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Laffler and Straka on the future of brewing in Chicago

Discussion in 'US - Great Lakes' started by Etan, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. Etan

    Etan Advocate (745) Wisconsin Jul 11, 2011

    ravot, otrejo and Zaphog like this.
  2. burica2020

    burica2020 Savant (400) Illinois Nov 17, 2009

    as one of the idiots starting a brewing venture in chicago, I found this an amazing read.
  3. Etan

    Etan Advocate (745) Wisconsin Jul 11, 2011

    I'm not so sure that there is an over-saturation of local breweries in the Chicago market. Even with all the new ones popping up, there are still very few compared to other major craft brewing cities.
  4. MarcatGSB

    MarcatGSB Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 8, 2011

    Good read, thanks for sharing.
  5. Vav

    Vav Savant (485) Illinois Jul 27, 2008

    Yeeeeup.
  6. Monsone

    Monsone Savant (350) Illinois Jun 5, 2006

    I agree to a point. But if all are creating similar products packaged in bombers I do think the market share will be tough. Especially when you consider that we have a ridiculous amount of great beer from elsewhere distro'd here (and more on their way i.e. Ballast Point). There is incredible demand and it keeps increasing, but like was touched on in the article Binny's only has so much shelf space. We have had a couple of new beer retailers focusing on craft beer (Beer Temple, Bottles and Cans) but how are the retailers going to move all of this beer?
    harrylee773 likes this.
  7. Lansman

    Lansman Savant (400) Illinois Mar 19, 2011

    Laffler: I believe strongly in competition. My best work has usually been done out of spite.

    That needs to be put on the back of an Off Color T-shirt right this second.
  8. Etan

    Etan Advocate (745) Wisconsin Jul 11, 2011

    That's true, distribution also factors in.
  9. Jplachy

    Jplachy Aficionado (130) Illinois Feb 12, 2012

    I went to Binny's yesterday and saw rows upon rows of plain white boxes full of Pipeworks looking bombers. Some of it was Pipeworks but on closer inspection I saw a DIPA and Pale Ale from 18th St and a couple of Spiteful bombers. And I thought to myself why on Earth would I even try these? Why would I shell out the $10 to TRY a beer when there are already 3-5 local IPAs that I already love?

    The reason is because I like beer...a lot and I'm willing to give this stuff a try but why would anyone else? What would motivate someone to buy any of these beers that all....honestly....look the same?
  10. Bay01

    Bay01 Savant (435) Illinois Nov 19, 2008

    I don't recognize that guy with the shirt on.
    MegDuf32, Jkoeneman, otrejo and 4 others like this.
  11. I thought the comments on pricing w/r/t bombers especially interesting. The River North Binnys has rows and rows of Pipeworks bottles that just don't move (Froggy Porter, etc.). Stacks and stacks now from Spiteful and 18th Street. I liked the Biker Burner just fine but if I'm going to spend $10-12 on a DIPA, I'll just wait for the next ninja/unicorn from Pipeworks.

    Along similar lines, now that A Little Crazy is in 6-packs, I don't know why I would buy Glaucus again. Not that price drives every decision buying decision I make (I'll try most any bottle at least once) but for consistent purchases? I wish I weren't so price conscious but, sadly, I didn't study hard enough in school, so here I am.
    otrejo likes this.
  12. PDZ

    PDZ Aficionado (235) Illinois Jun 26, 2012

    Cool read there, thanks man. I sensed some fear in their chats.
  13. ravot

    ravot Savant (435) Illinois Mar 20, 2012

    i was really excited for april, with lagunitas opening. but that is being delayed until june. i was sad for april. now i am happy with OCB (yeah, you know me!) launching in april.
  14. jtg5678

    jtg5678 Savant (255) Illinois Nov 27, 2012

    Thanks for sharing. I really hope to see a change in the bomber approach. Why not 4-pack cans? How expensive is that? I assume printing the cans plays a role, especially with Pipeworks having so many beers.
  15. ravot

    ravot Savant (435) Illinois Mar 20, 2012


    first thing that popped into my head was dark horse's lambeaks.
    i'm hoping they admit it and offer exchanges for a pallet of BBPT5, then i can trade it for a pair of tickets to DLD
    Duff27 likes this.
  16. My guess as far as cans go for Pipeworks is that they have no room to store the empty cans waiting to be filled. One of the two said that the minimum order these days for cans is half of semi-trailer. Pipeworks has no room for that many empty cans (nor the room for a canning machine).
  17. jtg5678

    jtg5678 Savant (255) Illinois Nov 27, 2012

    Hmm, that sucks. Hopefully soon they can. I mean, if Finch's can do it in their small brewery, selling (presumably) less beer, it shouldn't be that out of the picture.

