Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery ready to take flight

An Interview with Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery

by Nate Muller – Senior Homebrew Correspondent

I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Hicks, President and founder of Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery, last month at the ExBeerience Beer Festival. Flying Bike’s concept of building a brewery is unique—they want to make a member-owned cooperative, instead of the typical corporate ownership structure. They don’t yet have a brewery or a brewing license, but they are starting to put together plans for what I hope will be a very successful brewery. I interviewed Jeff after the event to learn about this new concept. Here’s what I got out of him.

What is the overall concept of Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery?

My intention was to assist entrepreneurial home brewers in getting them a way to get their product to market without starting a brewery on their own.

I saw the value in creating a collaborative environment where the home brewer members could not only own a brewery but, contribute to making the cooperative a birthplace of great new beers through competition.

I had not taken into account the rather large group of local craft beer lovers who support and follow the craft beer community. There would be no market for our beer without these people so why not include them in the brewery as well.

Although it was not my intention, I really like that people are describing our cooperative brewery concept as “Open Source Beer” or “Beer 2.0”.

What are your goals in creating this brewery?

We want to provide a place for like-minded people to gather and collaborate on beer.

Develop a community of people who are interested in the brewery and fulfill the needs of the society of people who form around it.

Support and promote the craft beer community.

Build awareness through education and appreciation.

What is your status?  Are you close to brewing beer?

After almost a year of work, the cooperative was incorporated at the beginning of March and we are finalizing the details for accepting memberships. The first 300 members will make up the “Thirsty 300” which will have special benefits unavailable to anyone else.

We are planning on having a launch party on May 14th. More details to come.

How many owners do you have right now?

We currently have the original 9 member-owners operating as the board of directors. Our membership drive will be starting very soon.

How many owners do you think you need to get the brewery started?

We plan on having up to 2000 members once we open but, they only generate 40% of the money we need. Later this summer, once we reach the 650 member mark, we will start our member loan campaign. We expect to raise an additional 40% of our capital from the campaign and the final 20% comes from the bank, grants, and donations.

How big do you ultimately hope to grow?

We have no intention on limiting how many members we signup.

What’s your flagship beer right now?  Is that what you hope to open with?  If not, do you have a target for a flagship beer?

Our plan is to work on our flagship beers over the next year as we build membership. Since we need our members help to decide, we have no other target other than the grand opening in late 2012.

I love beer and I love innovation, so I hope to see Flying Bike Cooperative succeed. They are still working out complete ownership details, but they said that a basic membership will be $150. For the member-investor, it will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000. If you’re interested in hearing more, they will have a membership drive on May 14th. We will fill you in as details develop. In the meantime, visit the Flying Bike website for details.





  1. I am very excited about this idea, it sounds like a great way for more homebrewers and craft beer enthusiasts to be involved in a brewery from initial start-up. Jeff has some great ideas on involving the members in the brewing process and getting more people interested in brewing and enjoying great beers.

  2. How does TTB feel about this ownership scheme? I suspect the co-op will have a tough time getting federal licensing with this model. Reality can be a bitch…

  3. No experience running a brewery or any type of business, yet they want people to give them thousands of dollars. Well, there’s a sucker born every minute. I’m sure they’ll find plenty of them.

  4. Skeptical – Blackstar Co-op, the first Brewpub Cooperative in the US, opened in Austin late last year.

  5. I love the concept, but reality bites hard! There is a reason this does not exist, and for all involved never should…it’s complicated. “run away!”

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