brian yaeger

No-no to Nanos

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 (Photo: Beetje Brewing by Ross William Hamilton – The Oregonian)

I’ll never forget my first beer with Beetje Brewing’s Mike Wright, enjoyed on a barstool at Victory Bar. We both ordered his Blue Foot Flanders Red-style ale, which was a delicate representation of the style: slightly sweet, suggestively sour, and he clearly handled the Pinot barrel aging with fresh cherries in a way that belied his slap-dash virgin stab at such a beer. But that wasn’t what made it so memorable. It was the fact that he brewed it and he lived but five blocks away, and the server had never heard of him. I don’t imagine Kurt or Rob Widmer could order a Hefeweizen, point out that the name on the tap handle is his, and expect such unblinking anonymity.

In turn, I recently had the Rocket Blonde Ale from Mt. Tabor Brewing that had more flaws than Ann Coulter’s thought process.
the early stages of The Commons, at the time known as Beetje Brewing


Both have since moved out of their respective founders’ garages and not-so-supersized up to seven-barrel systems. The former changed its name to The Commons(makers of The Beer of the Year) and the latter should’ve changed its name because it’s no longer in Mt. Tabor, but this isn’t my point. It’s that for all the great beers that nanobreweries are capable of crafting, though there is plenty of upside on the nano pros/cons list. I’m not one to stir the pot and make enemies, but I’m beginning to think there are more cons, all of ‘em self-inflicted.

Admittedly, my primary reason for opposing more nanos is a selfish one. I’m writing the Oregon Breweries volume in Stackpole Books’ series of guidebooks and each new opening just means more work for me without added compensation! So enough already.

Even the Oregon Brewers Guild lists around 130. But the number is actually 170—and 30 more are coming soon. This is on top of the 30 new entries I’ve had to add since starting this project. Please let me stay home and play with my baby boy instead of make your dreams a reality.

The B.A. doesn’t keep an official list of how many licensed breweries operate as nanobreweries—an undefined term but generally accepted as those brewing on a 3-barrel system or smaller and producing fewer than 100 barrels a year. But Erin Glass, the BA’s membership coordinator and “brewery detective,” approximates that beyond the 2,300-plus breweries in operation in the US. That number could jump by 50 percent if all of the ones in planning stages actually open, and of those, she thinks perhaps as many as half are the pint-sized variety.

(Humble Brewing humble brewery- from their Facebook page)


The definition of nano is that it’s one-billionth the size of something, so there are a billion nanometers in one meter. In regard to nanobreweries, the definition takes some liberties, but not many. Compare, for example, Portland’s Humble Brewing to Budweiser. Anheuser-Busch brewed roughly 100 million barrels of beer in the US alone in 2012. Humble made and sold about 13.


And this is my point. I’m not slagging Humble’s beers, or, say, Short Snout Brewing‘s beers. I have yet to find them on tap in town. Maybe they’re great, maybe they’re terrible. Either way, they don’t make very much. Craft brewers claim that they’re in it for the beer, not the bucks—which is true 99 percent of the time—so nanobrewers clearly know to expect nanoprofits.

(Short Snout Brewing’s brewhouse from their Facebook page)


Hey, remember the ‘90s? Remember when the market flooded with new breweries that mostly went beer-belly up? I think that is largely attributed to the bad beer they produced because those entrepreneurs only saw profitability over passion for brewing. What we’re experiencing today is sort of the opposite: folks with a love of brewing but bupkiss for business acumen. Selling clean, purchase-worthy beer falls under biz smarts.


Basically, oxymoronically, nanobrewers are like professional homebrewers. The cost of launching a nanobrewery fairly resembles that of the beloved food carts that are driving (sorry) the craft of the comfort food industry. And we love us some food trucks. I think if most food cart operators are honest, they’d rather have a brick’n’mortar (see: Lardo, Shut Up and Eat, etc.) Same goes for nanobrewers; it’s a terrible business model and if their goal is to quit their day job and make beer for a living, the only way to do that is by brewing 10 (maybe just seven) barrels or more.

