Starting a brewery is an exciting venture. There are many things to consider before starting your brewery, including licensing, brewing equipment, and of course – the beer itself.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own brewery business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Brewery Business
1. Choose Your Type of Brewery Business
The first step in launching a brewery business is to identify the type of brewery business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
- Microbrewery: These small-scale breweries produce limited amounts of beer. They often use innovative brewing methods and sell their beer on site or in local stores.
- Nanobrewery: These are even smaller breweries, producing less beer than microbreweries. They often use experimental brewing methods and sell their beer on site or at local events.
- Regional brewery: These are larger breweries that distribute their beer to a wider geographical area. They might have multiple brewing locations and sell their beer in stores and restaurants.
- International brewery: These are the largest breweries, with a global reach. They often have multiple brewing locations and sell their beer in stores and restaurants around the world.
Learn more about the types of brewery businesses.
2. Name Your Brewery Business
Give your brewery business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your brewery business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your brewery business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that potential customers will want to buy your beer.
3. Determine Your Brewery Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a brewery business, including:
- Distribution: You can focus on brewing beer and then sell it to distributors who will, in turn, sell it to stores and restaurants.
- Selling Direct: You can choose to bypass distributors and instead sell your beer directly to stores, restaurants, and consumers.
- Online Sales: You can sell your beer online through your own website or through third-party websites.
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the products you offer.
Read more about choosing the right business model for your brewery business.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your brewery business, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your brewery business will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common brewery business structures.
5. Write a Brewery Business Plan
All brewery business owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.
When developing your brewery business plan and strategy, you should think about the following questions your customers might have:
- What type of beers do you offer?
- Do you have a tasting room?
- Where can I find your beer?
- Who makes your beer?
- Are you affiliated with any other breweries?
- Why did you start brewing beer?
- How many beers do you produce each year?
- What type of brewing process do you use?
- Do you have any seasonal or limited release beers?
- What are your favorite beers?
- What are your future plans for the brewery?
- Do you offer tours of the brewery?
- Do you host any events at the brewery?
- Can I rent your space for an event?
- Do you sell merchandise?
- Do you have any food trucks that visit the brewery?
- Can I bring my own food to the brewery?
Answering these questions will help you develop a strong business plan with which potential customers can connect. You can also use your business plan to set goals and track your progress over time. Having a business plan will help you make informed decisions about your brewery business to ensure that it is successful.
Read our article about how to write a brewery business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your brewery business.
For example, most states require that breweries obtain a license to manufacture alcohol. In some states, you may also need to obtain a permit to sell alcohol. If you plan on selling your beer online, you will need to obtain a license from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). In addition, if you plan on having a tasting room or selling food at your brewery, you will need to obtain the necessary permits from your state or local government.
You must also register your brewery business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
Read our article about obtaining the proper brewery business licenses.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your brewery business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your brewery business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your brewery business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a brewery business to help you determine if funding is needed.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your brewery business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in other types of software to help you manage your business, such as project management software, email marketing software and customer relationship management (CRM) software.
In addition, if you plan on selling beer online, you will need to set up an ecommerce platform on your website.
If you plan on bottling or canning your beer, you will need to purchase the proper equipment. You can either buy the equipment or lease it from a company that specializes in brewing equipment.
9. Market Your Brewery Business to Potential Customers
Before you start selling your products, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your products and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the brewery industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Brewery businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Sponsoring local events and charities
- Offering brewery tours
- Hosting beer tastings
- Distributing flyers and coupons in local businesses
- Printing merchandise with brewery branding (t-shirts, hats, etc.)
- Creating an online presence (website, social media, etc.)
- Advertising in local publications
- Creating a loyalty program
- Participating in trade shows and festivals
- Working with food trucks or restaurants to promote pairings
- Joining a local Chamber of Commerce or business association
Read our article about how to market your brewery business for more tips.
10. Get New Customers & Grow Your Business
When you promote your products, you’ll start to get interest from potential customers.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these customers. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your brewery business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your brewery business to learn more.
Starting a Brewery Business FAQs
There are many reasons to start a brewery business. Here are some key benefits:
- You can be your own boss and have control over your work/life balance.
- You can provide high-quality products and services.
- You can have a positive impact on your local community.
- You can generate extra income through product sales and events.
- You can build a business that can be passed down to future generations.
There are a few key things you need to start a successful brewery business:
The right technology and software in place to maximize efficiency.
The proper brewing equipment to successfully brew great beer.
A well-executed promotions strategy is essential for your success.
You’ll want to position the right people in place to help you grow your business.
There are many ways you can market a brewery business online. Here are some tips:
- Create a website and make sure it is optimized for search engines.
- Use social media to promote your products and events.
- Network with other people in the industry through social media and blogs.
- Make sure your website and social media channels are updated regularly.
- Advertise in local publications.
- Participate in trade shows and festivals.
- Create a loyalty program.
- Work with food trucks or restaurants to promote pairings.
- Join a local Chamber of Commerce or business association.
- Get creative and think outside the box!
Here are some tips for starting a brewery business:
- Research the market and make sure you have a clear understanding of the industry.
- Develop a business plan and track your progress.
- Secure funding from investors or financial institutions.
- Make sure you have the proper licenses and permits in place.
- Find the right location for your brewery business.
- Invest in the right technology and software.
- Get the proper brewing equipment.
- Develop a promotions strategy.
- Find and train the right people to help you grow your business.
- Focus on quality and consistency in all that you do!
A simple checklist to use when starting a brewery business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Brewery: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your Brewery Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your Brewery Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a Brewery Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Brewery Business to Potential Customers: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the products they truly need.
- Get Customers & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your products.
Starting a brewery business can be a rewarding and exciting endeavor. Use the tips and information provided in this article to launch your brewery with a solid comprehension of what your customers want and what they need, as well as what you can do to provide the highest-quality products for their consumption. You will be well on your way to a successful, growing brewery by following the steps offered here.