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Los Alamos is getting closer to making its mark on the New Mexico brewery scene with a unique venture orchestrated by a group of local beer enthusiasts and small brewers.
The Los Alamos Beer Co-op is edging closer to becoming a reality, as their Board of Directors begin the final push for a Fall 2014 opening. Although they have already raised $40K through memberships and fund raising efforts, they must raise significantly more to meet their target opening date.
The concept of a beer co-op is rather progressive, with only a couple currently existing in the U.S. In fact, the Los Alamos Beer Co-op will be one of a handful in the nation, and the very first in New Mexico. Not to be confused with a bar or pub, a beer co-op operates a brewery and tap room, where they offer craft beer brewed on premises by a professional brewer. They offer memberships and investment opportunities. Memberships offer the potential for partronage rebates, and equity investments the possibility of a return through dividends. All potential returns are based on the annual performance of the co-op.
Board President Micheline Devaurs is the mastermind behind the project. After living in Los Alamos for over 20 years, she recognized the need for a community gathering place that attracted people from a wide spectrum of age groups; a place that reflects the “unique outdoor, scientific and entrepreneurial tendencies” of our small community.
Devaurs quickly gained the support of like-minded individuals to help breathe life into the project. The Board of Directors now consists of 9 members: Devaurs; Vice President Cynthia Hayes; Treasurer Kevin Anderson; Secretary Michael Hall; Antonio Chavarria; Amy Engle; Thad Hahn; Bill Myers; and Michael Steinzig. [If any of the other members have titles, please let me know.]
They began to conduct research on the best ways to execute their plan, by talking with other local breweries, as well as, other co-op businesses. Devaurs says that the General Manager of the Los Alamos Co-op Market (and former Board member of the LABC), Steve Watts, shared a wealth of knowledge and inspired them to proceed under a co-op model.
Devaurs and the rest of the Board of Directors have been working hard to raise funds for the venture; and their work has paid off. The money they have raised so far has allowed them to begin looking for an actual space to set up their brewery and tap room, and begin purchasing brewing equipment. They anticipate producing 3 to 3.5 barrels a year, on a conservative estimate.
They are still looking for members and they have also launched a new member loan program, in an effort to raise the remainder of what is needed to meet their goal of an autumn opening date. They offer a variety of membership options, which will include perks like discount beer coupons, exclusive brewing classes and events, annual meetings for member input and possible patronage rebates at some time in the future. Annual memberships are only $50 per person for an annual membership, and $250 for a lifetime membership.
The Beer Coop is launching a new program with a goal to raise the remaining $275K needed through member loans. The loans will be used to fund the purchase of equipment, pay for space, necessary licenses and insurance, and hire brewers and servers. Member loans are 10-year loans with an interest rate of 3 percent (other details apply and are available on their website, losalamosbeer.coop). While it is a goal to raise the money primarily through the help of members, any additional funds needed that are not raised through fund raising efforts will eventually be borrowed through other funding mechanisms.
The ultimate goal of the Beer Co-op is to generate a sense of pride for the community by producing original, high quality brews, and creating a gathering place for young and old. By producing a product that has the potential to make Los Alamos well-known for something other than bombs and barrels with radioactive symbols, Los Alamos might finally find itself on a new tourism map; one that includes cold, crafted beer, and a chance to see what our little community is really all about.
Find out how to become a member and more about the member loan program on their website at losalamosbeer.coop. Potential members can sign up on the site and find out more how to be a part of the state’s first beer co-op. The next fund raising event will be the showing of “Crafting a Nation” at the Reel Deal Theater on Feb. 20. Visit their website and like them on Facebook to find out more about events.
-April M. Brown