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Preview: How to Start a Brewery (in 1 million easy steps)

How to Start a Brewery (in 1 million easy steps)



Steve B. and his Dad have started up a brewery! They invited all their friends and family to work for them. Come along for the ride...



Updated: 2017-12-28T16:26:52.259-08:00

 



Venskab...so excited

2012-06-14T08:21:23.257-07:00

We are going to be releasing something very, very special on Father's Day...acutally we'll be releasing 4 very special beers.  There is The Pan Ontario, a blend of beer from 5 breweries across Ontario created for Ontario Craft Beer Week, a barrel-blend version of our spring IPA, Beaver River and the Greener Futures barrel aged (and dry hopped) version of Double Wide Double IPA.  But what I'm most excited about is Venskab, our collaboration beer brewed with Anders Kissmeyer.  It is by leaps and bounds the most complicated, complex beer we have ever attempted, and working with Anders has been so very inspiring.  He wrote a description of the creation of this beer, which I'd love to share with you: Beau’s All Natural Ales and Kissmeyer Beer ”Venskab”I met Steve Beauchesne, Matthew O’Hara and the rest of the Beau’s gang at the Craft Brewers’ Conference in San Francisco in May 2011, and over a decent number of beers at the 21st Amendment Brewpub during a memorable afternoon, we basically created the outlines of the recipe as well as the name - the Danish word for friendship – for the collaborative beer, which we agreed should be brewed in connection with the Beau’s Oktoberfest later that year.   Based on our mutual fancies, we decided to brew a Belgian Style tripel, and as it is always my desire to give all my collaboration beers a unique and local touch, we had a discussion on what typical Ontario  ingredients that would work well in a tripel. After another couple of beers the outline of the recipe was there: A classic dry tripel slightly spiced with Ontario buckmyrtle and hawthorn (quite common in Denmark) that in its fresh form gives a very nice tangy tartness. As the ultimate finishing touch, we decided that the beer should be barrel aged in used Ontario ice-wine barrels. We were all so excited about the prospects of a great and very unique beer that we decided to have another pint.... In the time leading up to my visit to Vankleek Hill for the Oktoberfest and the collaborative brewing, Matt and I corresponded intensely in order to finalize all the tiny details of the recipe and the process. Matt had to give up finding fresh organic hawthorn, so we settled for some dried stuff from Bulgaria (!), as the search for the ice-wine barrels went on. Everything but the barrels was in place when we met on brewday, the 1st of October 2011, in the brewery in Vankleek Hill to start brewing the beer. Our aim was the following:  a subtly spicy, phenolic, slightly citrusy, slighly tart and very dry (dryness enhanced by sugar additions during fermentation)Belgian style tripel with high complexity and sweet, winey notes enhanced by ice-wine barrel ageing, and a crisp, spicy and sweet finish. The technical specifications we agreed on were: 20.0 % P, 9.2 % ABV, 30 BU, Colour ~ 15 EBC.As no serious brewer would dream of adding unknown ingredients without having tested them, one of the first items on the agenda of the brewday was to brew some teas with the dried bockmyrtle and the dried hawthorn and to smell and taste these teas. The bockmyrtle  was fine, so we agreed on the appropriate dosing of this. However, the hawthorn tea was virtually taste- and flavourless  - certainly not tart or sour in any way. Even when we started chewing the wet and dry berries prescious little happened! The decision was consequently not to use these at all, leaving us with a challenge: how would we then get the decent, zingy tartness we knew was necessary to balance the sweetness of the beer and the wine barrels? After a short, intensive brainstorm the decision fell on the Japanese citrus friut yozu. Not so much because this was just as exotic as hawthorn, but more so because we could wait with the addition of this till the beer was in secondary fermentation/maturation, leaving the good people at Beau’s enough time to track down some fresh, organic yozu in time.  The brewing went very well, and the fermentation started as it should, the beer also developing pretty much as hoped thereafter.[...]



Beau's Rumours...Myth Busters Beau's Styles

2012-05-22T07:28:39.618-07:00

So, we've been hearing some good rumours around town again, which always gives me a giggle, because I can never figure out how they start or why, but its nice to know folks are talking about us.  Just in case anyone is gullible enough to believe what they hear, here are a few Beau's myth busters for you.

1)  100% of our beer is brewed in Vankleek Hill, Ontario. 

Full disclosure here...in the summer of 2008 we did try a total of 3 batches at a Toronto brewery.  It was a good experiment and taught us that we're really, really picky about the way our beer is made and ever since 100% of our beer has been brewed in Vankleek Hill.

2) 100% of our beer is certified organic

Ok, there is one exception - our Pan Ontario beer released for Ontario Craft Beer Week is made from a blend of 5 breweries beers across the province...the beer they supplied isnt organic, so neither will this be

3)  We are very supportive of the craft beer industry. 

I've helped dozens of would-be brewers and start ups with free advice and help when they needed it (we lent Broadhead a skid of growlers when they ran out and Kichissippi has borrowed growler caps).  We make a point to offer another craft beer to restaurants if we cant give them something they want and our sales reps are strictly forbidden to trash talk other breweries (not that they would, we hired 'em cause their cool, yo)

4) I'm not a robot. 

I just work really hard :)

5)  We are still very much a craft brewery

I can't believe I even need to address this one, but yes, we are very small, 100% privately owned by friends and family - no other brewery has any stake whatsoever in our company and yes we continue to make beer without corn syrop, rice extract or other cheapeners.  Our growth has been due to the support of the restuarants and LCBO stores and our fans who demand it everytime they go out. 

