Starting a brewpub can be a lucrative business venture. Not only does the brewpub provide unique, flavorful beer, customers get to enjoy a unique atmosphere of relaxation. As an entrepreneur, there are several things you will want to put into place before starting your brewpub.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own brewpub business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Brewpub Business
1. Choose Your Type of Brewpub Business
The first step in launching a brewpub business is to identify the type of brewpub business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
- Microbrewery: A microbrewery produces small batches of high-quality beer.
- Nanobrewery: A nanobrewery is even smaller than a microbrewery, producing only a limited amount of beer in each batch.
- Boutique brewery: A boutique brewery is a unique type of brew pub that focuses on producing specialty beers
2. Name Your Brewpub Business
Give your brewpub business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your brewpub business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your brewpub business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so customers will want to visit your brewpub.
3. Determine Your Brewpub Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a brewpub business, including:
- A brewpub that only serves beer brewed on the premises
- A brewpub with an onsite brewery and restaurant
- A franchise of an existing brewpub chain
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 brewpub business.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your brewpub 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 brewpub 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 brewpub business structures.
5. Write a Brewpub Business Plan
All brewpub 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 brewpub business plan and strategy, you should think about the following questions your customers might have:
- What unique flavors of beer do you have at your beerpub?
- Do you offer your brewpub for special events?
3.Can I get food at your brewpub?
4.Is this brewpub part of a franchise?
- How long has the brewpub been in business?
- Do I need to make reservations during busy times?
- How late is the brewpub open?
- Does the kitchen close before the brewpub does?
- Will the seating arrangements work if I bring several friends into the brewpub?
- Do you have a website where I can find more information about your brewpub?
By addressing these questions, you will have a good understanding of who your customers are and what a business plan will look like to address their wants and needs.
Read our article about how to write a brewpub business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your brewpub business.
For example, you will likely need to obtain a liquor license from your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board in order to serve alcohol. You may also need a food service license from your local health department if you plan on serving food.
You must also register your brewpub 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 brewpub business licenses.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your brewpub 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 brewpub business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your brewpub 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 brewpub business to help you determine if funding is needed.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your brewpub 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 software to help you with point-of-sale transactions, inventory management, and marketing. There are many software programs available specifically for brewpub businesses, so do your research to find the ones that will work best for you.
You’ll also need a reliable POS system to process payments from customers and track sales data. A POS system can also help you manage inventory, customers, and employees.
9. Market Your Brewpub 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 brewpub 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. Brewpub businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Sponsoring local sports teams and events.
- Offering free samples of your beer at local events.
- Working with distributors to have your beer placed in local bars and restaurants.
- Developing a loyalty program for customers.
- Creating marketing materials (e.g., logo, menus, website, etc.).
- Holding grand opening events and other special promotions.
Read our article about how to market your brewpub 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 brewpub business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your brewpub business to learn more.
Starting a Brewpub Business FAQs
The brewpub industry is growing at a steady rate, making it a great time to start a business in this space. In addition to the potential for profitability, owning a brewpub can be a fun and rewarding experience.
To start a successful brewpub business, you will need:
- A business plan that meets the needs and wants of your customers
- Financing to cover the costs of starting and initially operating your brewpub
- Technology & software to add efficiency to your organization
- The right location for your brewpub, which is essential to your success.
- Permits & licenses as needed for making and selling beer and food
- The right people in the right positions in your brewpub
- Marketing materials to encourage new customers
- Promotional strategies to encourage new customers and retain current customers.
There are a number of ways to market your brewpub business online. Here are a few ideas:
- Create a website and promote it through social media channels.
- Use SEO techniques to improve your website’s visibility in search engine results pages.
- Develop an email marketing campaign and use an email list provider to gather the email addresses of potential customers.
- Use online advertising platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads to reach potential customers.
- Work with online directories and review sites to get your business listed.
Some tips for starting a brewpub are:
- Research the market to understand the industry and what it takes to be successful.
- Create a business plan and track your progress against it.
- Find the right location for your brewpub business.
- Obtain the necessary permits and licenses before opening your doors.
- Hire the right people to help you run your business.
- Develop a marketing strategy and promotional tactics to attract new customers.
- Use technology and software to streamline operations.
- Monitor your finances closely and make adjustments as needed.
- Evaluate your progress regularly and make changes to ensure continued success.
A simple checklist to use when starting a brewpub business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Brewpub: 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 Brewpub 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 Brewpub Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a Brewpub 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 Brewpub 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 brewpub products.
Starting a brewpub can be a great way to enter the brewing industry and tap into the growing demand for craft beer. By following the above tips and checklist, you can increase your chances of success.