5 Tips on How to Start a Brewery
While the idea of starting your own brewery is exciting and inspiring, it can also be incredibly daunting. It’s common to feel uneasy about any new experience, but when it comes to brewing and the craft beer industry in general, there are a lot of resources available to help – like our own! Here are 5 crucial things you need to know during the early stages of starting a brewery.
1. Know Your “Why”
Defining your purpose is essential for staying in any business, but it especially comes in handy when starting a brewery. Being in the beer business often begins as a labor of love because the likelihood of making millions from this venture isn’t as common as it could be in other industries.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim high! When done well, you can make some serious cash, but when starting out, you need to focus on your unique value proposition. Ask yourself what you can offer that nobody else can and turn that answer into your brand. When people know about you, they’re more likely to be attached to you, your marketing, and your incredible beer.
2. Know The Distribution Process
Shipping independent beer as a brewer requires a whole different process than other items. Beer needs to be kept at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, or it will start to taste awful, but that only scratches the surface of the distribution process. You also need to get a handle on how to ship to a local market and how you can transition into national and international markets.
While you probably won’t have to worry about shipment for a while, you still need to prepare for when that does happen. Know that shipping large production volumes can be very expensive, and that cost needs to factor into the price of your beer and what you pay your employees.
3. Know Your States Legal Requirements
Selling anything comes with its own share of red tape, but distributing alcohol is a whole other ball game. Ask your local legal counsel for tips on how to locate or fill out the following:
- Forming a legal entity
- Choosing a name for your brewery
- Trademarking your breweries name
- Registering with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
- Summiting a Brewer’s Notice
- Obtaining a state liquor license
- Getting a Brewer’s Bond
Although the process of getting your brewery license is longer than getting a business license, you still need to complete these steps to ensure you’re operating within your state’s legal limits.
4. Know Your Market
Local breweries still have to compete with larger, mainstream brands. Depending on where you operate in the United States, you may have the upper hand as a craft brewery. For example, Californians, New Yorkers, and people who live in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Washington love craft beers and will often choose a local beer brew over other alcoholic beverages.
If there’s enough demand for your particular beer, you can succeed anywhere, but you’ll have a greater chance of selling in larger cities with a younger crowd. Getting your brew out there is your biggest hurdle, so offer up free samples at local bars or festivals when you can.
5. Know Your Community
The craft beer industry is more like a community than it is its own niche. The faster you get to know other experienced brewers, the more likely you are to build long-lasting networking opportunities. Craft beer brewers and local mentors love to share private information about the industry and aren’t afraid of other competitors because there’s enough room at the top.
It’s okay to ask anyone who isn’t your direct competitor for a tour of their local brewery. This way, you can see exactly how they set up their business, what works for them, and why.