Setting up breweries was one of the earliest activities of some of the original colonists, and drinking beer has consistently been a favorite pastime. It isn't hard to brew beer, but consistently making good beer can be tricky. Thus, it's not easy to start a brewery business, but it can be rewarding if you have the patience and the proper resources. Get it right, and not only will you have all the free beer you can drink, you could make a lot of money, too.
Perfect the brew. A successful brewery business has to sell beer to stay alive, and that means having a good quality beer that stands out from the crowd. A quality beer doesn't have to be of a rare style or have some other sort of gimmick, but it has to be good. Perfecting the art of brewing, from gathering ingredients to serving up the finished product, is essential.
Line up financing. If you've got the passion and the skills to make great beer, the next thing you need to make it into a business is money. A home still simply isn't going to be able to handle the volume needed to generate any significant income. That means you need a warehouse and the expensive brewing systems, kegs, tubing and other equipment to fill it in addition to the cost of ingredients and bottling. Write a solid business plan and don't be afraid to show it to friends, family and private investors as well as banks and other professional lenders.
Learn the laws. Beer is a heavily taxed commodity, and the brewer bears much of the burden. State and local laws also govern where and by whom beer can be brewed and sold. It might be helpful to consult a local lawyer to find out what permits and licenses you need and for a survey of the legal landscape.
Package the beer. Once the large-scale brewing begins, it's important to start thinking about how to bottle and market your beer. Distinctive bottle shapes or colorful labels can catch people's eyes, but that can be expensive. You'll at least need a name (ideally, something informative and distinctive), a label design and a marketing angle. Bottling and labeling usually are handled by private specialty companies.
Get people to drink. From as early as possible in the process, put your beer in front of people and get them to drink it. Investors are much more likely to put their money behind something with quality they can taste, and a local bar is much more likely to devote one of their taps to your brew if they know it's a winner. Take your brew to parties and outdoor events. Set up booths at farmer's markets; give it away if you have to. There's no better way to get the word out about a new beer than to put it in people's mouths.
Home brewing kits are relatively inexpensive and a good place to start for the novice brewer. Experiment with a variety of styles and ingredients to find recipes that work for you. Look for like-minded people who share your passion for beer, and consider taking on one or more partners to help shoulder the financial burden and the actual work. If possible, choose a location for your brewery that is accessible to the public. Giving free tours or hosting tasting events is a great way to get people familiar with your product(s). When marketing your beer, consider linking it in some way to your local area, especially if there's not already a local brew. Having a regional hit is the first step toward a national brewing empire.
Brewing beer for a living can be a labor-intensive process. It is also not guaranteed to pay off financially, at least not for some time. Thus, brewing, drinking and all things beer, must truly be your passion if you are considering starting a brewery business.
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