Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery Hardcover – Sep 7 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
This winning tale of the rise of the Brooklyn Brewery follows the basic pattern of every entrepreneur's memoir: a restless visionary sets out to accomplish a dream, barely survives a series of setbacks, emerges victorious—and ready to tell readers how they can do the same. But this account serves up more than the usual suds and foam—its counsel is sound and its prose lively, and it should appeal to both wannabe industrialists and beer drinkers, not that those categories are mutually exclusive. In fact, the authors, foreign correspondent Hindy and banker Potter, decided to found their New York brewery, now 17 years in business and among the top 40 in the U.S. in sales, after consuming many bottles of Hindy's homebrew. The longtime partners tell their story in engaging, candid voices, delivering cautionary anecdotes, reflections on longstanding disagreements and lingering resentments, and brutally frank self-assessments. It helps the story immeasurably that beer is a more colorful subject than, say, spreadsheet software, a fact that gets the reader past the inevitable chapter on financing. Though Hindy and Potter may not help the aspiring entrepreneur strike gold, they offer a compelling model and a heartening story. (Oct.)
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This winning tale of the rise of the Brooklyn Brewery follows the basic pattern of every entrepreneur's memoir: a restless visionary sets out to accomplish a dream, barely survives a series of setbacks, emerges victorious--and ready to tell readers how they can do the same. But this account serves up more than the usual suds and foam--its counsel is sound and its prose lively, and it should appeal to both wannabe industrialists and beer drinkers, not that those categories are mutually exclusive. In fact, the authors, foreign correspondent Hindy and banker Potter, decided to found their New York brewery, now 17 years in business and among the top 40 in the U.S. in sales, after consuming many bottles of Hindy's homebrew. The longtime partners tell their story in engaging, candid voices, delivering cautionary anecdotes, reflections on longstanding disagreements and lingering resentments, and brutally frank self-assessments. It helps the story immeasurably that beer is a more colorful subject than, say, spreadsheet software, a fact that gets the reader past the inevitable chapter on financing. Though Hindy and Potter may not help the aspiring entrepreneur strike gold, they offer a compelling model and a heartening story. (Oct.) ("Publishers Weekly," August 22, 2005)See all Product Description
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Contents: Steve Tells How Choosing a Partner Is Like a Second Marriage; Steve Discusses the Importance of Building a Solid Team; Tom Talks about Creating the Business Plan - A Money-Raising Tool and More; Tom Asks, "What's the True Mission of the Business?"; Steve Discusses the Keys to Successfully Motivating Employees; Tom Tells the Story of Their Dot-Com Revolution - Fishing for Finance and Failing; Steve Talks about Building a Brewery in Brooklyn; Steve Discusses Publicity - The Press Wants You!; Steve Reveals How the Revolution Kills Its Leaders First; Tom Talks about Cashing Out and Reinventing the Business, Again; Tom Wants to Know If You Have What It Takes; Timeline; Index
Hindy was a foreign correspondent for a news agency, and Potter was an executive at a bank, but both felt as if they wanted to do something different in their lives. Their love of home-brew beer gave Hindy the idea of starting a brewery in their hometown of Brooklyn, a city rich with brewery history. Potter was less convinced about the whole project until he visited a homebrewer's convention in 1986. This was right at the start of the microbrew phenomenon, and they decided to seriously pursue their dream. The book chronicles their work from 1986 through 2005, while also distilling what they learned about entrepreneurship along the way. And since this is beer "school", each chapter ends with them giving themselves a grade on how they did in that particular area. Unlike many business books that make the principals all-knowning and omniscient, Hindy and Potter are brutally honest about what worked and what didn't, where they were skillful and where they got lucky. It's a fascinating read, both for the brewery story and for the business insights.
There aren't too many business books with stories about being robbed at gunpoint of $30000, visiting a metal fencing operation to get a fork-lift battery charger back, and getting a visit from organized crime and union leadership, intent on getting a piece of their business. Even if you dropped the business lessons, the narrative of the Brooklyn Brewery would be enough to make this a recommended read. When you add in the small business information, this becomes a must-read for anyone dreaming of starting their own business. And if you're already interested in homebrewing or microbrews, then this book will probably end up being read in a single sitting.
