Not too long ago, we published a post about our friends Mike and Nate who are in the process of starting up their own brewery. I’ve gotten to know them a bit over the years as the guys who run Thank Heaven for Beer, so when they asked us to help spread the word about their Kickstarter-funded brewery project, we were happy to help!
I’ve been following their project since it started, and one of the most interesting things that has happened is the amount of press they are getting like the recent story that appeared about them on AOL’s money and finance site.
Not to be outdone, I thought it would be a great time to do a Q & A style interview post with Mike and Nate. Between myself, Bob the Brit, and Lee, we came up with a few questions for the guys.
I’m also hoping that it will serve to educate you about them, and hopefully you’ll contribute a buck or two (donations start at $1) toward their goal of opening a brewery. If you have any questions, ask away in the comments section, and if you want to help them out, here’s the link to their Kickstarter page!
So, without further silliness, Q&A with Mike and Nate!
Q: In a nutshell, tell us a little bit about yourselves and why you decided to start a brewery
A: We both have degrees in the field of Biblical Studies and we both considered Ph.D work. Meanwhile, we started trying different beers and brewing, and beer is a big reason we kept in such close contact. Around three years ago, we started writing our website thankheavenforbeer.com, and it finally, it dawned on us that we wanted to brew beer for the rest of our lives and the brewery was born.
Q: Why did you choose Kansas City to start this venture?
A: Because there is a perceived need in an under-served market. People here want more good beer. It was also a practical move that made the most sense for Nate and Mike in terms of being able to work together.
Q: How is the Kickstarter project going? How did you learn of it, and what made you decide to try it?
A: The project could use a little love. The truth is that the first week and the last two or three weeks of a campaign are always the best. Everything else is a struggle. We really pushed in the middle because it is simply slow during that time. We expect that these last three weeks will be big for us and that people will really pitch in some funding and spread the word. We originally learned learned of kickstarter through Brent Gudgel who made our kickstarter video.
Also, we first saw the brewery idea used by Erik from Mystery Brewing. Our decision to try kickstarter was simply based on the fact that we didn’t have the capital to give the brewing a start on our own. We knew how great the beer community was and have been a part of it for several years. For that reason, we knew we would see them being supportive of what we are doing. All that made us decided to go for it.
Q: So far, what are have been the toughest points in this endeavor?
A: We can say unequivocally that the hardest part has been the waiting. It’s always hard to see more than 600 “likes” and 96 backers on the project. Furthermore, we assume that maybe 20,000 people have seen the project and the hope was that everyone could give at least one dollar. Waiting for things to happen has been hard. However, that has been the nature of every other brewery project we’ve seen on here.
Q: Any big surprises along the way that you’d like to share?
A: All the exposure. We knew the beer community would be great but they simply continue, time and again, to rise to the occasion of spreading the word. Other surprises included national exposure of our campaign (via daily finance and the huffington post). Additionally, we were asked to do a video interview in August and be on a panel on July 20th. The way everything has worked together has been a cumulative surprise.
Q: $40,000 seems like a lot of money to start with. Is it? What types of things would the funds be used for?
A: Brewing equipment, serving equipment, storage (i.e. a cold room), raw materials. Every bit of the funding will be used for the brewery and actually brewing some beer. We are hoping to start barreling immediately as well. So, that will be a use of space as well as barrel costs. None of the money is for us to use personally. We should also noted that the number one reason businesses fail is underfunding, so we assumed that some things would cost more than us simply looking at a number and we tried to account for it.
Q: What happens if you don’t reach the $40,000 goal by August 4? Is there a plan B or does the dream die?
A: If we don’t make it then nothing gets charged to anyone and we receive none of the funds. The dream certainly doesn’t die. There will certainly be a hiatus in terms of our ability to get started. We would look at self-funding over the next few years. So, we would go from brewing beer a year from now (that’s the hope) to three or four years. Kickstarter will expedite the process and will also get people involved and feel like they took part in something great.
Q: What do you hope to bring to the world of beer that is currently missing?
A: Local connection and more sours in the midwest. Every brewer has a unique take on styles or philosophy, so we are looking to bring some unique brews.
Q: What beer do you think will be your ‘signature beer’. You know, the beer people will travel across the country to buy, or would mark up 1000% on e-bay?
A: I personally think it will be a sour or a big beer of some sort. You can never predict what exactly how people in an area or on a big review website will respond to a particular beer so it really is difficult to tell. However, we do believe our beer is good enough that people will travel for it and try to get it.
Q: What are your plans if you become wildly successful?
A: First to be extremely thankful to everyone who gave us this small beginning. We still believe in expanding in a reasonable timeframe because success can be meteoric. So, we would continue using the equipment and brewing more frequently.
Our fondest hope is to eventually move into working at the brewery full time. Both of us would consider that wildly successful. Eventually, we would move into a bit larger capacity and hope to employ a few people who would also love what they are doing.
Q: What are some possible beer names? (“Out of the Wilderness” comes to mind as one.)
A: If people give to our Kickstarter project at $1000 or $2500, the beers will have something connected to the names of those people. So, some pledges will give people some say. Otherwise, we have a huge list of names that we already think would be good and draw upon wilderness themes. I think “Out of Wilderness” would work well for a first or first anniversary beer.
Q: What is your favorite commercially produced beer? Style?
A: That’s the hardest question to answer. Favorite can, for me, depend on the context (place, time of year, my mood, etc.). I don’t even know that I could name a favorite in any given style. My favorite style is Lambic.
Q: Since taste is subjective and changes, is there a style of or a particular beer that you once said ‘I don’t like’ but now enjoy?
A: IPA IPA IPA. Hated it! Absolutely despised it. Now I love a good IPA. You are right to point out that tastes change and there is not a single style I dislike. However, it took a good while to love sours, IPAs, and really big stouts. Now among my favorites.
Q: Did your time at Springfield Bible College influence your career path? If so, how?
A: It influenced me to pursue more education and to seek respite from a legalist structure. Needless to say, sometimes I felt I needed a beer. Nate and I snuck out and had beer together, so I would say it profoundly influenced our career paths…we just didn’t know it at the time…and here we are trying to make a brewery project succeed.
Q: As practicing Christians, will the brewery be closed on Sundays? Same question if you expand to a brewpub.
A: We anticipate being open on Sundays. Most likely, we’ll take a day off during the week. A day of rest is important for practical reason but also an imperative for my belief reasons. However, there is nothing that we feel compels us to believe it has to be on a Sunday.
Q: Have you ever brewed beer in the nude? How did that go?
A: No but I have used tea bags. I think Nate never brews while dressed.
Thanks for the support…we always appreciate it.