LiftFund Small Business Disaster Relief Programs

Brewing a New Dream

In 2012, Liftfund helped 11 businesses receive Small Business Administration 7(a) CA financing.  Jason and Laura Ard, husband and wife, owners of San Antonio Branchline Brewing Company, are shining examples of how the SBA 7(a) CA program enables growth and opportunity for small business owners.

Branchline Brewing Company is a family-owned start-up that Jason and Laura started with an SBA 7(a) CA loan in 2012, with a goal to start a craft brewery to serve the local San Antonio community.  To start the company on a professional path, Jason and Laura created a formal board structure, which includes the both of them, as well as James Foy, chief financial officer of a bank in Corpus Christi and Cameron Williams, a local beer connoisseur. Jason, with more than seven years of experience in the food, beverage and brewing industry will manage the brewery. Laura, who works full time as a software developer, will manage the accounting, payroll and finances of the business.  Both decided to continue working at their full-time jobs through the start-up phase of the business.

The Ard’s vision for their brewery is to harken San Antonio’s rich brewing history, which dates back to the late 1800’s. They hope to carry the torch for San Antonio and one day restore the city to its brewing days.  Another plan will be to tap into the Corpus Christi market, where the owner, Jason grew up and worked most of his adult life.

The couple’s business plan offers three flagship beers, all with a unique taste fueled by San Antonio’s very own Edwards Aquifer water source. Using the water from the aquifer will give the beer a specialized taste that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. All three beers will utilize local and regional ingredients when possible while being handcrafted and brewed according to proprietary recipes that Jason created. The three unique recipes include a woodcutter rye IPA – an American-style India pale ale infused with rye; a shady oak blonde light beer that everyone can enjoy; and a barn owl, amber ale – an American-style, amber dark beer with a distinct caramel flavor and nutty light notes.  All three flavors will be available in two keg sizes and later in 750 milliliter specialty bottles.  Included within their business plan will be monthly open house tastings and tours of the brewery to promote their products. The brewery is also planning to offer merchandise such as pint glasses, hats, shirts and a coaster featuring the brewery logo.

Once the three signature recipes were developed, Jason and Laura began to negotiate with local restaraunts and bars around town to distribute the kegs of beer. Since their inception in October 2012, the couple secured contracts with more than 20 bars and restaurants for distribution.  The SBA loan enabled the owners to secure a warehouse, fermentation vessels, kegging equipment and working capital for Branchline Brewing Company.

Statistics from the Brewers Association shows great growth and potential for microbreweries in the United States.  In 2009, 486 microbreweries opened. The following year, 603 opened. Jason and Laura see tremendous opportunity for their business.

The company intends to continue to promote their product in San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Their hope is to capture at least 25 percent of the beer market in both of these cities.  Branchline’s target customers are individuals between the age of 21 through 44 and those seeking a good product that is full of flavor and value.  They also plan to continue to market their product using word of mouth advertising and utilizing their website,