About Richter

Richter Aleworks is a brewery in Peoria Arizona..

We all grew up with an image of what beer was, right? It was macho burly dudes watching football and drinking ice cold beer served by bikini clad babes with big, um, blonde hair. It was dads and grandpas and uncles sitting in lawn chairs and drinking from cans on a hot summer day. It was college roommates and frat boy friends doing keg stands while wearing togas.

In 2005, we took a trip across the pond. We spent time in London enjoying many different pints in many different pubs. It was there, in a pub near Paddington Station, that we realized we didn’t know shit about beer. Beer isn’t just a beverage. It’s a culture. At that point our interest in beer began. And after many travels and many different types of beers, that interest has developed into a passion. A passion we are compelled to share with others.

Our passion for sharing good beer with good friends fueled the idea for our own brewery. We want our beer to be an experience. An experience that will change your mind and challenge what you think you already know about beer. We want you to expect more from the beer you drink. We want to shake things up. Stir the pot. Get you out of your comfort zone. .

Brewing the American Dream

One of the most difficult aspects of starting a brewery is coming up with the money. Funding is EVERYTHING. There is no set amount that you need, and despite all your planning and projections, you will always need more.

Breweries choose many different paths to raising money, some are more successful than others. We had so many different doors closed in our faces, and thankfully it only made us more determined. We finally found a good chunk of our financing through a company called Accion. They are not a traditional bank, but a non-profit with an investment network who fund start ups. After several meetings with them, telling our story and sharing our passion for the brewing industry, they offered to help us make our dream a reality. And a few short weeks after they funded our loan, they had a surprise for us…

They had passed our story on to the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program. This program, founded by Boston Beer Company CEO Jim Koch, was set up with the sole purpose of helping entrepreneurs obtain hard to find financing, mentoring and advice. It’s a highly competitive program, with very few small businesses chosen to be a part of it each year. Needless to say, when representatives from Sam Adams reached out to us to let us know we had been chosen, we thought it was a scam. But when we received a letter from Jim Koch himself, letting us know how he was blown away by how our story and family history in brewing was so similar to his, we were beyond thrilled.

Through this program, we have access to coaching and advice from successful business owners, we have an army of people pointing us down the right path to success. Say what you want about Jim Koch, but the man definitely has a passion for the craft beer industry and for cultivating success in others. We are so honored to be a part of this program.

We’ve been very vocal about how the entire process of starting Richter Aleworks has been an uphill climb. But this week, it finally felt worth it after seeing our name on the bottom of a six pack of Sam Adams Summer Ale. If you would like a closer look, pick up a sixer of Summer Ale at your local store and raise a glass with us. Cheers to Sam Adams, cheers to Jim Koch, and cheers to the amazing brotherhood that is the craft beer industry!

Sam Adams

 

 

 

Priorities

Life has been one heck of a roller coaster since we signed our lease. We thought once we resolved our name and location issues, it was going to be fairly smooth sailing. Everyone who has ever started a brewery is laughing hysterically at the previous sentence. One thing we have learned for certain, nothing will make you feel more stupid than starting your own business.

 

For the past several months we have had issues with the city, finding a contractor, finding equipment, staying on schedule and conserving funds. This has definitely been one of the most stressful times in our lives. And to be honest, we have considered throwing in the towel on several occasions.

 

But each time we get knocked on our ass, we get back up eventually. Call it perseverance, call it tenacity, call it stupidity. The point is, we are determined to finish what we started. And today we were reminded of what’s really important. Success or failure, rich or poor, brewery or no brewery, we are very lucky. We are healthy. We CAN get back up every time we get knocked down.

 

We have said this before, and we will say it forever: We are so proud, so honored and so humbled to be a part of Arizona’s craft beer community. These people rally around you, support you, make you laugh when you don’t feel like laughing, and give you the energy you need to keep going, That has never been more evident to us than today.

 

Our friend Theresa Sorrels, wife of Beer Research Institute co-owner Greg Sorrels,  is battling brain cancer. She recently had another surgery to remove part of the tumor in her brain and she is now undergoing extensive chemo treatments to rid what’s left of it.  This afternoon we were fortunate enough to attend a fundraiser for her at 8-Bit Aleworks. The tap room was packed full of beer lovers who came in to show support for Theresa and Greg, and to help raise money for Theresa’s treatments and medical bills. We left feeling energized from the love in that room.

