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Army veteran's dream to open Alexandria brewery hits snag, but he's not giving up

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Posted at 10:00 AM, Aug 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-16 10:00:18-04

Andy Reynolds took a shot at making his dream come true -- opening his own brewery in Alexandria.

Although the Milford native fell short in his Kickstarter campaign, the dream is not yet dead -- and it might not even be on hold.

“We are still moving forward with Alexandria Brewing Co.," Reynolds wrote in a message to backers. "The purpose of the campaign was to generate interest with investors, limit the number of investors we would require and show our distributors we have an interest outside of just being a neighborhood taproom. We believe we have achieved most of that through this campaign.”

Reynolds, a Siebel Institute-trained brewer and Army veteran, set an initial Kickstarter goal of $30,000. Despite the support of 115 backers, the company raised only $11,643. The way Kickstarter works, if a startup doesn’t hit its goal, it is awarded no money, so Reynolds and his team have moved to a new phase of planning.

Reynolds plans to launch another Kickstarter campaign, which will kick off on Sept. 15 with a launch/thank you party at Darkness Brewing. The party is mostly aimed at showing gratitude toward the first round of backers, with door prizes and other treats, but also will award prizes for those who contribute this time around, too.

The team believes that a combination of bad timing and an overly complex reward structure hurt its initial campaign.

“Somebody said, you need a lawyer to figure out the prizes,” said Brad Martin, who serves as chief operating officer for Alexandria Brewing.

Reynolds agreed, saying they will simplify the reward categories this time around, as well as give people more options within those categories. One of the items that appeared to require more explanation was the Bomber Club, which could be joined by backers contributing at higher levels. Being a Bomber Club member entitled a backer to a card that could be used toward two free bottles from special releases, as well as the opportunity to purchase more.

“Without licensing, we’re not allowed to sell beer. We had to make it clear we’re selling a card,” Reynolds said. “There was a lot of confusion about how that was going to work.”

The Alexandria Brewing team also learned lessons from outside sources. Reynolds said that they have received feedback from those who backed the first Kickstarter campaign, as well as from Anthony Stoeber and Eric Tanner, who ran a successful Kickstarter for their Brewer’s Buddy project http://brewersbuddy.com/.

“We have multiple strategic plans. They are both viable and commercially profitable,” said Brian Fish, who serves as chief financial officer for Alexandria Brewing.

Fish, who has an MBA in finance from Purdue University, said he put the plans through stress testing to ensure they would hold up under real-world conditions.

“I think they allow us to meet our short- and our long-term goals,” Fish added.

“Regardless of how this Kickstarter goes, we’re moving forward," Reynolds said. "We have a plan for a small system, then eventually going to a bigger system. We have plans for everything from a 2-barrel system up to a 30-barrel system and can move on any of it if needs be.

“I don’t know how to quit. I’m all in on this. I kind of came from nothing, and I can go back to it,” he said.