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Posted byErik Lars Myers - Mystery Brewing3 years ago

I am Erik Lars Myers, author of North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries, Founder of Mystery Brewing Co., and President of the NC Brewers' Guild. AMA!

Hey Reddit!

I am the author of North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries, published in 2012. I am the Founder of Mystery Brewing Company, the country's first Seasonal-Only Brewery, the first brewery to fund and open via a Kickstarter project. I am the President of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, and I am the author of the blog

I am opinionated and passionately love beer, brewing, and the brewing industry. Ask me anything (about anything).

I'll be here all night. Tip your server. (Try the veal!)

I am not currently wearing pants.

It's dark. You're likely to be eaten by a grue.

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Pilsner 5 points·3 years ago

If there was one thing you wanted the average beer drinker in NC to know what would it be? Also if you could change one NC beer law what would it be?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster8 points·3 years ago

How much great beer we have!!

What a soft bullshitty answer.

But it's so damn true. We have a lot of great beer here. It's easy to not see it because it's in your face all the time, right? It's like how I lived in Boston for 6 years, but I didn't ever walk any part of the Freedom Trail until I moved away and went back to visit. It's hard to see what we have here as excellent because we see it all the time. That great IPA is the same IPA I have every goddamned day - yawn. Oh, but Two Hearted!

It's easy to see your local stuff as not special, but that's because you're used to it.

If I could change one NC beer law (first), I would change franchise law. That we're essentially tied to distributors for life (except through enormous cash transaction or lawsuit) is really difficult to swallow. Distributors have a TON of power here and while many of them are actually really awesome, it'd be nice to have the same kind of legal protection built in that THEY have built in from ABI/MillerCoors/etc.

Could you maybe give a layman's definition of the franchise law and what you mean by saying you're tied to distributors for life? I think the context would help us understand your opinion better.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

Hooo-whee! Franchise law is the law that is defines our relationships with distribution. It's actually ridiculously complicated (which is part of the problem). This is lame way to deal with it:

After I hit some other questions I'll come back and see if I can expand on this a little more.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster5 points·3 years ago

Okeedokee. Things are slowing down a bit, so: Franchise Law.

Franchise law is the section of law that defines how tiers of the distribution system relate to each other. In specific, they define the terms of our business relationships.

"A franchise agreement is a commercial relationship between a wholesaler and supplier of a definite or indefinite duration, whether written or oral..."

For instance, we are not allowed to have a definite duration on our franchise agreements, because the law says that it is illegal to:

"Alter in a material way, terminate, fail to renew, or cause a wholesaler to resign from, a franchise agreement with a wholesaler except for good cause and with the notice required "

So, good cause is stuff like, "The distributor got sold" or "The distributor is going out of business" or "My distributor is not paying me for product that I'm selling to them" but not things like, "They distributor is not doing a good job representing by beer or my brand."

In essence, once you sign on with a distributor, there's no competitive marketplace.

You CAN give termination notice, but when you do so you're are liable for the fair market value of your brand, which is largely decided by your distributor.

Moving on from a distributor is doable, but it's incredibly complicated, incredibly expensive, and is probably going to involve an enormous sum of money and/or a lawsuit.

I'm not sure that that's ENTIRELY unfair, but I'd like to see it a little easier for small brewers. Distributors generally have CONSIDERABLY more resources than we do, and have a lot of power over us.

What's difficult about it is that franchise laws give distributors a lot of protection from the large breweries. Because, hey, if Bud showed up tomorrow and told Harris, Inc, "We're pulling our products from you", Harris would close their doors. That's not good, either. Distributors need the protections in place to help them have a level playing field with the influence of the big breweries.

Unfortunately, franchise law was largely defined before small brewers really had a voice to stick up for us and give us protections, so we're stuck with how the distributors have defined the law. They put in what they consider concessions for us, but they're obtuse and difficult to work with.

I hope we can change that.

Pilsner 2 points·3 years ago

I know about the law and my brain still hurts from reading this.

Would you mind name dropping "That great IPA"? :D I'm sure this can be read in other places, but I'd love to hear a few of your personal favorite IPAs from North Carolina

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster5 points·3 years ago

Heh heh.