It used to be that people started homebrewing in part because they couldn’t find the kinds of beers they liked to drink. If you want something done right, DIY. But with the wide variety of beer brands readily available in much of the state, rare is the nanobrewed beer that is wholly unique. Unique is good. But good is better. Maybe Mt. Tabor makes fantastic beers 98% of the time. All I know is, fool me twice, shame on me, so there won’t be a third time’s a charm opportunity.

Lastly, people open a nanobrewery to serve their community that doesn’t already have its own brewery. Certainly the brand new Boring Brewing Co. is the only one in Boring. But a brown ale? A blonde? If I wasn’t working on this book, would I really drive out there to try those? And can Boring RyPA really be so much better than, say Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye IPA or 10 Barrel’s that I’m gonna haul out for it? (Note: I’ve tried the Boring RyPA and the Boring Brown, albeit over in Seaside during Pouring at the Coast. Very good. But I still gotta schlep out to the brewery. I also tried some beers from very small breweries that I couldn’t dump fast enough.)

So please, if not for running the risk of being hit-or-miss with your tiny batches, or having them appear on draft so infrequently that you’re not making a splash on the scene, then simply as a personal favor to me, do not launch any new breweries until I’m done so that I’ll have something new for the 2nd edition. I drove 375 miles out to Beer Valley Brewing in Ontario, Idaho, I mean Ontario, Oregon, only to return home and discover the 10-gallon Tandem Brewing just opened (as part of a juice and coffee shop). Well that’s just flippin’ great.

Brian Yaeger

Brian Yaeger is the author of Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey. He contributed to the Oxford Companion to Beer and writes for All About Beer, Draft Magazine, CraftBeer.com, Portland Monthly, Willamette Week, and more. He earned a Master in Professional Writing (with a thesis on beer). Other than GABF, his favorite, can’t-miss event is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest where he’s drawn to any band with a tuba. Along with his wife, Half Pint, he runs Inn Beervana Bed & Beer in Portland where he also lives with his baby boy I.P.Yae, and German Shorthair Pointer, Dunkel. 





33 Comments

  1. Ken Prince

    March 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Sounds like you need an assistant. A light at the end of this tunnel is that eventually this market will adjust itself. The low lying fruit will eventually drop off when these nano breweries cannot pay the bills. I do see the US becoming more like Europe where there will be a nano brewery in every town where the localvores and beer pilgrims will go because the quality and the owner wanting no further distribution outside of their town.

  2. Brian Yaeger

    March 25, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Ken, there are so many facets to this newfound nanobrewing industry. And it’s admittedly unfair or foolish for a guy in Portland to “complain” about new breweries opening up. First and foremost, I’m a fan of beer/breweries. So guidebook aside, I truly love the continued explosion of new breweries. But it’s because I’m a fan of new beers and new breweries that I only want ones worth drinking/supporting to start business AND stay in business. If I lived in Boring, I’d be stoked for a local brewery. If I lived in cities like NY or LA that have just a few breweries, I’d be stoked for a bunch more. Hell, even here in Portland, I believe in what I call the Brewpub on Every Corner approach. After all, there’s a Thai restaurant and a burger joint on them already, why not a brewpub?! But I expect 2 and only 2 things from them: 1) that they have beer on tap and 2) that it be drinkable. Otherwise, nano or pub or otherwise, they’re doing a disservice to the craft beer industry both in terms of my personal enjoyment but also on the larger scale of converting people to the craft side of beer.

  3. Anonymous

    March 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    I look at nano’s like small, independent coffeeshops. The coffee you get there MIGHT be amazing but most likely it will be your standard, average coffee. I dont anyone who drives hundreds of miles to try some coffee.

  4. Anonymous

    March 25, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Well, the hundreds of nano’s waiting to open are making the BA’s growth statistics look great but in reality these under funded ‘hobby breweries’ will fail at an alarming rate and within a year of opening. If the nanos want to operate at a loss, ok, with serious batch to batch issues…so be it. I can’t think of a way to flush money down the toilet any quicker. I started with a 15bbl system and that was small for the potential sales we could have made. A smaller setup would be a struggle when you think of the costs of running such an enterprise.

