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Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery Paperback – February 9, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
This winning tale of the rise of the Brooklyn Brewery follows the basic pattern of every entrepreneur's memoir: a restless visionary sets out to accomplish a dream, barely survives a series of setbacks, emerges victorious—and ready to tell readers how they can do the same. But this account serves up more than the usual suds and foam—its counsel is sound and its prose lively, and it should appeal to both wannabe industrialists and beer drinkers, not that those categories are mutually exclusive. In fact, the authors, foreign correspondent Hindy and banker Potter, decided to found their New York brewery, now 17 years in business and among the top 40 in the U.S. in sales, after consuming many bottles of Hindy's homebrew. The longtime partners tell their story in engaging, candid voices, delivering cautionary anecdotes, reflections on longstanding disagreements and lingering resentments, and brutally frank self-assessments. It helps the story immeasurably that beer is a more colorful subject than, say, spreadsheet software, a fact that gets the reader past the inevitable chapter on financing. Though Hindy and Potter may not help the aspiring entrepreneur strike gold, they offer a compelling model and a heartening story. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Digital edition.
"This gripping and lighthearted read charts their successes and failures and leaves you thirty for more." (Sainsbury's Magazine, September 2009)
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Top Customer Reviews
Contents: Steve Tells How Choosing a Partner Is Like a Second Marriage; Steve Discusses the Importance of Building a Solid Team; Tom Talks about Creating the Business Plan - A Money-Raising Tool and More; Tom Asks, "What's the True Mission of the Business?"; Steve Discusses the Keys to Successfully Motivating Employees; Tom Tells the Story of Their Dot-Com Revolution - Fishing for Finance and Failing; Steve Talks about Building a Brewery in Brooklyn; Steve Discusses Publicity - The Press Wants You!; Steve Reveals How the Revolution Kills Its Leaders First; Tom Talks about Cashing Out and Reinventing the Business, Again; Tom Wants to Know If You Have What It Takes; Timeline; Index
Hindy was a foreign correspondent for a news agency, and Potter was an executive at a bank, but both felt as if they wanted to do something different in their lives. Their love of home-brew beer gave Hindy the idea of starting a brewery in their hometown of Brooklyn, a city rich with brewery history. Potter was less convinced about the whole project until he visited a homebrewer's convention in 1986. This was right at the start of the microbrew phenomenon, and they decided to seriously pursue their dream. The book chronicles their work from 1986 through 2005, while also distilling what they learned about entrepreneurship along the way. And since this is beer "school", each chapter ends with them giving themselves a grade on how they did in that particular area. Unlike many business books that make the principals all-knowning and omniscient, Hindy and Potter are brutally honest about what worked and what didn't, where they were skillful and where they got lucky. It's a fascinating read, both for the brewery story and for the business insights.
There aren't too many business books with stories about being robbed at gunpoint of $30000, visiting a metal fencing operation to get a fork-lift battery charger back, and getting a visit from organized crime and union leadership, intent on getting a piece of their business. Even if you dropped the business lessons, the narrative of the Brooklyn Brewery would be enough to make this a recommended read. When you add in the small business information, this becomes a must-read for anyone dreaming of starting their own business. And if you're already interested in homebrewing or microbrews, then this book will probably end up being read in a single sitting.
An excellent read on a number of levels...
Beer School is a fast read, thanks to plenty of intriguing, amusing anecdotes that explain how this start up went from a simple idea to a major success, with the all-important countless pains, trials and tribulations in between.
I honestly didn't expect to learn anything new from the book, since I had already started a business. And I've followed the progess of and have been a supporter of Brooklyn Brewery since I moved to NYC in the early 90s. I was wrong. Not only did I pick up a lot of interesting business lessons, I sharpened my historical knowledge of the Brewery, which was, to my surprise, full of gaps.
I find that life experience is the best teacher. Beer School is one of the essential text books for a degree in entrepreneurship from the university of life, as it draws on the real life successes, failures and mixed results of two regular guys who had a dream to build a great brewery.
You don't need to be starting a business to get something out of Beer School. It's a damn good read, for the sake of entertainment alone! The stories of their run in with the mob, their chutzpah in getting a hot shot designer to work with them, their admirable philosophy of worker equity - there are plenty of fun, funny and revealing stories throughout the book.
Certainly for those interested in starting a business or interested in the beer business at all, it's a must read. Oh, and their beer ain't half bad, either!