Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Christmas Spirit

Again, I've done it, or more like NOT done it. Keeping up to date on this whole blogging thing. As before, I've only got to say that with a day job, family, (comprised of three kids and a wife) there is usually very little time to keep up on the social aspect of a business that doesn't even have its doors open.

The one thing that makes me feel good about all this, is that I've looked, and quite a few breweries in the area have far fewer tweets, blog posts, facebook fans and posts. I'll leave it at that....for now.

Now on to Xmas.

And spirit of the giving season.

With the Holiday season approaching, I've definitely been thinking about the position, that I luckily find myself. Yes, its taking a considerably longer time to get this brewery open, but the truth is that I have everything lined up. A great friend that is pretty much acting as my finance/investment manager, folks lined up and willing and begging to work for us when we open, equipment manufacturers that are willing to work on pricing, as well as that amazing space that is STILL open and just waiting for me to snatch it up.

Now with all this, I keep on being, on a daily basis, reminded of the hardships of people around me. Poverty and downright bad luck are all around. After all, we are still chest deep in the midst of one of the worst economic downturns of all time. Here in California unemployment is still hovering around 12%.

So with that in mind, I'd like to challenge everyone out there, be you a brewery, or drinker, or just another person that is in a position to help.... to do just that. Help your fellow man.

With family and kids, I see how excited my own little brood is when the thought or idea of Christmas comes up. Kids, and I am mainly thinking of all the kids out there that wont get what my kids will most likely always think of as the norm. We all see the pan handlers with signs asking for handouts. Now I don't think that the bulk of those folks are actually going to improve their lives with those handouts, but there are some.

What I'm thinking of, is the simple act of giving the little things. If you have a day job, or are lucky enough to work in the industry, most of us will see, and most days ignore, the large bins asking for donations of food and clothes, and basic gifts for those less privileged than us.

The cost to most of us, for some of those basics of every Holiday season dinner are so small and inconsequent that we forget what an impact the basic concept of family dinners can have on someone that plainly wont experience it. Again, I'm thinking of children.

So, the next time that you're walking by that bin, or better yet at the store shopping for those things that you take for granted, buy a little something extra, drop it in that bin. Feel good that your small contribution, as small as it may be, just may make someones day a little brighter in the near future.

Toys for tots, adopt an angel, whichever program you may have soliciting your good nature at your place of work of anywhere for that matter, helps out far more than that dinner. The awe in a child's eyes, when they see that present under the tree, or wherever "Santa" dropped it for them, is something that we all should work to elicit in every person, not just children. Wonder makes us the people that we are, and we all take it for granted; mostly having forgotten the feeling in our adult lives.

I've done it at work for the last few years, and I hope you all will too, and I always have my own children pick out a few basic toys when shopping, and explain to them that those toys are going to kids who usually don't get a thing all year. It teaches humility and humanity at the same time.

We all may not agree on our flavor of belief, or the nature of helping, but lets think about that basic needs that some people are not able to provide. If for some reason I wasn't able to give my kids the basics around the holiday season, I know that it would crush me, on many levels. We don't need to go into details of why someone may or may not have been responsible for their family being in that kind of a position, but lets just exercise our Holiday spirit this year, as much as we can.

Call it being blessed, lucky, smart or wiley, but we are all people together, and sometimes, it does make a difference to reach out and touch someones life that you will never meet.

Happy Holiday Seasons, and lets try to help make this a better world, for just a small period of time.

Lucas E Szymanowski

Holiday Season Softie

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Down Time.... And Epilepsy.

This morning I realized that Im feeling burnt out! Not burnt out, in the "throw in the towel" way or the "dont have in in you anymore" way, but the.... "All i do is (fill in blank)" way where the brewery is all that I think about during all my free time, weekends, and waking moments.

To that effect, Im going to step back for the evening. I had planned on sitting and hammering out some changes to the business plan and crunching some numbers, but it can wait a few hours this evening. Im sure that I'll be back on the wagon and trucking along tomorrow.

The one thing that I did do, which I realized during the last few days that I never did was to include a small section in the kickstarter page about how we plan on donating 1% of profits to "our" cause.

