Construction Loan approved and Federal License Pending

We’re pleased to announce that earlier this week we closed on a construction loan that will cover the rest of our renovations and get us to opening!  Our federal license application is also being reviewed so it’s great progress all around.  We know making announcements like this creates more questions than they answer, so we’ll answer some that you’re probably thinking of.

You just got a loan?  What have you been doing for the past few years??

It’s tough sledding if you’re a new small business!  Everything up until this point has been done as money has allowed, all the while we’ve worked and worked at getting the money necessary to complete the project.  Unfortunately most banks don’t want to touch a new business, especially one in an industry that is virgin territory for most, so we eventually came to terms with a non-profit lending firm, The Progress Fund, and we couldn’t be happier to be working with them.  A lot of people have asked why we weren’t crowd-funding like a lot of other breweries, but for the size of our project and the amount of money we needed it just wasn’t a good fit.  After we’re open and things are rolling along we may consider it for a small project or expansion, but we felt like we should pay for our own brewery and prove to everyone what we’re capable of before we ask you to give us money for something like that.

So when are you open?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned through all of this, it’s that things never go as planned.  We’re finalizing a lot of specifics with the brewery and getting all the wheels turning, but there’s always an unexpected bump in the road that can slow things down.  Part of the timeline will be determined by the licensing as that’s totally out of our hands.  All that being said, we’re confident we can be open in some capacity in the next 3-6 months, barring any major setbacks with construction or licensing.

In some capacity?  What do you mean?

Well for obvious reasons (like having a loan to pay back) we need to make money as soon as possible.  Our goal is to get our core renovation projects done as quickly as possible so when our licensing is good to go we can open.  That could mean a soft opening and a few phases.  For example, we may open before our kitchen is fully operational and we’ve brought in a kitchen staff, so we may start with a small snack menu and our beers and then shortly thereafter open up the kitchen at full capacity.  Every day is full of new experiences for us as well so a staggered start for us would also help us get our bearings as we wade through the ins and outs of running the brewery.

Are you hiring?

We WILL BE hiring, but not yet.  It’s not really fair for us to hire a staff and have no idea when we can bring them in and we obviously can’t start paying them months before we open.  Sort of the chicken and egg situation, we can’t open fully without a staff and we can’t have a staff until we open fully so again there’s a reason why we may have a few phases to our opening.  You can be assured that we will post on our website and social media when we’re ready to hire.  We’ve received a lot of emails and resumes from interested individuals which is great and we’re excited to build our family, but we’re just not quite ready.  Keep your eyes open though.

What’s your menu going to be like?

We’ve heard it loud and clear that people want us to be a destination, a place to hang out with good food, good beer and good atmosphere and entertainment.  We’re not quite ready to tell you exactly what we’ve got planned because we need to hold some cards a little closer than others, but we want our food to be as good as our beer.  We’ll be searching for an awesome chef looking to make a name for themselves.  We’ve got a concept we want to work with, but we’ll give our hired gun pretty much free reign to work within that arena as they see fit.

You probably have more questions and if you didn’t already know we love talking about beer and our brewery so if you see us around don’t be afraid to ask whatever you might have on your mind!  We know this has taken forever and we’re just as anxious as anyone to get this place up and running.  We’re committed to being the destination that downtown Butler needs and we still stand by our initial statements of wanting to support of community and local charities.  We don’t have to be, we want to be here.  We truly appreciate everyone who has stuck with us, offered words of encouragement or helped us out in any way.  We can’t wait to pour you a cold one!  Cheers!

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Major Update Soon…

We’ve been silent on our website for almost a year now, but we’ve stayed persistent of our goal and should have some big news to share very soon.  Assuming nothing goes wrong, expect a major announcement early next week!  Cheers!

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“When are you opening?” – Travis

The million dollar question – “When are you opening?”.  It’s a question we wish we had a definitive answer to, but as new business owners we are constantly encountering obstacles that make this question hard to answer.  I hope that this post will help answer some common questions and give everyone a sense of what needs to happen before the grand opening.

1. We are just three regular guys.

If you read an article in the news paper about a chain restaurant opening a new location, you can safely assume that you will be able to dine there in the upcoming months.  For those who don’t know Nick, Greg and myself, it would be easy to assume that Butler Brew Works is the project of a much larger company or wealthy business owner.  In reality, we are three regular guys who are all around the age of 30, working day jobs and taking a shot at the American dream.  After purchasing our property in December of 2011, we have become hands on property developers.  The gutting of the old pharmacy on the corner was done on our own with the help of many supporters, friends and family.  Renovating this space is our labor of love, and we plan to put in as much of our own sweat as possible to get things done.  Of course we aren’t capable of everything that needs done, and in scenarios where outside help is needed, we have been contacting many local contractors.  Coordinating schedules with many of these busy contractors has affected our ability to move things along as quickly as we would like.  We are learning that it’s not always up to us when things get done.

