So You Want to Start A Brewery? is a memoir of the starting of a business. The title attracts me. Although I am not going to start a brewery (but who knows what will happen in the future), I am very interested to know the process involved in operating a brewery.
Tony Magee is the founder of Lagunitas Brewing Company. He was responsible for the recipe and labels on the bottles since the beginning. He started the brewery in 1993 and sold 50% of its share to Heineken in 2015. Heineken bought the remaining portion in 2017 and becomes the sole owner of the brewery. Tony Magee remains as chairman of the board.
So You Want to Start A Brewery? contains a fauxword, an introduction, 18 chapters, an afterword and an epilogue.
Each chapter has its own title and I am going to list them down sequentially here: 1) The First Days, 2) The Tyranny of Fast Growth, 3) But What Kind of Beer…?, 4) Creative Funding, 5) Dramas and Debacles, 6) Tried and Tested, 7) The Birth of a Brand, 8) The Arrival of Our IPA, 9) Flavors and Labels, 10) Down with Dogma, 11) The Experimental Recipes, 12) The Brewery, 13) Moving to Petaluma, 14) Moving Again, 15) A Word About Brewers, 16) The St. Patrick’s Day Massacre, 17) The Beer Sanctuary and 18) Current Life on Planet Lagunitas. Every chapter ends with a type of beer with its label and associated story. The label and story are often fascinating. There are also notes from a few people in the brewery in some of the chapters.
The afterword contains his thoughts on thinking and the author lists 26 of his favourite sayings here. He also tells a story that demonstrates the working of these 26 sayings.
Although the author says that So You Want to Start A Brewery? is a memoir, sometimes I feel it is like a fiction. The fauxword which is supposed to be foreword actually does not make sense to me at all. However, it does set the tone and prepare me for the rest of the book.
The author tells his experience in a light-hearted manner. He is always making fun here and there. Nonetheless, he does give a detailed narrative of starting and running his brewing business. Lagunitas is his pride. His style is to do things first and worry about the money later. Though this is dangerous, he was able to pull it off. Setbacks did not deter him. He always found some ways to get out of trouble.
In this book, the author injects lightness into the whole process of running a brewery but I still can feel the stress that accompanies business operation from the words. Running any business is never easy but the author has a positive mindset and unparalleled luck. But he did put in a lot of hard work and deal with financial distress before he attained success.
He refused to apply for government incentive because he did not want to siphon off tax money when he has the means to implement his own plan. Although he is a brewer, he advises against excessive drinking. This shows that he has a good conscience.
One prominent theme that I notice in this book is that relationships and acquittances are really important in business. If you know the right people or have the right connections, it will increase your business chance of success.
Overall, I find this book to be entertaining. Though I still do not have 100% knowledge on how to start a brewery, I believe some of the principles practised by the author can be applied in any type of business or even in personal life. So, even though I read this book for fun, I am glad that I did learn something from it.
- Starting anything is creating, and creation is often messy.
- When you don’t know what you are doing, anything is possible.
- When things go well, you learn almost nothing. In failure there is learning.
- The public-opinion thing mattered a lot, and sometimes it was unfair, but it was real.
- The things we engage with become emphasized and grow in importance while the things we eschew are marginalized and recede.
Interested in So You Want to Start A Brewery?
You may get the book from Kinokuniya Malaysia through the link below*.
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