6) Hear any more rumours?  I'm happy to answer them!  We've always believeed in being transparent in how we run our brewery, so feel free to ask.  My email address is steve@beaus.ca

Cheers everybody!

Steve




From Keynote Speaker to Indie Opener

2012-02-29T11:05:30.100-08:00

Saturday was an interesting day. I started off bright and early for Cornwall in a pretty nasty snowstorm, to give the keynote speach at the Ecofarm Days conference. I was rather impressed by how many people made the trek through the inclement weather to make it.

The topic I was asked to speak about was Beau's experience in using company culture to turn employees into teammates and customers into fans. I know, very sporty analogies, but I had a lot of fun and Jordan made lots of funny slides to show along side. The translator was way more animated than I was, and I think that was the highlight was watching him say in French what I had just said in English, but with the most expressive and animated gestures imagineable. It reminded me of the Simpsons episode where the English soccer broadcaster very calmy tells the audience that the player is holding the ball and the Spanish announcer is going nuts over the same thing.

Rather than describe it in too much detail, here is an article on the talk: http://www.standard-freeholder.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3483672

After that I went back home, changed out of the suit and into jeans and a workshirt, and started loading up gear to play the first gig in my new band, Audio. I've been writing and playing with two of our brewers, Kevin James (who used to play bass in Trigger Happy and Bender) and Andrew Bartle (from the Natural Shocks and a bunch 0f other bands). We were playing at one of our accounts, The Dominion Tavern and opening for K-Man and the 45's, fronted by my good friend Kristen McNulty.

The turn out was great, we played pretty good considering it was our first show (I broke a string and made a few mistakes, but no showstoppers) and got a pretty favourable reaction. It was a really fun event and was really cool to be belting out tunes again. Also fun was being on two different stages for two very different reasons (also funny was I was drinking beer on stage while playing music and was not drinking beer while on stage talking about beer).

I'd add the link of the newspaper article on how awesome our show was, but for some reason, I can't find any ;)

Cheers!



WE'RE BACK, BABY!!!!

2011-12-02T13:58:51.746-08:00

I'm humbled, amazed and awed to say that I've just been informed that our project with Operation Come Home has been allowed to start back up!!!!

Thank you Premier McGuinty, MPP's Grant Crack, and Lisa McLeod. Look!!! BiPartisan support! Thank you to everyone in the media, the worlds of FaceBook, Twitter, blogosphere and everywhere else for making our issue known.

I've maintained throughout this situation that I felt that we were being held back by a technical oversight in the language of a regulation and that I was confident that my government would be able to fix this. But, wow, I never thought it would happen so quickly.

The online website www.bybo.ca will start taking orders at 5:15pm. Deliveries up and running by Monday. We got the good news from our MPP just as we were finishing our staff meeting, which was great, because I was able to put him on speaker phone so that the whole company could scream their excitement. What an emotional end to a rollercoaster of a week.

Now, reader, how about you go buy some beer and put some folks back to work!

Today has been a good day.



The Grinch Who Stole Your Christmas Beer...

2011-11-24T13:45:00.709-08:00

Today we launched Buy Your Beau’s Online, our project with Operation Come Home to deliver beer to people’s homes in Ottawa, and promptly had the service effectively shut down by the AGCO.

That’s right, after less than a day of operation, BYBO has been closed, after another brewery (we weren’t told which one) complained. The complaint has nothing to do with the service or the fact that at-risk youth were involved, but over a technicality involving what I believe to be a typo in the regulations around home beer delivery services.

Our retail store operates as an authorized beer store by the LCBO, but the regulation around home delivery uses the wording ‘operated' instead of ‘authorized’, which is how it is worded to allow us to sell to special occasion permit holders, and retail customers. It is interesting to note that the Beer Store, which is not operated by the LCBO or government is somehow allowed to sell to home delivery services.

So...

No specialty beer delivered to our Ottawa customers.
No employment for homeless youth, to get them off the street.
No additional revenue for Operation Come Home.

What’s really got me irked about this situation is the complete arbitrariness of the regulation that is being used to kill a social enterprise designed to do good for the community and the malicious behaviour by another brewery in this province.

The Beer Store is a retail outlet owned by three breweries. Why would they be allowed to sell to a home delivery service and Beau’s (or any other brewery) not be? It doesn’t make any sense, it’s anti-competitive and it restricts choice to the residents of this province.

I know that there are a lot of cut-throat competitive tactics used by some of the less honourable members of the brewing community, but taking a job from a homeless youth to thwart us is beyond reprehensible.

I’m disappointed that the AGCO has decided to act this way, using the letter and not the spirit of the law to guide their decision-making, but ultimately I understand that they may not have had a choice once the complaint was lodged. I would have rathered more consultation from them or that they refused the delivery license application when they were informed how the service would work. If that had happened, at least Corey and Kyle, the two youths who had been hired to start this service, wouldn’t have had their hopes lifted and then let down in such a dramatic way.

I’m simply aghast, though that another brewery instigated this.
I’m really disappointed that this service is unfortunately going to be shut down.

I’m sorry to the youth who have been dealt yet another misfortune, to our customers who were looking forward to gaining better access to our beer and to other breweries who probably would have been able to use similar models to compete better in this Province.

Don't worry, though. We will find another way to get beer to our customers and we won't stop trying to help our community. Vive la Beau's!



My Date With Jordan

2011-08-22T07:21:35.749-07:00

(image)
We needed to do a poster run in Ottawa for Oktoberfest, and I hadn't gone postering since my punk rock days, so it seemed like a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.  For anyone not in the know, postering is where you tape or staple signs to lamp posts in the city.  Ottawa is great for this because they have actual poster collars on specific lampposts so you can poster without feeling bad about where you put the poster.

