Over the summer I’ve been catching up on my Basic Brewing Radio episodes while mowing the lawn. I just listened to the August 12th episode from James Spencer’s visit to the 2010 National Homebrewer’s Conference Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was a panel discussion with five professional brewers discussing their stories of going pro with brewing.
The crux of this post is that one of the professional brewers, in the process of describing how he attracted the necessary funding to start a brewery, made a comment about being aware of where you were located and that will dictate your brewery. While I am never a supporter of backwards pro habitation style limits to alcohol production, the comment was directed towards the general business environment in New York State. It was a comment in passing about never taking an investor from New York because of all the hell in the process of satisfying state-based requirements to take the investment.
Anyway, prior to the comment, I was listening to my iPod mowing my lawn thinking “hey, you know, I could do this, I could maybe do a brew pub” but that comment brought me crashing back to reality of living in New York State. It’s a sad state of affairs here in NY and honestly there is no end in sight. For anyone that reads this from another state, the reality of New York is that we are dominated by New York City’s interests as it’s the home of over 65% of the state’s population. You see, in NYC, there is no need to create a good business environment because you have Wall Street and one of the most dynamic cities in the world. However, in Upstate New York, the interests of NYC cripple the business environment in an area where we need to work to be competitive.
Even LeBron James decided that the tax-free shelter of Florida was a more attractive option than New York. While anyone here in New York is extremely familiar with the term “most dysfunctional government in the country”, it’s times like this that I am reminded of the real consequences of this reality. It’s a sad state of affairs that we in New York are stuck and there is nothing we can really do. I know, you’re thinking “go vote your politicians out” blah blah blah, but unfortunately it won’t change a thing. New York City has the vast majority of the state’s population, money and elected officials. They will always have the interests of the city in mind over the rest of the state and this will continue to be a state with a very poor business environment.
That means fewer brewers and brew pubs opening, those that do start will face a state that sees them as a problem more than a benefit. They’ll be forced to clear the violations on a property that have nothing to do with the new owners, pay taxes and fees that dwarf those of other states, face a state alcohol regulation bureau that assumes guilt over innocence, and fight countless local regulations.
Anyway, I was really optimistic listening to those stories of brew pub owners and how they got started, but as you can tell my response is more pessimistic given the reality of where I live. No I am not going to move, no I am not going to run for office, I am just pissed that if I do decide to create a business, perhaps a brew pub, it’s in spite of the environment where I live, not because of it. This is yet another reason that I am such a strong supporter of New York based breweries, especially those in upstate, you know what they say “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!” Sadly oh so true.
Time for a beer.
Anyway, I’ll be brewing this week, this will be my harvest ale and I’ll have more to come on how that will go.