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22nd Jul 2014

JOE’s Start Up Diary, Week 5 – Michael Cowan of the Manor Brewing Company

Each week here on JOE we’ll be bringing you the personal thoughts and tips from Irish entrepreneur Michael Cowan, founder & CEO of the Manor Brewing Company.


Each week here on JOE we’ll be bringing you the personal thoughts and tips from Irish entrepreneur Michael Cowan, founder & CEO of the Manor Brewing Company.

“The calm before the storm”

When I was asked to write my own Startup Diary for our new craft brewing company, I never imagined I’d be struggling to fill a page on progress five weeks in. The irony is I’ve never been busier in my life, but just not the sort of busy that would interest JOE readers.

Coming to think of it, I don’t even know what JOE readers want to read about at this stage of the Manor Brewing Company’s young life. So perhaps you could leave some comments at the end of the article or over on Twitter (@ManorBrewingCo), and thereby let this diary become more interactive. You know, a bit of a Q&A session at the end of our progress updates…

So without going into the specifics of my last week (they’re a bit commercially sensitive too), I must admit this stage of starting up the company is quite frustrating, because we just want to get to market as quickly as possible! We are well our way to having a finished product (weeks away now, not months), we have the right people involved in the business, we have our route to market sorted out, and we even have a few potential customers willing to stock us already! So what is holding us back is the official approval to brew in our unique and authentic location in The Bell Tower, and this in turn this is holding up the funding of our full scale production equipment.

Either way, we kind of expected this lull, and we’re prepared to ride it out. The other option would be to contract brew (which is a bit like asking someone else to have your baby for you). Obviously we wouldn’t be in favour of this option, as we feel we would lose our authenticity as a ‘naturally brewed mountain beer from the Wicklow Mountains, using our own pure artesian mountain water, filtered over granite for thousands of years.’ So the back of our beer bottles are starting to say.

That water  (95% of all beer, lager, or ale is made from it) has been a while coming. So we think ours is worth waiting just that little bit longer for! The irony is; I was once marketing a much more famous Irish beer brand a few years ago, telling our audience: good things come to those that wait… And so we wait some more.

However, as they say ‘the devil makes work for idle hands’, so we have used this lull in progress to conjure up our far-fetched launch plan for Mont™ (I’ll reveal it to JOE readers exclusively in a few weeks), and to paint some poetry on to the walls of The Bell Tower!

It was our ‘head of mischief’ Errol Mont, who decided we should inscribe the words of Charles Baudelaire onto our brewery walls, as a way of showing our staff and visitors to come, the freedom that comes with releasing our true (entrepreneurial) spirit, and the imagery of the ponds, and valleys, mountains, and woods that surrounds us here.

The poem is called Elevation, and you must come and see it on our brewery walls in the month’s ahead… (Wicklow County Council permitting, of course!)


Above the ponds, above the valleys,
Mountains, woods, clouds and seas,
Beyond the sun, beyond the heavens,
Beyond the confines of starry spheres,

My spirit, you roam with agility,
And, like a good swimmer bracing the waves
You soar happily into profound immensity
With exquisite male delight.

Fly, far away from these noxious surroundings
And cleanse yourself in the pure air above,
And drink the clear fire that fills lucid spaces
As you would a pure and divine liqueur.

Behind the nuisances and the vast chagrins
Amassing with their weight our bewildered existence,
Happy is he who can with a vigorous wing
Propel towards the luminous and serene realms,

He whose thoughts, like larks,
Free, in the morning take flight
– Hover over life and understand with ease
The language of flowers and silent things!

We will post a photo as soon as it is finished being rendered on the walls.

See you back here next week for our 6th episode of our Start-Up Diary. In meantime, follow us on Twitter (@ManorBrewingCo) for more status updates. If you have any questions on this article, or on how we are approaching our startup business, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] or comment below!

Yours in natural craftiness,

Michael Cowan