Building a Small Business Brewing Company From Scratch [Video]

Outer Limits Brewing- From Challenges to Successful Opening.


I’m sure the idea of starting a brewery sounds like a whole lot of fun to most of us, but it’s a business just like anything else and takes a lot of effort to be successful.

I recently visited start-up brewery, Outer Limits Brewing in Proctorsville, VT to chat with co-owner, Taylor Shaw and general manager, Steve Shaw about some of the challenges of opening and successfully running the brewery. The establishment just opened mid-summer and is now in full swing getting prepared for the upcoming ski season when the crowds will start to hopefully pour in.

Wesley Tice (brewmaster) and Taylor Shaw owners of Outer Limits Brewing with general manager, Steve Shaw.

Wesley Tice (brewmaster) and Taylor Shaw owners of Outer Limits Brewing with general manager, Steve Shaw.

\I can personally tell you that it was a long road to get to the final result as I was there in the Spring of 2017 to see the building in it’s pre-brewery state. It was a beautiful old mill circa 1850’s sitting on the Proctorsville, VT village green.

Envisioning the potential of what could potentially be a brewery

Envisioning the potential of what could potentially be a brewery.

It had been vacant for over two decades and although its location and history were singing a siren song to owners, Wesley Tice and Taylor Shaw, it was a long road to redesign the building to be a modern 21st century functioning brewery and pub.

April 2017, letting everyone know there’s a new establishment coming to town.

April 2017, letting everyone know there’s a new establishment coming to town.

The framing starts to come along on this historic brick beauty

The framing starts to come along on this historic brick beauty.

 In asking Taylor what some of the biggest hurdles were in getting the brewery up and running, she says that they probably should have done a bit more homework on understanding permitting when it comes to Vermont.

It would have saved them some headaches. The permitting process created some delays which inherently can cost a business money and may require you to hire consultants to help cut through the legal red tape.

And now that the brewery is finally up and running what does she say is one of her biggest challenges?

Taylor says that managing staff is probably the trickiest for her. Although she is a people person at heart so navigating peoples’ personalities, strengths, and weaknesses is something she enjoys. She likes to find ways to motivate her staff and make them work collectively as a team.

She also says that having her husband, Wes as the brew master is pretty amazing.

He is happy to be sequestered in the lower level of the brewery where all of the beer making equipment is housed. Wes learned how to make his own beer while working at Shipyard in Portland, Maine. Wes focuses on the craft of beermaking while Taylor with her culinary background focuses on the pub part of the business upstairs.

Taylor says that she is at the brewery 7 days a week. It’s a lot of work and there is always something that needs to be done.

Currently beer is sold on premises and also in take-away growlers. There is a wood fire pizza oven kicking out some great pizza choices and some savory wings (my favorite are the Maple Sriracha) and there is usually some great live music.

The behemoth that is the wood fire oven has arrived

The behemoth that is the wood fire oven has arrived.

There are also beer samplers available to try the various options on the menu such as Bavarian Helles Lager, English Pale Ale, Dark Mild and Schwarzbier just to name a few of my favorites.

If you run into general manager, Steve Shaw, you can ask him about his long standing tradition of the beer sampler. He’ll tell you that not only is it a great way to try different beers but it’s also a great conversation starter as well as a competitive sport to him.

The tradition has been to go around the table and have each person share a very well spoken and meaningful toast while then toasting and drinking their small sampler beers.

Votes are taken at the end and the loser pays the bill or is maybe just made fun of for eternity.  I toast to entrepreneurship, doing what you love and the success that I wish for this family’s business….I definitely won!

Some of Wes Tice’s tasty offerings.

Some of Wes Tice’s tasty offerings. 

As I visited in October, the first keg sale of the Dark Mild beer had just arrived at local bar, The Loft which was a very exciting moment for everyone.

The team looks to expand its retail distribution and small bites food menu for the bar. I’m excited to come back and visit this winter after a long day out on the mountain of snowboarding. That first sip will be so rewarding and it will be fun to see what more has developed at Outer Limits Brewing.

If you happen to be up in the Vermont area, head over to Outer Limits Brewing and enjoy a cold one!

For more information: Outer Limits Brewing, 60 Village Green, Proctorsville, VT 05153, (802) 287-6100

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