Barley, yeast, water and hops: Starting a brewery from scratch in south Alabama

Posted On February 19, 2019

If we could pick any type of business to own, many of us might choose one that allows us to drink beer all day.

Our guest in the latest episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston” did just that. Brian Kane acted on a love for craft beer to open Fairhope Brewery with a partner six years ago.

Kane’s dirty little secret, however, is that he’s only ever brewed about four batches of beer himself. “My side is much more on the beer tasting side, if you will,” he says – along with the business and marketing end.

So how do you go about starting a brewery from scratch? You need money – a lot of it, actually – but Kane was able to line up investors and convince a partner to join him. You need a plan, and Kane was strategic about selecting Fairhope – at the time, there were no other craft breweries in south Alabama.

And then you need to make some good beer that people like. And the thing about the craft brewing craze is that people like a lot of different types of beers.

The industry is built on variety, and Fairhope seeks to meet that desire with 15 different varieties on tap in its taproom, most of which carry names tying them to the local Mobile Bay area. “Every brewery has to have its own identity. We’ve tried to take in the town and the feel of Fairhope in our identity,” he says. “Our goal is for any person to walk in this door, try a couple of beers and find one of our beers that they like.”

Kane discusses the need to strike a balance between experimentation and consistency, whether he’s ever thrown out a batch for quality reasons, why being in a state that’s behind the curve in the industry might actually be a good thing, how a taproom can actually be a family-friendly environment, and his pride in the fact that some of the people who were with him from the beginning are still around.

What’s next? In an industry that exploded and now has started to plateau, Kane and Fairhope aren’t necessarily looking to conquer the world, but to maintain the foothold they’ve built for themselves in south Alabama.

“The days of expanding across twenty states seem to be behind us,” he says. “I would say that in six years, we’re going to be still focused on making sure that Baldwin County and Mobile County are getting as much beer as we can get and enjoying the product as much as they can enjoy it.”

So pop open a cold one and join us for a refreshing discussion about the craft brewing industry.

Categories: Blog, Entrepreneurship, What's Working with Cam Marston