Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Scott Smith is all in; you gonna see him?

I know you Pennsylvanians -- and some others -- know about Scott Smith at East End Brewing. I've certainly written enough about him. I mentioned recently that plans were underway for an expansion -- only because he really really needs it -- and the building's been found (a much bigger building at 6580 Frankstown Ave., not far away, a former telecom warehouse). You can read more about it here in Bob Batz's -- as always -- nicely detailed article in the Post-Gazette.

Two things leap out, besides the greatly increased capacity and the proximity to the current plant (had to stay close, Scott acknowledges, or he'd have to change the name). First, Scott and his wife Julie are mortgaging their home to raise most of the money, laying it on the line. (I just saw on his Facebook feed that he's off to sign the papers this morning.) Second, he's looking for small investors -- friends of good beer -- to help make the nut.

Here's the deal. They need about $250,000 more to cover the expansion (the $500K in the article is the whole thing; Scott has about half of that). They're hoping to get $100K from you, the drinkers, in what Scott calls a 3-year microloan. You won't make any money; you get paid back in beer. Or t-shirts, or cake mixes, or growlers, or whatever other stuff Scott's fertile mind has dreamed up (me, I'd get one of those Big Hop bike jerseys), because you'll get $10 vouchers to use at the brewery (or the growler store in the Strip). Details are all here, investing goes live next week, I believe.

Look, I'm not advising you to "invest." I wouldn't advise you to put money in one small brewery over another. But I would advise you to invest in a small, local brewery if you get the chance. I would, if there weren't obvious ethical issues preventing me. This is your local community, your local beer, and you get to be part of it. Will you make money? Well, no, not on this "investment," though you might on others; similarly, you might lose money. How much you stake is up to you, after due diligence. But the point is...you can be part of this. Which is pretty damned cool. So open your eyes (and your ears) and think about it. That's small brewing.


Anonymous said...

What ethical issues would prevent you?

Lew Bryson said...

I write about breweries and distilleries. If I were to invest in one, and then write great stuff about it -- even if it were true -- it would be a clear conflict of interest. I don't invest in any booze companies with my retirement account either...which kills me, because I could have tripled my money when I wanted to invest in Boston Beer back when it was at 24. Oh, well.

Anonymous said...

But you said that they are not paying out money for the investment, only beer and shirts, and you do accept those, so how is it unethical to invest? Not sure i am following.

Anonymous said...

Very cool plan! Wish I lived closer, I'd invest. I am surprised that more local breweries do not do this...I have seen startups propose similar plans, but that's far different than helping out an established place that has already proven that they can make good beer.

Anonymous said...

How is this an investment? You are not going to make any money. It is as Scott says, you are paying for beer, just all up front. How would this in anyway be an ethical issue for you? You, like eveyone else that invests is just buying all your East End beer up front.What is stopping you from doing this?

Lew Bryson said...

I was speaking in general. This one? Probably not an issue. I don't think it would be a good idea for me to be "investing" in any one particular brewery; it could be easily misconstrued.
But given that I live in Philadelphia, five hours away, and I'm rarely in Pittsburgh more than two or three times a year -- and then usually to sample a wide range of beers from all the area's breweries and beer bars -- this isn't an "investment" that would make much sense for me in any case! My point was to encourage people to invest in their local breweries.

EastEndBrewing said...

Lew, I just got your check and will be sending you your investment packet shortly.... KIDDING.

Thanks for talking about it here. More updated stuff on the website now (http://www.eastendbrewing.com/node/926), with FAQs and such. I hope to be ready to take "investments" within the week... Zoning work calendar permitting.

Hearing on Thursday - fingers crossed!