Saturday, September 29, 2012


So far it's been smooth sailing the past few weeks. We've accomplished a lot already! Shoot, maybe I should create a pocket guide to opening your nanobrewery at some point? Don't steal my idea now. If I could sum up the process so far in a few words it has been a juggling process with the guidance of our business plan. What would we do without it? Did I mention teamwork? Between Jeremy and I, we both pickup where one leaves off or work on two or three things at once. I cannot forget everyone supporting us. Thank you! We are getting the job done! 

I think back to when we started telling everyone we were planning on opening a brewery in the spring. Just saying this made us realize we had promised everyone and did not want to let them down! Therefore we had no other choice! Note to self - this is a great motivating strategy. 

So what are the major stepping stones accomplished to date? 
  1. Incorporate BadWolf as an LLC on June 28, 2012 - Spent $100 committing to the first step. It was a cool feeling!
  2. Obtain our EIN number
  3. Leased our location
  4. Apply for our licenses 
    • File Brewer's Notice to TTB - application is almost ready to submit! Here is what they require: This takes approximately 53 days to process
    • Next is state - approximately 30 days to process
    • Local stuff 
  5. Spend money - The fun part has been ordering all the gear and spending the money! Scary at first to watch a large lump sum in our cart be checked out online and realize we are really doing this. My guide has been our the budget and so far and I'm excited that we've stayed under budget! Leaves more wiggle room if we have hiccups in the buildout which I am sure we will.
  6. Marketing - we've also set up all the other fun stuff. Twitter, Facebook accounts, our webpage: Submitted our listings to Google Places & Yahoo. Ordered our beta tester t-shirts and setup a phone line - thank you Google Voice. Love it. 
  7. Banking & Accounting - Setup our business checking accounts and ordered Intuit Quickbooks 
  8. Planning for Buildout - While doing steps 2-6 we have also connected with our Architect - Loveless & Porter who has completed the preliminary drawings and provided our proposal. Next step is getting Manassas City's approval. 
  9. Misc - Membership with the Brewer's Association.
While doing all of the above, we still had to brew beer to make sure it tasted good of course! Brought 4 corny kegs to the neighborhood Oktoberfest for everyone to try including our chocolate oatmeal stout, pale ale, blend ale and an ESB. It was all a hit!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Proposed Legislation for Small Breweries

We recently submitted a letter to both of our local representatives and want to encourage other Virginia breweries to jump on board with our idea. This would help small breweries get off the ground and distribute their beer just as the Virginia wineries do.

Dear Senator Barker / Delegate Anderson:

My name is Sarah Meyers, a native resident of Manassas with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from George Mason University's School of Management. I have worked in small business for over 14 years and currently work in a small IT firm locally. My husband and I have plans to open the first craft nanobrewery in Manassas. We have been discussing and researching our options since 2009 and have our business plan ready to go. We were ecstatic to learn about the new legislation SB 604 recently passed for breweries in Virginia.

The reason for my correspondence is that we have hit a stumbling block with the three tiered distribution system Title § 4.1-500. Breweries cannot distribute their beer unless a contract is signed withan independent wholesaler. If we began as a large scale brewing operation, this would not be an issue. Nanobreweries can only just break even with the current distribution model. The majority of our revenue is absorbed by the wholesaler, compounded by the fact that there are only a few wholesalers to choose from inour locality, this is a formidable barrier to small VA family business. My observation is that the Virginia wine industry is able to more or less self-distribute, even the smallest wineries can deliver to local stores and restaurants through a state organization, the Virginia Winery Distribution Company, at much less cost than using an independent wholesaler. What makes the wine industry different from the craft beer industry?

I propose a similar state sanctioned beer distribution company, the Virginia Brewery Distribution Company. This would be a large step toward microbreweries getting started in Virginia and once these small, family breweries scaled up, they could utilize the distribution system. Wholesalers would ultimately receive more customers as nanobreweries scaled up their operations! Virginia would be in competition with North Carolina and the Pacific Northwest for the greatest variety of breweries and would be able to supply the distributors with hundreds of different types of quality VA beer.This means more jobs, more revenue and more tourism for the State. As theBrewer's Association mentions, "Growth of the craft brewing industry in 2011 was 13% by volume and 15% by dollars compared to growth in 2010 of 12% by volume and 15% by dollars." It's an incredibly viable industry right behind Virginia's wine industry. We need to give the burgeoning craft beer industry the same opportunity.

The phrase "Virginia is for craft beer lovers"was recently coined to commemorate SB 604.

For entrepreneurs like ourselves, this would be a major milestone and benefit to our great state. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sarah Meyers
Co-Founder BadWolf Brewing Company

Jeremy Meyers
Co-Founder BadWolf Brewing Company

This article explains what has happened in the wine industry in Virginia allowing wineries to work with the self-distribution laws.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The First Brewery in Manassas


Since mid 1990's, the craft beer industry has witnessed accelerated growth. Virginia was recently named one of the 7 top beer destinations in North America by the Travel Channel and August was dubbed Virginia Craft Beer month! 