    Do the industry a favor. Don’t sell inferior, infected, crappy, lame, off flavor ridden beers. Your nano could be dragging down a real brewery’s efforts by ‘tainting’ the consumer base with god awful swill.

  5. David Ridenhour

    March 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I read your article through a couple of times just to make sure I was getting the point. Fool me twice… I won’t read through again. What I took away is you’re ranting against bad beer more than against nano breweries.
    One thing I’ve learned in 20 years of brewing is not every beer is everyone’s cup of tea. What you labeled as flawed with a dig at Ann Coulter (Who I had to look up since I don’t have a TV and she has nothing to do with beer) maybe what someone thinks is a home run hit.
    Beer like all good food has something built in called “terrior” a taste or essence, if you will, that brewing it only in that one place can bring. The ingredients and by association; the very earth they were growing in, impart a locality that can’t be repeated.
    So time and again I’ve seen breweries grow move and unable to replicate the beer they once produced. I too dream of opening a nanobrewery to use the hops I produce, the grain my cousin grows, water I sourced from my spring, and adjuncts I source locally. Will this keep me from growing? Yes. Will it keep me from probability? I hope not. Will this keep non locals and jaded beer blogists from trying my beer. I can only hope.
    I would suggest you take a trip down the coast to Northern California Fort Bragg in fact. North Coast Brewing has been doing it well for 20 years but they know if they move they would lose that special something that makes North Coast North Coast call it the salt air, the yeast that’s grown there, or what have you. It would be a nice little trip for you and bring the family so you can spend some time with them.
    And if one day I brew a stout that is only as good as Old Rasputin or a rye only as good as Ruthless Rye I’m sure I will not taste them and go “wow I should stop brewing.” I will just be happy to share tap space with some of the greats.

    • Brian Yaeger

      March 25, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      Not sure how I fooled or duped you into reading it twice (let alone once), but OK. Yes: You’re 100% right. I’m against bad beer. And if you truly did read it thoroughly even just the once, you’d know that this was mostly–but not entirely–tongue in cheek since I’d love nothing more than to be a fan of ALL breweries macro to nano, but it is the bad or inferior beer that ruins it. There’s a new brewery in Bend, OR called Ale Apothecary brewing 1.5 bbls at a time and I think that dude is killing it.

      As for terroir, you reminded me of a trip to Sun Valley, ID. There was only one brewery in town (Sun Valley Brewing) and I kept buying their beer–in bottles at the store, on draft at pubs–and every single one tasted as infected as an outbreak monkey (you may have to look that one up, too, though I’m jealous as hell you don’t know of Ms. Coulter, but sounds like you DO need to read a bit more about the world outside of beer). Finally, I said to the bartender, “I’m sorry, but I cannot take another sip, can I please have a Moose Drool?” The bartender attempted to convince me it’s “an acquired taste the locals like.” I suppose it could be like lutefisk in Sweden or Vegemite in the UK, but terroir does not equal gross and bacteria-ridden. Not that BA & RB reviews are gospel, but just read what the NON-locals who love exploring the world of beer have to say for Pete’s sake.

      As for not wanting any of your non-locals or blogists (I like that) to ever get ahold of your precious, precious beer, um, ok, be that way. Good luck with that sustainability model. As an aside (another one, I know I’m full of ’em), I’m not jaded like you think. I’m often accused of not being critical enough. It’s just that I’d rather spend my limited time and space championing the worthwhile beers and brewers. I wrote this post to let a little of my jaded side out, but if you give it a third read, you’ll discover how much I love supporting local breweries, I promise. Then again, some people only see what they wanna see.