    EDIT: Actually, Finch's probably sells more because they're in markets outside of Chicago.
  18. mecummins

    mecummins Savant (425) Illinois Nov 16, 2012

    "JL: It's really cool to see outsiders throw their hats in the ring. On the one hand there's a creativity and outside perspective from not coming within the industry and cutting your teeth somewhere else. But then, someone has to teach you how to clean a tank, how to use caustic safely, how not to burn yourself or hurt someone. And it's professionals that know how to do that. Home brewing does not prepare you for that."

    I think this was such a great point. It's easy to get passionate about brewing, but just as easy to forget that you have to pay your dues and learn it as a trade first.
  19. Breweries planned on making super hoppy beers, with hops they can't get. Yep.
    Spider889 and MarcatGSB like this.
  20. Boilerfood

    Boilerfood Savant (425) Indiana Jun 5, 2012

    Awesome read from a great guy to talk to.

    Except that they are non transferable this year.
  21. Chicago

    Chicago Aficionado (110) Illinois Mar 12, 2013

    ...if you buy your tickets online.
  22. immobilisme

    immobilisme Savant (380) Illinois Nov 8, 2005

    I would be stunned if Off Color fails, with the Laffler cult following. I certainly will be interested in the things they produce. Laffler has been anointed a barrel god in Chicago, but his lagers have impressed me... I am certainly interested to see how Off Color will fit into the Chicago scene. I guess the following will be something of a cross between old world beer fans and people who know Laffler from GI. I certainly welcome a brewery in Chicago that makes obscure styles of beer. When (if ever) was the last time a Gose was produced at any scale in the Midwest?

    With regards to other new breweries in Chicago, I personally already have fatigue. Until someone tells me otherwise, I don't have time or money for Atlas, 18th St, Finch's, Dryhop, etc, etc. I don't think that I am alone in this sentiment.

    I thought that the Southern California reference was pretty silly. San Diego is a different world.
  23. Definitely the most I've ever learned from a Gchat. The comments about the TTB checking ABV were particularly interesting. Didn't know about the 0.3% ABV variance.
    mecummins and PDZ like this.
  24. Pipeworks

    Pipeworks Savant (325) Illinois May 28, 2009

    small brewery? Finches is about 5-6 times larger than us in floor space and about 20 times larger than us in capacity... getting in the canning business is no small venture... that's not our bag right now.
    pudgym29 and otrejo like this.
  25. PDZ

    PDZ Aficionado (235) Illinois Jun 26, 2012

    But no brewery in the world has the capacity to hold the love I have for the great pipeworks!!!

    DM me for address to send free rasp truffle abduction bomber :cool:
    Pipeworks likes this.
  26. CMB2012

    CMB2012 Aficionado (245) Illinois Nov 26, 2008

    Schmetterling Gose

    Obviously not large scale, but measurable by some scales I'm sure and quite tasty by my standards ;)
    birchholz likes this.
  27. Pipeworks

    Pipeworks Savant (325) Illinois May 28, 2009

    good read. John is a good friend of ours. We've known him since day one of us trying to do this. We share a lot of the same opinions too on the so called 'market' and 'industry'. To be clear... we're only a year old. This is not the exact Pipeworks we intended it to be... will it be... yes, absolutely. But in just one year, we've had to make tough calls, and do things to help get us closer to where we can be the brewery that we set out to be. We aren't out to fuck anyone. Blue Lady was a genuine mistake, we never would have released that had we had known what would happen with warm conditioning (that would be plain suicide)! that is one we absolutely would have eaten had we known. And because we don't announce it... we have eaten batches of packaged beer before, rather than screw a customer over. It's a new game, we don't always know what is going to happen. Some stores sit on beer longer than others, that's a distribution game... they ask for 5 cases... and we oblige and then 3 months later they still have 3 cases... well that's part of being a distributor not just a brewer... so in year one... we learned how to distribute better... just because the beer buyer is excited and wants 10 cases... doesn't mean we should give it to them because we find out they still have it on their shelf a few months later and that makes US look bad... and screws anyone over who's buying a 3 month old IPA. So we had to learn how to be a distributor too and properly allocate our beer. I love this read because it's the same things John and us having been talking to each other about for years... same exact shit. Yea... we don't want to be a bomber only brewery... we know that it devalues our good beer by putting our 'regular' beer in bombers... John's absolutely right about that, and we've talked about it, but we have no other choice right now... none. We thought selling our 'smaller' beers at $7.99 would help balance things out... nope, we put great beer at $7.99 and that's our slowest selling beer...across the board, so we can't even do that (if you are wondering all the $7.99 beers are slated for 6-pack packaging in the future). Again, it's only been a year... and this just happens to be a stepping stone for us to get to where we can really do what we want to do and package the way we want to package. Packaging is the number one driving factor in your beer price. Some of these big fucking breweries pop up over night with tons of funding and new everything... well that's not us... we were funded by you all and we still need that help to get to where we can compete, and thankful you've helped us get really close!
  28. jtg5678

