In episode 207 of the Hop Cast, Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski are in Washington D.C. for the Craft Brewers Conference. Washington D.C. is a great beer town. One of the spots everyone recommends going to is ChurchKey. So, of course you have to listen to the locals… and it was fantastic! The team even found themselves there a couple nights in a row.
If you know me or at least follow my work and my work online, you know I often have a lot of projects happening at once. Not just with LooseKeys and the Hop Cast but with other fun personal things I’m exploring or trying. With all this going on there are times where I worry about over promising what can be delivered. Which is a terrible thing to do for yourself or your business, it just leads to stress and anger from clients.
For me, I try to be honest and keep every project in check. If I feel like I’m falling behind or I’m not going to make a date for a client, I let them know as soon as possible. Sometimes it’s hard to face the reality but the more you keep clients updated, the less likely you’re going to make them feel like you let them down. Especially when having that extra day or two is going to allow you to give them a better product then something that is slapped together for this arbitrary date.
If for some reason I did feel like I had over promised a client, I have a get it done at whatever cost attitude. I call in reinforcements, maybe a freelancer or two. I’ll sacrifice some sleep or whatever needs to happen to make sure that they don’t feel like I let them down.
Making smart decisions is the best way to avoid over promising and then paying the price.
In episode 205 of the Hop CastKen Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski are joined by Tom Korder of Penrose Brewing to chat about Belgian beers. Since Tom is a Belgian beer lover, Ken and Brad thought he’d be a perfect guest to have on the show and there is no better place in Chicago to talk Belgian beers then at the Hopleaf. Three people, three beers… hey, everyone needed their own. Ken, Brad and Tom talk about what makes Belgian beers so special, as well as the differences between Trappist and Abbey beers all while sipping on an Orval, a Duvel and that beer that comes in that crazy glass, Kwak.
Everyone has their favorite Belgian beer and these are a few of our favorites that should be pretty easy for you to find. Grab yourself a bottle, find that proper glassware and tune in.
In episode 204 of the Hop Cast, Ken Hunnemeder and Brad Chmielewski crack open a couple IPAs. It’s been a while since they’ve featured an IPA on the Hop Cast which is a bit of a surprise. First up is the Heady Topper from The Alchemist. This 8 % ABV IPA is currently the number one beer on beeradvocate and for good reason, it’s delicious. What’s surprising is how different this beer is in the can, then when it was poured out into a glass. The Alchemist does recommend drinking it from the can but we had to test this for ourselves. Next, Ken pulls out a 5 year old Burton Baton from Dogfish Head Brewery that had been hidden away in his basement. This beer really shouldn’t of been aged for this long but it was interesting to see how well it held up over the years. Remember when you drink those IPAs, the sooner the better.
I find myself splitting my time between the tech start-up world and the craft beer community. I’m probably more involved in the start-up scene now since I’ve been building my own business over the last couple years but the beer world has given me a lot of insight. I’ve hosted an internet video series for the last five years about craft beer and I spend a good deal of time with brewers. I’ve noticed that the start up community and brewing community have some similarities in how they operate.
A Look Back We had a boom and crash with both industries in the 90’s. The beer boom and bust of the 90’s is something I’m less familiar with since I wasn’t able to drink at the time. Even though I wasn’t part of the dot com crash there is a lot more written about it so I get an idea of what happened. I’ve run into tech and beer people who look back at that time and either argue that it’s different or who often remind us that what is happening now is basically the same and we should get ready for the crash.
“All of This Has Happened Before And it Will all Happen Again.”
I, for one am on the side that this is different. Most people are being a bit more careful this time around. The growth on both sides has been slower and more focused.
Changing Teams I’ve met a number of brewers over the years and have heard their stories about how they used to brew at this place and then went here and then there. Typically they have brewed at two or three places before the place they are at now. It’s pretty common to be moving around as a brewer, unless of course it’s your own brewery, then you might want to stay and build it. The same thing happens in the tech community, you hear about people leaving Google to work at Apple or how they helped build a couple of start-ups before getting hired or aquired by Facebook. You learn a lot when you’re able to move around and see how other people work. But the end goal for most brewers and tech folks is to have their own business that they are building or helping to build.
Start Small Growth in both usually starts small whether with a team of two or just one person who love’s brewing. They start small trying to gain interest and attention and they grow as it’s needed. No matter how big they get there is always a core group of people at the center making the calls, brewing the beer and figuring out their direction for the future.
Making A Great Product If you’re creating an app, a service or brewing beer you need to make sure the product is top notch. For the most part the ones that start out are making something great, not just focusing on the low hanging fruit to make lots of money fast. They want to create a good product, to stand out from the rest.
Things Fail Failure is a word start-ups know too well and they are fine with it. Services fail, they don’t catch on, or they don’t fill a need. You shut it down and move onto the next thing. Breweries fail too. If it’s not working, then it might be time to move on.
Make Your Customers Your Beta Testers You don’t know if something is a hit or a bust unless you put it out there and test it. This is something that’s a bit annoying on both sides but its something start-ups and breweries do all the time. Startups build something that sort of works and they push it out to see what people think. Then they release a new version and then another. Getting user feedback all the time to make it better or changing it all together to make something people really want. Brewers and breweries test on the customer too but often for different reasons. One, they can’t afford to dump a product so they put it out there even if it might not be stellar. But they also put it out there to see what their customers want. Beer is subjective so what might be too hoppy to you, isn’t hoppy enough to someone else. You have to learn what your audience wants.
Getting Acquired This is something that is pretty common in the tech world when Facebook, Yahoo! or Google purchase an app or team for a crazy amount of money. In the beer community it’s something fairly new and we haven’t really seen much of it yet… the bigger one we’ve heard about was AB-InBev buying Goose Island. This isn’t the last we’ll hear of these sorts of deals. I think they aren’t as common now because it takes more time and money to build a brewery than an app. The bigger breweries aren’t interested in you until you have a big following. You’re not on their radar. That’s where the tech world and the brewing industry still differ. The big guys in the tech industry want the software, the app, or the idea and it doesn’t have to be known or heard of by a lot of people. The big breweries right now are only interested in acquiring a smaller brewery if that brewery has the people and beers in place. Sometimes when an app or service gets bought by the big guys, the app or service gets better, grows its fan base, or is included or bundled with something already existing. And then there are the times when an app or service is bought just to squash the technology. Hopefully, for all the craft beer lovers out there, the big breweries don’t take a page out of the tech industries play book and start acquiring breweries at that same rate.
Right now Tom & Eric already have their 40 barrel brewhouse but are dealing with all the fun paperwork that goes into starting a brewery. Their goal right now is to have beer this summer for Chicago and the Fox Valley area. Penrose Brewing will be a production brewery with a tasting room.
I can’t wait until we’re able taste some more of their beers; if the beers we had during the episode are any indication, we have some good beers to look forward to from these guys. If you’re looking to get an early taste of what Penrose is all about, keep an eye out for a collaboration that they’re doing with Perennial Artisan Ales. Welcome Penrose!
It’s an exciting time for craft beer in the city of Chicago and Off Color Brewing is planting their flag. This was a truly unique event with the 4 collaboration beers, a great guest tap list, Jell-O shots and beer cocktails.
In this episode, John talks about the plans for the brewery and the goal to initially launch with two, year round beers that they hope everyone is going to enjoy. With the intention that at Off Color, they will approach beer with an avant-grade mindset.
The brewery is coming together and they should be ready to start brewing soon. If you didn’t make it to the pop-up shop event, you’re going to have to wait a little longer before you get to try Off Color beers.