Beer startup tries alternative route to market

With so many breweries looking towards equity crowdfunding, a new beer brand is looking to go in another direction of a GoFundMe.

After brewing an experimental batch of a Blueberry Pisco Sour, brewer and director of Inmorales Brewery, Natalia Morales, decided to create a GoFundMe fundraiser to build upon the success of the beer after the beer sold out quickly in stores.

The goal for the Morales’ fundraiser currently sits at $10,000.

“My first batch was sold out within a week. And for the second I think there is still some beer left in Otter’s,” Morales explained.

“We brewed another batch but this time 100 per cent crafted and with better Pisco. It was delicious. Other liquor stores called me but I didn’t have any samples left.”

Since 2017, equity crowdfunding has been on the rise in Australia as an alternative investment strategy for businesses to utilise. Many breweries have organised equity crowdfunding campaigns to raise money for building a brewery, expansions and general growth plans.

While the benefits are clear, the risks that come with crowdfunding initiatives are also transparent as seen recently through Endeavour Brewing Co and O’Brien. There is no guarantee of a return on an investment, and no clear checks and balances on companies that undertake this form of fundraising and promise retail investors that they will be part owners.

For many aspiring brands, the journey to launching usually involves various founders. For Morales however, the circumstances were unique and she found herself aligning with the values of the GoFundMe platform, as she explained.

“I think there are a lot of people that can relate, not only with my story but with the struggles of having a dream,” she said.

“I want to give back, so I chose a platform with the same spirit. If I accomplish this dream, I would like to give back part of my revenues to organisations who also have dreams to accomplish, and somehow keep believing in a world where things can happen from the heart’s will, and not only because of profit.”

Born and raised in Chile, Morales first came to Australia in 2017, with the hope of learning more about the brewing process.

“I knocked [on] almost every brewery [door] in Melbourne asking to teach me in exchange for hard work, mopping floors, cleaning dishes, etc but they would look at my petite and skinny existence and say ‘um no’.

“Until I got to the last one, a hidden microbrewery in South Melbourne called Westside Ale Works. I approached Casey Wagner, and already a little bit tired and frustrated from my previous experiences, I said to him ‘Look, I want to learn how to brew beer. I am passionate about craft beer and I am a hard worker. I know I will brew my beer one day and I will make it with your help or without it. Would you help me? Because everyone else has said no.’”

After Wagner agreed to help Morales, she utilised the time to learn and brewed her first batch, a hazy NEIPA called Try to Forget Me (8% abv). She eventually developed a cocktail that she used to make for her family in Chile, a Blueberry Pisco Sour cocktail.

“I wanted to share something that reminds me of home and what I do for the people I love, and Casey and Ben [Sewell] loved it. So I thought ‘well maybe if they like my sour I can make a sour beer’.

“It wasn’t in my plans but I was willing to learn even more with two brewers who know so much about sour and experimentation,” she said.

After the unexpected passing of her father in September 2020, Morales committed to bringing the beer to fruition.

“Even though I was willing to leave everything and come back to see my family, I couldn’t because the borders were closed. So I decided to finish brewing, and it was ready in October.

“So I canned my 50L of [the] experimental batch, designed a label that honours my Dad, and sold it out there and shared one of his memorable stories in a liquor store specialised in craft beer.”

The rapid success

Pisco, a type of brandy usually produced in Peru and Chile, was utilised in the beer as a personal choice for Morales, which was favoured by Wagner and Sewell.

“[Pisco] is very straight forward, it is just expensive and you have to know what type of Pisco works better for a Sour, not many people know,” she said.

“When I brought my homemade blueberry pisco sour cocktail to Casey and Ben, we tasted it and wrote down the notes and we started to think about the ingredients that can give us exactly that profile.

“I told them the essential ingredients and process for my cocktail and they taught me about the rest of the ingredients needed and the process to make it a sour beer. So I followed from there and brewed it together.”

For Morales and the success of the Pisco Sour, the opportunity was there to scale production, but lack of funds meant she couldn’t commit to the initiative, which led to her creating the GoFundMe.

“After my second batch and the quality of product that we got creating a unique recipe, 100 per cent craft, and with less automation in the process, I received an offer for one of the distributors to sell the beer across Australia, if I scaled the production to a way bigger batch,” she said.

“It was an amazing offer but I also got scared because I ran out of funds experimenting with these batches and I don’t have the money now to accomplish that important opportunity. I came here [to Australia] on my own, and brewers know that is already a difficult business, even with a partner.”

Having raised almost $3,000 of her goal so far, Morales hopes the GoFundMe will give her the flexibility to experiment further and try new recipes.

“My biggest objective now is to brew new recipes and make a statement with every style I produce.

“With my labels, I honour every resilient, and daily fighter out there, [I want to] give back as a way to help others and create more consciousness. Who said craft beer can’t do that?”

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