How Do I Start My Own Brewery?
The market for craft beer has positively exploded in recent years, with a record number of breweries popping up all over the United States. From IPAs to pilsners to hard ciders, there's something for everyone.
Thinking about opening a microbrewery yourself? Our complete guide will show you how to write a business plan, choose a brewery type, secure funding and more. Cheers!
If you want your brewery business to be a part of that nationwide beer boom, start by learning about the different types of microbreweries to determine which one is best for you.
Under most zoning laws, breweries aren't allowed to open just anywhere. So, you'll need to find a properly outfitted facility that's in an approved location. If you're leasing space, that means you'll need to pay monthly rent to use it.
All breweries need brewing equipment like fermenters, boiling equipment, beer kettles, kegs, tanks, valves, filters and, of course, the ingredients required to make beer. Some may also require bar taps, beer glasses, seating and other equipment needed to serve customers on site. Since even a single fermenter costs thousands of dollars, your equipment will be a significant investment.
Depending on the state and city you're located in and the type of license you're getting, a liquor license can cost anywhere from under $100 to over $10,000.
Brewing craft beer is a team effort, so you'll likely need some employees to help make your microbrewery startup a reality. Your staff can include people tasked with brewing, cleaning, packaging, performing quality assurance tests and more.
It takes a lot of electricity and water to brew high-quality beer, so don't forget to factor in the cost of utilities in your area.
Marketing and branding
Even if you're only planning on utilizing a bare-bones marketing strategy, it will require some money to get started. And if you'll be hiring someone to design your logo, packaging and other branding elements, consider the cost of that, too.
No one can deny that opening a microbrewery startup is an expensive endeavor, but with the right funding (more on that ahead) it is entirely possible.
While the final choice is up to you, most small businesses find that forming an LLC is their best option. If the same is true for you, you can file your LLC now.
Available from just about every major bank, these small business loans typically have low interest rates, but they also tend to have strict requirements and stiff competition.
Small Business Association (SBA) loans
With SBA's Lender Match tool, it's easy to find lenders who may be able to fund your brewery.
Friends and family
If your friends and family members are willing to help, you can try borrowing money from them to get the ball rolling.
If investors see potential in your business, you may be able to secure money from venture capitalists.
With the help of sites like Kickstarter, you can create a campaign to get funding from a wide variety of backers.
All 50 states require businesses that sell alcohol to obtain a liquor license, and some municipalities even have their own individual rules and regulations. Find out how to get a liquor license in your state, and be sure to research your city's laws, too.
All U.S. breweries must submit a Brewer's Notice application to the the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in order to legally sell beer.
State and local licenses
Depending on your location, there can be additional licenses and permits you need to get. Use our Business License Search Tool to quickly find out which ones your microbrewery startup may need.
Nearly every state requires employers to have workers' compensation insurance, so be sure to get that squared away before putting your employees to work. You'd also be smart to look into getting business liability insurance to protect your brewery from a variety of risks and situations.
Microbrewery Startup Resources
Starting your own brewery business can seem daunting, but remember that many others have done it before and are willing to share their insights. To connect with other brewery owners, check out:
Ready to take the plunge and open your own microbrewery startup? We'll drink to that — and if you form your business with Incfile, we'll also take care of the pesky paperwork so you can focus on running your brewery and creating some truly killer beer.
Most breweries cost at least $250,000 to get up and running. That might sound like a lot of money (and it is), but keep in mind that you can greatly reduce your personal financial burden by raising capital, as described in step five.
A microbrewery's profitability depends on many different factors, including how well it was planned beforehand, the efficiency of its staff and the cost of its space. One thing most industry experts can agree on, though, is that selling beer to customers by the glass is the best way to reap the highest profits possible.
There's no way around it — starting a brewery is difficult in terms of both finances and logistics. After all, even if you already have the necessary capital, you'll still need to navigate a variety of legal requirements.
But don't let that reality stop you from starting the microbrewery of your dreams: With creativity, careful planning and a passion for great beer, starting a brewery of your own is well within the realm of possibility.