Talking to Jordan, our creative director, we decided to make a whole day of it, and I put it into my calendar as Steve and Jordan Go On A Date.  In the notes I put 'Lots of hand holding' and HR manager, Karen added 'awkward'.

Our date started early, getting picked up by Jordan and his girlfriend Tina (I'm a progressive guy; I'm cool with that).  We got into Ottawa and met up with fellow posterers Sean, Matt, Erin (and her dog Zona) and we divided into 3 teams, Jordan and I taking the market area.

Warm sun, slow strolls, and tape guns make for a great combination and we had a fun time.  By 1pm we'd finished up and met the rest of the crew for lunch at Lieutenants Pump.  We were joined by Jamie, his very pregnant wife Jenn, our Sales Manager and brewer Chris.  

After lunch we piles into the car and visited the St. Albert Curd Festival.  Threat of storm that never came had a lot of vendors closed down, but our booth stayed strong and we had a few samples and watched a couple rounds of the intertown challenge, which was pretty funny.  We were joined by friends  Chris and Meaghan and the gang got bigger.

Next, we picked up some steak and lettuce to go with the, corn, sausage and Caesar salad ingredients Jordan and Tina already had for a quiet dinner at home.

Then off to the Vankleek Hill fair...Beau's never really sells a lot say the Fair, it seems like the one event we do that never really does well for us, but we were sponsoring a car in the demolition derby (Lisa did great!) and lots of people are in town, so it made for a fun outing all the same.

Our evening together ended with a night cap at the Windsor tavern.  We packed a whole lot of fun into yesterday.  I hope Jordan asks me out again!




Nice Email

2011-07-26T17:38:45.137-07:00

I received a nice email the other day, I thought I'd share. This is a great example of building community and relationships with the folks that buy our beer.

On Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 9:24 AM, George wrote:

Steve


I have to pass along this email from my father. Keep in mind that at 79, it takes a lot to impress him with regards to beer. Being an Ottawa Valley boy himself, he was naturally both curious and enthusiastic.

Apparently he was quite pro-active in this little bistro that night, chatting up the other customers about Beau's, and discussing Lug Tread's qualities, tasting a few with the other men. He was even excited about the little tractor! He begged the owner to sell him the Beau's glass, and she was so tickled by him and the stories, that she gave him the glass. So, long story short, he's the newest oldest Beau's fan!

Now he is cruising in his motorboat (named after his dog, "Bedde's Barge") in the Rideau Canal, headed up to Ottawa for Canada Day, so he can see young William & Kate. He is quite keen on getting some more Beau's during his stay, moored at Dow's Lake Marina. Since he is both older, and not so mobile, I thought maybe I could ask you directly if you had directions to the nearest store where he can grab himself and his buddies some cold Beau's with which to toast both the country and the newlywed royals?

Cheers

George


Begin forwarded message:


From: "Prinyer's"
Date: June 24, 2011 10:43:36 PM EDT
To: "George "
Subject: brew


So, there I was in this nice little bistro in Wellington, where Mom wanted to go for some sushi. Asked if I would care for a drink, I glanced frantically around the room for ideas, and spotted a particularly different looking bottle, and said, "I'll have one of those."

When it arrived (all 600mLs of it) I found that it was called Beau's All Natural Lagered Ale. 5.2%. All Organic.

Punch line... Made in Vankleek Hill!

Ever heard of it?

A side benefit was that I was able to lecture the crowd on the geography wrt V'Hill.

XX

PS. What's Lagered Ale?

PPS. It was spectacular - very nice!



5 Years Old!!!

2011-06-29T14:10:11.511-07:00

I’m somewhat dumbfounded to say we’re about to hit a pretty significant milestone, 5 years in business as of July. In some ways it seems like its been five weeks and in others it seems I’ve been doing this my whole life. In past years I’ve done blog posts on where we’ve gone, so I’m reluctant to repeat the same stories, but wow, five years feels really special.What makes this anniversary so very special is that from almost every angle, the next five years are shaping up to be even more amazing. The whole team has put in so many hours and made so many sacrifices that it seems most appropriate at this time to say thanks to all them, instead of another “We’ve Come A Long Way Baby” kind of post. So here goes...Dad, I couldn’t have chosen a better partner, you’re my mentor, my idol and my rock Mom, I know this has been hard on you, you’ve sacrificed so much and the stress on you has been immense. Thanks for standing by me and Dad and believing in us. I love the fact that its my mom on the phone every week calling up the LCBO stores.Nicola, thanks for letting me follow my dreams and being there for our kids when I didn’t have the time. Packing up and moving away from Toronto was hard on you and I appreciate it.Matt, what can I say, Matt? If everyone else at the brewery worked twice as hard as they already do, it would mean a thing if our beer wasn’t so gosh darn tasty. Over the years, I’ve come to think of you as a brother, a friend and both a willing co-conspirator and a voice of reason.Johanne R, your positive attitude and hard work have been invaluable. You are a pleasure to be around and you are calm under pressure. It has been a lot of learning to grow into our office manager, but I think you are doing great. Alex, one day you are going to make a great accountant! Thanks for all the hard work you’ve put in.Jen James, if it were possible to be too passionate about what we do, I think you might be guilty. Your smarts, your willingness to learn new skills and your investment into our brewery is wicked cool, sis. It’ll be cool having you in the comptroller position soon.Anick, I’m always happy to see you, both because I think you are a great person and it always means we’re really busy here.Anne, thanks for all your help in getting us certified organic and for dealing with our bottling line for as long as you did.Alex, Anne, Alice, Megan, Robert, Ryan M, Nik, I’m glad you have come on board to help us out for this busy summer on the bottling line, i look forward to getting to know all of you.Korina, I dig your sense of humour, your grace under fire and your eye to detail. I was pretty reluctant to hire a retail manager, but you’ve proven both that we needed the position and that you are the best person for it.Audrey, you are quickly making yourself a great part of the team whether its been on the bottling line or in the office.Laura, when the brewery was young, you put in a lot of hours, doing all sorts of crazy things and I’m very glad we can still count on you to come out and wave the flag for events and still give it all you’ve got.Jerry, ever since we went to see Gwar in ’93, I’ve counted you as one of my closest, bestest friends. Bringing you on board last year was such a happy moment for me, and through the year and a bit you’ve been with us, as much as I love how amazing you are doing selling in Toronto and to the West of the city, I love that I get to hang out with you even more.Jamie, it has been so fulfilling to have you by my side these 5 years. You built up Ottawa, by caring about your customers and about the brewery and about me. I couldn’t ask for a better friend, I know you are there for me personally, and professionally and that means so much.Nikki, we’ve shared so many laughs and tears, its hard to put into words how much I care for you. I’m so g[...]



