With the surge of craft beer over the last several years, hobbyists have taken the leap to turn their passions into lucrative careers. Grimm Artisanal Ales began as a side project for Joe and Lauren Grimm. While pursuing their Masters of Fine Arts, they shared their homemade brews at art shows and concerts, and have since grown their endeavor into an internationally-recognized brewer of exceptional, unique beers.
Both artistic by nature, Joe and Lauren found a mutual outlet for their creativity in brewing. Grimm Artisanal Ales was founded in 2013 in their Brooklyn apartment kitchen where they tested out small batch recipes using locally-produced hops and grains.
As newcomers to the brewing scene, Joe and Lauren didn’t yet have the credibility to secure financing for their venture or the budget to invest in large-scale equipment. In order to produce their beer for a larger audience, the two turned to “nomad brewing” to get their project off the ground. Nomad brewers don’t have their own full-scale brewing facility, but instead use other breweries’ equipment through contract agreements to scale up their beer production.
“It enabled us to start our company on a shoestring budget, with no need for loans or investors,” explains Lauren. “We were able to grow organically from zero to over $3 million in revenues on the nomad model.” This method has allowed Joe and Lauren to produce greater quantities of beer without the cost of purchasing their own facility and equipment. Each beer Grimm brews through this method is a single-batch release, and sky-rocketing demand for their beers has made distributors sell out of each batch quickly.
Though the nomad model proved successful for Joe and Lauren, they soon realized that craft beer enthusiasts want to visit the source and meet the brewers behind their favorite beers. As a result, the Grimms turned their attention to creating a physical location where they could sell their beers directly to consumers.
“Ultimately, we always knew we would want to invest in our own physical facility and infrastructure in order to make our beer even better, bringing our creative vision into fuller fruition,” says Lauren.
The upfront costs of a physical brewery can be staggering given the amount of space needed and the equipment necessary for the brewing process. Joe and Lauren found the SBA 504 loan program and Pursuit while researching their options for financing for a physical location.
“For aspiring small businesses, the ability to get a good loan with as little as 10% equity is a game changer,” says Lauren. Through their 504 loan, Joe and Lauren were able to secure a total of $1.7 million in financing for brewery machinery and equipment from Pursuit and a conventional lender. Once the Grimm’s East Williamsburg location opens in 2018, it will provide 23 full-time jobs to their team of brewers, bartenders, managers, and delivery staff.