The Chisms were frugal from the start, counting on their
own hard work and sweat equity first. All brewers can
learn from Council: Every penny saved is a penny that can
be reinvested back into the business.
ground,” Curtis Chism says. “It wasn’t easy, but we were great at boot-
strapping from day one.”
And bootstrap is exactly what they did. The dynamic duo focused
on doing projects themselves whenever possible — particularly
because of their background in construction project management.
They were also able to self-fund growth by hosting events and
parties in the brewery’s tasting room. Events provided additional cash
flow that they easily reinvested into the business.
Lastly, they were hyper-focused on equipment and purchases that
were necessary for making great beer. Using large plastic kegs instead
of stainless tanks and handwashing kegs are just two examples of how
the couple made smart financial decisions without ever sacrificing the
unmatched quality of their beer.
From Great Beer to a Great Business
It didn’t take long for Council Brewing to become a community staple
and bustling business. With growth came additional financing needs
though, and it was clear Council Brewing required a financial partner
to fund new equipment and other brewery expenditures.
The Chisms knew the right financial partner had to understand the
brewery business. “Local bankers would just stop by the brewery when
I was in the middle of a brewing process and expect to talk,” Liz Chism
says. “It was clear they thought running a brewery meant hanging out
and enjoying beer most of the day.”
In the midst of this frustration, Live Oak Bank appeared. The bank
was connected with Council Brewing through others in the brewery
industry, and it was a strong match from the beginning. “Things ran
really fluidly with Live Oak from the beginning because of their under-
standing of a brewery business,” Curtis Chism says.
Sour Beers & Beyond
With financing came two key benefits to Council Brewing: continued
growth and increased convenience for the couple who were initially
running every single aspect of the business.
Beer begins with community for Liz and Curtis Chism of Council Brewing. In fact, it’s the inspi- ration for the brewery’s name. “For us, Council
refers to the idea of a town council — a gathering place
for the community to congregate and discuss key
issues,” Curtis Chism explains.
What started with a home brewing kit nearly
seven years ago has turned into a bustling business
that serves the San Diego community and beer lovers
across the nation.
The Chisms have learned a lot about the financial
considerations and challenges of running a brewery
during their journey to success. What they’ve known
all along is they have to brew beers they like to drink
— clean brews that make beer delicious, fun and accessible to all of their customers.
From Home Brews to a Home Run Business
When the Chisms realized their passion for beer
extended beyond the four walls of their home, they
pursued several different routes to open their brewery
to the public. After a few partnerships fell through, they
decided to pursue the business solo.
“We put together a business plan, sold our house
and used the profits to get Council Brewing off the
Building Community One Bottle at a Time:
Live Oak Bank Guides a Craft Brewer from
Home to Market
BY TRACY SHEPPARD
Liz and Curtis Chism began by making beer in their kitchen with a brewing kit. Today, they own Council
Brewing, a popular San Diego destination for craft beer lovers. As the Chisms honed their brewing skills,
they also gained the financial expertise to turn their hobby into a thriving business. Live Oak Bank provided
both financing and business acumen to help them make the transition.
Senior Loan Officer,
Live Oak Bank