I have picked some new books from the Library (I know, I am cheap). I just finished Redhook by Peter Krebs. It is about Redhook Brewery's (Washington State) start up story through the 1980's and 1990's until the craft beer shakeout of the mid-nineties. Until the mid-nineties they were growing at 25-40% a year and were looking at going national. It took me two days to read.
The early days of the craft beer movement seemed to be a crap shoot. Redhook started with a MacEyvered Brewery in a Transmission Shop and an unknown wild yeast strain that mistakenly made their English style ale more of a Belgian. They got their quality problems fixed by the time they moved into their new brewery (they were still successful or on a trajectory to profitability during their early quality problem filled days). It was a time that the beer didn't necessarily have to be good, but they were master's at marketing and selling ideas.
I took three things away from this story.
1. Don't forget about the importance of being local and accessible....this can help you survive.
2. A new brewery can help brew better beer (although I think that it is both the equipment and the attitude of having new equipment).
3. It doesn't hurt to have connections (early in life).
#1 is for later. #2 justifies my equipment purchases, and there is nothing I can do about #3 for myself. But there is something to instilling the entreprenurial spirit in your children. Risks versus rewards. There is a bit of gambling spirit in my family tree (perhaps mild addiction), but not in the business starting way.....more like the stock investment way (which is impersonal and a non-hand dirtying way of trying to get rich, but feels like shooting craps). Starting a business is dirty work that takes real work (to produce a product or service), lots of money (for equipment), as well as a lot of bullshitting your way to getting what you want from people (mostly money). I don't mind the real work, but while I am probably good at the Bullshit part, I really have found I don't want to do business with most people, especially those that could provide monetary assistance.
I also have the book Evaluating Beer, edited by Brewing Publications but I can't get into reading it. It isn't keeping me interested. I also have The Bio-Chemistry of Brewing (1957) by I.A. Preece. I am going to start it now that I am done with Redhook. Wish me luck. I am not sure why I even want to read this as it looks to be technical and dry (even by 1957 standards), but I have read many of the recent books on brewing, and they are often poorly written. I also don't know if I will gain anything useful from a book written over fifty years ago.