Last some of you knew, we were just announcing our idea for a brewery in Aurora. Well it's been slow-going 3 or 4 months since then. Between finding a space that someone would let us use and figuring out financing, it's been a long start to our journey. But we are happy to announce that the ball is rolling! First off, we've found a space! We'll be occupying a small part of a finished barn just a couple of miles outside of the village of Aurora. It's got just about all we need; electricity, plumbing, concrete floors, and just enough room for our little brewhouse. There's room for expansion too if and when we get there. This space will be just what we need to get our licensing started and beers brewing.
Speaking of licensing, we've decided we're going to apply for the NYS Farm Brewer's License. This is a new license that Cuomo passed a bill for last year that has tons of benefits for not only us but also NYS agriculture. As long as we use a percentage of NYS grown hops and grains, we'll have access to all the benefits of this license which include tax savings and the ability to serve and sell our beers retail and at farmers markets. It will also allow us to have tasting rooms away from the brewery and also allow us to sell and serve our own products as well as wines, beers, ciders, and spirits and certain foods from other NYS farm licensees. It's a win-win for everyone as it truly supports local, full-circle. Right now their are 12 farm licensed breweries in NYS. The list of hop farms and farmers growing and malting grain is growing too, which is good, because as these farm breweries and distilleries grow, we'll need access to all types of hops and grains, and lots of them.
So not only did we have a holdup with finding a space after all of our options kept falling through, but financing took longer than expected. But as of last week, after 3 months of waiting, we finally were approved for a small bank loan which will help us get started. This isn't an astronomical amount of money (well it's a lot for us), but just enough to get us a small, professional system (with stainless steel conical fermenters and tanks) where we can brew anywhere from 1 to 2.5 barrels (30 to 75 gallons) of beer in a day and get the brewery started. You'd be shocked how much brew systems are. Our little system is going to cost us $15,000, and this is about as low as you can get for a good quality, professional system with all the bells and whistles needed to make great beers. Then after that, you've still got to have the money for your lawyer fees, license, kegs, tap lines, electrical work, plumbing, water treatment, upgrades to the space...the list goes on and on. It would be easy to spend $50-100k, or even $500k on a brewery, and lots of people do. It's necessary to do so once you grow to a certain size. It takes a lot to brew large batches of beer that will keep up with demand. Even the smallest microbreweries are brewing on 10 or 15 barrel systems. Unfortunately, the sum of money we had to work with was all we could manage, so we had to keep to a budget. It's a good thing though. It will allow us to learn the equipment and get used to brewing on the real stuff while we fine tune our recipes. We both have day jobs, so in the beginning this will be nice and manageable, and it will allow us to put out enough beer to get some drafts flowing at a few bars and restaurants in the greater Ithaca and Auburn area and sell growler fills from the brewery. This in turn will give us a little money to pay our loan, utility bills, rent, and ingredients. Once we get rolling, we'll probably need to take the step to a larger brewhouse, professional tasting room, and full-time brewing. But first, we've got to do one thing, BREW GREAT BEER.
So that's whats been going on in brewery world. Oh, and we've been brewing. Our latest beers have been a cream ale made with fresh peaches, a dry-hopped IPA, and an imperial stout.
Until the brewery gets licensed, we'll just be brewing test batches of new recipes and fine tuning others. We'd love to share them with you too. Which is why we'll be offering growler fills of all of our beers we brew until we are licensed. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to get on the list!
We hope to be licensed by June!