A Guide for Starting a Microbrewery

Like any other kind of business, starting a microbrewery is more than just finding the right ingredients and equipment. Starting a microbrewery takes planning and projections, not to mention plenty of time when working through permits and zoning. But this shouldn’t discourage you if you’re looking to bring craft brews to the masses.

The brewery industry had seen a significant surge in interest in the last dozen years or so. In fact, the number of new breweries in the United States has risen since 2008, now nearing 9,000 total breweries in the country. So, something is working. But, what does it take to start a microbrewery?

Here are some steps to take and questions to ask yourself when wanting to start a microbrewery:

How Much Does Brewery Equipment Cost?

How much you’ll pay for brewing the actual product ultimately depends on your brewery size and whether you buy used or new. Microbrewery equipment can be purchased with the smallest capacity for under $10,000 if you buy used, or up to $1 million for brand new equipment.

A craft beer brewery needs essential equipment such as kettles, kegs, boilers, bottling and canning lines, cooling systems, conveyors, refrigeration equipment, cleaning supplies, tap handles, and more. Although there are items on that list that come reasonably priced, if you purchase equipment with less capacity and your brewery grows over time, it will become costly to modify later.

Location, Location, Location. And Construction.

A microbrewery also needs a home. Depending on the size of your brewery and its location, the monthly rent can fluctuate widely. You may need to come up with the first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit when you sign a lease. Plus, if there is any construction or retrofitting that needs to be done to fit your brewery’s needs, there will need to be extra funds saved. From plumbing to electrical needs, sewage lines to water lines, there is so much to take care of before the first brew is made.

Costly Issues.

The cost of things like flooring and the need for insurance is often overlooked, such as microbreweries coverage. Microbreweries coverage is a specified piece of insurance that can help breweries operate safely with general liability coverage, beer contamination coverage, product recall, and more.

Then there are the necessary permits and legal requirements to obtain. A microbrewery will need to apply for federal brewing permits with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates all breweries in the country. While the application is free, you should prepare way ahead of time as this process can take up to four months.

What’s more, local licensing is required if you want to serve beer at your microbrewery, including a state liquor license, which can take anywhere from 45 to 60 days.

All in all, new microbrewery owners should be prepared to put a lot of effort and money into their new operation. This process is very capital-intensive and could go on for several years before you’re in a comfortable place.

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