Ontario Craft Beer Week Is Coming, Mondial is here!

2011-06-07T09:19:06.108-07:00

Well, we’ve just about a month before the 2nd annual OCB Week, or Ontario Craft Beer Week, if you’re into the whole brevity thing, kicks off on Father’s Day (June 19th, dontchaknow?). OCB Week is 7 days of celebrating the artisanal, the unique and the amazing beer brewed in our Province. It’s also quite a marathon of no-sleep, long days, longer nights and zig-zagging across the Province...I can’t wait!

Last year, at our brewery we focussed on doing lots of events and this year we’ll still be hosting, or contributing quite a few. But this year we’re stepping up the ante in terms of beer offerings, too. Check this out: We’ve collaborated with some of our favourite breweries to create a Pan-Ontario Beer, that should be super incredibly awesome. We’ve made a custom blend of our Screaming Beaver, Grand River’s Curmudgeon, Wellington’s Russian Imperial Stout, Flying Monkey’s Netherworld, and Great Lakes’ Devils Pale Ale. After blending we transferred into bourbon barrels, to get some yummy oak and bourbon character as well.
We’re also going to have a few events highlighting some Wild Oats that have already sold out (we saved a few for special occasions) and can’t wait to get to try some old favourites.

But in the meantime, I’m gearing up for Mondial de la Biere, which starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. Mondial is one of the best festivals ever, this year in a new location. I love hanging out with all the Quebec brewers; not only is their beer fantastic, but they are such a friendly, gracious group of people. It seems every time I visit a Quebec-based brewery, I come back with a new respect for the way they treat people. I’m also hoping that I meet a few international brewers; last year I met Alex and Grady from New Belgium and have developed a wonderful beer trading relationship with Alex and also met Eric Warner from Left Hand, whom I’ve since had the pleasure of hanging out in places near and far.

And I’m sure I’ll run into Ralph Morana from Bar Volo in Toronto. I’ve never been anywhere without running into Ralph. It’s both reassuring and freaky at the same time.



Have I mentioned I’ve been keeping busy?

2011-05-17T02:50:28.439-07:00

At the brewery, we talk about the tidal wave. Its a term we coined in our second year by about mid-May and it referred to the dizzying amount of special projects, special events, dramatic increase in sales and extra things on the go we very suddenly started to experience. Every year since, we talk about where we are in relation to the tidal wave, i.e. “It feels like the tidal waves coming”; “Oh, I think the tidal wave’s hit”; or “I think we’ve made it through the worst of the tidal wave”; to eventually “We made it through the tidal wave!”.This last remark is always one of both joy and melancholy. It is such an endurance test to get through for everyone at the brewery, but when its over it also means the end of our rapid growth and let me tell you growing rapidly has all the adrenaline rush of jumping out of an airplane. (Actually, I don’t know what jumping out of an airplane feels like, and have no real urge to experience it, but it seems like a good equivalent).The funniest comment made every year about the tidal wave goes something like this: “This year we’re so much more prepared for the tidal wave”. Every year I say it in March, just before St. Patrick’s Day, which is to us the start of our busy season, and every year by mid-May I look back with a sense of wonder at the naiveté I must have had only 2 months earlier. To give you a sense of the extra stuff we’ve got on the go, here are a few general items:• We’ve gone from running our bottling line 4 days/week, to 7 days/week (24 hours per day) and have had to start cancelling orders due to lack of bottling capability (Note to our sad customers – new bottling line should be installed by July)• We’re brewing 24 hours a day 5 days a week and will begin 7 days very shortly.• Lyndell, our special events and donations coordinator has gone from running about 15 events per month to about 50 events per month. Included in the list are some pretty cool festivals like the Dandelion festival in Kemptville, the Orleans festival, The Great Canadian Cheese festival in Prince Edward County, Mondial de la Biere in Montreal, Toronto Wine and Spirits, Beaches BBQ and Brew Fest, Ottawa Jazz Fest, Oyster fest in Ottawa, Perth Kilt Run, Vermont Brewer’s festival...and more, more, more!• Sales at our wonderful, wonderful restaurants have jumped by 27% in 3 months and we expect another 30% growth by end of July.This rapid growth impacts everybody. We’re all working faster, harder and longer to try to get it all done. I’m sure most everybody at the brewery could give you a list of the extra projects they have on the go right now, but here’s a small list of things I’ve personally got on the go over the next few weeks.• Planning OCB week – I’m the co-chair again this year along with my good friend at Cameron’s, Jason Ellesmere.• Hiring a new production manager, sales staff, delivery person, assistant brewer.• Working through a major financing round to bring in a new brewhouse and more fermenters to try to keep up with this crazy growth.• Talking to a few interested people about the possibility of expanding into Quebec (I’m sure wiser people than I would suggest I don’t divulge this detail, but I’ve never really seen the point in being too secretive on this sort of stuff).• Being available for the media. The OCB’s PR person always asks me how we get so much media attention, and I always reply “by being newsworthy”, but Spring time seems to be a very good time to write about beer. CTV is here tomorrow, we’ve recently had great articles in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen and more, and all of this takes time to spend with the journalist. (not complaining!)• Speaking engagements: Apparently some people think I’m worth listening to! I rece[...]