IPAs I like from North Carolina: NoDa Woody and Wilcox, Lynwood's Black IPA, Highland Kashmir IPA, Fullsteam Rocket Science, Foothills Jade IPA, CBC Wiggo, I like Double Barley's Touche (great name, too).

Out of my lineup, I really like Fantine (Red Belgian IPA) and Hornigold (English IPA).

Do you guys self distribute? I was in The Beer Dispensary a few weeks ago and you delivered some bombers yourself while I was there. Special occasion, or are you trucking it around all the time? The Papa Bois is unbelievably fantastic by the way

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

We do not, no. When you saw me I was at The Beer Dispensary picking up some old bottles, and I know that Tim had had a problem with some bottles of Papa Bois, so I brought a couple of extra as a way of making that up to him.

But no - we used to self-distribute. We're now with Mutual Disitributing Company state-wide.

Thanks for the kind words about Papa. I think that it is one of the most outstanding beers that we make.

Hi Erik,

I was linked to your blog post about GenOpp today and it was a great read. So great, in fact, that I thought your other posts might be worth reading as well. It turns out they were. It also turns out that reading great beer blog posts is not conducive to working. Oh well.

My question actually pertains to the post you wrote about the TBJ's article saying that the Triangle deserved to be snubbed by some Seattle journalist's listicle. First off, I'd love to know if you actually did get to take Dawn Curry on that Triangle Beer tour, and if you did where'd you go and what did you try? If you didn't, where would you have taken her and what would you have had her try?

Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this. I love the blog as a craft beer drinker and a fairly new beer blogger myself. Also, Six Impossible Things is a liquid love story. Thank you sir.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster3 points·3 years ago

I haven't taken Dawn on the tour, yet, but we did meet up for a beer and chatted for 3 hours. I hope I helped, but I honestly don't know.

We were supposed to have a tour scheduled for end of Sept, but she had a family issue come up, so we're going to try to reschedule. She asked that I not talk about it too much before it happens (if it happens) so that it's not a problem with her editor, and I'd like to respect that.

The problem I'm going to have it actually cutting it down to breweries that we can visit in 8-ish hours. A lot of breweries have a good reasons to go visit.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

Oh, hey, and thanks about the kind words about 6IT. It was really embarrassing to not be able to make enough last year. We've fixed that going forward. No more supply chain issues (for that one, anyway).

Pilsner 5 points·3 years ago

Hey Erik are we aloud to talk about the Brewers Bill of Rights the guild is working on? If so can you explain it to our users and why its important for breweries to have. Also how do you feel about events in NC? It used to be the brewery donated their beer and time to get their name out there and I think event coordinators still have this mind set. I know less and less breweries want to give away anymore free beer to these greedy people making a ton of money off of our hard work. I also feel like they take advantage of their volunteers. I would really like another brewers opinion on this.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster3 points·3 years ago

I'll give you a little tacit preview, but it's not quite public, yet.

The crux is this: We're trying to craft a document that brewers agree upon (rather than an official statement or regulation or something from the Guild) that defines expectations that breweries would like to see from festivals and events. Things like being paid for beer, minimum level of support.

Honestly, I haven't seen it lately (board meeting this week, though), and I hesitate to comment on it too much before the entire board has a chance to look at it together. I'm hoping that it'll be a way to positively affect festivals in the state.

I think that events in NC are a little behind the times but catching up. For a long time, I think that "exposure" was a legitimate reward for attending a festival in the state, but we are now to the point where festivals are expecting us to draw a crowd. We (breweries) don't attend festivals because nobody has heard of us, we attend because everybody has heard of us and they want the beer.

To be really frank, I suffer from a little bit of festival fatigue. From April to October there are something like 55 beer festivals in North Carolina. If we gave away beer to all of them we would be out of business. We choose ones that we feel are in markets that are important to us, and at Mystery, our policy is that we don't attend unless our beer is paid for.

A lot of new festivals are launching with payment in mind, and many of the older ones are changing their practices to include payment. It's nice to see. It's a shame that it feels so much like a fight sometimes.

Bière de Garde 3 points·3 years ago

I highly highly approve of this and am aware of the festivel(s) not named. ( and I work for a distributor too).

