Category Archives: 2014


People always ask “how’s it going?” but they really want to know is when I’ll open. I know because I have had the conversation enough times from the other side of the table. Our initial location dropped out so I have been working with a real estate agent to find another property. You can put a brewery just about anywhere, if you get the right permits and deal with the hassles. Finding a location that will make a good brewery location though takes a little more thought.


Years ago it started for me I’d look at buildings and think could you put a brewery in there? The first building I did that in my head is now a social services building in Flagstaff. It sat unused for years, I am not sure now that the building had enough vertical height that it would have made a good brewery, but it could have been done.


Because of the way the business plan has developed the easiest property would be an industrial lot with a good amount of vertical space. The building having a dock door is border line a minimum requirement, because while it is not a necessity, it does make life a lot easier. In conversations with my equipment supplier they say it’s amazing how many people opening a brewery don’t have a dock door. Sufficient electricity into the building is a requirement because without that there will be costly upgrades required. Lastly are the location and aesthetic considerations.


While we will be a brewery with a restaurant, short term at opening it will be just a brewery and with the restaurant coming later. Ideally we will want to sell as much beer as possible on site. That means the location must have the right demographics as a customer base. Industrial close to residential or with good commuter numbers nearby has been the model of a number of successful breweries. I think we are dialing in on some locations with that potential.


Aesthetic I list last and while it definitely can be a component of success, it doesn’t require it. Fullsteam has a very community center feel and that vibe comes through in it’s design. I often liken it to a church built around beer with the brewery the grand cathedral showing through the glass. Counter that down the road in Raleigh with Big Boss which has a very industrial-blue collar feel because that was exactly what it was set up as, it calls more to the beginning of the craft beer movement and reflects the more roots. Is one better than the other, surely not Big Boss has been known to attract hundreds for it’s monthly tours and thousands for it’s big party events. Go to Fullsteam any given Saturday, you will see birthday parties, families and friends gathering for a quick pint so both serve their purpose.

Finding a building that can reflect Compass Rose aesthetic is part of my goal at the moment. I’d like to have enough space that we can have that community space feel, but allow for the industrial elements the brewery needs. It’s a delicate tightrope but I think we are getting to some promising sites.


One of my goals is getting back to writing on a more regular basis. Specifically writing about my experiences as we go through the process to open. There will be things that I can’t talk about it, but much I can and intended to try to share on at least a weekly basis.

This last week we had an informational meeting about the brewery. I had a presentation about the state of craft beer and how a brewery operation, more specifically how I want our brewery to operation. I went through steps to brewing, space required, beers I planned to offer and even a bit of detail on glassware. I reviewed rough price per pint and even sales numbers.

The information was well received, but the conversation it sparked we discovered that one of the people involved had a different vision for the project. I thought it brought up a necessary and important point. Everyone involved in a startup to be on the same page for where they want the project to go. If we had moved ahead without the issue was discovered it could have killed the project. At this point it’s early enough we can make some adjustments, but that we all needed to be in agreement on what goal we are aiming for.

All of this may lead to some changes in the plan, but we are early enough in to pivot and then move forward. Stronger because we understand each other and our goals. Communication is the key.

Another Journey Begins…

One of my wife’s favorite stories is how I got into brewing professionally. After many years of homebrewing and helping at homebrew shop she asked if I wanted to ever work at a brewery when we moved to North Carolina. I told her no that was too hard of work, I’d prefer to stick to writing and enjoying beer as a hobby. A few years later after working at another homebrew shop, on a beer app, and teaching beer education classes I finally ended up working for a brewery. After working at a brewery for a bit she asked if I wanted to open my own place and I said “no, that’s too much work, I don’t think so.” She laughed and reminded me of our past discussion.

So now I begin working on my brewery, after working for others for a biit. It’s not simply mine, there are some others who are interested in craft beer but little experience in the area. Something I provide in due quality.

I have only scratched the surface of the process and I am quite aware of the mountain of paperwork that awaits me. I look forward to my new adventure and sharing as much as I can on the process.