How to Start a Brewery in Pennsylvania

by Carolyn Kay Neeley; Updated September 26, 2017

As in any other state, Pennsylvania carefully regulates and monitors the manufacture of alcoholic beverages in their state, including beer. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) oversees the opening and operation of breweries in the state and requires breweries to meet certain requirements, such as obtaining a license before doing business. If you want to start a brewery in Pennsylvania, it is important to understand that a significant amount of time, effort and startup capital is required in addition to having a solid knowledge of both beer brewing and business management.

Step 1

Create a business plan that details your business structure and how you will operate your business, including employee hiring policies, accounting methods and advertising strategies. You should also specify what beers you will produce and in what quantities, where you intend to distribute your beer and to whom (i.e., grocery stores, restaurants/pubs), how your beer will be packaged and transported, and where and how you will acquire the money and equipment you need to start brewing.

Step 2

Register a fictitious business name or DBA (doing business as) certificate with the Pennsylvania Department of State. You should also trademark any logos, beer bottle label designs or other brewery insignias with the Department of State to assure exclusive usage.

Step 3

Locate a suitable site for your brewery and begin preparing the location for brewing. Unless you will be building a new structure, any site you choose must have adequate space for the brewing tanks, bottling equipment and product storage and plumbing and drainage systems that can handle the large amount of water used in the brewing process.

Step 4

Apply for a business license from your local county and city governments. Note that you may be required to obtain additional permits and/or provide proof of licensure by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board before your business license is approved, but it is best to establish your business identity and begin this process early.

Step 5

Hire an architectural or construction professional to draft blueprints of your brewery and equipment. Additionally, contact your local county and city zoning committee to inquire about any permits or licenses you may need to operate a brewery at this location.

Step 6

Contact your local water or waste management municipality to determine if you will need any permits to operate a brewery at your chosen location. Since the rules regarding water usage and wastewater discharge vary from city to city and county to county, your local office can help you apply for the appropriate permits.

Step 7

Obtain a sales/use tax permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, along with copies of the reporting forms you will be required to complete informing the state of your monthly beer sales. Additionally, if you will have employees, you must obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the IRS and use this number to register to pay employer withholding taxes and unemployment compensation insurance taxes to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Step 8

Complete and submit an application for a Manufacture, Storage or Transportation License to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Included with the application should be the Appendix Social Security Information (form PCLB-1773), a tax certification form (PCLB-1898), a request for a criminal background check and a copy of the blueprints of your brewery and equipment. You must also pay a filing fee and a licensing fee at the time of submitting your application.

Step 9

Await approval from the PLCB before beginning brewing operations. Usually within six weeks, you will be issued a license to manufacture beer in Pennsylvania, or you will be notified that your application has been denied or the PLCB requests further information to continue the approval process.