Tips for Starting a Brewery: 5 Things to Consider Before the Big Launch
Mar 01, 2020 11:22
If you've ever spent a night out at your local brewery and thought you should turn your love for good beer into a working business, you're hardly the first to have the thought. In fact, there are over 7,000 breweries operating in the United States. Many of these are traditional breweries that produce millions of barrels per year, although microbreweries (also called craft breweries) are quickly rising in popularity.
These are smaller, regional operations that produce no more than 15,000 barrels of beer per year, and they tend to attract locals with high-quality craft beer. Minhas microbrewery is a great example. It's currently the 13th largest craft brewery in the United States and has survived the Great Depression and prohibition. See microbrewery.com for more on the history of the rise of the microbrewery.
As you may have gathered, aspiring brewers looking to start a small business will have the best luck starting a microbrewery simply because of the smaller-scale production. That isn't to say that there's anything easy about starting a craft brewery. Starting a small business is always a huge, complex task, and serving alcohol means you'll have to deal with more regulations than many businesses. Still, if you're interested in becoming a brewer, here are some of the most important things you'll need to think about.
Laws and Regulations
Your brewery may be governed by different laws depending on your location. You'll need to be familiar with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) which sets federal and state regulations. The Brewer's Association offers a breakdown of state laws on their site, though it requires an account, as it's members-only content.
Understanding the Craft
While many people know that they love beer, not many actually know what it takes to make it. Different beers require different types of yeasts, hops, other ingredients, and brewing techniques. If you want to bring in the locals and get word of mouth buzzing about your flavors, you'll need to have the best quality real ingredients and know-how to use them.
If you have previous experience, great! If not, it's probably a good idea to find someone for your team who does. If you live in a state where being a homebrewer is legal, like KY, you might try your hand at beer making on a smaller scale first.
Every new business needs a written plan and a well-thought-out structure. It's generally recommended for craft breweries to set up as Limited Liability Companies (LLC). This is affordable to set up, provides the basic legal protection you'll need, and you'll only to file for the state you plan to open your brewery in.
Like with any business, you'll need to plan your location carefully since that will affect what you can do on-premises and have a huge impact on your marketing. You'll also need capital for equipment, which is likely the hardest part of setting up a microbrewery. This is no small investment, and you can expect to spend at least $100,000 on basic equipment alone.
You'll naturally need a state alcoholic beverage permit from the TTB, and depending on whether you're a retailer or supplier (likely both), you'll need separate licenses. The amount of beer you produce can also affect your licensing process, so make sure to check your state's regulations. You'll also need a Brewer's Notice, which basically details your packing and labeling process to the TTB and how it will impact the environment. It's a good idea to apply for all of these things at once to cut down on wait times.
Every successful business needs a good marketing campaign, and your microbrewery is no different. Advertising on social media and other websites is a good start. but you should look into other options, too. For example, Mines Press can help you with making business cards and stickers to help out with advertising. They can also help with all your stationery and office supplies needs with tax return folders, business checks, promotional pens, and more.
If you need more help getting your brewery idea off the ground, consider looking into the best brewery tour in your area to see more about the process and pick up ideas.
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