    jtg5678 Savant (255) Illinois Nov 27, 2012

    Yeah that's quite obvious in retrospect that you're not as big as Finch's. Also, it's quite clear it's not your bag, but as someone who sincerely loves your beer and supports every release on a very limited budget, one can only hope to afford more of it.

    Thanks for all the great beer. Look forward to the next Citra Ninja batch.
    Pipeworks likes this.
  29. Pipeworks

    Pipeworks Savant (325) Illinois May 28, 2009

    and we share John's sentiment and resent the fact that we are sometimes labeled as 'poster-child' of the home brewer gone pro... because that's not exactly accurate, we had years of time hanging with our professional brewer friends and being around breweries and learning before we got our own. I'm scared for some of these home brewers spending life savings on tanks going pro... I've talked to some who have been using their tanks for months and have no idea what passivation is... or how to properly use caustic or even how to dispose of it, pressurized tanks are no joke.

    Also, Philip is one of our first supporters who helped us with Kickstarter... but man we got lucky... we were only the 2nd brewery on kickstarter while it was still in beta mode... if we had to do that a year later we would have never even tried I don't think.

    and the reason you see like bombers is because we shared our label and bottle supplier along with our 'home made' bottling design with the 3rd wavers
  30. PDZ

    PDZ Aficionado (235) Illinois Jun 26, 2012

    Pipeworks: I will take any and all of the highs and lows of creative, unique, ballsy experimentation 'on shelf' over the same boring, market-tested shit I see all the time. Then again, I do submit to highly experimental governmental algae and mold testing bi-weekly. ;) In all seriousness, it's an exciting experience to try so many new concoctions consistently from you guys, as each bomber is a new adventure, just as fun, whether I like it as much as the last or not-regardless of cost. Keep up the great work, fellas.

    ps: Im quite tickled to hear about the 6 packs
    Pipeworks likes this.
  31. Pipeworks

    Pipeworks Savant (325) Illinois May 28, 2009

    o, last edit, there were no matching funds from investors... we never accepted any money from investors, we started with far less than $100,000, probably half of what John's new brewhouse cost ;-)
    NpD, pudgym29, BeerMeFitz and 3 others like this.
  32. Jkoeneman

    Jkoeneman Initiate (0) Indiana Jul 30, 2010

    Local Option contract brews a Gose at Against the Grain in Louisville (15BBL system) and it is one of my current favorites if you can find it on tap.

    Love that the dudes from Pipeworks are keeping it real on a public forum as well. You guys are awesome.
    NpD likes this.
  33. grantcty

    grantcty Aficionado (235) Minnesota Feb 17, 2008

    Schell's spring seasonal is going to be a Gose. Can't remember if IL gets Schell's or not, but they do distribute to WI, so you may be able to get it there.

    http://beeradvocate.com/community/threads/schells-goosetown.75544/
  34. dmfc906

    dmfc906 Aficionado (130) Illinois Jul 2, 2010

    Pipeworks: keep making amazing beers like Coffee Break Abduction and I'll pay for your bombers
    NpD, Bay01 and pmoney like this.
  35. Pipeworks

    Pipeworks Savant (325) Illinois May 28, 2009

    actually on second thought John may fucking hate us... what the hell do we know =p
  36. Spider889

    Spider889 Advocate (640) Ohio Mar 24, 2010

    At least I've learned there are others who dread the Meheen...
  37. chronie

    chronie Aficionado (170) Illinois Aug 1, 2011

    You are very humble, Pipeworks.
  38. Interesting to see Laffler mention the bubble I've been seeing for awhile now. Won't be too long (2 years) before many of these are out of business.
  39. This is a great great thread. Best one I've seen in my few months on here.
  40. aasher

    aasher Champion (900) Indiana Jan 27, 2010

    I think it's a growing trend around the country. There are new breweries popping up everywhere and unfortunately, a lot of them probably shouldn't exist.
    eyeenjoybeer and Pipeworks like this.

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