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A hobby turns into a business

You’ve always toyed with the idea of turning your hobby into a business? I’ve talked to someone who’s managed just that. In this interview, Thomas Wittmer, aka BrauerTom, tells you how he managed this and how he came to be a brewer at all.

Thomas, first of all, why do you call yourself “BrauerTom”?

I chose the name “BrauerTom“ for my brewery so as to lend my products my personal seal of approval. I want consumers to be able to picture who’s behind the product. I also felt it was important to create a designation for my brewery that wasn’t tied to a particular location – this enables me to brew my beers everywhere in Switzerland or anywhere in the world, without any regional affiliation. What’s more, the name “BrauerTom” was chosen to be short and sweet, so as to be immediately understood and easily remembered.

When and more especially how did you hit upon the idea of brewing your own beer at home?

My wife gave me a brewing course in a small nearby brewery as a birthday present – I attended it almost reluctantly. Lo and behold: my initial scepticism didn’t last long. Before the course was half over, I was totally captivated!

A few weeks later, on 11 January 2015, I mixed water, malt and hops in a 50-litre kettle for my first brew.

Did everything go smoothly with your very first beer and did it taste good?

I had never needed so much time to open a bottle as with my first beer – the moment of truth had arrived. Then at last the relief as I heard the “plop” of the swing-stopper. It was golden-yellow, formed a nice stable head, and the taste test was passed with flying colours, too. My Blond brand was born, and I’m still brewing it today. So yes, my first beer was a definite success!

What does your family feel about your hobby?

Our family’s everyday life is heavily influenced by my hobby. After all, the microbrewery is centrally located in the cellar of our detached house. You can see, smell and savour the brewing process every day. My two daughters (10 and 13) like watching me work, and can experience close-up how a valuable, natural beverage is produced. My wife is also rather impressed by my hobby, but then she doesn’t really have much choice – she’s basically to blame after giving me that birthday present. Above all, she enjoys drinking the home-brewed, well-crafted beer together with friends.

How did you come to turn your hobby into a business?

When I brewed my first beer, I had no intention of selling my amber nectar. I was just keen to find out whether my venture was going to be successful. I drank my beer with my friends, which led to its becoming very popular very quickly. And then I soon began to receive orders, which I had trouble keeping up with – and still do.

There was no plan involved, just a lot of passion and luck, when I decided to give up my long-standing job and concentrate entirely on brewing beer.

Meanwhile, I’m working two days a week in a brewing shop, and on one Saturday a month I introduce novice brewers to the world of beer. Brewing my own beer is not quite enough to live on, but nevertheless I’ve managed to ensure that everything in my life revolves around my newly acquired hobby.

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