Fritz Maytag, United States, Producer discussed on How I Built This


Of people who are used to drinking. You know regular lager beer and it was even that way. When we first started the brewery you'd go to a tasting and ninety percent of the people were like. Wow this is way to better I I. I can't drink this or I don't like this but then you'd find somebody is like. Can I just loved that bitter character? And so the you know the Human Palate Certainly interpret those flavors differently. And I think as a craft brewing and as beer culture evolved I think people became much more appreciative of beer styles that they have a lot of character. All right. So you've got this little storefront. At what point did you think you know? Maybe I should actually make beer and sell beer was like a conversation at somebody encourage you to do this. Was there. 'cause you've got the store and presumably like you can make that your career like we could be talking today and you could have started the chain of of homebrew supply shops right. But but at what point did you think maybe I should just sell beer. Well I Actually went down to a conference in Oakland And on that trip we arrange tour to go see. Fritz maytag anchor buried. Fritz Maytag was the guy who founded anchor brewery which makes anchor steam He didn't find it so he he Purchased it so because an old brewery he purchased it. Yes an old brewery. But he kind of kind of revamped revamped. It made it into what yeah revamped it right so he helped Sort of create. What is now the craft brewing industry by realizing that? If you're going to be a small boutique brewery in this country. You better one producer unique product and in to figure out how to charge enough of a price that you can survive as a small producer. So you meet him. You meet him at this at this conference in Oklahoma. I didn't meet him. The conference actually went overdose brewery and he gave me tour me and a small group of folks and Pretty primitive at that time It was Lot No automation and not a lot of sophistication the berry and I was fairly sophisticated sophisticated as Humbler Culturing some of our own decent and doing things like that and making twenty gallon batches. I think at that point he was making maybe fifty barrel batches and that sort of inspired me a bit that you know. Maybe you could do it as a as a startup as a homebrew her and then I went and visited new albion which was really the Sonoma's Jack McCall of that parade and he had sort of gone pretty much homebrew and opened up a commercial brewery with all home built primitive basic equipment Very small batches About forty five gallons per batch and after seeing his operation realized that it was feasible to do as an independent Glorified homebrew set up and sell beer commercially. So you were actively kind of exploring the possibility of doing this when you contacted you know Fritz or when you went to go visit new albion did you say hey. I'm thinking about doing this myself can I? Can I come talk to you or did you? Just say Oh. I got this shop where we saw equipment. Can I come check you out like what was your? What was your approach? Well You know thinking back then with Fritz. I don't think I yet had the notion that I wanted to try to go commercial When I went and visited jacket was starting to Gel that This is maybe something I can do and I got together with one of my humber shop customers Polka Mosey and he was buying homebrew supplies for me and for from other Homebrew suppliers and you know. We decided Let's see if we can raise some money and open a brewery. Wow so that so basically that all right. This guy seems to know what he's doing and you knew what you were doing because you were like twenty three twenty twenty two twenty three at this point and I read that you you guys sat down and wrote a business plan like a pretty detailed business plan And you figured it you figure that you need fifty thousand dollars to actually start a a beer company a brewing company She went to the banks right. And what are the banks? Say when he shouldn't plant I made I guess. In hindsight it was not a pretty detailed business plan after seeing. You know more formal business plans. Those who we thought was a good business plan so we had You know printed off articles of of sort of the trends that were happening in beer one on Fritz maytag and one on sort of what was happening in the import space starting to grow in the US and the demise of sort of much choice in the Baroness Dri thought with. Give us a small slice of of the Pie. That was rapidly being cut up so I think we wrote several drafts of that business. Plan the original one. I think called for fifty thousand dollars total and went to banks and we. We actually started so we started pool our money. I started a bike Whitman. I started to build equipment. I enrolled back at the junior college at Butte in. Welding classes machine shops Anything that that gave me. Access to use forklifts andro presses and welders and everything else needed to weld. All the pieces together took some business. Glasses took Refrigeration repair it. Took a couple of semesters of that. Started to build skills and started Bill Equipment as we were trying to raise money The bank's pretty much said There's no way and if you were Ah Banker of of any sort back then and you researched the US bring industry. You would have seen that. It was pretty rapidly Declining small brewers were you would not have given a loan a Donnelley to a crafter incoming but till like two guys in their twenties. Tried to start a crap. Reagan who had no experience no experience in the brewing industry. You know we'd never worked a day for a brewery or a beer distributor meaning like that so yeah not very Likely investment to make Verma banker standpoint. Got It so you need fifty k. How much money did you in Paul have between you so we had assembled seventeen thousand dollars and I between the two between the two of US I had sold my homebrew shop for three thousand or four thousand dollars And I had some savings in. My grandfather gave me some to go to college. I cashed all those in and Paul had somewhere was sort of all his savings not a lot of money. So how did you get the rest of fifty k? That you still need like thirty five K. Went to over family and eventually some friends and got Five Thousand Dollars. Ten thousand dollar investments and thought. We had enough money several times but kept running out of money and we were so low on cash that we did not hire pretty much any thing out so we did the framing. That sheet rocking. I did the plumbing. I Did. All the electrical. I did other frigerator. Yeah where was the location? Where was where was the site that you found? We found a little metal warehouse building three Thousand Square Feet Empty. Shell Had Been. Ah a sheet. Rock warehouse Chico and Chico right and so we came in and in order to keep sanitation and quality in a bring world. You need floor. Drains and you need separation between the rooms and the fermenting yams and So we went in and Unbeknownst to the landlord we Jack Hammered Through the floor. Saad and put in drainage and then poured sloped floors on top of that and But we did all that ourselves and it took a really long time. I was taking my fifty seven Chevy and driving up and down the Sacramento Valley up into Oregon and Washington and looking for old pumps and pipe and tanks and and things that we could scrounge for basically pennies on the dollar to us to build the brewing equipment out of and I I got pretty lucky. The daring industry was also sort of a tough point. Where he's little family dairies were closing. And there were hundreds of them scattered throughout that would have won milk tank and it was sort of a side job. I get a lead that you know. Go down this road and you might find So and sold sold dairy so knock on the door and asked if they had any old equipment and picked up the barn and their be dusty pile of pipe and maybe a pomp and occasionally I get a tank Three hundred bucks or five hundred bucks. Buy It all from. This.

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