As a result of this site, I have the opportunity to interact with more than a few beer lovers.  The more conversations I have with individuals who find themselves falling head over heels in love with quality craft beer, the more folks I find who express a desire to start a brewery.  The vast majority of these dreamers unfortunately relinquish their desire to the realm of daydreams as they plunk away at the computer in their cubicle.  So coming across someone who says, “Enough is enough,” and puts their future where their dreams are is quite refreshing.

Mike and I are on our way to saying, “Enough is enough,” and thus we take greater interest in infant brewery start-ups.  What has continued to astonish me is the routine methodology that seems to encompass all new brewery start-ups.  The abridged version seems to be:  1) An epiphany that one’s homebrew is worthy of shelf space in the local beer shop 2) begin looking for and securing BIG investors and BIG bank loans to purchase awesome brewery and equipment 3) suffer years of agony jumping through bureaucratic hoops and waiting for legal doors to swing open while loans and bank accounts hemorrhage 4) finally begin brewing, taking out more loans in the process for personal salary and to pump out maximum bbl brewhouse permits 5) Continual debt cycle to meet demand.

Scary.  I thought American craft beer thought outside of the box?

At some level, debt may be a necessary evil, but keeping it minimal should be too.  So when I stumbled across a new brewery start up that was utilizing a different approach, I had to hear more.  Fortunately the founder of the company in mention, Mystery Brewing, is an amiable guy who was willing share some of his time for me to learn more.  Erik, Mystery Brewing‘s founder, also runs Top Fermented, an intelligent and relevant beer site.

Erik’s approach to funding his brewery is quite interesting.  A portion of his funding is sought from investors who aren’t looking for a massive quarterly dividend, but are looking for a sense of accomplishment and community, who might be willing to spare some of their hard earned money just to be a part of a brewery start-up.  At, one can pledge any where from $5 to $5,000 (although I’d bet if you really wanted they would accept more) to be a part of the history of the brewery.  The different levels of pledging aren’t entirely self serving on the brewery’s part, as those who pledge receive perks that increase with the amount of the pledge.

It’s brilliant.  There are those who want the cash dividend, and while there is a place for those individuals in the brewery’s business plan, there are those who just want to be a part of something good.  It reminds me of a hybrid of the type of fund-raising I once did as a director for a 501c3 and the ending of the movie UHF in which a small avant garde telvision station (run by Weird Al) was funded through hundreds of small investors who were bought into the mission of the station.

In attempt to bypass the frustration cycle (2-5) of many small breweries, Erik is starting Mystery Brewing as a contract brewery.  What does this mean?  Simply put, Erik is avoiding massive debt (and potential investor control) by detouring the processes involved in purchasing an expensive brew-house and bottling line, and contracting an existing brewery to brew his beer.  His recipes, his labor (he will aid in the actual brewing), but not his equipment.

At the end of the day, Mystery Brewing beer will be flowing from the tap at the local craft beer bar.  But what is the trade off.  I really can only think of one thing.  Pride.  Until traction kicks in and Erik can use brewery revenue to expand into his own facility, he forgoes the big building with a neon Mystery Brewing sign, he has to put off a personal tasting room, and he will not be able to lead tours through his illustriously leveraged brewery.  The fact that one is willing to make such a sacrifice should induce a person to get involved in the startup.

What is Mystery Brewing all about?  In the video linked to below, Erik states:

My theory is that you don’t have to be extreme to be awesome, just awesome.  I’m starting up this brewing company…one that specializes in artisanal an session ales using heirloom grains, historic recipes, and some non traditional ingredients in traditional ways in search of the next chapter of craft beer.

Why support Mystery Brewing?  Besides the fact that you value good beer, (and his is good, I’ve tried it) Erik has done his due diligence to ensure the long term viability of the investors seed money, whether it be $5 or$5000.  In a world continuously rocked by get rich/famous quick ponzi scheme-esque financial scandals, that goes a long way.

Times are tough for a lot of us.  I know in the past couple of years I didn’t have $5 to spare on anything as I had been unemployed for four months.  But if you have the means, head over to Mystery’s Kickstarter Project and pledge $20…you’ll only have to sacrifice two bombers of any given imperial ale, and the warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get will be well worth it.  Regardless of whatever dire straits you may be in, simply putting a link to either Mystery Brewing Website or the Kickstarter Campaign would go a long way.