First, congratulations to Ty on going pro in the brewing/beer industry! Opening a beer/brewing-related business is a common dream among homebrewers, and we’re excited to be sharing Ty’s story. The purpose of this article series is so that other homebrewers considering opening a beer business can learn from and be inspired by the experiences of people just like Ty who took the leap! Thanks for joining us Ty!
First, tell us a little bit about your businesses:
Waters Brewer was my beer-related business, and it aims to give the everyday brewer the power to treat their water in order to create truly exceptional beer. Waters Brewer is a service that creates the perfect water treatment solution for any style of beer and is specifically designed to give brewers an experience they will value by experimenting with the art of water treatment for perfecting home and craft brewing. Every order is put together upon purchase. We are truly in the business of helping you get the best water possible for the beer you’re going to be brewing. If you brew 2-gallon batches, or 8-gallon batches, or whatever the size or style, shoot an email our way and we will work with you to optimize your water profile. I started Waters Brewer about 3 years ago, and we have been featured in Zymurgy magazine, the number one homebrewing magazine, and on the Barley and Me podcast and are continuing to grow and have visions of helping every homebrewer have the best possible water profile they can have.
Waters Brewer was the first service of its kind in the market. I saw all these hop farms growing hops, yeast labs producing yeast, and maltsters making malt, but nothing for the last, usually forgotten, ingredient in beer, Water. So, I built a business around that to identify myself as the water chemistry expert for beer, and it shows now in the comments and questions I frequently receive.
A Brewer’s Story is my personal blog that started with my crazy adventure where I did 4 months of backpacking across 29 cities in Europe looking for best place to start my own brewery. The future of the blog will be about the process of opening my own brewery in Spain. I started the blog in November of 2017 and I’m currently using it to share stories about my adventures in beer around the world. [BrewTogether note: as this article is being published, Ty is on a monthlong trip through India, probably making him the coolest guy I have ever met in the beer industry – check out his Instagram for updates on his adventures!]
Keglet is a new brand of pressurized stainless steel growlers with an integrated Co2 tap system that I just launched March 1st, 2019. Keglet also features an automatic Co2 cartridge subscription service so that you never forget to buy Co2 and end up with flat beer again!
What growth have you seen with your businesses?
Financially, not too much, but the goal with these wasn’t to get rich online. I realize these little online side gigs aren’t going to be where my true wealth comes from (that will come from opening my own brewery and taproom) but I have seen tremendous growth in my personal belonging in the brewing industry. These side businesses are each like another accolade next to my name, which shows potential employers and partners in the beer industry that I go above and beyond in everything I do.
How is your business connected to the homebrewing community?
Since they are all online side businesses, I am very involved over the internet in Facebook Groups, online brewing forums, and have continuously focused in on social media and developed a good group of followers in the homebrewing and craft beer niche.
I first spoke at a local homebrew club 3 years ago, and now have been an active member ever since. I have also made friends with just about all of the people in the beer industry in Sonoma County, and I know many owners of homebrew shops in Northern California.
What are your plans for the future of your businesses?
I plan to continue to run all three of my side businesses while I am starting and eventually running my own brewery/taproom in Spain. Ultimately I will slowly outsource tasking and continue to manage what I can personally, as the needs of each business are met. I can’t plan too far ahead for any of these businesses because as we all know, the only constant in life is change.
Because these are all side hustle projects for the time being, my goal for them is to continue to make a few grand on the side for the years to come as well as show potential employers/investors what I have been up to all the while documenting the journey and sharing for the whole world to see.
I currently have 1 part-time employee for Waters Brewer who does website maintenance and fulfilment for me when I’m not around, and will continue to scale that support up as I start other ventures.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up very poor in Tracy, CA. I lived in apartments, duplexes, stayed in rooms of friends’ houses, and lived part-time with my grandparents until I was 13, when my grandparents took me in full time to live with them in Livermore, CA. From the ages of 13-16 I played baseball and video games and hung out with my friends.
