Alexandria Brewing Company

Brewed in Cincinnati tradition. Proudly made in Kentucky.

 

 

Alexandria, We Are Here

It has been awhile since I have updated our blog, frankly, I haven’t had much time.  This project of ours has been in a full throttle for the past 6 to 8 months.  We are at the point now where it is almost impossible to stop.  Two days ago, we announced to our Kickstarter backers our location.  It is not what we had originally planned.  I have learned in life that you have to adjust, most of the time on the fly, in order to move forward.  We all tend to get stuck on a certain idea, paint a picture in our mind, of how things are and how things should be.  When that picture gets rearranged, it can be very difficult to move on.  One thing I always try to do to help me look at this new image is look at my end goal.  In this case, my end goal was to get our brewery open.  Did this rearrangement prevent that from happening?  No. 

To explain things to you in a nutshell, we were looking at a large piece of property on Alexandria Pike (US 27) for over a year.  We have been out to see it quite a few times; sometimes with our investors and sometimes with our contractor.  We drew up floor plans.  We had a brewing system designed to fit specifically into the basement of the old farm house that still stands on this piece of property.  On out final trip out there with two of our investors, we noticed ornamental grass had been cut down revealing a septic tank.  Our realtor noted that this was not mentioned in the disclosures and called the listing agent.  The listing agent said it was being sold as a property for development, despite pictures of the house’s interior being shown on the commercial listing websites.  So, we got quotes on tapping into sewer and quotes on a commercial grade septic system.  At the end of the day, that property would not work.  Our entire remodeling budget would have been spent on one of these two options.

We adjusted.  We are leasing a large space at 7926 Alexandria Pike.  You can get an idea of where that is by clicking on our location tab.  If you live in Alexandria or are familiar with the area, we are in the Jolly Towne Centre where Skip N Flip used to be.  It is less than a half of a mile further south than where we planned to go.  Our space is much, much bigger than we planned to start with, but this allows us plenty of room to grow and it gives us room to put a restaurant in (we are looking for someone to sublet that that space now).  We will still start with a 5BBL brewhouse, six 5BBL tanks, and a 5BBL bright.  These are on order now from DME (Diversified Metal Engineering) and will arrive this winter.  We also hope to find a used 10 or 15BBL tank for our longer fermenting beers or lagers.

The question you are probably asking (and have been asking since you started reading) is, “When are they opening?”  We are shooting for early March.  If everything goes smooth, we should hit that without much of a problem.  The problem is, with a new business, breweries in particular, things rarely go smooth during a build out.  We had hoped to be open this past summer, but we had to rewrite everything.  So, we ask you bear with us.  If you are not, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see our progress.  We are excited to be moving forward full steam and can’t wait to see you in our taproom!

Where we are, an update

We are in the midst of an adventure.  This one has been an uphill climb the entire way and continues to be.  I know quite a bit of you have been inquiring about where we stand and what is going on with Alexandria Brewing Company.  Hopefully this will answer your questions.  Some specifics I still cannot get into such as our planned location, but this will offer you a glimpse at some of our day to day struggles.  With all of that said, here we go, some of this gets a little technical, feel free to skip ahead if you don’t like details…

I am going to start with our financing situation.  With our successful Kickstarter, we were able to bring on four investors.  After we paid for all of our costs for the Kickstarter campaign, including shipping, we were not left with that much.  We have paid for countless numbers of test batches, professional copies of our business plan, dinners with potential investors, and attorney fees (the most costly of all).  This led us to a place where we were able to find the four best people to invest in our vision.  So, we have a decent amount of funds in an escrow account awaiting a larger cash injection.  That leads us to the bank.

Our plan is reliant on bank financing to accomplish what I want to do since it requires more than we were able to raise from our investors.  We have talked with numerous banks and thought we found one that worked for us.  We were at the finish line when, out of nowhere, they decided to back out.  Coming from the banking industry, my best guess is that they have recently financed two other breweries, one is established, the other is being built now.  They are a smaller, newer bank and may not want to put too many eggs in one basket.  Now we are working with another local bank and things are looking promising once again, but we are still in the beginning phases.

So, why not a larger bank?  We have approached three larger banks and they all push us towards the SBA 7a program versus the SBA 504 that we want.  The differences between these two programs are what they are used for and the interest rates.  With the 504, we are guaranteed a low fixed rate.  We put 10% down, we get 40% financed from a CRC (community reinvestment corporation), and the other 50% from the bank. This loan is used strictly for hard assets, meaning we cannot finance anything like our raw materials or merchandise with it.  The 7a lets us finance everything but has a much higher rate.  Our plan is to do the 504 and have line of credit, plus our leftover cash to cover our working capital.  The smaller banks want the 504 because they are secured by the CRCs which are backed by the federal government.  The big banks like the 7a because they make a lot of money on it and can spread that risk over several businesses.  

Our current plan is to buy a larger piece of land that has an old farmhouse on it, build a taproom in said house, put our production facility in the basement, and install a DME (Diversified Metal Engineering) 5BBL 2 vessel brewhouse that is decoction capable.  Traditionally, decoction requires at least a 3 vessel system, but DME has engineered our system to work as a typical 2 vessel system with step infusion most of the time (mash /lauter tun vessel & boil kettle whirlpool vessel).  However, when we switch to a decoction mash (http://www.braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Decoction_Mashing), it is a mash/boil kettle/whirlpool and lauter tun setup. 

Our next issue comes in with if we have an issue with this bank.  We do not anticipate this, but it is a possibility.  The biggest issue any new brewery faces right now is the market being labeled “over saturated.”  While in Kentucky this isn’t true at all, some people believe Cincinnati is heading that way.  Most experts believe Greater Cincinnati can support quite a bit more, especially “neighborhood breweries” which are typically 3-15 BBL sized systems.  If we have a problem with this current bank, we will go for a smaller system and lease our location.  We are still looking for a place in this situation but will go for a brewhouse similar to the one that Darkness Brewing uses.  This is a 3 BBL brewhouse that we hope we can figure out a way to step infuse on. 

So, there you have it.  Our entire situation laid out.  I hope this explains everything to you.  I know the “step infusion” and “decoction” parts may not make sense to everyone who reads this, know it is part of the brewing process and if you are intrigued, feel free to research it.  I guarantee you, even on a home brewing level, you will find more information than you ever thought possible.  If you have any questions about any of this, please comment below.  As always, we appreciate your patience and support throughout this whole process.

Cheers,

Andy Reynolds