Opening a brewery is serious business. It requires meticulous planning, lots of money, a little luck, and a lot of hard work. You’ll spend every minute of your spare time second guessing yourself, going over financials, and wondering whether anyone would even want to visit the brewery once the planning, questioning, harassing other brewers for every bit of knowledge they are willing to share, and loans and investor money has been spent. This ain’t no cakewalk. Still, in the grand scheme of things, this has been the most rewarding process we’ve undertaken.
Unseen Creatures is led by myself as CEO & Brewer and my wife Vicky as our CFO. She’s the numbers brain, CPA by trade. I’m the crazy “let’s do this…” guy. We’re lucky to have struck a great balance between the way our minds work. When it comes down to it, you need that person who can help you manage numbers all while understanding what you want to do. If they’re good, like Vicky is, they’ll give you enough leash to be crazy but make sure it makes sense in dollars and cents. The brewery does have to make money after all. I’m lucky that that person lives with me. If yours doesn’t, find them and try to convince them to.
For us, this process started about two and one half years ago. I started jotting down ideas. What did I want Unseen Creatures to represent? What did I want us to be five years later? What did I want my kids to one day want to takeover. Most importantly, what was our philosophy going to be and how would we make sure we stayed true to it? Conversely, why would our philosophy matter? I wanted the brewery to stand for something. It became clear to me that representing my community and featuring the fruits which are synonymous with my culture and city were important to me. Staying true to ourselves would mean emphasizing and representing that culture through drinkability, balance, and nuance. We would support local farmers whenever possible and as much as possible. We would support local chefs, musicians, artists, and charities. We knew what we wanted to be. Now, how would we get there?
Understanding what the top of the mountain should somewhat look like, the trick was going to be understanding just what I’d need to raise, spend, and borrow to get there. Here’s where things start to get real.