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Ballyhoo: The Devil in the Details


Four years ago, during endless commuting and business travel, I frequently dreamed of what my day-to-day could be like in a brewery. It was an important time, conceptually, for LUKI. It really allowed me to work through ideas and consider putting those ideas to action. A few things I concocted to “do it differently” have survived to today. But many have not, which is good. Like those “expectation vs reality” memes, something that seems to be a good idea at the time needs to have the occasional reality check. Otherwise your Elsa cake is just going to freak people out.

You convince yourself quickly that the ideas work. So, you start planning, and frame your concepts with details. And triple check the details. It takes so long to review and tweak everything, that by the time you are done, some of your original notes are now outdated. You cycle through everything again. More detail. Now there are contracts to read. Revisions are presented to you before you even finish reviewing an old copy. Suddenly you find yourself reading a lease agreement by a pool where your daughter has a swim meet. Not exactly a hot summer page-turner, but the details need to be read and scrutinized. New information is discovered. Another refresh is completed of your business plan, now in a double-digit revision number.

But you still get to balance it with fun detail. Well, doing something fun is the intention. Make some homebrew. Scrutinize your recipe. Obsess about your technique. Realize these skills will not transfer to pro brewing and have a mild freak out. Worry about equipment choices. Complain about cleaning your homebrew equipment, and how you cannot wait to stop dragging it in and out of your garage. Realize that brewers are just glorified, janitors. Second-guess your branding and theme. You present a general concept to an architect and they do a fantastic job running with the ideas and detail… but that opens more to review. You fixate on the building improvements. Stress about affording it. Will it help sell beer? Will anybody care?

We got so focused on all these details, that seemingly out of nowhere… it is done. Except for a few elements, we are at the end of one finish line, about to start the next race. Now, instead of being years or months away to opening, we are counting in weeks.

And yet in the 11th hour, it is a small detail missed by others that may grab us with a signature Lee Corso, “Not So Fast My Friend”. Something that should have happened in January at the start of the build turned into an “uh-oh” two weeks before the build is supposed to be done. So far it sounds like a minor issue, but for a brief 24-hour period, it was something that may delay us months. What a ride.

Details matter. Steve Jobs followed that statement with “it’s worth waiting to get it right”. As frustrating as it may be at times, I agree especially when applied with brewing. Even when we are told “don’t let great become the enemy of good”, the LUKI team hopes that the obsessive detail you see, taste, and experience will matter to you, too. Regardless if you think it was worthwhile, we will continue to improve and perfect our craft. That is a promise.

And it has come to this… my last pre-opening blog. If for some reason we are not open by the end of May, I will probably skip a post. It will be too easy to use this forum to rant about our problems. And there’s better things to do than listen to someone complain on the internet. Talk to you on the other side of opening day!

April 30, 2020
Written while drinking Atlantis, by New Terrain Brewing Company.