2. Small Bites

Another important aspect that affects our timeline, as I’m sure you can assume, is financing.  The three of us have been sweating through our wallets just as much as our brows through this process.  We have been very fortunate to also have several generous investors along the way.  By bringing in our funding a little at a time, we have only been able to take small bites out of our project.  While these sources of funding have already helped us to do so much, there is a lot ahead that will require additional funding.  We are always cautious about sourcing this additional funding though.  We pay close attention to our equity, debt, and overall budget.  This approach is a double edged sword, as we have to pay for building maintenance and taxes while we wait for the next chunk of change to roll in.

We have more than doubled our original projections for total cost on this project.  Don’t get me wrong, we know how to spend a dime wisely and efficiently, but we also know the importance of quality.  We want to deliver the best experience to downtown Butler and we won’t compromise this commitment to save a dollar.  As a fellow business owner put it “you get one shot to impress them.”  This is something that has stuck in my head and I know that we have a responsibility to do this right.

3. What’s Ahead

The exciting part is looking at what is to come with Butler Brew Works.  The three of us are overflowing with creativity and have been working together to come up with some great ideas for Butler’s brewery.  Before demolishing The Hot Dog Shop and The Reiber Block Building, we were able to salvage a ton of great materials to add character to our building.  It’s our own way of being “green” while paying tribute to the historic buildings that use to sit in our back yard.  Working with our architect and his awesome colleagues, we have come up with a great floor design to accommodate our future customers.  Just check out these renderings!

BBW_bar BBW_entry

We do not plan to have the outdoor space ready at opening, but it is something that we are excited to work on in the future.

BBW_isometric  BBW_seating

I hope that this post was informative and enjoyable.  Make sure you are following us on some form of social media to stay up to date with the progress.

Cheers!

Travis Tuttle

 

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PCBW is Coming Soon!

It’s almost that time of year again, Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week is just around the corner.  A lot of great events will be happening again this year, and if you check out our calendar you can see where we’re planning to pour our beers at.  We’ve tried to take on an event most nights of the week so we hope everyone can make at least one to try a few samples of our beer.  We’ll be pouring a wide range of beers, Tokoloshe, Machete, Hop Marsh, Remus & Romulus, Colossus, Spelunking and a handful of others as well!  They all won’t make the trip to every location so as we get closer to PCBW, we’ll update our event postings and add the beers onto them in case you’re looking for one in particular.

The weather still hasn’t done us any favors and while the roof materials have made it onto the roof, the roof still isn’t on.  We just need a few nice days in a row so cross your fingers for us.  The layout is finalized, barring any code issues that could arise, kitchen equipment layout is being finalized as is the general menu, and we’re working on the interior design aspects of the pub.  Several people have asked us why our brewery is taking so long when others are popping up and seeming to move through the process faster.  We can honestly say we’re doing everything we can to move as quickly as possible.  Our project is much larger than most, involving bigger systems than most of the new breweries you’re seeing pop up and has involved the demolition of multiple buildings and significant repairs/renovations as we are taking our building back to square one so we can truly deliver on what we want to offer.  Unfortunately just about anything that could happen to extend our timeline has, ranging from weather issues, to contractor issues, investor issues, etc.  We can admit that we were a bit anxious and naive in our initial planning and have been brought down to reality through this process.  Things don’t happen when you want them to, but when they fit into the schedule of those you are working with and we failed to take that into consideration when planning our timeline.  We’re getting there though and we can promise you that we will reward you for your patience by bringing an awesome new hangout to downtown Butler.  We’re going to make the best beer and food we possibly we can, but it’s more than that.  It’s about the experience and we’re going to deliver the full package.  We know pouring you samples isn’t the same thing as giving you the full brewpub experience, but we want to hold you over as best we can as we appreciate all the support and excitement!

On a final note, in the future you’ll see some more label artwork, a new shop and eventually a brand new website that truly represents what our Adventurous Ales are all about!  Cheers!

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A Few Updates and What not…

With the winter season upon us and the holiday season behind us, I thought I’d take a few minutes to give a “state of the business” update.  We’ve been very busy trying to get things ready for our opening.  You may have seen our posts about getting stuff done with the building and events we were doing.  I hope you all had the opportunity to try some of our beers over the past few months, and have enjoyed our posts.

We are currently waiting on our roofing supplies to arrive so we can get a new roof on the building.  It is pointless to do anything in the building without a good roof on, as moldy dry wall is not fun.  Once the roof goes on, hopefully the lady above the building will stop throwing her cat doo doo (hehe) out of the window on to our building.  After the roof goes on, we intend a full assault on the building to get it ready for opening.  We will be putting in new larger windows, doing electric, HVAC, plumbing, and dry wall before you know it.  We have a lot to get accomplished, but we believe we can be ready soon!  We are still shooting for spring of 2013, but it may be a little closer to summer.  I know. I am sorry, but we are working on it.

Over the past few months while working on demolition, we thought it would be a good idea to make a few expedition batches and see what our minds could come up with.  You may have had the opportunity to try Tokoloshe, our Habanero Chocolate Porter, River Runner, our Kolsch, or even our Colossus Wheat beer made with orange blossom honey and chamomile.  There are others, and even more on our list to make.  We are always thinking of fun and exciting ways to utilize interesting ingredients in our beers.  We still have quite a few things up our sleeves.  We are currently awaiting our ingredients for a set of Rye beers.  We will be calling the Remus and Romulus Rye.  They will have the same ingredients, but brewed with different styles to make two totally different beers.  We are looking forward to that adventure.  We are also working on an Irish Red ale, and a Barley Wine made with a brand new hop from New Zealand that is supposed to be amazing.