      As for North Coast Brewing, good God, man, that’s not some hidden gem of a brewery only residents of Ft. Bragg know about. The bottle of Old Rasputin X I had (which you well know was only available at the pub five years ago) remains one of the most life-affirming beers I’ve ever had. And yes, romping on Glass Beach with my family starting with our first dog and through our second one is always as good as it gets. Thanks. As for your boast that, “If one day I brew a stout that is ONLY as good as Old Rasputin” makes me want to take off a glove and fling it across your face. (caps mine, not original commenters.) I’m not a violent person, but when you consider Vinnie Cilurzo (he’s a brewer at a brewery called Russian River Brewing Company. Drive down the coast to Santa Rosa and try them. The locals enjoy their terroir) famous said, “I will Never brew an Imperial Stout… I have too much respect for North Coast Old Rasputin,” than I find your brewing hubris off-putting but if one day you DO, then I’ll dance a happy jig and toast you for your amazing achievement as will my wife since that’s her favorite beer. Oh wait…I’m a non-local and a beer blogist…I’m not allowed to try it.

  6. Anonymous

    March 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    No offense, but check your grammar.

    Ideologically, I agree. A lot of us signed the paperwork to be glorified janitors (that is, homebrewers) when we bought our first kettle. There is no doubt that it takes a lot of patience and practice to turn out some really exquisite beer. Not everyone is a brewing savant, if one even exists.

    However, as the owner and brewmaster of a nanobrewery, you had better be certain that you are consistent from batch one to batch one hundred-and-one, otherwise you may as well roll up the sidewalk.

    Where I live, in Maryland, there is a nanobrewery that opened two years ago and is still making ales of a sort. I visited this brewery when it was three months new and sampled the beer and spoke with the sole employee. The beer was almost remarkable, however the conversation was amazing. I thanked the owner and went on my way. A few weeks later, I bought a bunch of bottles of their brew as gifts: each and every bottle was a gusher. I bought another round for myself a few weeks after that, and 1. the beer was underwhelming, 2. half of the bottles erupted after popping the crown.

    Needless to say, that was my last and final experience with that brewer. There was just no attention to detail.

    So, I say, instead of trying to be the next Sam Caligione, try to be the next Ninkasi medal winner. Then try your hand at the pro ranks.

    • Brian Yaeger

      March 25, 2013 at 11:25 pm

      Bingo! I do believe most Ninkasi winners have or are planning to open their own brewery. For me in Oregon, a local example is Long Brewing Co. (the founder’s last name is Long). He makes well under 100 bbls a year. His beer is VERY good. For style nuts, it’s clear why he has won oodles of homebrew as well as pro awards. The downside is that he realized to make his commercial brewery remotely profitable, his beers come with a $10 price tag per bomber off the shelf and rare is the beer drinker who says, Yes, $10 for a Vienna Lager or IPA is a good call. (Hence, why most of his customers are wine people where a case of $10 lagers is a steal compared to the $50 bottles of pinot they bought at his surrounding wineries.)

    • Brian Yaeger

      March 25, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      PS: Please point out where I used poor grammar. I’m not saying this in a challenging way, but in a please-help-me way. I actually sorta pride myself on things like proper grammar, good spelling, and punctuation. I mean, yeah, sometimes I get kinda vernacular and my diction is questionable, but I’m just agreein’ with all them old grade school teachers of mine who said I can only break the rules once I know ’em.

    • ElGordo

      March 25, 2013 at 11:45 pm

      Brian – I did a (very minimal) amount of cleanup to your post. A missing comma here, a missing space there. But I don’t think Anon is around to read much written by the site’s main contributor, or he’d surely have nothing to say about the quality of your writing. Carry on.

    • Anonymous

      March 26, 2013 at 2:06 am

      Too funny!

    • Anonymous

      March 28, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      This is a great, great comment. My example is Two Beers in Seattle. They are higher volume production, so there simply is no excuse. I bought a (fairly expensive) six pack of theirs because I heard they made some great beer. Everyone of them was an overcarbed gusher that was barely drinkable. Never bought another one, and I tell that story all the time. Consistency is the key to legitimacy. So, my point is, this problem isn’t just limited to “nanos,” this is the key for all breweries from 1 barrel systems to 5000.

  7. Bill Night

    March 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Quality is an issue, but even for the nanos doing good work, I think it’s weird the prices they have to charge for their bottles to break even. For example, Ale Apothecary, a nanobrewery I know Brian likes, is selling 750 ml bottles of their Sahti for $24 retail. It’s about 10% ABV, but when you think that you can buy special corked-and-caged Sierra Nevada bottlings for half that price or less, or even some world-class Belgian imports, that just seems like a ridiculous price.

