Last Monday a notice arrived in my inbox informing of a new brewery. However this was not your standard ‘hey we are having a soft opening’ or ‘we have our permits to brew, stay tuned’ notice. Instead this was a sort of reaching out by a brewery with a unique idea, a co-op.
The first brewery cooperative in Washington State and only the second in the nation has launched in Seattle! Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery will be built and directed by its owner-members. “We are building a community brewery based on the coop principles. A brewery for the people!” said Jeff Hicks, President. The brewery and taproom is scheduled to be open toward the end of 2012.
As a cooperative, Flying Bike owner-members will choose who will operate the brewery and what beers will be on tap, along with the general direction of the brewery. Owner-members will also receive a taproom patronage refund and other benefits.
“Because we are being directed by our members, the sky is the limit as far as what we can do. Look for a very diverse selection of beer. Because Seattle is such a great beer community, with thousands of homebrewers, we will look to our membership for recipe development. We plan to have rotating taps of member created and selected beers along with a good number of world-class house beers that have been selected by our membership.” said Hicks.
The brewery is currently in the planning stages which includes site location somewhere in the Seattle area. A membership drive is also currently under way. A nine member Board of Directors has been established and the coop has been incorporated in the State of Washington.
There is currently only one other cooperative brewery in the nation located in Austin. “It took them 5 years to get open. We have plans to be open in half the time.” said Hicks. “We already have very strong membership sales.”
Now there are co-ops that work like a grocery store or a time share. And then there are ideas like this where multiple people have an invested stake in the rewards and failures.
In the past few years, this writer has seen it succeed (ala, Schooner Exact or Fremont Brewing) and the questionable (Green Dragon Pub, Bert Grants, or Trade Route). Stories like these provide historical reference for those willing to forgo financial isolation in exchange for saving a few bucks.
Whether or not this idea will succeed is entirely up to you the investor. For us, we are happy to enjoy the end result of ones imagination and hard work. Best of luck to you Flying Bike Coop. For ore information we have attached the terms and whom to contact.
By its simplest definition, a cooperative is a business that is owned and directed by the people that it serves, its membership. A member of the Flying Bike community will actually OWN one membership share, and all members have equal voting power (one vote) to elect the Board of Directors and set the long term goals and policies of the Coop. After the brewery is operational, the excess net savings of the business can be distributed to the membership on the basis of patronage. Anyone over the age of 21 can become a member-owner.