Three guys walk out of a bar and start up their own craft brewery. This line isn’t out of a fairytale. It’s the story of three Gold Coast beer aficionados Dan Norris, Eddie Oldfield and Michael ‘Govs’ McGovern and their very own brewery, Black Hops. It hasn’t been an easy ride but fast forward two years and here we are, the three friends launching their very own ‘how to’ manual on starting up a craft brewery on a budget.
The book, which launched on 30 August, meticulously documents their rapid rise from craft beer drinkers to brewery owners, sharing topics like how to choose the ideal brewery location, the steps required in gaining industry and government approval, building relationships in the craft brewing industry and tips on sourcing brewing equipment from China.
Besides all the insider info, tips and tricks, you’ll also get a heap of free resources like the pitch deck used to raise money for the brewery and the planning board used to raise $18,000 via the Pozible platform (they’re Australia’s first brewery to launch via crowdfunding).
Even though the book is aimed at, and most useful for, home brewers, aspiring brewery owners and industry people, it contains enough stories and anecdotes to entertain casual beer drinkers and avid readers alike. Early reviewer and crowd funding supporter Ben McAdam said: “I was hooked on the Black Hops story and I don’t even drink beer!”
We had a little chat with Dan Norris from Black Hops Brewery and got some insight on this beer lover’s bible, why it came about and what you can expect…
1. What was the motivation behind writing the book?
Dan: “The whole philosophy of Black Hops is to share everything we learn along the way. From the start, we shared our story on social media and podcasts. We kind of figured things out as we went and thought it might be helpful for people in a similar situation. I think ‘Govs’ read every book out there and we were happy for any information we could find.
2. Who came up with the idea?
Dan: “I’ve written two books before, so I came up with the idea to put all our ideas and tips into writing.”
3. Is it a ‘men only’ book?
Dan: “No, not at all, the book is for everyone, beer lovers of all sorts, even people who don’t want to open a brewery but just like beer. The craft beer scene is not a ‘men only’ industry; there are a lot of female brewers, too. It’s also not all just about beer. A lot of information is about opening a small business, online marketing strategies etc.”
4. Why is it a good Father’s Day present?
Dan: “It’s the best Father’s Day present (next to our Father’s Day Brewery Tour – laughs)! It’s the story of a couple of guys having a go at something they love doing. Two of us are actually fathers, too!”
5. With so much competition in the craft beer scene, why do you give away all your secrets?
Dan: “That’s just what we do and I think it’s a unique way to market ourselves. No one else is doing anything like it at the moment, so in a way it’s like a competitive advantage. And with so much happening in the craft beer scene, I don’t think anyone would copy us.”
6. Without giving away too much, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Dan: “From a business point of view definitely how to tell your story and market your brand. And to learn from your mistakes. We went way over budget. Also, learn about China before you go or do business there, no one speaks English and no one takes credit cards!”
7. Why should people buy the book?
Dan: “There is nothing like it around, at least not in Australia. And everyone who is interested in our brewery will be interested in the story leading up to the opening (which was pretty much simultaneously).”
So, if you’re a home brewer wanting to expand, a craft beer lover or just someone who really loves a genuine story about a couple of dudes doing what they love, then go grab yourself a copy for only $25 (signed!).
Operation Brewery is available as an eBook or in print via the Black Hops website at blackhops or via Amazon on Kindle or Paperback.
You can also pick it up directly from the boys at the Black Hops brewery and taproom, at 15 Gardenia Grove Burleigh Heads.
It’s also a great excuse to sample some of the Black Hops range, there’s eight beers rotating through the taps on Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm and on Saturdays from 12pm to 4pm.
By Louisa von Ingelheim