    Another favorite example is Long Brewing out in Newberg. Who in their right mind is going to pony up $12 for a nanobrewed bomber of an everyday Porter or IPA?

    • Brian Yaeger

      March 25, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      Sorry, Bill. Should’ve read all the comments including yours before replying above and essentially repeating you. I will add, ANY beer in the double digits is, by my standards, a special occasion only beer, and increasingly so as the price goes up. So while Sierra Nevada’s $10 case of Ruthless Rye is a daily bargain, a once in a while Ale Apothecary bottle is a worthwhile splurge.

  8. Ken Prince

    March 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    @Brian. Thank you for your reply. Having the best craft beer possible to educate the masses is the ideal yet it is also great to see the “American Dream” trying to be fulfilled through craft beer. A two edged sword for sure. I have been in the beer business over 8 years. My whole time in this industry, I’ve been aware what craft beer is doing to the industry as a whole. I am in the process of becoming a Cicerone because of what I have witnessed. My journey has taken me to try nanos where I have experienced off beer so bad I would follow it with a mass produced lager because there is at least some reliability there albeit lack of great taste (and to clean my palette). I do my best to educate any consumer of beer when I have the opportunity as I feel this behavior is a large part of what it means to be a Cicerone. Thank you again for your article. Cheers!

  9. Jeff Alworth

    March 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    First of all, let’s start at the end: ten GALLONS is not a nanobrewery, it’s a homebrewery. If ten gallons is all you need to qualify as a nano, there are twenty six thousand nanos in Portland. (I think I saw one in your basement.) Stop the madness! I hereby propose that anything under 1 United States barrel is not commercial-scale production, whether or not your selling your beer to the public. It’s just not.

    That forms a handy segue into my second point, which is that I’m with you on the downsides of nanos. Let’s imagine that Brewery X, whipping out a half-barrel of beer at a go, sells a keg to Popular Restaurant Y. Popular Restaurant Y sez: hey, X, we need to increase our order to ten kegs a week. Brewery Y sez: &[email protected]#! It’s an interesting phenomenon, but it’s not really business as we know it. It’s like peddlar business from 872 AD.

    I don’t think we need to make a judgment, but my rule of thumb is: if I can’t ever find your beer, you don’t have a brewery.

    • Brian Yaeger

      March 25, 2013 at 11:35 pm

      Jeff, I should spell out that implicit in my definition of a nano is that it’s federally licensed. It’s why the BA counts them as a commercial brewery but not their figure of one million homebreweries.

  10. Anonymous

    March 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Kevin McGee from Healdsburg Beer Co. here. Funny thing, when I opened my nano in 2007 there was 2 Beers and Schooner Exact and me (both have gone 15+ bbl brewhouses and I’m still flogging my 1 bbl to make more beer…). We were the only nanos in the country at the time and I personally had a hard time convincing retailers to try my beer and take a chance at putting me on tap. Fast forward a year and a half and I find I can’t make anywhere near enough beer for demand, I’ve got people driving over 3 hours to pick up a keg and someone called me from a NJ distributor to see if I was interested in distributing in Manhattan. Given the quality of the beer put out by nanos these days I have to admit that a decent percentage of them should not have launched, but the interest that the beer enthusiasts have out there for checking out a new brewer’s expression of what they want the work to know they brew is pretty darn huge. Because of that, and the relatively low cost of entry, you’re going to get more. And more. In the next few years I think there’s going to be a reckoning of sorts with the average consumer no longer willing to pay for marginal beers simply because they’re presented as strange or unusual or because no one has really had an “accidentally soured persimmon imperial mild” and is curious to see what it might taste like. When that patience wears thin a bunch of these folks, and a bunch of much larger operations, are going to have a very hard time and may not be around. So you should be negotiating the advance on the 3rd edition around now to update those entries that were around at the time of writing the 2nd edition but were gone by the release party…

    Cheers.

