Bill Butcher, Founder of Port City Brewing
Green/Sustainable Business Finalist
To better highlight the impressive members of the small business community, we sat down with the 2019 Dream Big Award finalists to learn more about their startup stories, the challenges they have faced, and what the future of business looks like to them. We chatted with Bill Butcher, founder of Alexandria-Based, Port City Brewing, a Virginia brewery offering tours and tastings as well as top-knotch beers shipped across the country. Here is what he had to say (what follows has been lightly edited for length and clarity):
Q: What inspired the creation of your business?
I was inspired to create our business because my wife and I have always enjoyed great quality craft beer. My experience in the wine business with brand building, distribution and sales management gave me the know-how to get a great quality product to market effectively. The problem that we helped to solve is that the Metro DC area lacked great quality options for local craft beer. Before we opened, D.C. was the only city in the top 25 metro areas in the United States that did not have a local package brewery. Our family has always supported local farmers for meat and produce, and the beer we were buying was coming from the West Coast. We wanted to provide a locally made beer that tasted as good as many of the California IPAs that we were drinking at the time.
Q: When it comes to your business, what has been your proudest moment to date?
Our proudest moment to date was when we were recognized at the largest and most prestigious beer competition in the United States, The Great American Beer Festival, as the Small Brewery of the Year in 2015. In only our fourth year of business, we competed and won this beer competition among 1,552 breweries and 6,647 beers that entered. We won more medals than any other brewery in the U.S., which earned us the national title of Small Brewery of the Year. The best part of this event was that we had our entire team with us in Denver at the awards ceremony, and we all were able to share the moment together.
Q: What does American entrepreneurship mean to you?
American entrepreneurship to me, is the realization of The American Dream. Entrepreneurship is what allows us to be a country where anyone can work hard and strive to achieve their vision of a successful business and become whatever it is they want to be. It is what makes the United States the land of opportunity.
Q: If selected as the winner of the Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award, how will you invest the $25,000 grand prize?
We would invest the prize money in equipment that will help us improve the quality and consistency of our beer. Specifically, a yeast brink, which would enhance the quality of our yeast and the resulting fermentations. It would help us ensure that we brew better quality beer more consistently, and therefore enhance the value for our customers.
Q: What words of advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to develop a clear vision of what your business will provide, and how it will differentiate itself from competitors, and stick to that vision with a fierce focus.
To learn more about the 2019 Dream Big Award finalists, click here.