Given Port City Brewing Company's success, it’s no surprise that Bill Butcher hears from a lot of breweries-in-planning hoping to pick his brain. Butcher, good guy that he is, answers as many questions as he can, but dispensing advice ad hoc can be time-consuming, especially when you’ve got a business to run.
Rather than cut back on his pro bono guidance, he instead found a more social, efficient way to help out young companies: last Thursday, he hosted a New Brewers Meet-up. “For me, it was a way to help other brewers that are trying to get started,” he says, “and also to add a social and fun element to the whole endeavor. We are talking about beer, after all.”
Early that afternoon, Butcher welcomed founders and brewers from a number of nascent breweries, including Three Notch’d, Topsail, Running Hare, Black Eyed Susan, and several others not yet named or unwilling to go public at the moment. In all, about 20 people attended, representing breweries from DC, Southern Maryland, Northern Virginia, even Charlottesville, all in various stages of planning.
The PCBC team led the group through a business-oriented tour of the brewery, then fielded a wide range of practical questions (over beers, of course). Topics included ingredients contracts, brewing techniques, equipment specifications, distribution agreements, financing options, marketing, Public Relations and differentiation in an increasingly crowded market.
Speaking of that crowded market, readers with a “supply and demand” outlook might wonder why Butcher would be so eager to help fledgling breweries get off on the right foot.
Butcher explains that he chose to host the meet-up “because I remember when we were in planning, several breweries were very helpful to us, by answering our questions, and even inviting us to their breweries, [while] some never bothered to return our calls. It’s my little way to show gratitude to those who have helped us, pay it forward a bit, and get to know some great people!”
It all boils down to growing the DMV region’s craft culture, something Butcher feels optimistic about: “I think the region will continue to see great new local breweries open over the next several years, and the local community has a lot to look forward to as these guys get open.” With this kind of support from an established player, it looks like they’re off to a good start.