How can You become a Gipsy Brewer? - or make your own beer
Contract brewing, guerrilla brewing, gipsy brewing. You’ve probably have heard these words if you follow the craft beer scene for a while. But who are “guerillas” and how can YOU become one? We will answer these questions in this post.
In the previous location where we produced, which could be found in the Brew Park, due to reaching our capacity limits we could not expand our contract brewing services. Last year, however, our brand new, modern and much larger-capacity-brewery was successfully installed and launched, where, fortunately, contractors, or guerrillas, have showed up over and over again with brewing requests. Speaking of which, we thought of getting basic information about contract brewing services together.
Who are the guerrillas and how do they get to the brewery?
Guerrilla brewers are those enthusiasts, professionals and beer brand owners who do not have an own brewery or technology, so they rent capacity at producing breweries. And the term “gipsy brewer” suggests that the brewer is migrating from brewery to brewery to find free capacity for his ideas to realize.
In most cases, guerrillas are home brewers who want to brew their home-tested recipe in larger quantities and see what the craft market has to say about it. In case of contract brewing, we only provide the infrastructure; marketing, sales, logistics and all other issues must be done and arranged by the contractor.
Some of the guerillas consider their thing as a love project and build their own brand besides their full-time job, but of course there are examples when a guerrilla brewery eventually breaks out of this role and at the end of the day they build a factory. One of the best-known examples is perhaps the Danish brewery Mikkeller, but there are also many examples in Hungary as well, who have gone along the way of home brewing - guerrilla brewing – building an own brewery. Among others, Anti Németh, one of the founders of MONYO Brewing, started his brewing beer at home in the kitchen.
At MONYO, a number of guerrillas have showed up in the past seven years. Just to name a few relevant examples, Balkezes brewed Greyjoy, InVitro Brewed Drone, Uradalmi brewed Intro, but let’s not forget about AleFried from Austria or the Slovenian Overmura who has just contracted to brew all year at MONYO. Today, there may be roughly 20-30 guerrilla brands operating in Hungary, having said that, new and new formations are constantly appearing (and disappearing) on the market.
There’s a classic idea that guerrilla brewers always dreaming of having their own brewery, while brewery owners often say how much easier life would be as a guerrilla.
I also want to brew my own beer, what to do?
Let’s get clear, that brewing with our technology is available to anyone but the minimum brewing quantity is 2000 l. So not only home-brewers with tested recipes can brew beer with us, but also, for example, company executives who want to surprise their colleagues and partners with their own unique branded beer. In this case, the recipe will be developed together according to the requirements of the contractor.
But now let’s get closer to the other, more classic case, where there’s a proven ready-made recipe, and we’ve already done the boring bureaucratic part of cooperation like signing the contract. So you have an idea that you want to brew. The whole procedure starts with the recipe you have entered. We check it to see if it’s feasible on our system, and in some cases we make suggestion for the sake of the result to be even better. Fortunately, we got experienced in the last 7 years, so we know exactly what works best on our system.
In parallel with the recipe check, brainstorming on the ingredients and purchase start. We need to look up what we can get immediately, what we might have to order from abroad, how long does it take to arrive in our warehouse, or what is that specific ingredient the recipe owner wants to bring, as not an everyday ingredient in the brewery such as 200kg of roasted coconut. We take care of the packaging materials, be it the can, keg or the cardboard (of course it is possible to use branded cardboard). Finally, we review whether what worked for you in a small 20l batch can work in a large volume of 2000 liters. Of course, a homemade and an industrial batch will never be exactly the same.
Once the recipe is accepted by both parties, we program it into our system, which is fully automatic, so let’s say, everything works on its own.
At the day of brewing…
If you brew beer with us, you can get an insight into each process, that is, you can be there on the day of brewing, dry-hopping, cold side managing and filling. Brewing day is a great shared fun where a really important criterion is to make at least one Instagram story posted.
After brewing, we follow the process on the cold side, which includes, for example, the fermentation part. We can report this information on a daily basis, all phases are being monitored and being documented online.
We offer a full guarantee for the beer, with the background of our quality assurance system. We have one of the most equipped laboratories in the country, where we continuously subject your product to analytical testing. For instance, we measure color, balling, alcohol, bitterness, diacetyl.
We are waiting for a final check before filling (bottling, canning, KEG-packing), and if you find everything is fine, we start it. Then you “just” have to sell it in bars, specialty stores, or refill your company refrigerators. It's not that complicated, is it?
Feel free to contact us!
If you wish to get into the exciting world of brewing or have an acquaintance who would break out of home brewing, feel free to contact us.
We will continue our series of interviews with our guerrillas soon (click here for the interview with InVitro Tomi), stay tuned!