In addition to the beers, we have been working with Craft Brewed Clothing to get our t-shirts out there and spread the word of good beer.  If you are a participant in that program, look for a Butler Brew Works shirt in the mail shortly.  We have been doing a few charity events and even helping to judge a few beers at brewing competitions.  We have also been trying to get to every brewery we can to see what our brethren have been up to, and to get advice from those who come before us.  We intend to get to a few more before we open.  We are currently in talks with the local home brew club to do an event in Butler later this year as a charity event.  Stay tuned for that as well.

So there you have it.  I hope this little update gives you a bit more insight as to what is happening in our world.  We will continue to keep you updated as to the goings on around here.  Until then, enjoy a craft beer and as always, Cheers!

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Gift Card Promotion Ending Soon

 

 

 

The end of our gift card promotion is drawing to a close.  We appreciate all the support we’ve received and look forward to serving everyone in the near future.  There are roughly 15 left of the $75 for $50 and 9 left of the $150 for $100.  We don’t anticipate them lasting for very long so don’t wait around, we won’t be offering this good of a deal again.  Refer to the posts below if you need a refresher on how the promotion works and then head over to the shop page to complete your purchase.  Cheers!

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Limited Time Holiday Special!

Have a beer lover on your shopping list this year?  For a limited time we’re offering our gift card promotion in a smaller amount.  Pay $50 now and we’ll load the gift card with $25 three times, giving the holder a total of $75 to use at the brewery!  We’re still offering the $150 for $100 promotion, but this now gives you another option for the holiday season.  Some people have mentioned that they don’t want to create a Google Checkout account to use our shopping cart.  If that’s the case, send us an email with our contact form and we can call you to take your payment over the phone, no problem!  Keep in mind the cards won’t get  loaded for the first time until our grand opening.  See our previous post about the gift card promotion for answers to the most common questions.  Cheers and happy holidays!

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Gift Card Promotion Now Available!

We’re excited to announce the relaunch of our shop and an exciting new gift card promotion.  With our gift card promotion, you have the opportunity to purchase $150 to spend on Butler Brew Works products for $100.  We aren’t holding anything back either, if we sell it, your gift card can buy it.  Use it on pints of beer, kegs, growlers, food or whatever else you feel like.  If there is an exception, for example tickets to a charity event that we don’t keep a profit off of, we’ll let you know.  We knew everyone would have some questions about the logistics and reasoning behind the offer, so below is a little Q&A to help you out.  Read it over and then head to the Shop page to get started!

Q:  Why are you offering $150 for $100?

A:  We’ve had a lot of people approach us asking if we’d be doing a Kickstarter, that they are excited and want to be part of what we’re doing, but they don’t have a ton of money to be a traditional investor.  We really appreciate the support and wanted to give people an option to get involved.  In return for the support, we want to give you a fair return for your money and allow you to decide what you get back for it.

Q:  You aren’t open yet, how do I use it?

A:  So here’s how it will work.  If you purchase a gift card, we’ll send it out to you in December.  We’ll get them out to you before the holidays in case you want to give it as a gift.  Your gift card will get its first $50 loaded when we officially open, currently still on track for the Spring.  6 months later we’ll load the next $50, and then again 6 months later we’ll load the last $50.  Why load it 3 times?  Well first we can’t have everyone running in when we open with $150 on their card, you’ll drink us dry!  Spreading it out keeps it manageable for us and it gives you a reason to keep coming back and trying out new stuff!

Q:  What if you don’t ever open or go out of business before I use up my gift card?

A:  Fair question.  Our private funding should get the doors open so that shouldn’t be a concern.  As long as you keep drinking our beer we shouldn’t go out of business, but in the event we don’t open or shutter our doors, you’d be able to request your money back for whatever balance remained.  Typically you can find a phone number or email address to contact in that situation listed on a companies website, but let’s think happy thoughts instead!  Don’t worry, we’ve done the math, this promotion won’t bankrupt us.

Q:  If your private funding will open the doors, why raise money just to give more back?

A:  Well like we said, we want to give all our supporters a chance to get involved.  Let’s be honest though, a new business can always use a little more money.  Our funding will get the doors open, but our outdoor space won’t be ready when we open.  Some extra money up front can make that happen faster and could possibly allow us to bring a few more fermenters in to get more beer flowing.  We eventually want to start distributing in cans too so extra money means all that can happen faster.

Head over to the shop now to grab yours!

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Dave Malarkey of WISR Interviews Nick and Travis

 

It’s a long interview, but a lot of great information.  Timeline and plans are discussed in addition to some talk about the history of beer and various styles of beer.

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KDKA Interview

KDKA stopped by the brewery to check out the demolition and speak with Greg and Travis.  Check out the video at the link below!

KDKA INTERVIEW

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