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.
Sierra Andina Brewing Company
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:
- 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
- No competition with the Big 3 Beers (InBev – Belgium, SABMiller – UK, Heineken – Netherlands)
- Quick Fact: No USA Beer (Bud, Miller, Coors) is any longer USA owned
- Quick Fact: Beer, Wine, & Liquor is the largest direct lobbying group in the USA
- No competition with the growing over crowding craft breweries
- Cheaper to turn-key / start the business
- Cost of living is lower, in turn gross income is lower
- 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