Seven Stills is a brewery and distillery that specializes in making whiskeys distilled from great craft beers.
The company was co-founded in 2013 by two friends, Tim & Clint, and now counts 65 people with a wide expertise. Seven Stills recently moved to a new flagship location at 100 Hooper Street in the Design District, a 18,500 square feet space housing the distillery and brewery as well as a full bar and restaurant — make sure to pay them a visit!
SFMade interviewed Seven Stills’ CEO, Tim Obert, in January 2020.
|COMPANY FACTSHEET||Seven Stills|
|Useful links||Website, Instagram|
|Address||100 Hooper St #4, SF. Open Sun-Wed 12pm-10pm, Thu-Sat 12pm-11pm|
Tim, what is your background, and how did you and Clint Potter start Seven Stills?
I graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2010 with a degree in Business Management and an emphasis in accounting. I’ve always been an entrepreneur and knew I wanted to run my own business.
The company was founded in 2013 by Clint and I; we were two college roommates with a passion for craft beer who wanted to push the boundaries.
One night at a bar in San Francisco, Clint was explaining to me that a whiskey was made from a low quality “beer” and I had the light bulb moment to try distilling whiskeys from my different home brews. After exploring tasting the one or two other whiskeys on the market that had been made from different “craft beers” I realized that this was a totally unexplored space and we needed to start a company.
We began distilling home-brewed batches of beer from Clint’s parents’ back yard and eventually, I asked Clint if he would be willing to pool our life savings together to start the company. He said he was “100% down” and hence Seven Stills was born. We started the company from a storage unit in the Dogpatch.
Can you tell us more about your business in a few facts and numbers?
We are a very small producer. We manufacture roughly 5,000 cases of whiskey per year and produce about 3,000 barrels of beer per year. We hope to grow to around 30,000 cases of whiskey and 50,000 barrels of beer per year through our expansion into Mission Bay.
Because of our limited production runs we never send large quantities of our spirits or beer to the market and are now primarily focused on serving our products the way we want them to be showcased: through our Direct to Consumer locations in San Francisco.
Who are your main sales channels today?
Roughly 50% of our business is done through our retail channels. The remaining clients are local grocery stores, all exclusively in the Bay Area, including Whole Foods, high-end craft liquor stores including Healthy Spirits, and bars and restaurants.
What are your company’s values?
Our core values are Quality, Fun and Community.
We put the quality of our products before everything else. Following that, we make sure we all are enjoying what we are doing and never do anything just to make a quick buck. Last but not least, we always try to serve and give back to the communities in which we operate. For example, we run a small cleanup effort called Beers for the Bay where we partner with local organizations and our community to clean the streets of San Francisco. The effort was founded in 2017 and we are currently hosting a cleanup about once per week in a different neighborhood in San Francisco.
Tell us about your employees: how many are in your team, and are people learning new skills on the job?
We currently count roughly 30 people full time and an additional 35 people part-time. Within the next 12 months, we anticipate creating an additional 15 jobs.
All of our employees receive extensive training on our beer and spirits production before starting to work with us — they are all immersed in the brewing and distillation process. Additionally, everyone learns marketing and business skills as we work in extremely small teams and are very collaborative — Clint and myself often work on projects directly with every division of our company.
What is your vision for the future of Seven Stills?
We are attempting to be the most iconic brewery and distillery in San Francisco. We are not after world domination; we just want to make really cool beer and spirits in San Francisco and do what we do really well.
Why manufacture locally?
Being in San Francisco is incredibly important to our entire mission. We want to have a connection with the communities in which we operate and therefore opted to make the very expensive and risky investment of opening our flagship production facility in the heart of San Francisco.
Why did you join SFMade?
SFMade is an incredible resource for manufacturers and we often rely on them for their advice, expertise and connections to keep our business alive and thriving in San Francisco.
As we continue to grow everyone’s natural reaction is to tell us to take cheaper space outside of San Francisco and it’s extremely refreshing to have an organization like SFMade to help us and encourage us to keep our company in San Francisco – also help us do so by offering us an additional production space at 150 Hooper, right across from our main location at 100 Hooper. [The Manufacturing Foundry at 150 Hooper is a 56,000 square feet building owned and operated by SFMade’s sister non-profit, PlaceMade, and housing manufacturers at below-market rates].
~An interview by Pierre @ SFMade. Thank you Tim & Abria!