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Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/22 2:12 p.m.

Our local brewpub is the same way. Lots of hype beers, very few good beers.

I wish they were different but honestly it probably wouldn't change how much I spend there by a lot.

In terms of a job, the thing that matters most is who you work with. Any job working with people you respect and who respect you will be great, and any job that doesn't meet those requirements will suck. The what of the job is irrelevant.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
5/27/22 2:23 p.m.

I totally get it, I felt that way when I was at flat earth. I was never a brewer (though I was almost there and then my ex pulled the rug) and it was a constant struggle between what we wanted to do and what paid the bills. I was constantly fascinated (and continue to be) by the simple science of making the best session beers we could. And when we got it right there was nothing better. The shame came in when stuff like our marshmallow porter was the most popular thing we sold. Like ok but ....

 

My line has always been if you need to add flavor, you berkeleyed up. I hold that with whiskey, beer, all of it. Unfortunately as evidenced by the popularity of the stunt beers, that's not the nature of the industry. 

 

If it were me, I'd say berkeley it and go into business myself. I've considered a food truck as an example, and done the math several times. My focus would be one thing, and doing that thing as good as possible. A cheeseburger as an example. Making the best regular ass cheeseburger on the planet. Anyone can frost a cake, it takes an expert to not make Betty crocker cake. 

trucke
trucke SuperDork
5/27/22 2:29 p.m.

Sounds like you love your brewmaster gig! Not many us of enjoy our jobs as much as you.  You also sound frustrated with having to make 'stunt' beer.  Sorry to tell you this, but other industries have issues too and probably worse that being forced to make 'stunt' beer.  Don't jump until the right opportunity presents itself.  Be patient, but keep your eyes and ears open!

 

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
5/27/22 2:46 p.m.
trucke said:

Sounds like you love your brewmaster gig! Not many us of enjoy our jobs as much as you.  You also sound frustrated with having to make 'stunt' beer.  Sorry to tell you this, but other industries have issues too and probably worse that being forced to make 'stunt' beer.  Don't jump until the right opportunity presents itself.  Be patient, but keep your eyes and ears open!

That's not really the situation. I love the work. I don't actually have to make stunt beer. The problem is the company as a whole isn't healthy and growing in a way that meets my needs. (That's another rant that I won't belabor here.) I need to move forward with my life. It doesn't seem like this company is moving forward. So I probably need to separate from this company.

But what to attach myself to next?

I know other jobs have their frustrations. What I'm thinking is, if brewing is just making a different kind of widget, is it likely I would be just as happy working at another place that makes a different sort of widget, but for better compensation and less stress because no one expects you to be passionate about manufacturing urinals?

I'm weighing the options of:

1. Relocate for another brewmaster-type position.
2. Ride it out here until I find or create a local brewmaster position.
3. Stay local and shift industries out of brewing.

No Time
No Time SuperDork
5/27/22 3:04 p.m.

First I just want to point out something: stunt beers are the automotive equivalent of Donks, stance, bozuku, mall crawlers, drifter, rally tributes, pro touring, and any other build or style that you might not like, but someone else finds appealing. 

That said, I get the hate for stunt beers from people that liked beer before microbrews, but they bring in business. They can bring in customers that normally wouldn't be there. They open the door for the guy that likes a good traditional beer to bring his wife for a night out and have something for her to drink, or the person that doesn't like a tradition beer, but want to hang out with his friends and have a beer.  They are expanding the beer (maybe not traditional beer) market to a larger audience and people are not limited to the mass produced offerings. 

As for the OPs quandary, a couple comments:

- maybe it is time for a change, but also an adjustment to your point of view. If you can find a place where you can brew the high quality traditional beer you want to brew while balancing it with stunt beer to help keep the doors open. That would allow you to "educate" customers on the merits of a traditional beer while the stunt beers get them in the door. 
 