 

Everything that we have been going through to get this business up and running is nothing compared to what Theresa has gone through in the past five years battling brain cancer. And if she can walk in that room today with her gorgeous smile and her infectious positive attitude, we can certainly be thankful for the progress we have made. We can be thankful this experience has taught us patience and perseverance. We can be thankful for the amazing group of friends we have made along the way. We can be thankful that we’ve been given this opportunity and that in a few months, the uphill climb to opening our doors will be behind us and we’ll be stressed out and worried about all new things.

 

Today taught us to take a few moments to just breathe. And that Beer People are the Best People.

 

Please join us in showing your support for Theresa Sorrels by clicking here.

“You can’t make me change my name, you’ll never make me change my name.”

Wow. It’s been four years since we began this crazy journey. Back then we were so naive and carefree. We laughed off all the horror stories shared by people we knew who had started breweries. That would NEVER happen to us, right? We weren’t going into this blind. We were PREPARED. We were THOROUGH. We researched the hell out of EVERYTHING. I mean, we never thought it would be smooth sailing. We knew there would be a hiccup here and there. But we were PLANNERS. We HAD this. We were going to make the process of opening a brewery our bitch.

The problem was, we planned for speed bumps. What we encountered were land mines.

When we first decided to do this, we talked to our friend Ty, the Marketing Genius. He said “You guys need to pick a kick ass name. Everything will fall into place from there.”

Mischief was a word we used often in our house. It embodied our concept and defined what we wanted to accomplish in the brewing industry. It was perfect. And like I said earlier, we research everything. As of July 2011, the word Mischief was not trademarked in association with any beer, brewery or alcohol related business. We immediately registered the business name in Arizona.

Fast forward a year later, we received a friendly phone call from another brewery, asking us ever so forcefully to change our name, as they had just filed for the trademark. Being the prepared planners we are, we consulted an attorney. And then we told them no.

We talked to several other breweries who had similar issues but had found ways to coexist. The last thing we wanted was the cost of a legal dispute. But we had a case. Even though we weren’t in business yet, we had built a following. We had Twitter and Facebook pages. We had T-shirts. We had stickers. Plus we really loved the name. We suggested a coexistence agreement. They told us we could probably work something out. And then we didn’t hear from them for almost two years.

Last year we were in the process of negotiating a lease (one of many that fell through, but that’s a story for a different day), so we reached out to them proactively. We were requesting something in writing that we had agreed to peacefully coexist. We knew they would have the right to set some boundaries. We get it, if you don’t protect your trademark, you can lose it. We forwarded them copies of all of our logos so they could see how different they were in style. We agreed to never distribute in their home state (we clearly told them we had no plans to distribute, we were just going to be a small local, brewpub), we agreed to NEVER call a specific beer Mischief. And then we waited. One month. Two months. Then three. And finally, we called them again. They told us they would send an email.

A few days later, we received an email from them that stated after careful consideration, they decided it was not in their best interest to work out a coexistence agreement with us. They claimed their Mischief beer was one of their most popular and a brewery called Mischief would be too confusing for their consumer.

As you can imagine, we were more than disappointed. After all this time, after everything we had submitted to show them how different we were, after basically agreeing to let them tell us what we could and couldn’t do with OUR brand, it came down to the fact that they did not have enough confidence in the intelligence of the craft beer drinker.  And although we could have pursued it further, we decided it was not worth our time or money. We didn’t want to give up control of any part of our business, we had fought too hard to make what little progress we had.

We began considering new names. We briefly considered Mischievous. However, the owners of the Mischief trademark basically told us they would need to approve the use of any version of the word. We had no interest in participating in any further negotiations with them, so that name was ruled out quickly. Considering the fact that not much had gone our way since we started this process, we thought about Bad Luck Brewing. Of course, it was taken. Black Cloud Brewing? Taken. Bad News Brewing? Taken.

So there we were. Still no location, and now no name. It was a new low point in this journey. We began questioning whether or not we were even meant to do this. Was all this bad luck a sign that we should let this dream go? And then, a breakthrough. We came across a picture of Brandon’s great, great grandfather standing in front of his own brewery in Ogden, Utah in the late 1800’s. We had the right name all along, we just didn’t know it.

It was our name. It was perfect. And from that moment, everything else just fell into place.