Saturday, November 07, 2015

The sobering story of a brewpub's very brief life.

Consider all the familiar cues and motifs in a scary movie: Creaking floorboards, shadows, faces behind a smudgy window, and many more, leading inevitably to slashing and mayhem.

They're all here in this account of a brewpub's failure: Under-capitalization, a few bad opening batches, on-line beer geek tyranny, and a few more for good measure, leading to an unexpected business failure.

One goose-bump generator missing here is the package learning curve, which someone should take the time to chart on a graph: The exponential growth in beer production does not match the availability of draft lines and shelf space outside a brewer's direct control.

Down the drain: A brewpub fails in just 4 months (Joe Sixpack)

On the morning after the last night at Guild Hall, a crew of volunteers mopped floors while the owners held back the tears.

Four months. Just four lousy, four splendid, four heartbreaking months – that’s all the beautiful downtown Jenkintown brewpub lasted before Jennifer McGuire and her husband, Owen Hutchins, decided to close its doors.

With breweries opening at a rate of more than one per day, it’s rare to hear of one closing. In 2014, there were all of 23 failures nationwide, according to the Colorado-based Brewers Association which represents small breweries.

So, when I stopped by the brewpub on Sunday morning, it was partly to commiserate (for no one wants to see a business fail and employees lose their jobs) and partly to find out how a brewpub could go belly-up in the midst of the great craft-beer boom.

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