So You Wanna Open Your Own Brewery?

You go to college. You drink beer. You’re on your way to a promising career in brewing, right?

Well it’s obviously a little more complicated than that, but for a lot of people the career trajectory of a brewer is about as hazy as what happened between leaving that party last Friday and waking up on the lawn outside your dorm without your pants the next morning.

Um anyway. Chris Gallant is the co-founder and General Manager of The Bronx Brewery, a new business based in — you guessed it — the Bronx, since 2009.  I talked to him about the beer biz and your future in it. And then we got wasted.

No seriously we just talked.

Here are some of the most important things I learned:

  • Want to become a brewer and realize your dream of getting yet another degree? You can actually get a master’s in brewing! The Bronx Brewery’s brewer, Damian Brown, got his at UC Davis. Don’t get too excited though: apparently there’s a lot of science involved (I guess we’re assuming you’re bad at science).
  • If you’re looking to get some experience, don’t expect to waltz right into a start-up. Gallant says he gets about one random email a day from apprenticeship candidates with no background in brewing (but probably some kind of expensive humanities degree). He can’t take on any of them, as they’d be more of a hassle than help. He suggests checking out a site like ProBrewer for apprentice listings or taking advantage of a personal connection for an in.
  • It takes a lot of money to start your own brewery! For real! It took about half million to get The Bronx Brewery to get going, and they don’t even own their brewing equipment. Finding big investors is tricky without previous experience, so make sure you’ve got lots of generous friends and family who love your boozy dream as much as you do. You might also want to consider opening up ANYWHERE besides New York City, where rent is super high.
  • For ye of little patience, the beer-making process has a relatively quick return. Unlike wine, which can take months or years from vineyard to bottle, crafting beer takes only a few weeks. It only takes two and a half weeks for The Bronx Brewery.
  • Starting your own brewery can be rewarding, Gallant says, but it’s also plenty challenging. There are lawyer fees and licenses and all types of people to pay — and then you’ve actually got to try selling your beer to people! And, Gallant says, don’t expect to make any money for a while. But if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably not in the market for a paycheck anyway…

— Jordan


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