- the suggestion of a "you brew" type of business may be an even better fit if there is enough market to support it. It would provide an opportunity to educate people on a subject you are passionate about, while getting out of the brewery business. 

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
5/27/22 3:20 p.m.
No Time said:

As for the OPs quandary, a couple comments:

- maybe it is time for a change, but also an adjustment to your point of view. If you can find a place where you can brew the high quality traditional beer you want to brew while balancing it with stunt beer to help keep the doors open. That would allow you to "educate" customers on the merits of a traditional beer while the stunt beers get them in the door. 

I'm fine with that. That is not my issue at all.

My issue is that I am in a brewmaster position where I get a lot of opportunities for creativity and guiding the direction of a company. Unfortunately, this company has problems that can only be solved by ownership and it is causing me a lot of stress and frustration.

Ideally, I'd like to shift over to another brewmaster position at another local company, but that's not a position that opens up every day.

I could go out and find another production brewing job at another local brewery. But I would just be another brewer, not having creative influence.

I could relocate and get another brewmaster position. I'm not sure how wild about that idea my wife is, and she makes twice what I do.

I could wait and be very vigilant for another local brewmaster position. I don't know how long that would take, and I'd still need to do something in the meantime.

Or I can stay locally and change industries. It would possibly be less creatively fulfilling than being a brewmaster, but nicer than being a shift brewer, and I'd make more money and have less stress than I currently have.

birdmayne
birdmayne GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/27/22 3:30 p.m.

As the great Wayne (Letterkenny) says, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life"

With that in mind, if the place in which you do what you love is taking the joy out of it, it might be time to take your talents elsewhere. Or, become a safety guy and brew the best damn ESB in the city from home? I used to do what I loved, but then it soured due to unhappy work circumstances, and now I don't enjoy doing it at all. 

 

ShawnG
ShawnG MegaDork
5/27/22 3:47 p.m.
Beer Baron said:

In reply to ShawnG :

Can I ask what you're moving to? How did you know it was time to get out? Are you thinking you're out for good, or just stepping away for a while?

My new life build thread is here: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/off-topic-discussion/pulling-the-ripcord-major-life-change/195115/page1/

I'm probably going to be out for good. I love what I do and I'm good at it but I'm starting to feel a little burnt out on solving everyone else's problems for them. I want to stop before I hate what I do.

I know my new plan is going to be a ton of work but it's a ton of work for me and solving my own problems instead of someone elses. I also like the opportunity to leave a little bit of the planet a little better than I found it.

I'm going to go be a hobbit for a while. Sit on my porch and look at my garden.

 

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/27/22 4:20 p.m.

This is dark, but a very good local brewery's (Ex Novo) head brewer just died. Portland has lots of breweries and a few don't do stunt beers. Occidental and Ex Novo come to mind first. Don't know if you want to move way over here or not though. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/22 4:32 p.m.
Mndsm said:

If it were me, I'd say berkeley it and go into business myself. I've considered a food truck as an example, and done the math several times. My focus would be one thing, and doing that thing as good as possible. A cheeseburger as an example. Making the best regular ass cheeseburger on the planet. Anyone can frost a cake, it takes an expert to not make Betty crocker cake. 

We have a grilled cheese food truck here in town :)

 

Which, on topic, is most often seen at one of the breweries. This place doesn't have any sort of kitchen, so they have a food truck spot that is always occupied by someone different. Keeps things fresh and of course you're going to wash down that grilled cheese with one of their beers. They even publish the schedule, and we'll stop by for our favorites. It's a nice piece of symbiosis. Do what you will with that information, probably very little.

NY Nick
NY Nick GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/27/22 5:41 p.m.
I know other jobs have their frustrations. What I'm thinking is, if brewing is just making a different kind of widget, is it likely I would be just as happy working at another place that makes a different sort of widget, but for better compensation and less stress because no one expects you to be passionate about manufacturing urinals?
 

