Ep 031 – Chris Smith, Owner of LowerCase Brewing

Ep 031 – Chris Smith, Owner of LowerCase Brewing

This week’s guest is Chris Smith, Owner of LowerCase Brewing. You can get their beer on tap at The Copper Coin & Coastline Burger in West Seattle… or better yet, grab a bear at their new (Nov. 2016) taproom in Georgetown.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • LowerCase Brewing opened it’s doors in January of 2014 in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle with a taproom in Georgetown. The only place you can get their beer on tap outside of their tap room is at The Copper Coin and Coastline Burger’s (Coastline Interviewed on Episode 12 of the Sea-Town Podcast) in West Seattle.
  •  Like many Seattle breweries, LowerCase Brewing started off as a home brewing operations and simply called to where they are today… from brewing 5 gallon of beer to 500 gallons at a time.
  • Chris relocated from Tampa, AZ to Seattle for work (developing training for Starbucks) and decided to “do as the Seattleites do”, so he started rowing crew and learning how to home brew beer.
  • What do you love most about what you do? Chris loves the variability of owning his own business and all the various skills and challenges he has to learn and adapt to.
  • Traditionally, with the competitive nature of the WA brewing scene, tap rooms have largely been thought of as secondary, with wholesale being the primary focus… But this is starting to change as the marketplace for tap-rooms becomes more accessible to smaller breweries and a much larger potential for revenue (The margins on beer are fantastic).
  • What was your biggest challenges when first starting the business? Raising capital. The original idea was to have a growler to go space but it eventually grew into a full-blown tap-room simply out of necessity based on the real estate spaces available. The tap room opened in November of 2017.
  • What is your biggest challenge now?  The amount of check-boxes required to create and operate a new business in today’s business climate is really challenging. It’s about being scrappy and understanding what you need and what you don’t need to make it and effectively run a business… take it one step at a time and don’t try to boil the ocean.
  • What set’s you apart from others in your industry? LowerCase Brewing tries to be about simplicity and just about brewing good simple beer. They don’t make a ton of different beers… they brew 9 different styles of beer to try and appeal to every type of beer drinker.
  • Beer 101 – Most people would be familiar with lagers, because most large domestic beers are lagers (which take longer time to make or more time to “turn a tank”), but a beer like an Ale, takes less time to make and has more flavor complexity. Pale Ales (especially IPAs) are hoppyier, dark beers (like porters or stouts) tend to be sweeter.
  • The first 90 minutes of each day look like… coffee! Chis isn’t “dependent”, so to speak, but he really gets excited about having his coffee the next morning. About 50% of his day is planned, while the rest is being agile and getting done what needs to get done.
  • What is your greatest strength? Tenacity and (overly) optimistic.
Chris talks about another successful local business owner he knows: James Barrington, owner of the original Seattle food truck, Hallava Falafel and partner in Woodshop Bar-B-Q and Bread and Circuses, is mentioned as being cut from the same cloth as Chris and having been quoted as saying, “I may not be the smartest business owner or the most talented… but I’ll outwork them all. I’ll hustle”. But Chris points out that success is not just a one dimensional thing or about how hard you can work. You also need to be able to tell a story, ability to organize, ability to access capital, ability to engage other people… it’s so multi-fascinated. There are tons of failed businesses that had really hard working owners.
  • What habit do you wish you had? He wishes he was a better communicator. He has a tendency to take tasks and projects from inspection through execution… and then realizes he never really told anyone about it, which can not be so great when you have business partners and investors to keep in the loop.
  • What are you passionate about? People and making sure they understand the potential that each one of us posses to accomplish pretty much anything they want to… even though sometimes we are socialized to not believe that. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how we live in such an amazing time where the average person has the most opportunity then in  any society that has ever existed. Christian says that it takes a whole bunch of factors coming together just right (and your only in control of some of those factors), for a business NOT to fail – The default state is failure… simply meaning it’s tough to start and run you own business and requires a lot of sacrifice.
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? Be patient. Building a business takes time. Stick to your guns and eventually you’ll build momentum and success.
  • What is a personal habit that contribute to your success? Enthusiasm.
  • What is your one book recommendation for our listeners? Anything by Malcom Gladwell. He writes about human behavior and what motivates us to do what we do.
  • Parting Guidance – “Don’t be afraid of failure. You will have small failures and small successes… and as long as you have more successes then failures, you’ll be ok. Break it down and just take it one step at a time”.

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Thanks for joining me again this week. If you have any tips, suggestions, or comments about this episode – email me at ChristianH@Sea-TownPodcast.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post. Thank you! And finally, please leave an honest review for The Sea-Town Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show and I read each and every one of them.

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