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

I mean, in a lot of ways festivals buying beers really helps distributors, too. You guys throw a lot of resources at festivals, it'd be nice to not take it in the pants on every single one of those.

My personal feeling on festivals is that we should at least break even.

Bière de Garde 3 points·3 years ago

I am more referencing the ones that do not buy beer, or compensate for time spent or provide any resources and expect us to do everything. I don't make the calls at my place of work, but it seems like a few festivals only ask for free volunteers or free product or free POS from us when they charge the general public a crazy ticket price. That can really take a toll on a small start up brewery it seems, but yes I agree with you we gotta at least break even at some point.

Hello from r/WAbeer!

My husband and I are considering leaving Seattle for somewhere cheaper that doesn't have standstill highway traffic at 3pm on Saturdays. NC is high on our list.

If good beer proximity was the only criteria, where town in NC should we move to?

Pilsner 4 points·3 years ago

Asheville is often called the Portland of the east coast.

I know that, but that doesn't mean it's the best place to live for all the beers.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

Aside from the fact that Portland is almost 10x larger. ;)

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

Hey there r/WAbeer!

NC is pretty awesome! You should totally come here!

For beer proximity, the Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area) currently has the highest density of breweries in the state. Within an hour drive you hit over 40 breweries and we have probably another 10 - 15 in planning.

I am partial to the western part of the Triangle, but frankly there's a lot of good beer everywhere. My part of the Triangle has a lot less traffic. :)

This whole thing began when I realized how cheap Durham housing was so looks like it's not bad to keep going that direction.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

Do it! Come visit Hillsborough and have a beer at Mystery!

Rauchbier 7 points·3 years ago

In addition to being a brewer, you also write about beer (on the blog you mentioned as well as in "North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries").

What sort of writing would you like to see more of in the beer community, both locally and globally? What are beer writers -- or simply anyone that happens to write about beer -- missing?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster10 points·3 years ago

Tough damn question, Mr. Author.

Can I talk a little about what I'd like to see less of? I'd like to see fewer reviews. I'd like to see a little less of the weird lovefest/hatefest that beer seems to garner in journalism. I'd like to see more objective analysis and storytelling.

I feel like many beer journalists exist in this space like sports journalists where they're fans first and foremost and tell the interesting story second. I think sometimes people are too concerned about maintaining a good relationship to be able to actually write about something subjectively. On the other hand, (selfishly) I don't really want to see breweries raked over the coals for every little thing. We're small businesses working hard in what is, frankly, a really difficult and competitive environment. We're all bound to make a bunch of mistakes, to get crucified for every one doesn't necessarily help.

I wish that journalists/bloggers/etc. did a little more research to understand what kind of issues are facing breweries. Not every trademark lawsuit is a nuisance lawsuit or an actual C&D. There's no need to rally the troops around an issue that isn't actually going anywhere.

Honest answer: I don't know. Fewer reviews. Fewer love fests. Fewer hate fests. Nobody should ever write the words "Top X Beers" or "Top X Breweries". It's disingenuous.

I want people to think about what they write more often. (Myself included.)

To add to this: what are the questions or topics that need to be asked about or covered in beer writing?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster5 points·3 years ago

I want people to ask more questions about franchise law and hold distributors and retailers more accountable for how they handle product.

Ooooh.. first "I'm going to get in trouble" answer of the night.

  1. Has the brewery broken even? If so, how long did it take to do so?

  2. What is the next big purchase on the horizon to expand your operation?

  3. Kirk or Picard?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster4 points·3 years ago
  1. Not yet. Stainless steel is stupid expensive.

  2. Next big purchase is actually a suite of big purchases. We just installed a new cold room, we need more tanks really badly, so we're looking at 3 - 4 new 15s with 30s on the horizong (I hope), we've got a canning line in the works, which will hopefully be this year, but weeks go by awfully fast, so maybe early 2015.

  3. Kirk in a fist fight, Picard on the bridge.

Do you think there's a discrepancy in public acceptance of women into broad beer culture? Craft beer certainly seems welcoming, but are there areas where we can improve or enhance to strengthen roles or relationships across gender?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

I'd like to say that I think there's a discrepancy, but I don't think that women are necessarily accepted into beer culture as much as they should be, and so I'm going to say no.

