Oxford, OH brewpub Quarter Barrel Brewing announced a $40,000 crowdfunding campaign on July 12. The GoFundMe-based campaign is intended to support the construction of a second, larger, location in Hamilton, OH. Construction at the corner of Main and B streets has begun with plans including a five-barrel brewery, a restaurant with a farm-to-table menu similar to the Oxford location, and a rooftop deck overlooking the Great Miami River and downtown Hamilton. Plans are for the location to open sometime in Fall.
It’s not news that a local brewery is launching a crowdfunding campaign. It would be news, in fact, if a month went by where one of them wasn’t. Besides the familiar Kickstarter and GoFundMe sites, there is at least one crowdfunding platform (CrowdBrewed) specifically dedicated to raising money for breweries. One analysis of 587 campaigns found that barely half of those efforts succeeded with an average of a just over $21,000 raised. Play your cards right and you can await death and taxes in a taproom that was part of an inevitable crowdfunding effort.
How to talk about crowdfunding is also a problem. We’ve written about efforts here in the past and have reposted announcements for others on Facebook and Twitter. Carla and I have both contributed to different ones under our own names in the past. We disclose that fact if we write about the campaigns while they’re active. This particular campaign falls in that category. We were only asked to publicize the campaign and were not offered (nor would we accept) anything other than whatever is included in our chosen pledge level. But there are so many campaigns. We could never write about — much less contribute to — all of them.
So why talk about any crowdfunding effort at all? Part of what I think sets small, local, breweries apart from their much, much larger kin is the community-building that happens as a result. I’m not aware of any business that wouldn’t be thrilled to have people just send them money. Heck, you can send me money.1 I’m pretty sure I can dig up a sticker somewhere. But that’s not really what these appeals are about. They’re about forging a connection between a brewery and someone who lives in that community.2
Quarter Barrel’s owner and brewer Brandon Ney has captured that sentiment perfectly in his appeal:
If you’ve never opened a restaurant before, then allow us to applaud your life choices. It isn’t cheap. A brewpub, even less so. Taken as a whole, including the build-out and property, the capital outlay for this project is over a million dollars. We are seeking to crowd fund under four percent of the total budget, or about forty thousand dollars.
Crowd funding is like your cousin asking to borrow money that you both know you’ll never see again. But we sincerely reject the idea of asking for something for nothing. So we are offering several considerations in return for your generous donation. This way we all ultimately come away with something: the best restaurant and brewpub in Butler County.
Carla and I have known Brandon through our involvement with the U.S. Open Beer Championships. The only reason we don’t stop at Quarter Barrel when we’re in Oxford is if they’re closed. The beers brewed there are outstanding. The Lavosh flatbreads are the healthiest thing with which I have an unhealthy relationship. There are other things on the menu. I’m sure they’re delicious, but I always get the Lavosh. Oxford technically falls outside the Hoperatives coverage area, but the Hamilton/Middletown/Monroe corridor is becoming a very important part of the Cincinnati beer scene. Quarter Barrel will join Municipal Brew Works in making sure each end of the Main Street bridge is close to a brewery.
Later this week we’ll be featuring a crowdfunding appeal that is equally dear to our hearts. Stay tuned.
1 But if you’re liking the idea of sending us money, remember you can always leave a tip over there in the right sidebar. Just saying.
2Please don’t misunderstand me. We have breweries here in town that serve large regions and still make community-building central to their efforts. Crowdfunding is one way to build a personal connection. It’s not the only way.