Denver Beer Company Turns Hard Work into Big Success
When college buddies Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford opened the Denver Beer Company this summer, it was the culmination of over two years of hard work and dedication towards making a shared passion a business reality.
"I was a home brewer, brewing beer in my bathtub, and enjoyed it a lot," says Crawford. "I found out Charlie was a professional brewer, so I called him up and asked him if I could come over and brew a beer with him one day."
The two began brewing together on the side, trying out new recipes and bringing their beer to barbecues and other get-togethers. It was then that they began talking about possibly starting a business.
"We found out early that the first step, if we were serious about this, was to write a plan," says Berger. "So we did a little research on it and found ourselves at the South Metro Denver SBDC and they were offering the Colorado Leading Edge business planning course right when we were ready for it." The Colorado Leading Edge is a 12-week course which assists entrepreneurs in writing a business plan and each participant receives five hours of one-on-one consulting for individual help.
The men registered for the Colorado Leading Edge: NxLeveL™ for Start-Ups course in August 2009 and began developing a business plan to open their own brewery. The class proved to be valuable to them in more ways than one.
"I don't think we'd be anywhere close to where we are now without [the class]. It definitely kept us on track with writing the business plan," says Crawford. "Neither of us had a business background, so we gained all of our business knowledge from the class and one-on-one consulting meetings with the experts at the SBDC."
Berger adds, "We put a bunch of time and energy into writing the plan. Without having done that, I don't think we would have been as sure that we could work together every day."
They completed the first draft of their business plan that fall, but continued working with the SBDC while tweaking and adding to it over the course of the next year. They raised the $400,000 in capital they needed (plus more!) in just 8 days, secured their desired location in the heart of Denver and began construction. On opening day in August 2011, they served over 1,200 people and made $14,000.
"Charlie and Patrick worked very hard on their business plan and have reaped the rewards by opening, and now running, a successful business. They won both local and statewide awards for their in-depth business plan," said Marcia McGilley, Executive Director of the South Metro Denver SBDC. McGilley went on to say, "Many of the SBDC consultants who worked with these entrepreneurs have visited the beer garden and enjoyed the pretzels and beer immensely."
With 10 employees on the payroll, 46 different recipes already created, 750 gallons of beer brewed each week, national recognition for their beer garden, an award-winning batch at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this fall, and having already surpassed their $350,000 sales goals for the year, the two are now looking to what the future may hold for their company.
"This winter, we're going to start writing on a business plan to build a bottling facility. Within the next 2-3 years, we want to try and have a bottling facility so that we can serve our customers in another way. Right now, we're brewing beer as fast as people are drinking it," says Crawford. "A bottling facility will be a $1.5- $2 million project, so we need to start writing our business plan right away!
Stop-in and check-out the Denver Beer Company at 1695 Platte Street, Denver, CO 80202. You can follow Charlie, Patrick and the rest of the team on their website, Facebook page, Twitter feedor YouTube channel!
Patrick is also featured in the "Back to School" story in the January 2012 edition of 5280 magazine- make sure to pick-up a copy!