To be fair, beer culture makes it difficult. The beer industry is full of things like "Donkey Punch" and "Panty Dropper" and nice rapey names like that.

But beer has long been the arena of the frat guy and the sexist douchebag at the end of the bar. Like video game culture, we have a long way to go before we're showing even remotely good parity.

Inside the industry there's a group called The Pink Boots Society. While I'm glad that they exist and give women inside the industry a place to gather and commiserate, it's also kind of sad that it has to exist.

More than 50% of our staff at Mystery are female, and I couldn't be prouder of them and the roles they take in the industry.

You have been very vocal with your blog both before you owned a brewery and since you have been in operation. Does the fact that you now face the challenges of a professional brewer give you a different perspective on any of your previous posts? In other words: Any posts that you regret or would approach differently given the opportunity?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

Definitely a different perspective, but regret is a wasted emotion. Everything I've written is a good snapshot in time of what I was going through at the time and what was happening in the industry.

The one thing that I find right now is that I'm having a difficult time tackling topics that I suspect will be politically awkward, either with customers, potential customers, or my relationship with my distributor. Not that I won't touch them, but I have to put a lot more thought into them and make sure I'm fully explaining my thoughts instead of just firing off half-cocked.

I also find that I have to be a little more careful as the President of the Brewers' Guild because I don't want my personal opinions to be taken as position statements from a Guild standpoint. I don't want me being frustrated with a situation somewhere to effect how the distributors deal with us in the legislature, or what kind of deal a brewery across the state is getting with a cranky supplier.

Also, maybe I don't have that kind of power. No, look: I HOPE that I don't have that kind of power, but my blog posts have been picked up by the National Beer and Wine Wholesaler's Association before. I'm paranoid now.

Hey Erik, what's the vision for Mystery Brewing 5 years from now? Do you see distribution to other states? Will you ever capitulate and make a flagship?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster4 points·3 years ago

5 years from now? My vision is something along the lines of "wildly successful."

My goal is to take us up to about 5000 - 7000 bbls/year and cap growth to start working on efficiency and experimentation. I want us to be cash flow positive, a great place to work, making phenomenal standout beers, and be that brewery that most of the country hears about but has to travel to visit.

I'd actually like to distribute out of state, but in a little different way than what a lot of people do (shocker). If everything goes well, I'd like to see us distributing in Richmond, VA and Washington DC before the end of this year. From there, I want to target cities in good beer markets and grow in a very targeted manner. Chicago, Denver, SF, Minneapolis, NYC, Portland (ME), etc. but I don't want to distribute to whole states because, quite frankly, we'll never be big enough to do that.

No. No flagships. Damnit. I don't drink in a flagship way (do any of you?! Like the same beer all the time?), I don't want to make one.

Rauchbier 2 points·3 years ago

I drink a lot of the same beers over and over, but I can certainly understand your approach.

Just so long as you brew Litwos at least once a year. ;)

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

It'll come back, but it'll be better. I promise. :) Look for the Seefbier this year, I promise it's a crazy unique one.

Wanna chat home brewing for a bit? The state of NC has made some concerning statements this past year about the legality of charity-based homebrew festivals and even homebrew clubs. What do you see being the key issues the next year of two, and what can NC homebrewers do to be a voice?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

The current stance of the ABC is that homebrew is for private use only. Just as a reference, this how the law reads:

§ 18B-306. Making wines and malt beverages for private use.

An individual may make, possess, and transport native wines and malt beverages for his own use and for the use of his family and guests. Native wines shall be made principally from honey, grapes, or other fruit or grain grown in this State, or from wine kits containing honey, grapes, or other fruit or grain concentrates, and shall have only that alcoholic content produced by natural fermentation. Malt beverages may be made by use of malt beverage kits containing grain extracts or concentrates. Wine kits and malt beverage kits may be sold in this State. No ABC permit is required to make beverages pursuant to this section.

Their reading is that between "private use" and "his own use and for the use of his family and guests" it is clear that homebrew should only be at home and not at, say, festivals or homebrew club meetings (that aren't held at a private residence).

