Mihaylo alumnus Aaron Barkenhagen had brewed his own beer for ten years before opening his own microbrewery. The entrepreneurship major used the business plan he had written as a student to bring his dream to fruition. The result: Bootlegger’s Brewery in Downtown Fullerton. But, of course, with every plan there are obstacles.
It would take a year and a quarter-million dollars to get the brewery started, and it had to be done without the help of a bank loan or investment firm. “Three Years is the golden ticket,” says Aaron discussing where a brewery needs to be before it can hope to obtain funds from a financing company. This doesn’t mean three years from inception, but three years of actually brewing, selling and distributing beer. For Bootlegger’s it took a year just to build the brewery, but it also took another two years of planning and build out before it could even ship its first barrel in April of 2008. Needless to say, getting through the first few years was tough. Aaron recalls that in the beginning he had to work a full-time job, six days a week, and dedicate his Sundays to brewing beer, and even then he relied on support from his friends and family to get his company on the track to success.
Today, Bootlegger’s is a fully functioning brewery and with its small batch approach, the company is able to offer several unique beers out of its small facility. While the company continues to expand, the long term plan is to keep its business local in Southern California and distribute primarily through bars, restaurants, and higher end liquor stores. Aaron explains that, if and when he decides to reach new markets outside Southern California, he will most likely do so by opening new breweries in those locations rather than shipping straight from Fullerton. This way he can stay true to his original business plan, “to build a local brewery supported by local businesses and consumers, and making the highest quality and most unique beer possible.”
Bravo Bootlegger’s, keep up the good work!