I'd like to point out that many of the Northern Virginia cities such as Alexandria, Arlington, Centreville, Ashburn, Vienna, and even Fredericksburg each have their own breweries. However, historic Manassas, with its local pride, bustling farmers market, seasonal events, and growing nightlife sadly lacks a brewery. Someone had to step in and fix this horrific problem! So, how did we get started on this idea?

Jeremy was inspired to start brewing after his high school class took a visit to Germany where he was introduced to full bodied beers of all sorts.  Since his trip, he has brewed over the years and said that one day he would start a brewery but never thought that it would really happen. 

During my entrepreneurship class at George Mason University in the spring of 2009, my group was clueless on an idea for the final project. Jeremy threw the brewery idea out there. So the business plan was created. Then Jeremy showed our group how to brew a nice pale ale and the idea was presented. It was so well received that our team won first place in my class against a judging panel of professional experienced entrepreneurs. They loved our beer (and yes, we provided samples) and said if we ever opened up, they'd be our first customer! Needless to say, we received an "A" on the project!

Based on our research, we observed that the market was there and the demand for craft beer was becoming more pronounced in the US. The solution to adding more value to our lives was staring us right in our face, but we agreed were in no situation to open a business. It was all so overwhelming, especially with the regulation in Virginia requiring us to serve food with pints. We either needed a large amount of capital to get started on a large brewing operation to profit on distribution through economies of scale like RedHook or we could try to do a brewpub the Dogfish Head way. Well, we did not want to run a restaurant and we sure as hell did not have a large chunk of change to invest in a million dollar brewery. So the idea was put on the back burner. 

Over time, friends and family planted little seeds here and there. Family members would give us brewing articles about some successful entrepreneur or give us some "starting your brewery" business book. We talked a bit more about starting the brewery and I even pulled out the business plan.
 Jeremy continued to brew and we continued to mention we would do it someday when the time was right. 

After our fantastic little boy was born in Jan 2012, we started talking with people again and the "dream" was mentioned casually to some friends who had started their own incredibly successful businesses. Three businesses come to my mine and dammit, if I wasn't starting to get pissed off! I thought to myself, why had we not started our business!? Then Jeremy came home one day and said he really wanted to be his own boss. Either he was going to work for someone else forever, or he was going to work for himself. Almost simultaneously, we found out legislation in Virginia was changing for breweries in our favor. VA bill SB604 amending code section 4.1-208 ¶ 1 effective July 1, 2012 provides the legal opportunity for a brewery to serve beer on premises without the food requirement! (so no restaurant is needed to sell our beer). So the stars began to align from this moment on. It's no fun drinking all of our beer in the garage without sharing it! We can't sell it either because we need that fancy brewer's license. So all the more reason to take the next step.  It suddenly turned into the question of "What are we waiting for? Let's do it!".

We pulled out the old business plan and worked endlessly on revising the darn thing. It was so outdated and needed a good scrubbing. After round 1, we had a SCORE counselor review it. Then for round 2, an excellent entrepreneur friend of ours (who loves to work on business plans for grad students) critiqued the hell out of it. No problem, we needed to fix some stuff, well, maybe a lot of other stuff. 4 extra eyes are better than our eyes! We did it though! Several beers later and nights of researching and all that jazz, and it was done. A masterpiece in our eyes. It was the golden ticket to our dreams. Maybe I'm exaggerating it just a little bit. 

We thought of many names for the brewery including one of my favorites, "BeerKat" since there were so many "dog" brewery names. We also thought of local names from the area. Someone can take the BeerKat name if they want, it's still my second favorite to BadWolf. Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you but we want to keep it a secret how we decided on BadWolf. That's for you to figure out! 

Needless to say, we could not have picked a more perfect time for this project. Enter BadWolf Brewing Company. BadWolf, with it's local focus and community ties, is the perfect fit for Manassas. Our small batch approach to brewing allows us to produce excellent beers and a dizzying variety of recipes to suit all tastes. BadWolf's focus on customers and customer feedback will allow us to tailor our selection and recipes to the regions' tastes. We will open a tasting room for customers to visit and of course fill growlers so everyone can taste all of the goodness at home and share it with friends. Our current timeline for opening is Jan 2013. We have placed a letter of intent on a space and will be working on signing the lease very shortly. Then we start the buildout and complete the fun and exciting paperwork process for licensing!

Whatever it takes on our part, I promise everyone there WILL be a nanobrewery in Manassas next year. It's bold promise but those who know Jeremy and I know that whatever we set our minds to do, we accomplish! We look forward to serving our beer to the community. Have one (or two, or more beers) while you wait. We cannot wait until opening day. Thank you to everyone who has helped us this far and continues to support us. We could not have done it without you.