Additionally, they're really not on board with homebrew being at beer festivals in general (since you're paying for admission, you're paying for homebrew), or especially homebrew festivals. Regardless of where the money is going, exchanging money for beer is purchasing the beer.

I have a bit of a problem with homebrew at beer festivals (despite having done it myself in the past), but I love the relationship that we have with our homebrew club and I think that homebrew festivals in general are a really great thing for raising awareness and showing off some great brew.

I suspect that we'll see a bit of a crackdown on big public homebrew events at some point soon, which is a shame, but will also be the kind of thing that has the possibility of galvanizing public support to make a law change a little easier.

So, that's one of the laws that I would personally like to see addressed in the next session, but I know it's not going to be high on the list for a lot of brewers because it doesn't directly effect them.

What can NC homebrewers do: As soon as we get a law change drafted, call your local Representative and/or Senator and urge them to support it. That is the #1 way to make a difference.

  1. Why did you decide to fund your brewery using a kickstarter project?

  2. Best beer in NC?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster7 points·3 years ago
  1. Original idea was to give a way for friends who weren't traditional investors - like "I only have $100 to give you, but I would TOTALLY give it to you!" - a way to pitch in. It ended up being a really fantastic way to build a community around the idea of the brewery before it got off the ground. I also had no freakin' idea how much money it would ACTUALLY cost to start a brewery.

  2. Honestly, too many to choose from. Do I talk about Wicked Weed sours or do I talk about Lynwood Grill IPAs? Do I talk about the traditional goodness of CBC Pale or how lovely I find Highland's St. Terese? Do I talk about Birdsong Jalapeno Pale or Olde Hickory's outstanding Coffee IPA? Foothills Jade? Green Man ESB? I think I make pretty decent beer? There's a lot of damn good beer here. Best is subjective.

Rauchbier 2 points·3 years ago

That you went the crowdsourcing route shows it was something you believed in, but what do you think of bigger breweries like Stone taking this approach?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster10 points·3 years ago

Frankly, I think it's bullshit and exploitation. It's taking advantage of the loyalty of their customers. I've personally decided that I will no longer buy Stone products because of both the crowdfunding activity AND how they've treated journalists and detractors.

If you're an operating business, you really have no business running a crowdfunding campaign. If you think about it, we're all running crowdfunding campaigns every day. I sell a pint in my pub for $4.00. No way in hell that keeps me open unless a whole hell of a lot of people go in and buy that pint. That's crowdfunding.

Here's the difference: Kickstarter and Indiegogo and whatever are platforms in which people - who do not have traditional resources - start projects, businesses, etc. The kind of activity that Stone is undertaking is really muddying the water there. It really cheapens the platform. I've seen numerous headlines like, "Crowdfunding Jumps the Shark," etc. It's a real shame.

Also, those guys have enough cash to open TWO new breweries - one on the East Coast and one in Berlin - and they're coming out with a sob story about how they just need $1 mil more? Cry me a goddamned river. You know what kind of brewery I could build with $1 mil right now? It would be glorious. I'm plugging away after a loan that will take me 15 years to re-pay.

I've thought about launching two different crowdfunding projects since we opened, and I haven't posted either of them because I felt like it wouldn't be fair to my customers. If I want more money, I need to sell more beer.

(And I'm trying! I'm really trying!)

Scotch Ale 2 points·3 years ago

Hi Erik, What's your favorite beer to brew at home? I've noticed a theme in the taproom. So, what's your favorite episode of Dr. Who? Also, Jim wants to know if you are happy with the hole in the patio wall? Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA!

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster4 points·3 years ago

At home: Saison. I don't really get to brew at home anymore, but I really like saison. They're like the every-beer, and they're wonderful and dry, and I really like dry beer. So that's what I shoot for. There's a reason that we have our own proprietary saison yeast. I'm a saison nerd.

My favorite episode of Dr. Who: Blink. Hands down one of the best written pieces of television ever.

The patio wall: Not yet. But I suspect I'll be happier with it, soon. :)

I will have to check out Mystery's saison. I can drink saison's all day, I just absolutely love them! I love my Belgians, but I feel like they're made for sipping instead of guzzling (and some times I need to quaff my beer).