Sorry for my absence!

2011-04-01T09:16:24.005-07:00

I've been taking a break from the blogging for far too long. One week led to two, two weeks led to 2 months and now I don't even remember why I thought I'd take a break. But I'm baaaaaa-aaack.

So, what's new with you?

Since last I wrote, we've released and finished our Winter seasonal BogWater, had a crazy-awesome Christmas, started investigating a larger brewhouse, put a downpayment on a better bottling line, Released and sold out of three Wild Oats releases, BogFather (a monster version of BogWater), Winterbrewed (an amber ale infused with fairtrade coffee brewed by Bridgehead) and Matt's Sleepy Time (A big stout fermented with belgian yeast and aged with oak staves), and 11 of us went to the craft brewers convention in SanFrancisco. Oh yeah, and we also started selling our seasonals into the LCBO, starting with our Spring Seasonal, Beaver River. Like LugTread, its flying off the shelves and we're now moving to 24hr/day x 6 day a week bottling (which may sound like we're moving a tonne of beer, but really its just that our bottling line is that slow)

We've also gone through a lot of people changes in the last little while, which has been rather challenging for us. We added close to 20 people in one year and some of them worked out super awesome and some didn't and we probably learned the hard way some valuable lessons on keeping people happy and challenged and productive at work. I'm so very happy we hired a human resources manager (speaking of super awesome people), who is helping us through all this.

So, yeah, I'll try again to keep up with weekly posts. Thanks to everyone who has harrassed and hounded me to get back in the blog-saddle. Its funny to say this, because I'm the one who hasn't been doing it, but I've missed the therapeutic value of this blog.

See you next week!



BogWater is Coming!!!

2010-11-16T02:25:24.235-08:00

The first batch of BogWater has been brewed and it is now fermenting away like a trooper. Its actually a little later than I would have hoped to go in, but it took a bit longer to get the bogmyrtle this year...although the wait was definitely worth it, it is simply wonderful this year. Super aromatic, the whole brewery smelled of myrtle when we opened the first package.

About 5 weeks from now, I'm going to be a very happy man. Not that I'm not happy now, but in 5 weeks I'll be a happy man enjoying a pint of BogWater!

Cheers,

Steve



Oktoberfest, Riotfest, Rob's Wedding, Organic Week and Mondial (oh my)

2010-10-27T02:01:03.833-07:00

Wow. What a month. This seriously has to go down as craziest month ever. I'm going to have to say 'wow' again. Wow. Ok, so here goes...First, Oktoberfest. This was our 2nd time holding a full-on Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill, and we nailed it this time. Last year we got overwhelmed by the turn-out, but this year we really pulled it off. Not without a hitch, mind you, but pretty close. Saturday was a complete sell-out and Sunday was pretty full as well. We raised over $30,000 for charity and had a whole pile of fun. The bands were amazing, the kinderfest was awesome (Doo-Doo the clown is the best kids entertainer, ever), the speakers series was super cool, Cask Days was phenomenal, the activities went really well and the brewery tours were enjoyed by folks, too.I didn't post a pic, because you should check out the soundslide that Justin at our local newspaper, The Review put up. http://www.thereview.ca/story/soundslide-oktoberfest-ist-wunderbarThe next weekend, Riotfest. Nothing to do with the brewery, but there's a really cool punkrock festival in Chicago every year called Riotfest and a bunch of us went down for Rob's bachelor party...hey, Rob works for the brewery, so I guess it sorta has a little bit to do with the brewery. Also I went to Piece brewpub and drank a whole pile of 3 Floyd's beer while I was there...And then Rob and Robyn's Wedding...The next weekend was the wedding. The night before the wedding Rob and Robyn held a show at Sneaky Dee's and they convinced my old band to get back together for a set. That was really cool and their wedding was awesome fun, too. And I must say that after spending so much money at Sneaky Dee's during college, I'm glad to have gotten a tiny bit of it back (our beer was on tap for the night).Then Organic Week and the reception on Parliament Hill. It was a cool day spent remembering why we spend the extra time and money to make organic beer and do a bit of organic food lobbying. An interesting side note, was that in speaking to Steve Abrahms from Mill St Brewery in Toronto that he also was in a band back in the day called Skinnerbox, and I use to listen to their stuff all the time.Then came Mondial. Wow, was that a party. This is the 2nd annual Mondial de la Biere held in Strasbourg, at the far corner of France, just next to the German border. The show itself was a bit rough on me physically, but great fun as well. At night though, everybody was out partying like it was 1999. I can't go through the list of awesome people I was hanging out with without sounding like I'm name dropping, so instead I'll say this: During my nights there I was enthralled with conversations with Swedes, Italians, Americans, Belgians, Brits and fellow Canadians. I'd come solo and was worried that I'd spend my nights bored and alone, but instead I think I saw the wrong side of 5am everynight thanks to the efforts of my intrepid brewing colleagues.So yeah...this weekend is Cask Days and Halloween in Toronto with Nicola and the kids (who, I'm happy to say still remembered that they had a husband/father when I returned from France yesterday). That will put the final, wonderful cap on a wonderful, busy month.[...]