    Kevin McGee
    Healdsburg Beer Company
    Sonoma County, California

    • Brian Yaeger

      March 25, 2013 at 11:52 pm

      Hey Kevin, I literally walked into Healdsburg Bar & Grill and asked for your beer several times, always hearing that they were fresh out. Considering Bear Republic’s success in town, why not expand to a 4, 7, or larger bbl system, open a tasting room, and stop killing yourself quite as much? Looking forward to reading Jay’s entry for you in his book that’ll be out much sooner than mine!

    • Anonymous

      March 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      Me again. I’d love to, but trading my day job for the salary of a start up brewer isn’t really feasible at the moment. In the meantime brewing is my sanctuary from all the other stuff I’ve got going on. Let me know next time you’re in the area and I should be able to vector you in either on an actual flowing tap or something out of the brewery stash. Cheers!

      Kevin

  11. Michael Agnew

    March 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I feel you on the rush of small brewers. Having just turned in the manuscript for a guide to breweries in MN, WI, IA, and IL, the last year has been a living nightmare of nano-openings. I finally just had to call it quits and turn the thing in.

    Michael Agnew
    A Perfect Pint
    Minneapolis, MN

    • Brian Yaeger

      March 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      YES! You truly feel my pain! Thank you.

  12. Alex Kurnellas

    March 25, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I’ve know some guys over the years, as surely all of you have, that manage to score girls simply based on a numbers game – the more girls they hit on in a night, the more likely they’ll end up taking one home. These guys never remember the ones they never took home, but always remeber their choicest scores.

    I feel the same about nanos. Let them open like crazy… and shut. We’ll forget the ones that shut. But that one that turns out to be something special, I’ll take home and remember.

    I guess my point is that I don’t really think the crappier of the naos are really hurting the industry. Hey – there are planty of crappy food carts in Portland, but they don’t seem to hurt the culinary scene, and the ones that turn out special, end up really helping out the scene.

    I think a bigger atocity is that there are some people dumping lots of money to open larger operations right off the bat before they even know if their beer is good. Base Camp is a great example – larger facility and beer lineup, but their beer is not good, and off target. Their IPA is not really an IPA, their Brown claims to “restore faith in what a brown ale can be” but manages to be lighter than a brown and confusing/lame in flavor, and their dobbelbock isn’t really a dobbelbock. They have a cool tasting room, although that only perpetuates the problem of their bad beer making that issue a larger issue than it would be had they started as a nano.

    I have yet to visit Worthy brewing, but found it surprising they went as large as they did right off the bat. I’m hoping their beer is a great addition to Bend’s already great breweries.

    It seems to me that we should fear the hoards of money-grubbing people trying to cash in on the craft beer explosion more than the nanos. Why pick on the little guy that most people never even notice?

    • Brian Yaeger

      March 26, 2013 at 12:14 am

      In all honesty, it was the added work load (for no added compensation) that got me thinking about this, but as a beer lover, I don’t want anyone figuratively watering down the greatness of the craft brewery industry, just like when I was a bachelor I didn’t want those The Game-reading a-holes giving genuinely decent girls their spiel and potentially ruining their perception of the rest of us. Is this a bad time to wonder aloud why we a guy can enjoy countless beer brands night after night but make one little vow to a gal and you have to swear off all other flavors and styles? But to sincerely answer your question and address your point, I suppose unfortunate beer from larger upstarts will potentially turn more people off than hard-to-find beer from a bunch of upstart li’l guys. It’s up to us as consumers to call bullshit on any and all less-than-steller brewers just like we did en masse in the ’90s. And yes, I’m afraid I was severely underwhelmed by Worthy’s debut batches almost across the board. Bad? Not at all. On par with most of the others in Bend? Not at all. But that’s subjective, and I genuinely look forward to giving them a second chance because that place is cool as shit whereas most nanos that do not even have a tasting room have nothing to offer as far as an experience the way Base Camp’s and Worthy’s spaces do.

  13. Sean

    March 25, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    We can’t really be taking this article serious are we? You mean you’re calling for people to put a cork in their entrepreneurial spirit and stop opening businesses so you can’t get an accurate snapshot of the marketplace for your beer guide? Do I need to remind you why you’re writing such a book?