Do you have any comments on how you went about developing your saison yeast? I've been partial to Wyeast #3711 over any of the others I've tried for its flavor and particularly clean, crisp finish.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

Well, we do 4 every year. Right now we've got Evangeline, our summer saison which is a Rye saison. We're about to move into Rosalind for the fall, which is similar, lower in alcohol than Evangeline, and made with brown sugar. It's crisp and a little more caramelly. In the winter we have Annabel, which is a Black Saison (and awesome), and in the spring Beatrix is our hoppiest saison and quite delicious.

Our yeast came from a kind of a weird source - I had cultured yeast from a bottle of Saison Moinette while I was homebrewing and I brewed with it for a long time. At a certain point, the flavor started to change from a really crisp dryness to a big fruity estery character. I gave it to a buddy of mine who worked in a yeast lab (a research lab at UNC) to clean it up for me, because I thought it was infected, but as it turns out it looked great. So I continued to brew with it, and I liked it so much that I sent it into White Labs to bank it. Now we have our own WLP. We keep stocks through White Labs and in our own yeast lab on site.

That's pretty cool! I think you're the second person who has told me they sent yeast to UNC.. The other guy's yeast was apparently very badly infected and the tech told him it was unrecoverable. Nice yo hear a successful homebrew culturing story.

In Daniels AMA last week I asked about cans and how they are changing beer in NC. I saw an article that Mystery will be canning soon. I have a few questions regarding this subject.

  1. Where do you see the future of bottles 5, 10, and even 15 years down the road? I see the trend being when smaller breweries become bigger breweries they will need bigger and better canning lines. That means the newer, smaller breweries can pick up the used stuff cheap. I don't see a bright future with bottles if that trend happens.

  2. Being a seasonal only brewery how is that going to effect your cost on cans? Will you have printed cans for the seasonals or will it be more cost effective to label or sleeve blank cans?

  3. What's in it for us if we join the pint hounds? I see you are president of the NC Brewers guild. I was thinking of becoming a pint hound and decided not to, convince me otherwise.

Cheers and Thanks

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago
  1. I wish I saw a brighter future with bottles, because I really truly like them. But to be completely honest, they're really difficult to deal with for small breweries. The quality of glass gets really difficult to deal with on a small level, it's expensive, it's breakable. One of the main reasons that we've been looking toward canning is because when we get a pallet of glass that's wrapped like a jackass, or a bottle that explodes on the filler, we're dealing with a lot of pieces of sharp dangerous material and we'd rather not deal with that. We have plenty of dangers, why add more? We've also been having a really hard time finding really quality bottles from suppliers. We're rejecting about 15% of the glass that we get on a pallet right now and by rejecting I mean we're recycling it and eating the cost of that loss because we're trying not to put defective bottles into the marketplace.

  2. We're going to have to label blank cans. We're working with our designer to come up with a way to make that look good and stick with the quality of the design that we've committed to, but it's a sad truth. The smallest minimum order of cans that I've been able to find so far is 40,000, which means that for any give brand we have to put out 161 bbls of that particular brand to move through it. Doable? Sure, eventually, but not as we first get into it.

  3. First, let me reference you to a different reddit thread:

Next, I'll sell it to you this way: Do it because you want to support North Carolina beer. All of the money goes to help us promote and protect the breweries in the state. As a 501(c)6 the Guild is required to spend most of it's budget on promotion - that's making sure that breweries are getting represented well in publications around the country, but also making sure that breweries are getting represented well in the legislature. You also get some pretty cool perks. Rad t-shirt, bottle opener, lots of events, discounts at breweries, that kind of thing. You can make back your membership in a month worth of brewery visits.

My lifegoal is to start my own brewery/taproom. What advice would you have towards a home-brewer with this goal, re: tips, tricks, costs (hidden and normal), etc?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster4 points·3 years ago

Read a lot of books about business, then read a lot of books about beer, and then read a lot of books about business again. Take yourself to at least one of the brewing schools to get an idea of the chemistry on a large scale, try to spend time working in another brewery.

Costs: As cliche as it sounds, it will take twice as long as you think it will and cost you twice as much.

For instance: Think of a number that you think it will take to start a brewery. Did you double it already? Cool. Double it again.

Taprooms are life savers, regardless of what the wonks on CNBC would try to tell you.

