 million 9L cases, with the average number of cases increasing from 559 9L to 663 9L cases.

  Overall, the U.S. craft spirits market volume reached over 12 million 9L cases in retail sales in 2020, at an annual growth rate of 7.3%. In value terms, the market reached $6.7 billion in sales, with an annual growth rate of 9.8%. U.S. craft spirits market share of total U.S. spirits reached 4.7% in volume and 7.1% by value in 2020, up from 2.2% in volume and 3% in value in 2015 and 4.6% in volume and 6.9% in value in 2019.

  In terms of distribution, large producers are often nationally distributed, medium producers are usually distributed regionally, and small craft distillers tend to be only available locally. In 2021,  46% of the total U.S. craft business occurred in the craft distiller’s home state. This local distribution accounted for 59.6% of sales by medium producers. For large producers, out-of-state business sales remain key, accounting for 70.9% of the total business.

  While direct sales at the distillery are key for all craft distillers, they are particularly important for small craft producers, with over 47% of their total business coming from this sales channel. Along those lines, less than 8% of the total business for small craft distilleries comes from outside their home state, though this number appears to be growing slowly.

  Exports add 0.9% to the overall volume for U.S. craft distillers, with medium craft distillers reporting 0.2% sales from exports. These exports declined by 32.9% from 104,000 cases in 2020.

Employment In Craft Distilleries

  According to this survey, COVID-19 had a heavy impact on the U.S. craft industry. Between 2018 and 2020, the average number of full-time employees decreased by 24%. In 2019, total employment surpassed 30,000 but was reduced by nearly 50% in 2020 to under 17,000. While this data points to a significant drop by any standards, Kohlmann noted that the industry still maintained volume growth at a 7.3% rate, reaching 12 million cases produced with fewer employees.

Ranking of Distilleries by State

  In breaking down the number of craft distilleries by region, the West and South contain the highest percentage of distilleries at 30% and 29.3%, respectively, followed by the Midwest with 20.7% and the Northeast at 20%.

  The top five states that produce the most craft spirits are, in order, California (190), New York (180), Washington (135), Texas (135), and Pennsylvania (117). In this ranking, Pennsylvania passed Colorado, which has historically been in the top five. These five states make up 33% of the U.S. craft distilleries. The next five states––Colorado (107), Michigan (88), North Carolina (80), Oregon (77) and Ohio (73)–– comprise an additional 18.6% of the market, with the remaining states representing 48.4% of the market.

Impact of Legislation on the Industry

  The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act reduced the Federal Excise Tax on dis-tilled spirits from $13.50 to $2.70 per proof gallon for the first 100,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually. As a result of this decision, the U.S. craft spirits industry invested $759 million in their businesses, rising from $698 million in 2019. According to the Project, the top moti-vation for investing was expanding to meet consumer demand and increase visitor space.

  As a small craft distiller who opened during the pandemic, Stephen Hopkins, owner and distiller at Aimsir Distilling in Portland, Oregon, pointed to how state law can aid small craft distillers for whom tasting sales remain critical. “Oregon recently updated its law to reduce the taxes on tasting room sales which has really helped our business survive the pandemic.”

  Also, he noted the need to streamline the process of moving products to different states. “The overhead of moving to another state is very high and often hard for small producers to overcome. Even regional states being more cooperative would help small producers as well as the consumers.”

“SHOW ME THE MONEY”

After Friends and Family, Where Do I Get Growth Capital?

By: Quinton Jay

Like most entrepreneurs, founders and owners of smaller craft breweries and distilleries often find themselves having to wear many hats. You need to be aware of your internal operations and external logistical factors in your business’s supply chain, as well as understand how to best market and sell your brand’s products.

  Arguably one of the most important hats you will have to wear that is not obvious is the one that reads “finance.” Without having a finger on the pulse of your business’s finances, you’re setting yourself up for inevitable failure. Running out of cash is the number 1 killer of businesses within the first two years.

  When your finances start leaning towards the red, or you know your business requires an additional injection of capital to grow successfully, it can be easy to feel frustrated and discouraged. But this is simply another part of business; you can’t expect to reap the benefits without having to face and overcome the hurdles and challenges you’re bound to encounter.

  If you — like many other small business owners — were able to obtain at least a portion of your original capital through friends, family, or other investors, this may not be a possibility further down the road. This is where that “finance” hat comes into play once more. In order to emerge from uncertainty with a brewery or distillery that is ready to continue growing, you as a founder or owner are required to find alternative means of raising funds, especially if your overarching aim or goal is to land an eventual, profitable exit. But where do you start?

  Here are some ways that you can use as means of obtaining additional growth capital for your small brewery or distillery business when reaching back out to friends and family is no longer an option.

Understand the Realm of Private Equity Investments

  As the Managing Director of Bacchus Consulting Group and its capital management fund, I have more than twenty years of experience managing, consulting for, and investing in more than a handful of small, independently-owned brewery and distillery businesses. I have helped dozens of businesses in the industry understand their options when it comes to raising growth capital through VC investments, the separate stages of fundraising, and the impact that each fundraising option has on those businesses.

Private Equity Funding

  When the time comes to look into raising growth capital for your small brewery or distillery business, the most prominent option you will run into is private equity (PE). To put it simply, PE involves investing in companies using capital that has been sourced from individual or institutional investors, as opposed to investing in companies using capital sourced from public equity markets like the NASDAQ or New York Stock Exchange.