I have found that if you are cursed with giving a E36 M3 at work you are cursed wether you are making urinals or your favorite item. If you are wired to care it is hard to turn it off. I have tried several times and I always end up caring and giving more than I should to the job.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
5/27/22 6:34 p.m.
NY Nick said:
I know other jobs have their frustrations. What I'm thinking is, if brewing is just making a different kind of widget, is it likely I would be just as happy working at another place that makes a different sort of widget, but for better compensation and less stress because no one expects you to be passionate about manufacturing urinals?
 

I have found that if you are cursed with giving a E36 M3 at work you are cursed wether you are making urinals or your favorite item. If you are wired to care it is hard to turn it off. I have tried several times and I always end up caring and giving more than I should to the job.

You have described by addiction to start-ups. Never about the $$$ so much as the potential and the adventure. When the adrenaline runs out, I moved to another potential lottery ticket and gave it all I had.

Money-wise, the lottery ticket never paid big, but I was never bored and have always had enough to to do what I wanted to do.  

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
5/27/22 6:37 p.m.

In reply to ShawnG :

Gotcha. That sounds like fun. Definitely not a move I could get my wife on board for.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
5/27/22 7:12 p.m.

Edit: I wrote out a bit of an airing of grievances. I said I wasn't going to. I don't think this is really the appropriate place to do that.

Summary: I care about this company, and that's what breaks my heart. I wish it were doing well, but it's not. It's not just running out of adrenaline. I'm dealing with frequent disheartening frustrations.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
5/27/22 8:02 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
Mndsm said:

If it were me, I'd say berkeley it and go into business myself. I've considered a food truck as an example, and done the math several times. My focus would be one thing, and doing that thing as good as possible. A cheeseburger as an example. Making the best regular ass cheeseburger on the planet. Anyone can frost a cake, it takes an expert to not make Betty crocker cake. 

We have a grilled cheese food truck here in town :)

 

Which, on topic, is most often seen at one of the breweries. This place doesn't have any sort of kitchen, so they have a food truck spot that is always occupied by someone different. Keeps things fresh and of course you're going to wash down that grilled cheese with one of their beers. They even publish the schedule, and we'll stop by for our favorites. It's a nice piece of symbiosis. Do what you will with that information, probably very little.

And I bet that guy makes a berkeleyload of money. Though if he's one of those grill cheese trucks that has a million ingredients and stuff. That's a problem. Menu bloat is disgusting for overhead. 

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
6/8/22 7:35 a.m.

Had a long conversation with the General Manager yesterday about the state of the company and what the owner and Founder-3 are doing. (She's not my boss. She's parallel to me as the person in charge of the front of house where I'm in charge of back of house.)

She made some points I'm wrestling with. I'm pretty sure I disagree, but I respect her enough to want to weigh and consider what she said.

Please note, I am NOT looking for people to agree with me. I want people to honestly evaluate this situation from all angles so I can come to the best understanding of the full of the situation.

I'd say the crux of her argument is: are things not getting better? Or are they not getting better as fast as you'd like them to?

I know many people will respond that's not my problem. That it really is on the owner to work his ass off to get his E36 M3 together before his key employees leave, not vice versa. You're not wrong. But let's set that argument aside.

She pointed out that Owner and Founder-3 are working to create an actual company structure where there will finally be procedures of how things are communicated and decisions are made with advanced planning. Which is something I've been saying we needed for a while.

However, I really don't think a company structure is enough. We also need a viable business plan that realistically maps out how this company will be profitable. I haven't seen that. The owner and Founder-3 have made noises that they're working on something like that, but they haven't shared anything.

The GM countered this observation that, well putting together a real business plan takes a lot of time - maybe 6 months - and they probably just don't want to share until they have something solid together.

I don't think I buy that. We worked on the initial business plan for this company, and from scratch, it didn't take 6 months. We went from zero to taking over a space in 9 months. Most of that time was waiting for the company in the space to realize they'd failed and crossing legal hurdles, transferring liquor licenses, and getting business loans and such. We had to have the business plan in place to *get* the loan.

