Looking for a unique gift for yourself or a loved one? Why not invest in a brewery? Seem like a pipe dream? Well, then the Pipeworks Brewery may be for you. Two self-avowed beer geeks living in Chicago, Beejay Oslon and Gerrit Lewis, are trying to raise enough money to make their dream of starting a small brewery a reality. They’re using Kickstarter to raise the $30,000 they need to fund their little brewery. So far, they’ve raised just over $17,000 with 20 days to go. That means they need to find another $13,000 before the end of the month.
Kickstarter is great. I’ve contributed to help fund projects before using it and it’s a great tool for microbusinesses and microfinancing. It’s a fun way to help people out, even strangers, if you like their idea. I’d encourage you to check out all the cool projects trying to get off the ground there. There are projects in Art, Comedy, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film & Video, Food, Games, Journalism, Music, Photography, Technology, Theater, and Writing & Publishing. For each project, the people lay out their idea and provide different levels of investment for you to pledge, and usually each level of participation gets you something related to their idea as a thank you. There’s a set time within which they have to reach the amount of money they need. If they don’t reach their goal, you don’t pay a dime, but if they do then your pledge kicks in and then (and only then) your account is charged. It feels very satisfying to help someone realize their dream, or at least kick start it. Not only are you helping fund an idea you believe it using alternative financing but you’re also building community at the same time.
For the Pipeworks Brewery project, you can pledge as little as $5 or as much as $10,000. There are a dozen different levels available you can choose from to help them get started. You can read their story at the Kickstarter website, where they also post regular updates. But here’s the short version:
Pipeworks began as…
the dream of a couple of beer geeks right here in Chicago. Beejay Oslon and Gerrit Lewis started their adventures in fermentation within the plastic buckets and stovetop kettles of the home brewer. The two met while working at West Lakeview Liquors, a mom and pop liquor boutique on the north side boasting one of the best beer selections in the world. It wasn’t long before they began dreaming up plans for their own craft brewery.
In January of 2009, after some persistence, the Pipeworks boys landed an apprenticeship in Belgium with Ratebeer.com’s 2008 Brewer of the Year, Urbain Coutteau of De Struise Brouwers. Living and working alongside Urbain, the Pipeworks crew honed their skills,learning the traditions of Belgian brewing while mastering some innovative new techniques. To document these brewing adventures the boys started the popular Buckets to Barrels Blog hosted on De Struise’s site.
— Beejay Oslon, a native of Chicago who began home-brewing while attending art school. Beejay serves as the head brewer, with over five years of experience in both brewing and craft beer retail. Through his experiences as a fine artist and graphic designer, he also serves as the creative director for Pipeworks.
— Gerrit Lewis, a transplant from the brewery-rich Colorado, armed with a sharp palate and lust for everything beer.He spends his time (and lots of his money) visiting at least one area beer store a day, seeking out the newest craft beer releases. Gerrit attended Loyola University Chicago Business School and considers himself a savvy and aggressive fresh-faced marketer.
And below is funny video that should get you fired up about their project.