News Feature

Sedgwick
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 6, 2013
Beer by the growler
Strong Brewing Co. ends successful Kickstarter fundraiser

by Anne Berleant

After 15 years of home brewing small batches of beer, with the long-term plan to open a brewery, Al and Mia Strong are one step closer.

The Sedgwick couple launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising $7,500 to purchase brewing equipment, like a used three-basin sink, pumps and hoses.

Kickstarter is an online social media platform that allows people to fund other people’s projects. Learn more at kick starter.com.

Previously, Al Strong stirred his barrels with a wooden spoon.

“We’re moving from those little tiny tanks to the bigger system,” Mia Strong said in a recent interview. “Kickstarter allows us to buy the rest of the equipment.”

The Strongs first raised money for their brewery through a CSB, or consumer supported brewery, where beer-lovers pre-buy a weekly number of 64-ounce “growlers.”

“We’re still selling shares,” said Strong, “because that’s the model we like. It really puts us in connection with the people buying our beer.”

Their first members paid for the $1,000 cost of applying for a federal license, which the Strongs are waiting to receive. They have signed up 51 members toward a final goal of 100.

After a first, unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign (“We didn’t know what we were doing,” said Strong), they halved the amount of money they sought from the online fundraising site, adding members to their CSB to make up the difference. Ultimately, 155 people contributed to the Kickstarter campaign, mainly reached through social networking.

“I’ve been chained to the computer,” Mia Strong said. She found half of their contributors using Facebook; two-thirds of them she said she had never met.

“There are two kinds of people—ones who contact us and follow our website and Facebook page, and ones who saw it and supported it.”

The Strongs hope to begin selling beer by July.

They received a permit from the town of Sedgwick to brew at their home, which allowed them to request a variance in their license application. Federal law prohibits a brewery from operating in a residence.

“There are several breweries in the country that have done this,” said Strong. “Andrews in Rockland has brewed on his front porch…There is a precedence for this.”

Strong Brewing Company has the capacity to brew 40 gallons of beer four times a month. Al Strong uses three 55-gallon barrels that, thanks to the Kickstarter funds, will stream hot water through hoses onto grain and, eventually, pump off “wort,” to which Strong adds the hops.

“He does have a big wooden spoon that he stirs with,” said Mia Strong.