You mentioned in one of your blog posts that if we really want to help further NC beer, we could volunteer. Do you know of any beer-related volunteer opportunities off-hand?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

I do! It's not (currently) related to beer law, but in a couple of weeks, the Guild is hosting the NC Brewers' Cup, which is a state-level competition being hosted through the State Fair.

It's an excellent opportunity for us to get some hardware into brewers' hands, both professional and amateur, and get the word out about some great North Carolina Beer.

We are in need of judges, and stewards, and volunteers, and all kinds of help. We've got something along the lines of 1000 beers entered that need to be organized and judged.

It's Sept 5 - 7 and is a great opportunity to get to know a lot of people in and around the industry.

E-mail to volunteer (and then we'll also have your name for when we need to lead grassroots efforts in Raleigh next year to get laws changed!)

American Imperial IPA 2 points·3 years ago

I have never had one of Mystery Brewing's beers before. What one should be my first and why?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

Oh noes. Start with the one that you look at and say, "Hey! That sounds good!" because you should be drinking beer because YOU like it not because I like it.

But I sure hope we like the same things.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster4 points·3 years ago

I realize what a weak sauce answer that is, and maybe this is why I don't spend a lot of time doing sales. But the truth is this: I'd rather someone be happy drinking A beer, than being unhappy drinking MY beer.

We put a lot of work into making a quality product, but no beer is for every person. What one person likes another loathes. It's so personal, it should be up to you. I like every single beer we make. If I didn't, we wouldn't make it. Probably. We certainly wouldn't make it twice.

American Imperial IPA 2 points·3 years ago

well that isn't helpful at all :)

Hey Erik! Did you write an intensive business plan prior to opening? If so, has it been even remotely accurate? What has sprung out of nowhere unexpectedly, besides probably everything?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

I wrote a business plan, but to say that it was intensive would be a statement of such enormous hyperbole it's not even funny. It was probably 10 - 12 pages long, and then there was the financial statement.

The financial statement, in my mind, is the most important part of the business plan. It's kind of easy to explain what a brewery is and what it does. It's difficult to show how it's going to make money. I spent most of my time on that (still do).

It has not been accurate at all. Financial projections are largely voodoo, doubly so when you don't have a product yet. We bypassed my original production goals for Year 5 in Year 1. I also thought that I would make money in the first 6 months. Nope.

Biggest thing that's sprung out of nowhere (to me) has been the enormous cost of growth. It is REALLY hard to grow. You need to spend money before you're able to make it back - which is true across the board anyway - but the capital expenditures that come along with a brewery are enormous, which makes it really difficult to grow incrementally. You're almost forced into growing in spurts, which makes the cashflow really difficult to manage.

Thanks dude. Basically confirms all the feelings I have about the hoops we are anticipating as we prepare to open a new brewery in NC. Great AMA, buddy.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

Awww. Thanks, lady. :)

How did you choose Hillsborough as the spot to put your business?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster5 points·3 years ago

I actually originally chose it because it was in between I-85 and I-40 because I thought it would be a great place for distribution.

It was one of the only towns left in the Triangle that didn't have a brewery in it, and I feel very strongly that Hillsborough will be one of the next big growth targets in the Triangle. It's already sort of a bedroom community for Duke and UNC, but there are so many good reasons to go to Hillsborough (great food, great art, great music, AMAZING beer ;) that people are coming and staying, which I think is awesome.

Also: Wonderful, if pricey, water.

Biggest brewery error that actually turned into something cool?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster6 points·3 years ago

In our brewery? ;)

Some of our upcoming barrel-aged beers fall into that category.

We had a batch of a Mild Ale that got the wrong yeast in it, so we put it into wine barrels with Brett and aged it for 6 months, then added 350 lbs worth of peaches. It's a really nice, peachy, slightly tart, and will be coming out this fall. (It'll be called Faulkner.)

We also had a batch of our Scottish Ale that got flaked barley instead of Roasted Barley. We aged that one on chocolate, put it in bourbon barrels, and we'll soon be aging it (again) on coffee and releasing it under the name "The White Queen Bids Farewell."

Stuff like that.

Oh! We made too much Langhorne (now discontinued) last year, so we aged some of it in barrels with Flanders Red yeast and made Mark Twang.