The Owner and Founder-3 didn't start working yesterday. Founder-3 was supposedly brought on to start working like 8 or 10 weeks ago. Supposedly they were having a bunch of meetings to discuss plans for the company 3 or 4 weeks ago. What's come of that.

And also... I'm part of the founding team, and the only one who's been in the space taking care of things every week for the past 2 years. I'm the only one who really understands production capacity and packaging. I'm the one with information on the COGS for our primary products. That seems like I would be a critical part of developing a business plan. Or if they've decided there is too much friction between me and the owner now to include me in these discussions... that might be an even worse problem.

Finally... the owner just doesn't come in. Or rather, he comes in to watch soccer (but not work), do fun PR stuff (interviews or photos of the medals our liquors won), and for these meetings we've started having.

Yeah, owners can be silent partners. As far as I know, that really only works when they have crap tons of money they can fund someone else to go run a business for them. That when a company is barely scraping by, you show up and work. He has other requirements on his time - taking care of kids while getting divorced - but most weeks he's not in the building at all. I'm not sure if I've seen him come into the business to work 5 hours in any week over the past at least 3 months. He certainly hasn't found 10 hours in that time.

I feel like he's actually become less attentive to the business over the past several months, since he decided to bring in Founder-3. Many pertinent questions and problems that have been brough to him, his answer is, "That's a question for Founder-3." An obvious example - the sales guy saying, "Hey, last year, we talked about getting a delivery vehicle this spring. Can we do that? Doing keg deliveries in my Jeep is really messing up my car." That's a money and budget question. The owner is still the one who controls money and budget. Telling the sales guy to talk to the person who doesn't control money and budget seems like trying to avoid responsibility.

I know many will say, "Not your circus. Not your monkeys." My ideal scenario is still to see this company succeed. I know that will take time. I know some people don't work as fast as others.

I don't see signs that the owner is actually doing what is necessary for this company to be successful. Is there something anyone here can think of that I'm possibly missing? Otherwise, these company structure exercises feel like we're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

(Because I know people will ask. I am still talking to businesses and submitting resumes/applications. How much effort I put into that, what sort of offers I would need, and how much runway time before taking a new position will depend heavily on how serious I think the owner actually is about getting this company healthy. I mean, if Sierra Nevada says, "Hey, we want you to run the pilot brewery in Asheville," I'd jump regardless of how well this company is doing.)

eastpark
eastpark HalfDork
6/8/22 7:46 a.m.

It sounds to me like you have been the only one to produce/deliver a result. The other Founders and Owner haven't delivered- can they explain that? 
 

There's a Product, but a product alone is not going to sustain the company. 

So my question to the others involved would be. What's the plan to put these things into motion, as right now they're goals and objectives, not actual plans. What level of commitment, both time, money and people are they willing to commit to create the plan. Are they willing to bring in outside people to evaluate the business and assist in the development of the plan. We're not even onto the execution aspect of said plan and resulting initiatives. 

If they can't answer that, or if they answer it with broad general statements without specific details on the planning measures, it's time to part ways, as it's lip service or the worst kind. Them realizing there's an issue and that things need to change, but them not wanting to change as they realize that something they do is going to need to change, and they're uncomfortable or not really wanting to know what that could possibly be. 

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
6/8/22 8:25 a.m.
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) said:

So my question to the others involved would be. What's the plan to put these things into motion, as right now they're goals and objectives, not actual plans. What level of commitment, both time, money and people are they willing to commit to create the plan. Are they willing to bring in outside people to evaluate the business and assist in the development of the plan. We're not even onto the execution aspect of said plan and resulting initiatives. 

This is basically what I am thinking and feeling. Obviously, even simple questions like this take some time to evaluate and answer. I don't see how they would take a lot of time though. In the week of Owner and Founder-3 meeting with each other in advance of our first all-managers meeting, these are the questions I was expecting them to come up with answers to. They have not. Or if they have, they haven't shared those answers with the rest of us.

