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Beer Dreams, Champagne Prices

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Shadyside's Matt Radigan wants you to give him money. Lots of it. Later, maybe, he'll repay your kindness with some beer.

 

With a blog, a link on fark.com, a MySpace account and periodic postings in the barter section of various cities' craigslists, Radigan is asking for donations from anyone willing to take a leap of faith that eventually, he'll have a brewery up and running and will be able to hook them up with some beer.

 

"All people can do is take me on my word," he says ... his word that, eventually, when he's cranking out reasonably priced craft beer, he'll remember all the little people with cases.

At this point, he's got no business plan, or real idea of the costs or many of the logistics. But that's kind of the point. "I don't want to buy the book How to Start a Brewery," he says, speaking rhetorically. Instead, he's relying mostly on chutzpah and the idea that if you ask everybody for money, some people will say yes.

 

The 22-year-old Radigan figures the Internet's such a vast wilderness that his pleas for cash, however vague, will reach enough beer speculators for him to realize his dream. He's hoping to raise $150,000 to transform his hobby of brewing beer at home in a bucket into a full-capacity brewery.

 

He cites the success of Kyle MacDonald, a blogger from Montreal who, through a series of well-publicized trades over the course of one year, parlayed a single red paperclip into a house worth about $45,000. Radigan, however, is trading only hope.

 

"It's not some fleeting passion," says Radigan, until recently a Carnegie Mellon University chemistry student who isn't certain whether he's returning to school. But getting a bank loan seems a long shot for a not-quite-chemist who is between jobs.

 

His first donation came within 20 minutes of his initial Fark appearance. His biggest contribution so far has been $40. The $150,000 target, he says, is just a rough guess.

 

And it's way off, says Scott Smith, proprietor of East End Brewing Company, created in early 2005. Radigan's in for a shock, he says, rattling off regulatory and financial hurdles for brewing equipment, outfitting a facility, licensing, storage for the beer once it's actually brewed ...

Radigan remains unswayed: "I'll do it," he says. "I'm not expecting to make this ridiculous amount of money overnight. If I'm gonna do something, I do it."

 

Smith says he'd be happy to welcome Radigan to the brewer's fraternity: "I'm thrilled to see other people stepping into beer."

 

www.theinternetbrewery.blogspot.com.

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