One of the concepts we originally had when setting up our farmhouse style brewery in Saxapahaw was the idea of working alongside local farmers on an annual basis to grow certain ingredients for our core beers. It just makes natural sense—Alamance County is home to plenty of successful small farms that responsibly raise livestock, grow all sorts of delicious food, or forage for unique ingredients that grow wild here in North Carolina...
1. You have to stand out amongst your peers. The craft beer world is one of the most collaborative, most supportive, most amicable business environments out there—it really is an amazing world in which to live and work. But the fact is, breweries are opening every day across the country, and when it comes down to it, we’re all still in business to keep the lights on, right? To become appealing to the wonderful world of beer bars and craft-centric restaurants out there, you must have a clear, distinct brand (your logo, website, look & feel, and general story behind what you’re doing), so your prospective customers know what they’re buying into, and what they’re representing to their own customers. Ask yourself what makes your brewery, your beer and your brand different from five of your favorite local breweries, and then think about how best you can showcase what makes your brewery different enough from theirs to stick in the minds of your customers in an appealing way (and without seeming boastful or degrading to anyone else, of course). And please, please, leave the inside jokes, the sexist symbolism and the overt shock value out of your message. You're a craft brewer now—it should be fun, but you also gotta act like you belong in the big leagues..
In case you haven't noticed yet, it's already 2014. Yep. To say that "time is flying" is a rather exaggerated understatement on our end. Over the past few months, we've hosted a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise some last-minute funds for a few pieces of pretty nifty specialty equipment, finalized our construction plans and gotten started on construction, taken receipt of a whole bunch of our brewery equipment, and started working on some really cool plans for our grand opening weekend.
You may have recently noticed that we’ve launched a campaign to raise funds for adding some unique equipment to the brewery on Kickstarter. The short and skinny of it is—we’d love to make our brewery a more sustainable venture and we'd like you to play a key role in making that happen. Kickstarter.com is our chosen platform, and they’ve been great to work with. But they have rules & guidelines in place that don't exactly allow us to include a few things the way we intended, which might warrant a bit more explanation. Thought it made sense to add a little more detail on our own website. :)
In a couple of weeks, Haw River Farmhouse Ales is launching one final round of fundraising to add a few special pieces of equipment, using Kickstarter.com as our crowdsourcing platform of choice. For quite some time, we've been a bit hesitant to consider something like Kickstarter, since it's arguably used by many startup breweries these days as an afterthought, many times without much effort or respect for the folks being asked to open their wallets and jump into the mix...
Over the past couple of years, we've had dozens of folks stop us around town here in Saxapahaw to say "Hey, can I grow some (fill in the blank with something delicious) for you?" Even I'm surprised at how willing neighbors out here in the country are to try their hands at growing ingredients for us—it's quite humbling, to be honest. And as much as we appreciate the willingness to help, it's sometimes a tough question to answer. Growing a few hop bines or an acre of barley isn't too difficult to do, but producing enough for commercial batches of beer, guaranteeing consistency and quality, and preparing ingredients properly to be used with the equipment most commercial breweries use... that's a different story, and still a daunting challenge for most small farmers.
A few weeks ago, Haw River Farmhouse Ales was lucky enough to have been invited to pour our beer alongside some of the most promising upstart breweries in the state, helping to raise funds to benefit the Triangle's oldest no-kill animal shelter, Second Chance Pet Adoptions. The awesome folks at Steel String Craft Brewery, Deep River Brewing Company, Four Saints Brewing Company and newcomers to the scene, Raleigh Brewing Company and Crank Arm Brewery, were all in attendance at Rockfish Seafood Grill in Durham for a night of great beer and great people.