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  • Writer's pictureMark Seither

Why Does a Brewmaster Need a CPA? To Evaluate His "Liquid Assets," of Course!

Okay joking aside, we recently sat down with Andy Klein of Monk’s Cellar and his CPA, Lou Catalano, to discuss why every brewmaster needs a tax-savvy drinking buddy.

Every brewery is different: each has a unique story and personal inspiration, with the brewmaster’s character apparent in the beer. I’m a self-proclaimed expert on the subject, as I spent seven years in San Diego and have an equally beer-snobby brother in Colorado, two of America’s hubs for microbrewing. But, I’m here to tell you -- all-around style wins over customers… not the IRS!

Andy knows this firsthand. His trip to Germany at age 16 opened his eyes to the reality that beer is a common thread among family and community gatherings. He also experienced something he had yet to find in America: beer with flavor. That impact stuck with him through the rest of his high school and college years -- spurring a post-college trip back to Europe for more inspiration, after which he started brewing beer, initially in his parents’ basement. This motivated him to go back to school for science and chemistry classes that were more “brew-relevant,” and he eventually completed the UC Davis Brewing Science program in 1995. Fast forward to 2005, Andy opened the doors to Monk’s Cellar in Roseville, CA. Monk’s Cellar is a European inspired brewery and restaurant steeped in influence from his trips to Europe. He prides himself on three things, in particular: great beer, a simple menu, and NO TELEVISION. This aspect exudes the passion behind Andy’s dream which was to create a place for community. Come, drink, eat, and talk with one another.

That’s all fine and dandy, but, as much as it won me over as a customer, the IRS doesn’t give two hops about your passion. They are after your tax dollars. And when Andy is focusing on his taxes, he is not focusing on his passions. This is when Andy faced the fact that not working with a CPA would probably cost much more then working with (and paying) one.

IMPORTANT: When we talk about working with a CPA, we DO NOT mean working with someone who is registered as a CPA and files taxes. We mean working with a CPA who is passionate about your industry and has a tax strategy geared for efficiency. This is key! A wise piece of advice given to me: “If you want a killer CPA, find out who your competitor uses.”

That’s why Lou Catalano was such a good fit for Andy. Lou is a strong supporter and guest speaker for the California Craft Brewers Association. Lou loves beer, appreciates the industry, and comprehends the tax code around the restaurant and brewing arena. This makes him an awesome fit for guys like Andy. He can come in and immediately go to certain factors such as labor cost, food cost, and supply cost, as well as give Andy a few Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that help brewers and restaurant owners succeed in running their businesses. And why should Andy trust Lou? Because Lou is successfully helping many breweries and restaurants. By streamlining and monitoring KPIs and strategizing to maximize tax efficiency, Andy can spend less time crunching numbers and more time brewing amazing beer, creating a welcoming atmosphere, and volunteering in his community.

You may not want to open a Belgian-inspired, television-free brewery and restaurant, but the message is still the same. If you think you have a unique idea and want to use your talents in an entrepreneurial conquest, your success will bring you income, your income will bring you taxes, your taxes will burden your time, and you may find yourself struggling. We aren’t saying go out and get a CPA on day one, but absolutely consider doing what Andy did: find a CPA his competitors used, who was well knowledgeable in his particular niche, and ask for proactive planning and consulting!

To hear our full interview, please check out our full episode on our podcast page.

Hosting an event or want to check out Monk’s Cellar? Check them out at

Looking for a CPA? Connect with him on LinkedIn.

This information is provided for educational purposes. You should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.


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