Earlier in the week, Scott shared news about Lakewood Brewing Co.'s birthday party this weekend. Founder Wim Bens has been planning this for a while now and has a few special barrels set aside for the event, just in case everyone gets thirsty out there at Goodfriends on Sunday.
Bens was born in Belgium but has spent most of his life in Texas. In the first year of business, Lakewood Brewing has released almost a dozen brews, which can be found at bars all over North Texas and in bottles on shelves at independent retail stores, Central Markets, Sigel's, Goody Goody, Spec's, Whole Foods and more. It's been an impressive freshman year.
We caught up with Bens to chat with him about year one in the Dallas brewing business.
What have you learned about running a brewery after one year? What haven't we learned?! Starting a business always has a lot of unforeseen challenges and the learning curve has been vertical so far. Our team has been able to navigate the bumps pretty well, I must say. I'm very proud of the people that make LBC possible every day. It's a tough, sweaty and dirty job to get the beer made, packaged and delivered.
What pieces of advice do you have for those thinking about opening a brewery? Do your homework. Home brewing is a great hobby and it's important to hone your skills in an actual brewery. But it's very important to have a proper brewing education and have practical professional brewing experience. Just because you know how to drive a car doesn't mean you can drive on a NASCAR track. Get the proper training and experience or hire people who have it.
What have you learned about the people of Dallas after one year? They love beer! The explosion of local craft beer in D/FW over the last two years has been amazing. We're very lucky to have a lot of thirsty people out there.
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Would you do anything different? Hindsight is something that we don't have too much time for. There's always things that you'd do differently, but you can't step into the future with your feet in the past.
What's been the most significant business step this year? Bottling has changed our operation dramatically. Most people drink at home, so having the opportunity to have beer on the shelf has been great for us.
According to the LBC site, your beer is in almost 200 bars and restaurants and in more than 100 retail stores. How does it feel to see your taps, trucks and beers all over town? Did you expect this to happen at this pace? It's pretty surreal considering a year ago we hadn't sold a drop of beer yet. I'm sure it'll hit me at the anniversary party and I'll be a hot mess crying tears of joy into my beer.
You started with home brewing. What are three things that are imperative to a good home brew? Clean. Clean. Clean. (I'm serious.) And have fun.