2 days after my 17th birthday I signed up for the Marine Corps. I left for boot camp right after graduating high school to become the second youngest of 92 marines in my platoon. While in the reserves, I attended Sonoma State University where I changed my major from Kinesiology to Business Management because I found it suited me more. I graduated after 5 years, and I was the first in my family to go to and graduate college as well as join the military. In 2015 I finished my 6 years in the Marine Corps Reserves with an honorable mention and also received my management degree.
After leaving the reserves and graduating from college, I got a job making $30/hr doing construction management. Everyone in my family works in construction so it seemed very logical for me to get in to. I hated it! I quit after 3.5 months and started questioning everything I was doing in life. I decided I wanted to put my happiness first, and started to ask myself “what makes me happy?”. I realized that beer makes me happy, and it just so happened that the guy who lived in my apartment before me left his homebrewing equipment behind when he moved to Cincinnati.
I went to my LHBS and bought an extract kit, and from that moment I was hooked on homebrewing. After 3 batches of extract I jumped right in to all-grain brewing. I still use the same brewing setup today. It’s a direct-flame propane set up, and Igloo 6.5gal mash tun cooler, and a 6.5 gal stainless steel pot that serves as both my HLT and Kettle. I use plastic bucket fermenters, an auto-siphon, and bottles. Pro brewing is way better, but also way more cleaning!
After a while I started working at a winery and started working building Waters Brewer, all while taking my online Siebel Institute of Technology brewing classes and raising a half-wolf puppy. Later, I got a job as an assistant brewer at a 10bbl brew house in Sonoma. After that I went on to work for a Ukulele company for a while where I started listening to audiobooks and podcasts (now I continuously listen to audiobooks and podcasts daily to improve my business/body/mindset/life). After leaving the Ukulele company I got a job as a Taproom Manager of a 3.5bbl system brewhouse and taproom in Windsor. I both opened and closed the doors to that brewery every day for almost a year. Within three months, I became head brewer and only employee of that brewery. I wasn’t getting any support and was working too much, so eventually I left and went to Europe, which was my first time ever leaving the country.
On that trip, I started A Brewer’s Story to document my adventures, and got patreons to help fund the trip a little. I brewed beer in 3 different countries in Europe and met many brewery owners, employees, and craft beer enthusiasts throughout my 4 months traveling through Europe. After returning to the United States I found out that Brew Your Own wrote a whole page article in the Sept. 2018 edition of their magazine for the beerscapades I went on in Europe.
After returning from Spain, I worked at Stone Brewery in Napa for where I learned a lot about how a bigger corporate brewery is managed. I also got my health back in check, losing about 30 pound in 2 months.
I decided I wanted to start a brewery in Spain, so I wrote a 36-page business plan to start a 7bbl taproom/brewery in Seville, Spain. That caught the attention of a few people who are now my investors, and they paid me a few grand to go back to Barcelona and do market research in Andorra. We decided not to pursue opening a brewery in Andorra, and are now considering opening in Barcelona. I am waiting to hear back from them right now about whether we are moving forward. I am planning to go to India for a month to get my yoga teacher certification and then move to Barcelona to focus on starting my brewery by combining my knowledge of beer, life, and yoga and transforming that in to an experience for all people to come enjoy good vibes and good beer.
Is there any other advice you would give to others who are interested in starting a beer-related business?
First, I hope you like cleaning! Remember that it’s a long road to the top if your wanting to become a millionaire in the brewing industry. Do as much as you can. Don’t let the fear of criticism get in your way of doing anything. I started Waters Brewer after only having brewed for about 4 months at the time. People started coming to me for water chemistry advice as soon as one month after launching, and now, 3 years later, I am well known as the water chemistry expert for brewing, which has boosted my professional definitely boosted my resume. I have some ridiculously high ambitions for my future in the brewing industry. I’ve only been in it for about 3 years and have already accomplished more than most who have been in for 8 or more.
My biggest piece of advice is to start now and start hard. Gain as much knowledge and attention as possible all while documenting the process and providing as much value to other brewers as possible.
Huge thanks to Ty for doing this interview! We wish him the best of luck in all of his adventures and we’ll be checking back in with him regularly! Be sure to check out and support his businesses at:
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