When you start out with the dream of opening a brewery, there are a bunch of things that you dream about. For instance; where you are going to brew your beer, what your brand will look like, how good it will to be your own boss, and most importantly what kind of beer you are going to brew. Further down the list, you think about other details like cans vs bottles, unitanks vs fermenting & conditioning tanks, or what kind of delivery truck you are going to have. Then there is a bunch of items that you generally don’t give much thought to: When to have your fiscal year-end, do you want your coasters to be printed on one side or both, and who your accountant is going to be.
Even further below this is flooring, one of the things you tend to not think about at any stage of starting a brewery, other than when you are looking at warehouses to lease. Well you probably guessed it, we are at that time and place now. We have submitted an offer on a space to lease, and we are currently negotiating back and forth with the landlord. We are hopeful that things are going to move ahead, so we have really started to focus on the details about this space. Important considerations when you think about having a lease for 10 years.
You see, a floor in a warehouse is nothing like a floor in a house …. which is the only real reference point I have for this kind of thing. A floor in a house is usually flat, and if it isn’t, you make it flat, put in the flooring and underlay of your choice and voila! A floor in a warehouse is a much different beast. Most importantly, the floor in a warehouse needs to take a load. The floors usually have a PSI rating, and that determines how much of a load you can put on the floor. In other words, a higher PSI rating for a floor is a good thing in the world of brewing, as you are putting several metric tonnes of tanks and other equipment onto it.
Well the floors in the warehouse that we want to lease aren’t the greatest. They have settled in several areas, and they don’t have a high enough of a PSI rating. This means we are going to have to fix this problem if we lease the space, and that costs a lot of ‘jack’. The most important question we have to ask is why have the floors settled? There are 3 possible reasons for this: 1) The preparation for the floor was done poorly in the first place. 2) There was organic material left in the ground (like old trees and roots), and they have wasted away to nothing causing the floor to settle 3) There is some problem that is slowly washing away the substrate leaving a nothing where there was once material.
Well this is the point that we are at now. Do we move forward with the space, knowing that the bill for the floors could be somewhere from $50,000 to $200,000 (and by the way we only have $75,000 in our budget), or do we say everything else seems really good about this space, but the floors are too much of a question mark, so we walk away. This is the question that we are faced with this week. It is both an emotional decision for me (I love the space and want to get this brewery off the ground) and also a business decision (I have to do what is right for my investors).
I am hopeful that we have the wisdom and support from engineers and other professionals to make the right decision. As you can tell, the road to starting a brewery is full of pot holes and hazards. But if you can successfully navigate those things, then the reward is greater than most anything else in the world.