Remember Lincoln's Beard Brewing Company (LBBC) brewer John Falco and his offer to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev for only $26,000? Now he's raising money — not to buy AB-InBev, but to open a brewery in the Bird Road Arts District.
On Jan. 30, Falco and his business partners did what many brewers have done in the past, kicking off a crowdfunding campaign. Currently, they've raised more than $2,600 in five days through IndieGoGo with a goal of $50,000. They have 35 more days to get there.
It's similar to how Jonathan Wakefield raised money for his brewery, J. Wakefield Brewing Company. Wakefield raised an impressive $110,000 in a matter of days through a craft beer-oriented fundraising site known as CrowdBrewed.
Lincoln's Beard co-owner Rob Regan put the campaign together and intended to take the same route with CrowdBrewed, but was advised that they were reassessing their business model and pointed him in another direction. He says his campaign is different in many ways.
The brewery is already under construction at 7360 SW 41 Ave., just a few blocks from the intersection of Bird Road and the Palmetto, in a part of town where Falco and Regan both agree needs more breweries. As of today, the granting of LBBC's final permit is imminent, Regan says, adding that the process took a mere three months. With a location picked out, Lincoln's Beard owners have already raised the necessary funds to construct an actual brewhouse.
The funded money, Falco says, will go towards acquiring the materials, such as hard to source hops, to make the best beer possible. The funding will also help transform the brewery from a "bare bones" operation into something more inviting to the public, including the possible addition of a mezzanine beer garden.
"From a brewing perspective, a little extra capital is going to give us that extra freedom and allow us to spread our wings a bit," Falco says.
Contribution levels range from $25 to $5000, which are rewarded with anything from exclusive access to rare LBBC barrel-aged beers, swag, and growler fills. With a $35-level contribution, you get a t-shirt imprinted with "I bought out AB-InBev" with a person riding a penny-farthing bicycle over the company's logo.
The highest contribution level ($5,000) gets you lifetime memberships to the brewery's Rail Splitter Society and its tasting panel, which gives you access to experimental beers. It comes with other perks, like your picture on a wall, a beer goblet, and three free beers per day. "Anything we get is great," Falco says. "We're going to open. The brewery's going to happen either way."
Regan says that some people may feel disconnected from online crowdfunding, Regan emphasizes that each contribution gets something tangible and even a personal email from the owners.
"When we put our crowdfunding campaign together, we did so taking in mind lessons learned from other campaigns," Regan says. "We feel confident with the perks we have, and the fact we'll be able to deliver on them."
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Another interesting thing about Lincoln's Beard, Falco notes, is that most of its investors minus one person are U.S. military veterans, including Regan and Falco, who served in the Army and Air Force, respectively. Both of them are the brewers of the group who've been into the local beer scene for a long time.
One day, the idea dawned on Regan that he and Falco should make their own beer. They started brewing and joked about opening a "Laser Wolf West," or the hypothetical counterpart to one of Fort Lauderdale's most highly revered bars by local craft beer enthusiasts. They both wanted to settle for nothing less than a local place in the Bird Road Arts District.
Regan and Falco anticipate a grand opening sometime in the Spring, possibly April. The brewery will focus on being a community brewpub, even though it will a production facility with a taproom.
"It's not a brewery with a taproom, it's a taproom with a brewery," Falco says. "When you're a brewpub it's much easier to communicate with your community."