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How the Pfriems Built a Real Family Brewery

From there, I wanted to get a little more big-brewery production experience, so I had a great opportunity to come here to Hood River and work for Full Sail. I got to run the gauntlet of working with the brew crew, training, working the lab, doing wastewater treatment on the engineering side of things as well. It was great to get some very good technical experience at a larger craft brewery.

All the while, as I was brewing test brewing, I always had a business plan in my back pocket. Pfriem Family Brewers is plan No. 4, 4.0? All the other ones were put on the shelf, but this was the one where it seemed like it was the right place at the right time. All the beers and everything -- the uniqueness, the quality -- it was perfect in such a beautiful landscape that's also one of the most saturated beer markets in the world. In Hood River alone, we're brewery No. 4 in a town of 7,000 people, so it's about a brewery for every 1,800 or so people, which is pretty awesome.

But our beer is very different from other people's here and others in the Northwest, and that was the point. It was an area where people are exposed to beer, drink a lot of beer and really enjoy quality things and their quality of life, and it was a great place for us to raise our family. We found our business partners here through our preschool -- the Cooperative Preschool -- and came up with a vision to make awesome beer and create a family brewery.

We were able to get together funds personally and through traditional business loans and be a bootstrap startup and bunch of entrepreneurs. Basically Pfriem for life.

Getting those funds together couldn't have been easy, given the economy you decided to open your brewery in. Did that present an obstacle, or was the local lending community helpful?

Josh Pfriem: No, it was pretty awesome.

Once again, this was the fourth business plan I'd written, and both of my business partners had great business backgrounds as well. We really polished up the business plan, took it full-on and went to our local community bank. They told us it was one of the best business plans they'd ever seen in their careers. Even though it was hard lending times, they believed in us and helped us get off the ground.

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