Starting a Business Abroad

Huaraz, Peru (map)

It’s been a running joke with my brother and me that when I return to normal life and settle down that my next house should include some extra land so that we can build a beer barn to expand his current homebrew skills into a full fledged craft brewery and officially launch CykoBrewing.

What used to just be a beer tasting tour hobby of mine now turns into a full interview of how micro-brews took the leap from home brewers to business owners.

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Sierra Andina Brewing Company
www.SierraAndina.com

Traveling through Central and South America has left my taste for good flavorful beer in a drought.  So when we arrived in Huaraz and I found out that they had a Micro-Brewery it was top on my list to take the tour.  Unfortunately due to the high altitude of Huaraz it wasn’t a good idea to rush into any sampling without several days of acclimation, so we used the beer tour as our award to completing the Laguna 69 hike.

The brewery is located just outside the north side of Huaraz and upon arriving we found ourselves the only ones there, given they just opened and it was 3pm on a Sunday afternoon.  We were greeted by Paul who is the bartender / office manager and runs the public side of the brewery on a daily basis.  After he gave us the quick tour around we found Ted, the owner, rebuilding one of the pumps that helps move the brew between tanks.

Ted is originally from the UK, but grew up mostly in the states.  This is his second business to open in Peru, his first a successful Alpine Touring company that originally started in the Patagonia region of Chile and expanded to the Andes of Peru.  Ted thought the mountain town of Huaraz with it’s outdoor spirit was prime for a good local beer and put the wheels in motion to start the brewery.  Unfortunately the timing was off and a few start-up dollars short so the plan went dormant; in steps brewmaster Matt.

Matt having worked 10 years in accounting for a Colorado firm was looking for a change and regularly enjoyed visiting the Huaraz area for his ultra-marathon training. Matt had a serendipitous run in with Ted while looking for a place to housesit on his next extended stay in the Huaraz area.  While talking over a beer, of course, the stars aligned as Matt has a background in beer homebrewing  and could help with the rest of the start-up money; so this was the birth of Sierra Andina Brewing Company.

After bugging Ted and Matt for a few hours they left me with some interesting insights about opening a business outside of the states:

Pros:

  • The red tape for opening a brewery is far less
    • No complicated federal 3 tier system to abide by
    • No crazy state laws to work within
      • Quick Fact: in Texas breweries can’t sell directly to the public or be their own retailers
  • Less Competition
  • Cheaper to turn-key / start the business
  • Cost of living is lower, in turn gross income is lower

Cons:

  • The love and appreciation for craft brews hasn’t been fully realized as it has elsewhere
    • Thus enticing patrons to spend a dollar more for a craft brew versus a mass distributed beer is difficult
  • Parts for the brewery are not easy to come by with many times finding local craftsman to custom make parts
  • No tradesmen to call on when repairs are needed; owners in turn learn to become jacks of all trade
  • The taxes on breweries can be far greater than in the states
    • The local municipalities understanding of the tax laws and requirements differs per person
    • Published information on business requirements and law are not well documented or available
    • Accountability is on the business owner and not the company
The Sierra Andina Brewing Company opened their doors on September 1st 2011 and are just days away from celebrating their 1 year anniversary!

Paul taking care of customers
Beermaster Matt cleaning the tanks
Ted rebuilding a pump
4 Brews - Golden Ale, Pale Ale, Amber Ale, and Porter
Their primary business is in shipping cases of bottles to local restaurants
Their reach has extended outside of Huaraz all the way to the Lima market

About Dustin Orrick

Techie, TreeHugger, Outdoor Adventurist, Motorhead, and can now say World Traveler!

5 thoughts on “Starting a Business Abroad

  1. Is there already an organic beer brewery in Peru? I am passionate about beers and I wander at the mysteries of fermentation and the frustrating intricacies of homebrewing. I am starting a business in Thailand on organic beer. the immediate challenges are to improve the availability and consistency of organic ingredients, and, crucially, to ensure that drinkers know exactly how organic every beer really is.

    1. Hey Bob, I can’t say how organic Sierra Andina’s beer is or if there is a full organic brewery as you would have to make sure all your product suppliers abide by the organic definition. Though Ted was saying a real difficulty is to educate the locals on why their beer is a bit more expensive than the large brewery’s product and why you may pay a dollar or two more for a Good flavorful beer; plus he must reminded them that alcohol content is different and it’s not meant to be a binge drinking beer but like a fine glass of wine or coffee. Good luck on setting up the brewery we are leaving India today for Nepal, then onto Thailand next so would love to know if you recommend any good local craft brews!

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