Turning Pro: Are you running your brewery like an amateur?

Steven Pressfield wants your brewery to turn pro.

So do I.

Here’s what I mean.

It won’t surprise anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last decade to hear that we’ve been through the Craft Gold Rush.

In fact, if you’ve been in my ecosystem long enough, you likely just rolled your eyes and prepared yourself for Uncle Chris to run back through the same old story:

A movement catches fire, followed by a “flame out” as the excess burns away.

As Buffet says:

“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

And that’s fully on display on the chart you’ve no doubt seen me promulgating all over in 2018.

turning pro brewery plateau image

But here’s a chart you haven’t seen yet.

turning pro brewery comparison

And it explains why, during the craft industry’s continued maturation, there’s an ever-widening gap between the Head of the Class breweries (with their remarkable profitability, breakout growth trajectory, and brand recognition) and the rest of the field post-plateau.

This is where Pressfield comes in.

The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits. We can never free ourselves from habits… But we can replace bad habits with good ones. We can trade in the habits of the amateur for the practice of the professional and the committed artist or entrepreneur.”

“The amateur life is our youth. It’s our hero’s journey. No one is born a pro… Becoming a pro, in the end, is nothing grander than growing up.”

As you may know, I believe craft is still an underdog.

And that there’s ample opportunity for anyone with quality liquid, marketing skill, and the operational chops to build something successful.


Most breweries haven’t turned pro.

In fact, most won’t.

They’re still amateurs.

And there’s a good chance that you found what I just said offensive.

That’s okay.

That likely means there’s something “there” for you to reflect on.

But here’s the good news:

As Mr. Pressfield outlines, all it takes to turn pro is a decision. And the rewards are tangible:

“When we turn pro, everything becomes simple. Our aim centers on the ordering of our days in such a way that we overcome the fears that have paralyzed us in the past. We now structure our hours not to flee from fear, but to confront it and overcome it. We plan our activities in order to accomplish an aim… It changes what we do and what we don’t do.”

Adopt the habits of a professional and you become one.

It requires a disciplined reliance on the numbers.

It requires a commitment to building a culture of accountability that comes from the top.

It requires a tunnel-vision focus on leading with the liquid rather than worrying about the competition.

The truth is: pro breweries act like pro breweries far before the awards, reviews, and profits start rolling in. And that means you can start now.

Now, you might already be one.

If you are, this post just gave you a nice little “that’s cute” chuckle.

You’ve got your shit handled, and outside opinions roll off your back like water off feathers.

You listen. You take what’s useful. You leave the rest.

But you know as well as I do: I’m not talking to you.

I’m talking to you, the amateur.

We want you to turn pro.

And it’s our job to help facilitate that process.

If you’re not up for it, that’s not a problem.

But if you do join us, I think you’ll find it worthwhile.

You might even decide to turn pro 🙂

Let’s start with Part 1: The Taproom Pro Tips.

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