KB: We started with one distributor. We were very naive about believing things we were told, and the distributor agreed to a certain volume of cases per week. They also said we needed to double production in the summer. To meet projected requirements, we spent a lot of money upgrading our equipment. The distributor never took that much beer, and in fact in a couple months stopped buying any beer whatsoever. From June to November 2009 we sold no beer in New Hampshire. If we hadn't gotten Massachusetts when we did, we would have closed down long ago. If any of your aspiring brewery owners should ever hear the phrase "We'll sell all you can make!" that would be a lie.
LW: Why did you decide to move to Keg-Only accounts when you started rebrewing?
KB: The margins are much smaller when you pay for glass, caps, and labels. Plus when you buy glass, it comes on a pallet, and you only get a price break on shipping with two pallets. There are 112 cases of 22 ounce bottles per pallet, which is more than 7 barrels of beer each. Two pallets with shipping are approximately $2500. When your distributor is selling 10 cases a month, all the money you spent on glass and bottling, not to mention beer, are just sitting on your floor. Meanwhile, you end up paying for rent and utilities just as though you were actually selling something. We can sell our beer for less and make more money with kegs. AND draft beer tastes better!
LW: You are a New Hampshire company, but your distribution plans are to supply Massachusetts initially, not NH. How come?
KB: Good question. Our Massachusetts distributor has their own cooperage, so they are sending us clean kegs to fill, and we'll just send them back full. Also our Vermont distributor will do that for us, but the New Hampshire distributors don't offer that option, and we haven't built a keg washer yet.
On Naughty Nancy's they made us remove the nipples and cameltoe, but we kept the whip and leather skirt. We've been featured in Lehman Brother's legal blog a couple of times for pushing the envelope. We have probably had more labels rejected than most every other brewery, but we won't bore you. All the art is on the web site and please have a peak.
Incidentally, as a Discordian I felt compelled to put a 23 on every label. Good luck finding the 23!
Part 2 of our interview with Kevin Bloom and Manchester Brewing can be found here.
If you want to find out more about Kevin, Manchester Brewing, or School of Beer, check out their website or better yet, if you are in the Concord area, stop by the brewery.
“I am sure of this, that if everybody was to drink their bottle a day, there would be not half the disorders in the world there are now. It would be a famous good thing for us all.”
- Jane Austen