I think all of my error stories end in barrels.

American Imperial Stout 1 point·3 years ago

Those sound really, really good.

The NC beer scene is largely a group of colleagues that help each other where they can and support each other. While we are nowhere near critical mass yet, do you see a day where the the number of breweries will lead to a more dog eat dog environment? In effect, will we see winners that become really large push out less competitive breweries? There is a lot of non-craft to conquer today, but of the other hand, there will always be AB Inbev drinkers

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

I'd argue that there's still a little dog eat dog that happens here. We're largely friendly, but there are definitely some rivalries around, and behind closed doors it's not always peachy and pretty. Everybody's got a bone to pick with somebody. Probably.

But, yeah, hard times are ahead. Our brewery population is growing a lot faster than our shelf space and our tap space is. Even with all of that non-craft to conquer, breweries are going to have to either work on hyper local, brand differentiation, or just throw away the idea of being the next Sierra Nevada, because it ain't gonna happen.

It's natural that we're going to have a little bit of business-to-business push. We're all in this to succeed, and we're all in this trying to pay off our student loans, or keep our mortgages above water or put our kids through college. People are going to get pretty personally protective.

Fortunately, we're all big fans of beer. It's hard not to enjoy when somebody else has a good product.

American Imperial Stout 2 points·3 years ago

If you had unlimited time and resources to make one "dream beer," what you you make?

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

I've always thought it would be hilarious to make a beer made from lobster, truffles, and gold leaf, but I don't know that I'd call it a dream beer.

I guess my dream would be to have the resources to have as many barrels as I'd like to pay with. I really like Brett and I really like sours and I'd really like to spend a lot of time getting into blending and doing those well at a really fast pace.

I make a lot of my dream beers on a regular basis, I think.

Awesome AMA. Last comment,-bring back the Mous!

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

It's in the plan! (Long term plan: 5th set of seasonals that rotate Singel, Dubbel, Tripel, Quad. Mous is the Tripel.)

And Caswell!

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

Oh, we'll probably do that one again, too.

What nc brewery do you feel has the strongest potential for becoming a nationally recognized brewery, i.g. ballast point, russian river etc.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

Multiple for many different reasons:

Fullsteam, Foothills, Wicked Weed

Mystery, I hope?

There are already a couple that are distributed in 9 or 10 states, so they're on their way: Highland, Duck-Rabbit

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

Okeedokee, guys. Looks like this is slowing down, but! I'll keep checking back here (probably for years, but frequently for the next couple of hours). I'm happy to expound on pretty much anything ad nauseum.

Thanks for playing along. Drink local, wherever you are.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster2 points·3 years ago

Oh, and for the record, since you guys are falling down on this:

100 duck-sized horses ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

A horse-sized duck sounds goddamn terrifying. The beak, sweet jesus, the beak!

Pilsner 2 points·3 years ago

The beer version was asked last week.

One horse sized beer and 100 duck sized beers?

I did the math. Average size of a duck is 6.5 pounds and its 100 of them so multiply accordingly. So with that in mind that's 650 pounds of beer. Assuming beer weights the same as water 8.34 pounds per gallon (650/8.34)128=9976.02oz. 9976.02/16=623.50 pints.

So the average weight of a horse is between 840 and 1210 so I just averaged it to 1025 pounds. Doing the same math (1025/8.34)128=15731.41oz. 15731.41/16=983.22 pints.

If I did my math right I would much rather drink one horse sized beer.

I cannot believe I forgot to ask this question this time. I like your math but... since either of these amounts would put us in the grave the answer isn't about quantity. Or maybe it is and I'm over thinking it.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster1 point·3 years ago

What ABV beer?

I think I would also rather drink one horse sized beer.

Pilsner 2 points·3 years ago

Lets say 4.5 abv.

Erik Lars Myers - Mystery BrewingOriginal Poster3 points·3 years ago

Actually, I take it back. I feel like I wouldn't be able to drink the horse sized beer before it got flat and hot (or, shit, oxidized). But maybe I could find a way to keep each duck sized beer fresh until I consumed it.

Or maybe you would get more of a variety with those 100 beers. Poured upon request.

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