An excellent read on a number of levels...
Beer School is a fast read, thanks to plenty of intriguing, amusing anecdotes that explain how this start up went from a simple idea to a major success, with the all-important countless pains, trials and tribulations in between.
I honestly didn't expect to learn anything new from the book, since I had already started a business. And I've followed the progess of and have been a supporter of Brooklyn Brewery since I moved to NYC in the early 90s. I was wrong. Not only did I pick up a lot of interesting business lessons, I sharpened my historical knowledge of the Brewery, which was, to my surprise, full of gaps.
I find that life experience is the best teacher. Beer School is one of the essential text books for a degree in entrepreneurship from the university of life, as it draws on the real life successes, failures and mixed results of two regular guys who had a dream to build a great brewery.
You don't need to be starting a business to get something out of Beer School. It's a damn good read, for the sake of entertainment alone! The stories of their run in with the mob, their chutzpah in getting a hot shot designer to work with them, their admirable philosophy of worker equity - there are plenty of fun, funny and revealing stories throughout the book.
Certainly for those interested in starting a business or interested in the beer business at all, it's a must read. Oh, and their beer ain't half bad, either!
I've homebrewed for a couple of years and am in the early stages of investigating the feasibility of trying to make a living out of brewing. The story in the book really struck close to home for me... My potential partner and I work in fields that really couldn't be further from the brewing industry, much like the authors. While I know that the odds are against us, it was refreshing to read a story of someone that took a swing at it and hit a home run.
The book is by no means a step-by-step business plan for starting a brewery. It is much more a story of the trials and tribulations that faced them as they progressed from a crazy dream to a crazy success. It's a story about partnership. It's a story about taking a leap of faith. So don't purchase it expecting a step-by-step recipe for you to go out and quit your day job, but do purchase it and expect a general high-level look at starting a brewery, some good general business ideas that you may not have thought of, and a good story to tie it all together.
I found it to be a very honest, open story... The authors take turns writing chapters, and there were at least a couple of times that they were so honest that I caught myself thinking "Jeez, I'm pretty sure that the other guy's going to read this... Are you sure you wanted to say that?!" As you progress through the book though, you learn that this is just the relationship that they've built over the years... Very honest and open with one another whether it is good news or bad. I think that reading about the partnership was really one of the biggest take-aways that I got out of the book, but it certainly has more to offer than that.
In summary, I really enjoyed this book and would have no issues whatsoever giving it a very high recommendation for anyone that is considering starting ANY new business, brewery or not.
Quite frankly, I've grown tired of reading uninspiring "how-to" books filled with dry check lists for building businesses. Or even worse, celebrity start-up executives or financial people seeking to lionize their own accomplishments under the guise of advancing the collective knowledge of what makes a venture succeed or fail.
And then along comes Beer School - a refreshing contrast to the above genre. In short, it is a great story about a pair of real entrepreneurs who build the foundation for what would ultimately become a real, successful business - The Brooklyn Brewery. The founders built the business over several decades and overcame countless struggles in a ultra competitive business.
In my view, it is an easy, entertaining read with the Authors offering a candid chapter-by-chapter critique of their own performance (a chapter by chapter retrospective). I especially appreciated their genuine care and consideration towards their employees as well as angel investors. It speaks volumes about their ethics and fairness. Very nicely done, gentlemen!
I have been in venture capital for over a decade and believe aspiring entrepreneurs (and money people, for that matter) would benefit by carefully reading this book, taking the Authors' hard-earned experiences to heart.
I have already unconditionally recommended Beer School to friends and colleagues. It deserves to be read.
For what that's worth.
If you are looking for information on how to start a successful brewery this isn't it. It is filled with stories and not information with the possible exception those chapters on branding and marketing. Those chapters have lots of good information about how they went about marketing their products.
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