Size Matters (Seriously): Part II

Are you losing your mind with anticipation yet? Here we go! Part II of our discussion on brewery starting size. This time with GrassLands in the crosshairs.

In last week's post, we talked about the wonderful, yet tumultuous world of nano/pico brewing. This week, we'll chat 'bout what GrassLands intends to do and why!

I can't take it anymore! So how freakin' big will GrassLands be when it launches? 

As we previously discussed, there's the good & bad to deal with when considering a brewery's starting size. The ever-expanding world of nano- and pico-breweries is beginning to give plenty of clout to the notion that it could work, especially in a smaller market...though not without its drawbacks. Starting bigger gives you more wiggle-room, but not without a large financial risk. It all comes down to what the brewery wants to accomplish and how it wants to do it. Do you want to sell primarily retail (i.e. a bar presence) or do you want to grow to have more of a regional representation? Neither answer is wrong, it's all based on the focus, mission and vision of the brewery itself. Given that I've been all open-source with you on what we plan to do, I've already said that GrassLands will be a 3-Phase plan. Remember when I said that?

What that means is that if I'm serious about abiding by those three phases, GrassLands absolutely cannot start at the pico- or nano-level, despite its intrigue. After a TON of market research on Tallahassee and comparable cities, GrassLands happily intends to launch as a 10 Barrel System (310 gallon capacity per brew cycle)!!! Looking at the grand scale of the industry, 10 barrels is actually pretty average. Even so, this will allow us to do a number of different things within the first phase of our plan: "Taking care of Tally"...such as:

  1. Fully operate a taproom for onsite patronage with year-round selections available on draft and in bottles (for select limited releases);
  2. Service a bunch of bars, lounges & restaurants throughout Tallahassee and select Southeast locations;
  3. Participate at beer events throughout the Southeast US; and perhaps most importantly,
  4. Allow for healthy growth over the course of our first several years in operation.

Ten barrels is a good fit for the Tallahassee, FL market and surrounding areas. Our thought process is to brew, on average 2-3 times per week in the first year, double-batch brewing where necessary on specific types of beers, most likely our two or three flagships. As we begin to brew more and service more accounts, we'll have to accommodate with fermentation capacity. We'll start with enough appropriately sized fermenters according to our markets' demand. It's expected that our ratio of wholesale to retail will be off-balance at first, but over time, our goal is to become a common staple on taps around Tallahassee and throughout the FL Panhandle. We want GrassLands to represent Tallahassee and the FL Panhandle. It's an essential component of our vision.

Such a system makes me think of other successful and growing regional breweries and how they started - like SwampHead in Gainesville and Bold City Brewery & Intuition Ale Works in Jacksonville. In particular, Bold City & Intuition have done exceptional jobs in making their beers available throughout the city of Jacksonville. Obviously, Jacksonville is much larger than Tallahassee, but more and more, we're looking at Tallahassee both as an increasingly beer-centric town and also as a hub to other parts of FL. In that sense, Tallahassee actually is a bit like Jacksonville - at least in comparison to Jacksonville's early stages of craft beer growth. It's absolutely amazing to me that both Intuition and Bold City are on tap at multiple locations at Jaguar football games! Local craft and the NFL? Isn't that AB-InBev and MillerCoors territory? Perhaps not! One thing in common between these breweries (and other regional representatives) - their size. They started out sized appropriately for their respective markets with the goal for an on-site taproom combined with keg distribution and bottles/cans in stores.

So...10 barrels it is. You ready for it, Tallahassee? We certainly are!

We'll leave you to it for now - but we're definitely eager to hear your feedback on our approach! Surprised? Concerned? Excited? Confused? All of it matters to us and we're very happy to stay as engaged and interactive with you all as possible. Don't ever hesitate to get in touch with us...we WANT to hear from you!

Have an exceptionally wonderful weekend, my dear readers, because you definitely deserve it!

Prost!