How Nano Brewery Incubators Are Revolutionizing the Homebrewing Experience

Nano Brewery Incubator for Home Brewers

Think homebrewing is your only option as an amateur beer brewer? Think again.

Say hello to nano brewery incubators, a unique business model that allows individual brewers to bring in their own recipes, brew beer on their own equipment (or shared equipment) and serve beer in a taproom under their own label.

We talked to Philip Vieira, the Head Brewer for Seven Brethren Brewery and Brew Crew Inc. to see how this new model is revolutionizing beer brewing and why you want to explore your options before you try your next batch.

Q: Can you explain what’s a nano brewery incubator and how the model works?

PV: A nanobrewery incubator is a relatively new concept in the craft beer world.  Essentially, it is a space where talented, small-scale brewers can try their hand at commercial brewing without dealing with the prohibitive cost/time investments to do so on their own.

There are a few example incubators that exist in America, but the models are similar to what Brew Crew Inc. offers: a legally licensed space with equipment for small batch brewing and an attached taproom that is licensed to serve and sell beer produced on the premise.

As a nano brewer, this was a huge opportunity for me, since it would’ve been too expensive and time consuming for me to establish a legal brewery on my own. Nano brewing also faces an uphill battle versus the economies of scale since, by definition, nano brewing can never produce enough product to compete with macro or even micro breweries. By covering the barriers to entry, an incubator like Brew Crew Inc. provides the opportunity for a nano brewery to test their product on the market without having to incur large sums of debt.

Q: How do you share equipment? Is there somebody in charge and who actually owns the equipment?

PV: All of the equipment at Brew Crew Inc. is owned by Brew Crew Inc. The (currently) four nano brewers who use the equipment and the shared space work out a schedule so that we don’t overlap brew days. We have a strict policy of leaving the brew space as you found it, so that means, whether you’re using your own equipment or Brew Crew’s equipment, you clean up after your brew day so that someone else can brew the next day, or sometimes, immediately after you on the same day.

Q: What makes this system better than brewing at home? Is it because of regulations or something else?

PV: Home brewing is great: low investment, plenty of room for experimentation, and the only person you have to please is yourself. However, you cannot legally sell your backyard concoctions to the general public.

On top of that, few home brewers invest in commercial grade products for their brews, creating room for variables that can affect the overall quality of their beer. As a part of the Brew Crew Inc. incubator, I can easily play with variables like temperature controls (with several temperature-controlled rooms), water profiles (adjusting a direct reverse osmosis source), yeast production (with access to our own microbiology lab), grain crush, etc.

Q: Can you give us a little background on Brew Crew? How/when did it get started and who’s behind the project?

PV: Brew Crew Inc. was started by Brad McCauley earlier this year. Brad is an avid home brewer who wanted to make his dream brewery (called Delicious Science Brewery) a reality.

Q: Can you explain how serving in the taproom under your own label works? Is it open to the public? Any restrictions? 

PV: The Brew Crew Inc. taproom has all the licensing needed to sell beer to the general public. They hire a qualified staff to serve the beers from the various nano breweries represented. By establishing legal DBAs (Doing Business As), Brew Crew Inc. allows each nano brewer to sell their beer using their own personal label without having to worry about the various licenses that are carried by Brew Crew Inc.

Q: Can you tell our readers a bit more about some of the unique ingredients and styles you brew?  

PV: Another benefit of this model is that a nano brewer can still experiment without having to dumping hundreds of gallons of beer when an experiment goes wrong. Since I am still able to brew relatively small batches, I have room to play with lots of different ingredients.

Personally, I’ve made several of my home-brew experiments a commercial reality: a porter brewed with peanut butter, an IPA brewed with pomelo and plums, a dark saison brewed with tamarind, a witbier brewed with cucumbers, just to name a few.

There’s also an opportunity to play around with more complex malt bills, rare hop varieties, and unique yeast blends, allowing us to test out new styles (like black IPAs, black saisons, SMaSH brews) or revive old ones (Braggot, Melomel, Gose, Grätzers).

 

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Diana Bocco is a writer and author who writes for Yahoo!, the Discovery Channel website, Marie Claire, Poplar Mechanics, and more. You can find more about her work on her website dianabocco.com.

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