The cause being epilepsy research. If you know me and the family personally, you'll know how much of a struggle it can be for an individual, as well as a family, to have a four year old diagnosed with generalized epilepsy. All I can say is that we've been seizure free for a few months, and I wouldnt wish epilepsy on anyones child.

Epilepsy scared the shit out of me, and still does! What scares you?

Cheers, and enjoy your evenings!


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pico brewing is.....

So, after the last post, even I realized that I could have gone into more detail with the pico brewery vs. Nano brewery idea. In that vein here are some more details and thoughts about Pico Brewing!

Some of the characteristic of what would differentiate a pico from a nano from a micro brewery would be the following, in my humble opinion.

1. No debt overhead, be it because the owner can afford the costs of startup on their own, or arrange angel or VC style investments.

2. The brewery is still a "second" job and is considered a part time endeavor, with the owner being the primary employee.

3. For the first year, at least, I would think that barrel output would be under the 1000 barrel mark. Beyond that you start moving into the nano and micro brewery realm, and above.

I wanted to add a 4th item, solely based around the production capacity, but the reality is that my own opinion on what size of a brew setup is necessary to maintain a pico brewery has changed over the last few months.

Initially, the plan, and thought was that you could do this with a 1.5BBL system, but after some deep thougth, I am going to agree with the general community consensus, and say that a 10HL system is about as close to minimal as I would want to recommend to anyone. Would I personally drop down below that, maybe, but that would be a hard call.



What is Pico Brewing?

So today I got this question directed at me on twitter.

What is the difference between a Nano and pico brewery.

Since reading that question, I've thought a bit about why I chose the term "pico" vs. Nano. The answer is two fold and I'll address them both here!

The non romantic in me thinks that the term pico is catchier, and when you want to attract people to your product, or in my case, the concept of a product, you want someone to ask you, as was done in twitter... "What is a Pico Brewery?" From a search perspective the word Nano is three and one half times more searched than the word pico. There is less competition for business, and search results when using the term Pico. Unfortunately, when you throw the word beer into the mix, those numbers get skewed considerably, but my approach is that I'll take any advantage that I can when it comes to search. I havent done the regional and local area markets analysis of these search terms, but I'll wager that the trends still are somewhat inline for "all time, global" results, as is the 3:1 ratio that I mentioned.

Another answer: From a commercial beer perspective, there are already a good amount of nano breweries, pubs, etc that are active in beer making. The term is catching on in the industry, as well as the home brew community, and has been used in both for some time. Pico has not.... as much at least.

The romantic answer, and the one that I like to pitch first, is that its a scale small enough to be able to respond quicker to feedback, praise, criticism, and provide a more organic experience to your beer consumption. Your beer should change with you, and at the Pico brewing scale, I would be able to keep up and maybe even stay ahead of customer tastes and desires to make what the people want and enjoy. Pico scales makes my brewing more nimble.

So does that answer anything?



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Social Experiment and funding.

It doesnt matter where you go or what you read, everyone says that the social web is the next big thing.

To that effect, Im really trying to get the Kickstarter funding project up and off the ground. Im getting the word out on the Facebook site as well as twitter, and anywhere else where I can think of.

Today I set up Google Adwords for the kickstarter funding site, and already, outside of these efforts, the social aspect is panning out more than paid advertising. Two people may not seem like much, but when they put their own money on the table, it tells me that the future that I see for craft beer is real and present. Especially when the kickstarter project has been up and running mere hours! Im excited and optimistic.


With this passed weekends get together, I had a chance to talk to some people directly, to hear others opinions and thoughts second hand, but the one common element was that everyone sees and seems to believe in the concept and my own personal enthusiasm for the brewery. I had some great discussion about funding, especially the idea of VC funding as applied to a brewery. The wine industry is replete with successful wineries that got of the ground by way of angel investing, which is a great sign for us! I've made the contacts, and am actively working towards meeting the people who (face to face) who are in positions to fund our entire requirement.

The future is looking very bright, and you all are along for the ride. Stay tuned, and lets keep the social movement going!