How to Open a Brewery in Florida

Opening a brewery in Florida requires a substantial amount of time, effort and start-up capital, mostly because alcoholic beverages are such a highly regulated industry. Regardless of the amount of beer you produce for sale, you must meet all state and local requirements to open a brewery in Florida. However, since you will not be serving beer on-premises as with a brew pub, you can begin a small-scale brewery to help reduce initial costs and business risk and then expand your brewery later.

Make a business plan that defines your business name and structure, outlines accounting methods and advertising strategies, determines what beers you will produce and the anticipated volume of production, how and where you will distribute your beers, and how and where you will obtain the money and equipment you need to begin brewing.

Find a brewery location. This can be an existing building, a lot where a new structure can be built or even your home if the location can meet safety and zoning requirements. Additional considerations include whether the site has enough room to hold the brewing tanks and bottling/canning equipment, adequate plumbing and drainage systems to handle the large amounts of water used to brew beer and proper storage for beer ingredients and finished products.

Obtain approval from your county zoning and building authority to operate a brewery at the desired location. You may need to provide sketches of the building or submit to an inspection prior to receiving approval. Once the appropriate permits have been acquired, begin preparing your location for brewing.

File a fictitious business name with the Florida Secretary of State's office. You will also need to file for a state employer identification number and a sales tax permit from the Florida Department of Revenue, and a federal employer identification number from the IRS, even if you will not be hiring employees initially.

Apply for a local county and city business license and sales tax permit. Note that your application may not receive final approval until you have obtained the appropriate liquor license from the state, but it is important to have this process started as you will need proof of your compliance with local laws to complete the liquor license application.

Complete and submit a signed and notarized application to manufacture beer from the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco and a temporary license, if desired. The application must include a copy of your deed or lease to prove Right of Occupancy, your Social Security number and state and federal tax numbers, a set of fingerprints, a sketch of your brewery, copies of all local permits and licenses you are required to hold or proof that you have applied for them, and a surety bond purchased by an insurance provider approved to provide this service in Florida to be considered complete. Complete applications are processed within 90 days of receipt in accordance with state law.