  For the sake of insight, the general thesis of any PE investment is three-fold. A PE investment is made to: firstly, purchase a company (or portion of a company) using significant leverage and a minimal amount of equity; secondly, utilize the industry expertise and synergies of the PE investor(s) in order to maximize the growth and efficiency of the acquisition or investment made, and; thirdly, to sell that acquisition in an approximate period of 3-7 years based on the company’s improved metrics and lowered levels of debt.

  A common misconception with PE funding is that giving away equity in return for capital is “free,” but this could not be further from the truth. Selling equity for capital is simply a means of delaying payment. With PE funding, there’s no true cap on what you can give away in return for the growth capital you want or need. If you believe in your business, you’re better off acquiring debt rather than selling a portion of your equity. When you give away equity, you’re giving away infinite returns in perpetuity.

Alternative Lenders (Non-Bank Financing)

  Some sources of alternative financing include:

●    Merchant Cash Advances (e.g., Quickbooks capital, Shopify capital, AMEX Merchant Finance, etc.);

●    2nd Lien Lenders (similar to a 2nd lien on a home mortgage)  and;

●    Unitraunche Lenders: a hybrid lending model that combines multiple different loans — sometimes from multiple lending parties — into one, with a blended interest rate that tends to average those of the lowest and highest rates of the individual loans lent.

  As their name states, these are each an alternative form of financing available for businesses looking for access to growth capital. However, these forms of financing for businesses tend to be riskier on the part of the lender, hence why they charge more for these sources of growth capital.

Traditional Lenders (Bank Financing)

  Financing for growth capital through bank loans is another available option for small businesses. This avenue tends to come with lower interest rates than most sources of alternative financing but is usually much more difficult to acquire.

  Financing can also be done through debt, rather than its equity, but again: if your small brewery or distillery business is already deep in debt, it may not be the most beneficial option available to you. Although, when acquiring bank debt, or any debt instrument (as opposed to equity via PE financing), there’s always a cap on how much you can pay for the use of those funds received.

Finding the Right Investor for Your Brewery or Distillery Business

  Regardless of which financing option you choose to go with when searching for additional growth capital, the most important factor to keep in mind is to find the specific investor, fund, or lending institution that compliments your business and its goals. If your aim is to grow your brewery or distillery into a business that can be acquired by a larger parent company in a multi-million dollar deal, then PE financing is likely your best option. Similarly, if your business has a higher amount of debt, finding an investor that can provide you with acceptable terms for a second lien may be the avenue you wish to pursue.

  Whatever type of growth capital investment you wish to see for your business, be sure to ask yourself questions regarding the synergies your investor has with your business. Some examples of these might include:

●   Does this investor have good chemistry with me and my core leadership team?

●   Does the investor have a willingness to help and mentor me and my team on how to best successfully grow our business in line with our goals?

●   Does this investor believe in me, my team, and our ideas for our business?

●   Do they have relevant experience and connections we can utilize for additional investment opportunities now and/or in the future?

●   Does this investor have the domain and expertise — along with the capital — necessary to help carry our business forward through periods of growth we want to achieve?

  If your answer to any one of these questions falls into the realm of anything other than “yes,” then chances are high that they are not the right investor to bestow you and your business with growth capital. Additionally, if you or your core team are not ready or willing to accept mentorship from an investor, then don’t waste their time (or yours) trying to receive an injection of capital for growth solely for the sake of having more cash to fuel your business’s runway. Too many businesses — even smaller breweries and distilleries — land themselves in hot water this way. Don’t become one of them.

Showing What Investors Want to See in Your Business

  Before any investor, fund, or firm will agree to make an investment of growth capital in your business, they are going to scrutinize your business from every perceivable angle. Throughout their vetting process, you can (and should) expect any potential investor to analyze no less than the following aspects of your company:

●   Business Model: How does your brewery or distillery make money? What are your key business metrics such as revenue and gross margin, operating profit, and EBITDA? Is your current model scalable or does it need to be reworked if your business wishes to continue growing?

●   The Team: Does your business’s core team (including you) possess the knowledge, skills, and ability to carry the company through periods of growth? If not, which employee(s) need to be let go and replaced? Is the team able to collectively address and resolve issues?

●   Structure and Governance: How is your company structured and led? Is there transparency and accountability across its departments? Does your business have a succession and/or key man insurance plan in place? If so, what does it look like?

●   Exit Plan: Does your company have an exit strategy in place? If not, then why not? If so, what does this plan look like, and is it reasonably sound?

  All of these factors will play a vital role in your business’s ability to land growth capital. From my own experience as an investor/financier, I am looking for specific reasons not to invest in or finance a company; anyone can fall in love with thier own deals and each deal must stand on its own merits. This means that you, as the founder or owner of your business, will need to know both your company and its market viability inside and out if you wish to gain an investment of capital necessary to grow it in a way that meets your goals.

  If you are able to show investors and financiers that you are credible and trustworthy, that your business has shown the capacity to make sales of quality products and grow from its revenue and profits to date, and that it has the potential to continue growing in its existing market or into new markets, then your chances of landing an investment of capital required for growth are much higher.