We've been asked to do exercises of writing out our current job descriptions and what we'd like our job descriptions to be in 6-months. To me, we need to know the broad plans for the company to be able to do that.

I think my expectations are generous. I don't expect them to say, "We have investors A, B, and C who are prepared to buy X% of the company for $Y. We'll be using that money to open a facility on a particular spot. We hope to break ground in [time frame] and finish up around [time window]." I expect them to have, "We know this company needs money, and so we're looking [in these places] for investors who'd be willing to buy in and rasie somewhere between [money range], which would give us funds to open up this type of place in a location like this, this, or this."

Like... just tell us if you're looking for ways to raise funds or not.

I feel like, if that question can't be answered in a week, you're not working on answering it at all. It's been at least 2 months.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
6/8/22 8:29 a.m.

In reply to Beer Baron :

Your current scenario sounds a lot like the one my former employer was in. There was a principle group of owners, a couple of foh/boh owners (I believe both the brewmaster and the guy that ran the front were owners) and us monkeys. 

 

The non employee owners were clearly in it for the fun. Great guys, but rarely showed up, and more than once if they did we'd find them E36 M3 faced passed out in a chair somewhere later. 

 

There were constant battles with money. My paycheck was late pretty regularly if only by a day or two. Everything we had was as rigged as possible. When we needed to expand our cooler space, they rigged what was the cooler in the basement from the old brewery (if you know my past, you know which one) with.....air conditioners. The owners brought in a couple of window units hoping that it would keep it cool enough. Eventually they wised up and spent the $$$$ to repair the actual cooler....cooler. 

Then there's the delivery vehicles. We had a rotating menagerie of whatever cheap van/suv we could find. I often did the repairs on them myself. We did have one box truck, but it had the worst transmission in human history. 

 

Bottom line, stuff like that abounded. Everyone had great ideas and kept talking about moving forward, but we kept up with this janky E36 M3. Eventually, (after I left) the brewery closed. And reopened under a new name and ownership. The brewmaster is still there, but everyone else is different. And wouldn't you know it, everything works. They've gotten themselves an outdoor seating area, and food. Production is way up. They have tons of new beers (most of them the aforementioned stunt beers, but they seem to be popular). 

 

It sounds an awful lot like you're in a similar spot. Whether or not you decide to hold on in the face of a potential seismic change is up to you. 

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones Dork
6/8/22 8:44 a.m.

Think of it like a marriage on the rocks. Your spouse can tell you what they're going to do to fix it, or show you what they are currently doing. Yours has been telling you for months with no showing, and that's a divorce waiting to happen. 

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
6/8/22 8:51 a.m.

In reply to Mndsm :

This is a bit different. Not quite that bad. Three founders - Owner, me, and Founder-3. The Owner holds 100% of the equity. Several employees (like myself) with "profits interest" (although we don't have any specific numbers in writing anywhere) but not equity ownership.

Founder-3 is a legitimately good guy. He hadn't really been actively involved in this point, because he had other jobs. He did IT, and provided a lot of industry connections and has an incredible feel for trends in the market. I used to describe his role as, "Founder-3 knows a guy..." So connected us with an awesome artist for our cans, who normally does artwork for groups like Hilton and Bacardi, but did our can artwork and logo for what we'd pay a local person.

Owner and Founder-3 do not come in and get drunk. Owner just likes to come in to watch soccer, because we're a soccer bar and he likes watching Liverpool with other Liverpool fans. He was here all the time for the first 2-3 years, until Covid hit, and his marriage started obviously dissolving.

Owner has always made sure to rearrange funds to never miss or delay payroll. The worst that's happened in regards to that is delaying paying sales people mileage reimbursement or honest mistakes of forgetting to include pay for bartenders who put in hours in the back helping me package, which they don't normally do.