Great Canadian Beer Fest

2010-09-17T10:43:49.138-07:00

I was lucky enough to make it out to the Great Canadian Beerfest in Victoria last weekend. Caught up with some west coast friends like Paul from Howes Sound and Ali recently with R&B Brewing, Abe from Oregon and tried some super yummy beer.

Folks kept asking if we were planning to sell in BC soon and I kept answering that we were just there to enjoy the party - which was true.

I ended up cutting the trip short though...too many last minute details for Oktoberfest were keeping me up at night - well that and the texts from Abraham forcing me to go out late. But I'm glad I went.

Today is the first meeting of volunteers for Oktoberfest, so I'm pretty excited about seeing how it all goes. We're going to have somewhere around 300 people volunteering in different jobs over the course of the weekend!






Last week of summer, next week our production increases (hopefully)

2010-08-30T08:00:42.661-07:00

This weekend that just passed proved to be a rather busy one, Dad was pouring at the Muskoka beer festival with Darren and Rob; Jason was keeping the taps flowing at the Capital Pride Festival (our 5th year of involvement) and Nikki and I were rammed at a brand new inter-provincial, local food festival in Lefaivre and Montebello.

With our new brewer Rob in place, we are hopefull that by next week we can start shipping a bit more beer out. My sister (and our sales manager) giggled and pointed out that we're just in time to miss summer completely. Oh well - just think of how ready we'll be for next year!

Speaking of expanding, in finance news, we're meeting with our new BDC rep to sign papers for a pre-approved loan. It is part of a government program designed to spur the economy except that its not a grant and the interest rate is the same as any other loan. That said, it is still very welcome and will go immediately into more equipment to help us keep growing.



10 Good Reasons to Go Organic

2010-08-27T13:30:44.672-07:00

Beau's is a National Champion sponsor of Organic Week. They just sent us this list of 10 Good reasons to go organic, so I thought I'd share it with you.


1. YOU CAN TRUST IT Organic products meet strict standards of organic certification, So you can be certain your food is both grown and handled according to organic standards

2. IT’S MONEY WELL SPENT Though organics can cost a little more, prices are based on the true cost of production

3. YOU’LL CUT CHEMICAL USE Organic agriculture reduces the risk from agri-chemicals polluting the air,water and earth sustaining us

4. NATURE IS NOURISHED By not using chemicals and nitrogen that leach into the soil, organic food protects and conserves our water resources and builds richer soils. Organic agriculture enhances biodiversity

5. IT ENCOURAGES INNOVATION Organic farmers have developed farming practices to minimize agriculture’s impact on the environment, It is a green technology

6. IT DEFENDS DIVERSITY Biodiversity, that is. Biodiversity is the variety of species living on our planet, and studies show many organic fields contain more wild plants, species and birds than non-organic farms.

7. IT REACHES OUT RURALLY Organic agriculture supoprts small farms & offers new markets for local farmers

8. THERE’S NO LIMIT Today in every food category, you can find organic alternatives

9. IT’S GOOD FOR THE EARTH Like reforestation, research is showing that organic agriculture could positively impact the global warming crisis

10. YOU’LL FEEL BETTER Organic food is rich with nutrients an disease fighting anti-oxidants



Big Win (...and big bust!)

2010-08-23T07:56:35.578-07:00

I was happy to attend the 8th edition of the BarTowel's Golden Tap Awards this weekend. This year it was expanded to a 2-day event, with a beer dinner on Friday and the awards and tasting festival on the Saturday, all at the impressive Beer Bistro in downtown Toronto.

The beer dinner was phenomenal. The pairings were thoughtful, the beer was wonderful and the crowd was enthusiastic. The awards were great, too, and I'm very proud and humbled to say that we took home the awards for best year-round beer and best microbrewery in Ontario again as well as picking up the award for winning last year's best beer of the festival.

I had a particularly interesting conversation at the awards with a fellow named Trevor. It was his bachelor party and he successfully convinced his whole crew of fellows to spend an hour sampling Ontario craft beer before heading off for the rest of their festivities.

I have recently been talking about the possibility of creating a beer revolution in Ontario where Ontarians would drink independent, Ontario-made beer half of the time. Most of my critics insist that the so-called "regular" customer will only ever purchase the cheapest blandest beer available. Here was my counter-position in the flesh - one guy who had been turned on to the awesomeness of Ontario beer, doing missionary work with his buddies, introducing them to what we have to offer.

On my way back from the festivities in Toronto, I got a call from the home front to let me know of some very bizarre and rather bad news. We were very excited to be sponsoring the Ottawa Reggae Festival for the first time this year (I'm a huge ska and roots reggae fan), but apparently this will also be the last year. The headliners all backed out and the police stormed the gates and seized all the money on hand and effectively shut down the festival. We had to send guys down to protect the rest of our beer until we could get it out.

We're still scratching our heads and wondering what our lesson to learn from this is. We've pretty much been a hand-shake type of company and events like this make you question whether we need to be less trusting of new festivals, or just understand that risk is inherent in business and deal with it. Oh well, interesting conversations, at least.



Getting Ready for Oktoberfest

2010-08-19T01:13:11.408-07:00

We had a great, if not long, meeting today for our Oktoberfest. This year it is going to be held on October 2nd and 3rd, and its shaping up to be quite an event.

