Program teaches keys to crafting good beer and business

Business of Brewing program connects participants with successful local brewers

CALLAWAY, Va. – There's more to crafting a successful brewery than just good beer, and a five-day program in the Roanoke area is teaching the ins and outs of the brewery business.

The Business of Brewing, which is put on by the Virginia Tech Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement, gives participants a chance to meet with and learn from successful local brewers, visit breweries and get hands-on work experience, and learn business essentials.

"From a legal perspective, from a regulatory perspective, and then from a business and brewer perspective, all those things you have to keep in mind," said Thom Bradley, head brewer at Chaos Mountain Brewing in Callaway. "It's not an easy business to be in."

In the past decade, Virginia's craft beer scene has grown from a handful of spots to more than 200. Curry Lee, of Reston, who is a participant in this year's program, said this is a valuable experience to be a part of.

"It's nice to get input from actual professionals, and people to take time out of their day doing their job to teach us about it," Lee said.

Lee and several participants spent Wednesday getting hands-on experience in the brewing business at Chaos Mountain Brewing. They learned about a new bottling technique Chaos Mountain recently implemented. All week, they've also spent classroom time learning about financing, marketing, distribution, licensing and other aspects of the brewery business.

"It's a lot of pieces and parts you don't think of at first," Lee said.

The Brewers Association estimates 1,000 new breweries will open across the United States this year. Bradley feels there is still plenty of room for growth in the craft beer industry in southwest Virginia and across the state. 

"We're happy to participate in a program like this because we want more successful breweries out there, as more and more people go to a new brewery and discover that, yeah, they do like craft beer," Bradley said.

For more information on the Business of Brewing program, click here.

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