Go small or go home?

So I thought I’d try to expand a little more on what I had in mind for Broken Oak Brewing.  The plan is to start a nano brewery.  The loose definition of a nano is a brewery that is 3 barrels or less.  A barrel (bbl) is 31 gallons so a 3bbl system would produce 93 gallons of finished beer which is currently the size of system I’d like to start with.   Now there is a lot of info out there that says this is a bad idea and most people will tell you that if you want to start a brewery (not a brew pub) it needs to be at least a 15bbl brewery if you want to be successful.  If you want to open a brew pub then it drops to at least a 7bbl brewery but either way anything under 7bbl is a waste of time and money.  The reasoning for statements like this is that it takes the same amount of work and time to make 90 gallons of beer as it does to make 500 gallons.  With the assumption that you will be distributing your beer (or using a distributor), it is easy to see why people say going small won’t work.

example of a 3bbl nano brewery.
example of a 3bbl nano brewery

The nano model works by having a tasting room to sell beer directly to customers either by the pint or by the growler and by cutting as much overhead as possible (small system, no bank loans, macgyver skillz, ect.).  There are several reasons that I believe a nano brewery will be the best fit for my vision of a brewery.  First, the biggest reason is, location.  Oregon is unique in its appreciation for alcohol as well as getting that “local farm fresh” experience.  Additionally the tasting room experience is something that Oregonians are intimately familiar with. The plan is to open the brewery at my parents’ house in Yamhill, Oregon.  I am fortunate to have amazing parents that support and believe in me enough to partner with me in this crazy endeavor.  The name Broken Oak refers to the broken oak tree that used to be an indicator where the driveway is.  Just before the pavement ends turn left at the broken oak tree.  The property, in addition to being in the middle of beautiful wine country, also has history as a large turkey and pig farm so there is a large barn that is begging to be used again.

See 3
See 3
yamhillvines
See? Beautiful

Another reason to go the nano route is the flexibility it provides.  It gives flexibility in brewing and flexibility in schedule.  Part of the charm of going to a nano brewery is trying things you can’t get anywhere else and potentially tasting something that won’t be made again. Small batches of beer allow for experimentation and, if anyone knows anything about my brewing habits, than they know that I have a hard time brewing the same recipe more than once.

Lastly another reason to start at the nano level is to be able to start small and grow the brewery organically.  Hopefully, maybe with a little help from friends and family, we’ll be able to open Broken Oak Brewing with minimal debt and lots of hard work.  In the beginning I expect to continue working during the week while brewing and running the tasting room on the weekends.  Also for more exposure I’d like to sell at farmers markets throughout the area.  Hopefully as things start to take off I can extend hours and focus more on other brewery projects (hop farm, food, events, bottles, ect.).

More on nanos!

http://hessbrewing.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html (Nano inspiration!)

https://www.facebook.com/SantiamBrewingCo (Salem nano!)

https://www.facebook.com/SalemAleWorks (Another Salem nano!)

Currently Fermenting: 

  1. Malted Cider

Currently on Tap: 

  1. Split Mosaic Saison
  2. 100% Brettanomyces fermented Split Mosaic Saison
  3. American IPA  
  4. Late Addition American Wheat 
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2 thoughts on “Go small or go home?

  1. Sounds amazing, Danny. You know we are here to help, whether that means mopping and cleaning or help with the brewing process, prep of and serving food bites…and possibly some things you haven’t thought of yet. Break a limb;)

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