We started talking about holding an Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill about a year before we actually started brewing beer. In terms of celebrations you could have, I'm hard pressed to think of one that is more fun and we've always liked the idea of bringing people to our little town.

Two years ago we held a mini-Oktoberfest on the front lawn of our brewery. About 200 people showed up for a taste of our (then) new seasonal, Night Marzen, toss a keg and hang out for the day.

Last year, we decided to step it up about 2,000 notches, booked out the fairgrounds, got live oompah bands, made custom dirndles, arranged for homebrewing demonstrations, brought 10 seriously delicious restaurants out and worked out haywagon rides to bring visitors back and forth to the brewery for tours. Things got crazy when our friend and Member of Barleyment (the homebrewers group) founder, Alan McKay got wind that George Wendt would be releasing a book about his relationship with beer and was able to suggest to George's PR firm that our little Oktoberfest would be a great stop on his book promotion tour.

It took a fair bit of convincing, but somehow George agreed to come up and join us. This seemed to be the final gem that made people decide to come up and visit, because on the day of we were completely overrun by happy guests...

We've taken a lot of steps to make sure we're better prepared this year including:

- Lots more tents incase the weather doesn't cooperate (and heaters, too)
- Lots more food (twice as many restaurants)
- Different stage set up and layout so that there is a better view, and more room to dance to the oompah
- lots more beer taps flowing to cut down lines
- no more food tickets - pay each restaurant direct
- lots more portapotties
- lots more tables
- on site camping (rough camping, nothing fancy, but VKH doesn't have a lot of accomodations)
- more haywagons bringing people to more destinations
-more activities
- more beer (extra batches of our seasonals, plus 3 special one-off batches, plus Volo Cask Days, a cask festival featuring beer from several Ontario breweries)
- More beer-centric attractions, including Beer expert Mirella Amato, an Art of Beau's at the Arbor Gallery
- Many more staff on hand to help out

...and a whole lot more. We fully plan on making our Oktoberfest an annual event to mark in your Calendar and think we've raised the bar significantly. George won't be able to make it this year, but we're working hard at bringing out a few familiar faces to add a splash of celebrity to the event, but we can't quite announce anything yet...



What if Ontario held a Beer Revolution

2010-08-11T10:21:28.042-07:00

I was asked if I wanted to speak at the Toronto Festival of Beer this year and I said yes, of course (I like to talk), but I didn’t want to just do the regular this-is-the-brewing-process or the my-dad-and-I-started-up-the brewery... kind of talk, I figured after saying it at the booth for a couple days, it might come out a little over-rehearsed. So I decided instead to give a pitch instead for drinking locally brewed beer in general.As it turns out, the format was interview style and the placement of the speaking corner was in direct line of the main stage so it was impossible to hear and the tent (which was named craft beer corner) wasn’t given any signage that might let people know where to find it. Suffice to say, I didn’t get to give my pitch and there weren’t a lot of folks that would have heard it anyway.So instead, I figure I might as well throw this on the blog, and see if it can get some traction here...But a word of note first...I've footnoted my sources used, but I’m sure there are some better pieces of data out there that would refine some of the projections used. Please comment with better sources if you have them. I’ll edit the piece to include better figures as I get them and leave the comments in place to show the progress.With that here is my pitch...Thanks for coming, my name is Steve, and my Dad and I started up Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co 4 years ago. We’re a local, organic, family-run, award winning and totally independent brewery. But I’m not going to talk much about my brewery today; instead I’d take this time to throw out a pretty radical thought...What if Ontario had a beer revolution?What do I mean by a beer revolution? Well revolutions usually involve overthrowing tyrants, and instituting a new form of governance, but my revolution is maybe a little less violent than that, although by no means is it less radical.Right now in Ontario, 1 out of every 20 beers drunk came from an independent, Ontario brewery.(note 1) By beer revolution, I mean, what would happen if Ontarians chose to drink an Ontario-made independent beer 1 out of every 2 times they drank beer? I’ll talk about how this revolution might begin and what it would look like a little later, but I think it is important to address why this would be so important first and the best way to do that is describe what Ontario would look like after the revolution, when 1 out of every 2 beers drunk in this province was independently made in the province.So let’s look into the crystal ball...Canadians drink about 85 litres of beer every year, which means in Ontario, about 800 million litres of beer are drunk each year.(note 2) That means that after the beer revolution, Ontario brewers will have grown from selling about 40 million litres of beer to 400 million litres. What is the most important change that would occur after the beer revolution?Just think of the beer we’d get to drink!Our 35 independent brewers on average produce about 1 million litres of beer every year, with about an average of 4 brands each (note 3). To get to 400 million litres of beer, we’d need to add 315 new breweries (for a total of 350 breweries) and 1,260 new brands of beer (for a total of 1,400). One thousand, four hundred brands of beer!!! It would also mean that almost every city and town in the province would have at least one local brewery to check out when you visited.The Beer Store currently boasts 350 brands from 90 breweries (note 4), the LCBO claims 341 (note 5). Think of how much more choice there would be if [...]



Shiny new tanks!

2010-08-05T06:13:53.705-07:00

Hooray! 3 of our 5 tanks showed up today (two fermenters and one bright tank). The other two should be arriving on Tuesday next week. The piping arrives on Monday and hopefully by mid-to-late August we'll have the extra brewing help to be brewing into them, thanks to Rob Long our new brewer who starts this Monday, too!

The Great LugTread Shortage (as Sean Cooley from Moonrappin' likes to call it) is nearly over! Thanks for your patience everyone.