I can put up with just doing the work of my job. As things are failing it's like, "Well, if you're only paying me 3/4 of what you should, I only need to put in 3/4 hours, and can spend the extra time on hobbies." That's a bit annoying, but workable.

It's demoralizing though, because I care. I did a *lot* to found this company. I named it. I named most of our beers. I wrote all the mission statements and product descriptions on our website. I laid out the guiding philosophies of, "The best beers reward attention, but don't demand it," and "Innovate through hybridization of styles and traditions you understand and respect."

Talking with the GM the other day, what kicks me in the gut on a weekly basis isn't that doing the bank runs to withdraw cash to tip-out the bartenders takes much time. It's that pretty regularly we don't have the cash in the bank to withdraw the funds for the week. That I am in the awkward position of the teller awkwardly informing me there isn't that much money in the account, and me having to excuse myself and go outside the bank to ask the GM and owner what they want me to do. That every time I order malt, I know the card is going to get declined. That on vacation, my assistant brewer texted me and said, "Hey, what's up with the malt delivery? It wasn't delivered today like you said it should be, and when I called the freight company, they said they didn't have any deliveries scheduled to our address..." and me playing phone tag to discover that the owner didn't handle paying the supplier, and didn't communicate the delay with either myself or the assistant brewer.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
6/8/22 8:53 a.m.
Steve_Jones said:

Think of it like a marriage on the rocks. Your spouse can tell you what they're going to do to fix it, or show you what they are currently doing. Yours has been telling you for months with no showing, and that's a divorce waiting to happen. 

This is how I feel.

I suppose the question then is what I need them to show me?

But I guess that doesn't need to be specific. I need to see... something... something tangible. I need to see he's actually working. Meetings aren't working. Meetings are where everyone gets on the same page of what work everyone needs to do.

NY Nick
NY Nick GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/8/22 9:38 a.m.

If you feel about it like it is a marriage on the rocks are you ready to fight to keep it going or are you all done? It sounds like if this didn't work you would want to try again on your own terms. Can you do the things that you think owner and founder 3 should be doing? Write a business plan, figure out how to fix the cash flow problem, present it to them. If they like your ideas and move in that direction great, if they crap on them maybe it is divorce time. If nothing else you get practice at making a business plan. If that plan is flush what you have all built and start over in a new location then show that in the plan. Maybe you can fix the situation even if you are obligated to do so.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
6/8/22 9:52 a.m.
NY Nick said:

If you feel about it like it is a marriage on the rocks are you ready to fight to keep it going or are you all done? It sounds like if this didn't work you would want to try again on your own terms. Can you do the things that you think owner and founder 3 should be doing? Write a business plan, figure out how to fix the cash flow problem, present it to them. If they like your ideas and move in that direction great, if they crap on them maybe it is divorce time. If nothing else you get practice at making a business plan. If that plan is flush what you have all built and start over in a new location then show that in the plan. Maybe you can fix the situation even if you are obligated to do so.

I am prepared to make it work. It will only work if there is communication and a mutual willingness to actually make things work.

That's really up to the Owner. I have some basic outlines for potential business plans. All of them require a significant injection of capital that only the owner would be able to make happen. I can make suggestions, but the owner really needs to decide what his plan is.

We're meeting this morning in advance of a department-heads' meeting. I've been weighing what to tell them and how to impress upon them the situation and not put them on the defensive.

I think I'm basically going to say, "I'm burnt out. I'm demoralized. And I'm emotionally exhausted.
"This company appears to be failing, and I have not seen a plan to make it healthy.
"Are you, Owner, willing and able to do what is necessary to make this company healthy?"

I expect them to counter that "That's why Founder-3 is here..." My response is, "What are the core issues standing in the way of this company being profitable? How does Founder-3 taking on that role address those issues?"

I will need to remember to try to make my responses questions that they have to answer, rather than me telling them things.

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