    Allow me to follow your logic: don’t write a beer guide; we already have enough beer guides.

  14. Brian Yaeger

    March 26, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Sean, Don’t know why I’m even responding since the tone of this article clearly went over your head, but even after I joked, I serioused. And to copy’n’paste a line from my initial comment above: “I’m a fan of beer/breweries. So guidebook aside, I truly love the continued explosion of new breweries. But it’s because I’m a fan of new beers and new breweries that I only want ones worth drinking/supporting to start business AND stay in business.” To add to that, what I’m truly excited about is that almost all of the breweries to be included in said guidebook are very worthwhile subjects. So yeah for them. Yeah for me. Yeah for people who drink beer in Oregon be they residents, beer pilgrims, or plain o’ visitors.

  15. Anonymous

    March 26, 2013 at 4:13 am

    The Oregon Brewers Guild lists 169 breweries, but that was from 03/05/13 – that info is updated regularly at http://oregonbeer.org/facts/

  16. Nate MC

    March 26, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Nanos that can’t sell a bomber for less than $6 retail are doing something wrong. Sadly there is one that used to be my favorite that I found out was filling bombers from their taps like growlers and selling them for $10ea, every bottle was oxidized.

    I have a 55gal brewhouse and can still get bottles onto store shelves for with a lower retail price than Rogue and turn an ok profit, my margin is 30% the same the retailers are marking up. No one is getting rich, that is for sure. But I’m able to pay rent.

    The hardest part of being a nano is getting someone to keep you on tap, everyone here in Washington rotates anything that isn’t BMC or an IPA. I’ve only been able to secure two permanent handles in the short time I’ve been open. But the city I’m in won’t let me serve pints at the brewery so it’s way harder to turn a decent profit. Especially with bars going out of business left and right in my city, no one wants to put on the new guy.

  17. Anonymous

    March 26, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Someday when I retire I would like to start a nano. The key is that it will never need to be profitable on a large scale since I won’t need the income. As a business model it is not unlike when retired doctors and lawyers start vineyards….except starting a brewery is much cheaper. If it turns into something “more” great! If not..no big deal. I will say this though…I don’t see the point of having a nano unless you have a tasting room. Do you want to sell your beer for 5 bucks a pint or sell it to a bar for 1.50 a pint so they can turnaround and sell it for 5 bucks. Do the math…every 1/2 barrel is over 750 dollars in sales via a tap room. You won’t get rich…..almost nobody does in the brewing world.

  18. Warren RN

    March 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    WOW! Some hard feelings/passion in the comment section. I like the nano movement but if the beer is bad it’s bad. Sure the consumer may be ignorant but they are the ones that keep your business going. I’m always careful with the beer I give away, proper storage, temps, drink now or hold, and give me back my glass ware etc… Some of my beer I won’t give away due to flaws, or it’s so damn good I can’t part with my precious. Would I feel differently if I had 3 barrels ($$$$) of so-so beer that is costing me? Maybe, but there are ways to salvage some flawed beer, depending on the type of flaws, you need to be creative. I think the problem with nano brewers is often a lack of education and experience in brewing and the technical side of scaling up. I think that having more beer carts alongside the food carts would be great for nanos.

  19. Holly Elkins

    March 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    I agree with you on many levels. I’m happy that we have so many beer fests here in Denver I can try the nano breweries there and if I love it I will make the trek to the brewery. It’s also helpful most use social media to keep you up to date what is on tap. This can also be harmful because I might find 4 different beers on tap on any random night at 4 different locations I want to try.

  20. Florida beer lover

    March 22, 2017 at 1:06 am

    Wow! I suppose this article was written tongue in cheek but…A lot of self righteous dickish snobs who are criticizing because they have a laptop. A lot of people are trying and brewing what they like. Some others bigger craft brewers are just brewing bad beers on a bigger level, Sam Adams Bonfire Blonde for example. Do us all a favor and go work at a car wash to keep your self busy and stop criticizing nanobreweries. Many of us beer lovers will visit and support all those adventurous brewers.

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