Purchase a new fermenter.
Here is how Kickstarter works:
- A Kickstarter campaign is launched with a goal (in our case, $15,000 for one tank)
- People pledge money toward the goal by purchasing reward options
- If we hit our goal, the campaign is a success and the project is funded
- If we do not hit our goal, the project is not funded, and your credit card is not charged
Where the Money Will Go
A small percentage of the funds raised will go to Kickstarter, and another small percentage will cover credit card processing fees. The next bit will go to cover merchandise to be delivered with the rewards. What's left will go toward some shiny new stainless steel.
Why New Fermenters?
Since opening our brewery in Gadsden at the beginning of this year, we have tripled our capacity. We have two new 60BBL (4,000 gallons total) tanks on the way, but we still have so much room to grow. Every month retailers sell out of our beer.
We've cooked up some pretty awesome rewards options. For those of you wanting to keep it simple, we've got four straight merch options at the $10, $25, $50 and $100 levels. You can't go wrong with merch! Here is a little video showing our brand new pint glasses with nucleation (etching) in the bottom:
We are also offering limited edition 11" x 14" prints of the metal etchings featured on each of our beer labels (see etchings below). These are not computer-designed images. These are real, old school, metal etchings that were hand-engraved by renowned engraving artist, Steven Noble (credits include Sam Adams, Jack Daniel's Gentleman Jack, Community Coffee, Kahlua and Burt's Bees). The prints of each of these etchings will be limited to 100 and will be on high quality art print paper. Available individually or in sets of four. Perfect for decorating your home or office.
We're even opening up our seasonal catalog and getting ready for some fun with you guys at the helm. Our brewers are tidying up the pilot brewery for some new recipes, and our lawyer is getting ready to file the federal and state paperwork for a new beer named after you (or whatever name you choose, within reason).
One lucky soul could even name our newest fermenter! Ready to have your name, or whatever name you choose*, in stainless steel?
* Again, "within reason", says our lawyer.
The Back Forty Story
Beer in America
It’s taken almost a century for craft beer to become a household name in America. Residents in cities like Portland, Oregon, Denver, Colorado and Chicago, Illinois have access to hundreds of craft brewed beers, many of which are brewed locally with seasonal ingredients.
But in some parts of the country the reality is much different.
Beer in Alabama
In 2008 it was illegal to produce or sell a beer in the state of Alabama that exceeded 6% ABV. This eliminated dozens of beer styles that are commonly offered by craft breweries everywhere.
It was also illegal to operate a tasting room at the brewery or sell beer directly to the public. And even worse, it was illegal to package beer in a container larger than 16 ounces…. You guessed it, no bombers!
And to this day, it’s illegal for breweries to offer investment opportunities to anyone owning a restaurant or distributor within the State, which makes it really difficult for a small business to raise the critical funding necessary to grow and expand.
The Beginning of Something Special
In 2008 Back Forty founder Jason Wilson reached out to renowned brewmaster Jamie Ray and asked for his help in developing the recipes for Back Forty Beer Company.
Our goal for the liquid was simple. We wanted to expose Southerners to the same craft beer culture that we had been a part of for the last ten years. This meant starting out with classic beer styles and evolving with our customers along the way. Jamie agreed and in January of 2009 he would become Back Forty’s first employee.
The next challenge to overcome was raising the money necessary to build a production facility for brewing and packaging our beers. At one point it looked like the project may have to be put on hold due to lack of funding.
As a last resort, we reached out to a microbrewery in the neighboring state of Mississippi and asked them if it would be possible to use their space to help us get our beers to the market and hopefully build some momentum that would assist in securing the funds we needed to build our own facility.
In June of 2009 we released our first offering, Naked Pig Pale Ale. The beer was only available in our home market but the response was overwhelming and in March of 2010 we released our second offering, Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale. Later that year Truck Stop Honey was awarded a Silver Medal at the Great American Beer Festival, and in the weeks following the award we were approached with distribution offers that would allow us to expand our coverage throughout Alabama.
This was the spark we needed to secure our Small Business loan and begin sourcing equipment for our own facility.
If You Build It, We Will Come
Armed with a Small Business loan and a small team of passionate employees, we began placing orders for equipment and searching for the perfect spot to put down roots.
From the beginning we’ve been amazed by the positive impact that microbreweries have on their communities. And having grown up in a blue collar town that was chewed up and spit out by the industrial revolution, it didn’t take long to settle on Gadsden as the permanent home for Back Forty Beer Company.
We secured a 27,000 Sq. Ft. warehouse that was built in the 1940’s and spent eleven months restoring the space and installing equipment. Meanwhile, we worked through dozens of regulations and restrictions that have been in place in the Deep South since the repeal of prohibition.
The building was added to the historic registry, and the city ordinances were updated to allow for brewing in a historic zone. Then it was time for the plumbing, electrical and health inspectors to sign off on the project. And finally, the entire staff was subjected to FBI and ABI background checks, finger prints and all!
The last step was as simple as securing a license from the Federal Government, State ABC Board and City Council, as well as making sure a program was in place to pay our Federal and State excise taxes, County and City occupational taxes, Payroll taxes and of course State, County and City retail taxes.
Check out a tour of our brewery:
After ten years of countless challenges and the overwhelming support of our community, we brewed our first production batch of beer at our new home in January of 2012.
This also marked the release of two new Back Forty offerings, Freckle Belly IPA and Kudzu Porter, which were welcomed with open arms by the growing craft beer community in Alabama.
By March of 2012 Back Forty was being approached by distributors as far away as California and New York and demand was exceeding our ability to keep up.
Back Forty Today
Since opening our brewery eleven months ago, we have tripled our capacity. Back Forty now employs 22 talented individuals from all over the country, and the goal is to reach 50 team members by December of 2013. Our operation donates over $10,000 a year to local charities and continues to increase our involvement in local organizations that focus on the artists and dreamers that are working hard to change the cultural landscape in Alabama and beyond.
Risks and challenges
Because we are an existing brewery with distribution in three states, the risks for completion of our project are low. We're already selling out of all our beer.
As far as delivery of merchandise, most of the merchandise we are offering we already have in stock and can ship immediately upon completion of the campaign (just in time for Christmas!). We are ordering the limited-edition prints and plan to have those in and ready to ship as well.
The challenges we face with craft beer in Alabama are exciting. Nobody in Alabama has found the ceiling of craft beer. We have tripled our capacity since opening our brewery, and this campaign is about adding even more. The challenge is seeing just how much of an impact Alabama and the Deep South can have on craft beer.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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