Copper State of the Brewery Address: 2022
They say the days are long but the years are fast. They say time flies when you’re watching your wee ones grow. I know, I know...these are things said about parenting, but running a business is kind of like parenting, and they are absolutely right. We blinked and our little brewery turned five. All of the sudden it’s tying its own shoes, fully potty-trained, and reading at a third-grade level. Still not old enough to drink, but getting there.
They also say the first five years of running a business are the hardest. Right? Right?!? Well, I hope so, because honestly these last five years have been kind of hard. With a global pandemic thrown in there for good measure, not much has gone according to the business plan. And yet…and yet God is so good and we are still in business after five years. It has been an amazing ride. We have learned so much and have met some terrific people along the way. We feel blessed and honored to have become a staple in Green Bay and to serve as a gathering place for its good people.
Looking back over the last five years, we wanted to highlight (for posterity’s sake and for a bit of a self-esteem boost) some of the things we’ve accomplished:
· Learned how to brew beer and run a restaurant/brewery/coffee shop. You guys, we had no idea what we were doing. Jon brewed zero batches of beer before we bought the whole building. We had no restaurant experience and I’ve never taken a social media/marketing class in my life. The learning curve was huge, and we are still learning every day.
· Did not go out of business—seems almost silly to mention, but this is actually a big deal. A lot of really good and well-intentioned businesses don’t make it past a couple of years. And to be honest with you, we weren’t sure we would either. It was touch and go for a bit there. And just when we thought we were out of the woods, that’s when the pandemic hit and we were closed down. But with the support of our amazing customers (and a bit of grit and determination) we are still in business, and stronger than ever.
· Brewed over 300 batches of beer. And it was all good beer. Engineer turned Brewmaster Jon simply doesn’t make bad beer, which is a good rule of thumb when running a brewery.
· Developed our sour beer program and made some delicious sour and slusheee beers (the more “e”s the better), including our Pomegranate Pucker, Sublimeinal Messages, Frazzle Berry Slusheee, Stardust Slusheee and most recently, our Guanabana (do doo do doo doo).
· Got our nitro beers into cans and onto shelves, with a lot of science and a couple of explosions along the way. Science is fun.
· Expanded our barrel aged beer program, and also secured warehouse space so that we have a place to put all these barrels. Downside: no more super fun nights playing Tetris in the basement.
· Cultured the city of Green Bay by offering live music with our Jazz, Blues, and Brews events every Tuesday night in our lounge. Seriously, it’s really good music.
We can’t predict the future, but here are a few goals and dreams we have for the next one to five years of business at Copper State, barring a major monkey pox outbreak or Prohibition 2.0 or something:
· Grow our distribution into new Wisconsin markets. It’s just not fair to the rest of Wisconsin if we don’t allow them to taste our fine beer and buy it out of their supermarkets and liquor stores. We don’t care about the rest of the states, but Wisconsinites are good people and they should drink good beer.
· Continue to hire intentionally according to our culture, and thereby continue to retain the best staff in all the land.
· Continue to have the brewmaster with the best hair of all the brewmasters in the land.
· Train in two new brewers (both with pretty good hair, which was a prerequisite to the job).
· Expand the biergarten and add to its beauty and functionality. Maybe swings and a high-top bar around the edges. Maybe a better area for the bean bags and comically oversized games. Maybe that dumbwaiter or food slide idea from our upstairs kitchen into the biergarten tables. Maybe a hot tub or swim up bar (one can dream, but there’s probably some liability issues with that one).
· Clothe the city of Green Bay with five years’ worth of lost and found items.
· Release a line of seltzers (yeah, yeah, you can criticize us for being too late to the game, or you can criticize us for selling out to the man, or you can drink your beer and judge those who drink seltzers…or you can try our seltzers and begrudgingly admit that they taste really good. Your call).
· Keep living our mission statement:
Connecting people. Creating experiences. Crafting great beer.
Man, I love that mission statement, and not just because I wrote it. It has continued to serve as a guide for us as we’ve navigated the last bunch of years and as we’ve gone through changes and weird times. It starts with the people; it has always been about the people. Running a restaurant and brewery isn’t always easy and it isn’t always fun. There are long hours and short tempers and high stress situations, along with rising prices and shortages of random things like straws and pumpkin spice flavoring. But through it all, the people are what keeps us going. Our staff, our customers, our people. We love serving you, Green Bay. Thanks for making us what we are today. We are looking forward to the next five years.