On a technical note for startup breweries purchasing your first tanks, clarifying how the tanks will ship is of vital importance. Our preference is that the tanks ship on a dock-level height transport (closed in, not exposed to the elements) and properly cradled (cradle with wheels, please!). We forgot to specify that and our supplier this time forgot to ask, so it took an entire extra day and about $3,000 to get a boom to hoist these 2,500lb monsters off the truck instead of just wheeling them in.



2010: A Box Oddessy

2010-08-02T08:24:19.603-07:00

Our 4 pack box is a real piece of work. I mean this both literally and figuratively. I think it is a wonderful thing; enviro-cool, full of actually useful stuff, aesthetically awesome, and now very functional as well. But holy-schmolly, what a big piece of work to make this right. The whole process nearly destroyed Jordan, our designer, who had to keep pushing this project forward, despite a billion setbacks, production issues, registration complications and supplier issues.

Ok, lets start with the bottle. We prototyped the design for about 6 months - everything from the thickness of the glass to the amount of etching on the tractor became an issue. First the letters of Beau's were crooked and the typing at the bottom was the wrong font. Then it was too small. Then it was too low on the neck...took forever to get it right.

Then the labels. We had our minds set on a really out-there shape with a custom die-cut and a really slick graphic presentation. But then we discovered these enviro-cool, tree-free labels and had to completely redesign the entire graphics, because this paper was really absorbent and would look horrible in anything trying to look to slick. So, we went for a real old-timey two-colour look so that any defects in the printing would look intentional. I'm incredibly glad we did, because the labels look so much cooler now.

Then there was the problem of finding a supplier willing to print on the stuff. Basically there were no printers locally who had ever worked with this paper, or were willing to do the R&D work necessary to make sure it actually printed properly. We spent about 6 weeks in a holding pattern with 3 different companies - each of them refusing to do any testing for us. Then, Jordan found a 4th company, Claboro, who were like "sure, we'll test it right away". They got the job.

Then the box. Oh my, the box sucked. We went through so many re-designs, so many test runs, so many production issues it is truly unbelievable. Jordan was about ready to kill someone, I'm sure of it. Then after we finally put the job to bed and get our first shipment in we discover, to our horror, that the notches where the string go were place too high and the box was too thin, so the handles would break.

We tried to resolve this with our supplier, but their only solution was to charge us more to make a box that fit around the box to protect the handle slightly better. We felt we had to change suppliers and did so. The new supplier came up with modifications that made the box very, very durable, which was great - but then they had a whole host of printing issues that required dies to be remade, several more re-works to get a box that is now both durable and properly printed.

A million other things went wonky during the process and Jordan and I kept joking that this must be the reason that most breweries use a standard bottle in a standard 6-pack. But, after taking about a year and a half, watching the crazy demand for this package, and needing to hire not 1, not 2, but 3 more brewers to meet the demand that this package has created; well, it was worth it.



Hiring a new brewer

2010-07-12T12:26:21.086-07:00

So we started interviewing for a new brewer last week. Dont' worry, everything is great with Matt, Chris, Kevin and Anne. But we've hit another brick wall in production with all the bottling, brewing, filtering and QA work that needs to get done, so our brewing team needs a new member. First interview went quite well, although we're trying to get a better structured interview going - seems that how talkative we feel has a huge impact on how long interviews go. Karen sat in on the interview to help us put together a more standard set of Q's so that we can better judge all the A's that come in.



Certification Audit, Jazzfest fun, Oktoberfest planning, SAQ conversations, Canada Day, VCI Grad

2010-07-05T12:08:27.951-07:00

We had our annual organic certification audit today. There is an annual audit and then random unnanounced inspections throughout the year. Today went pretty smoothly, we'd had a delegation from the EU and CFIA do a mock inspection a month earlier, so we were pretty prepared. Still makes for a stressful morning, but its a great feeling once the inspection is complete.

Last night we took our staff out to see the final night of Jazzfest as a group. It was a lot of fun and a really nice way to say thanks to everybody for putting in the extra hours over the summer. This is our 3rd time doing Jazzfest, and it was the first time we could get out as a group and take it in. And Sharon Jones was phenomenal.

We had a townhall meeting on Monday night to offer up opportunities for our town to benefit from our Oktoberfest celebration. We're encouraging the whole town to get in on the fun and make it really special for our guests, while letting them receive some benefit from all these tourists coming in. It was a good meeting with lots of interest, and I'm hoping we can get a number of satellite events happening this year.

We had a really interesting conversation on Tuesday with a Quebec beer importer. They had tried our beer at Mondail and would like to represent us in La Belle Province (mmm...steamies). It is a difficult process, so don't expect anything happening overnight, but I would really love to be able to sell into the Quebec area.

Canada Day was great. I spent the day with my family, took the girls to the L'orignal park for fun stuff there and then over to the Vankleek Hill celebration where my daughters danced up a storm and then watched the fireworks. (they had Beau's on tap there, too, so life was good).

On Saturday, Vankleek Hill's highschool had its final reunion before the old school is torn down. It made for a memorable night of visiting old friends - although, truth be told, I've kept in touch with many of my highschool friends, so there were only a few of those "Holy crap, I didn't recognize you, its been wayyyy too long" moments.

All in all, another busy, awesome week.



Happy Birthday to Beau's continued...

2010-07-02T13:22:29.627-07:00

I almost forgot to put this article up...again, not a Beau's article exactly, but its about the Wellington Gastro pub. They started up about a month after we did and thanks to a little nudge from Vicki Smallman, we were in their opening line up. We've stayed on tap at the Wellington since their day one and every year I get to celebrate their anniversary sort of like our own.