A dream shared by both Jason and I (and most likely to many other homebrewers out there) is to open our own brewery one day. I’ve done plenty of research about the topic and found myself overwhelmed with information upon information. In an effort to organize my notes, I realized that I needed to create a go-to list of resources integral to learning how to start your own brewery. That way I wouldn’t have to meticulously sift through my notes and could just access the information with a click of a button. I figured I’d share this online so other aspiring homebrewers could utilize it. If any of you readers know of additional resources please help a fellow homebrewer out and post it in the comment section. Thanks 🙂
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
If you’re curious about the beer/wine industry or want to open your own brewery or vineyard then TTB is the database you want to begin with. It contains information regarding drafting and submitting permits proposal, brewery qualifications, regulatory guidance, tax forms, certification requirements, etc.
The beer homepage offers an online permit application that allows you to submit and track applications for free. The average processing time is 79 days. The Brewery-BrewPub packet consists of supplemental forms and instructional documents to guide your brewery start-up. There are also monthly statistical reports available to the public. If you would like to familiarize yourself with beer laws and regulations then click here.
One of the most popular business guides is the Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery. It contains valuable insight from top brewery owners. The guide is over 200 pages and splits into 4 sections: Life of a Brewer, Facility Planning and Operations, Marketing and Distribution Programs, and Planning & Funding Your Brewery. The Brewer’s Association website also contains business tools free to non-members. They offer craft brewing statistics, marketing tools, craft beer wholesaler considerations, export development program, sell sheets, marketing and advertising code, label approval guidance, and other publications.
California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
Whether you want to open a brewery or brewpub chances are you’ve stumbled upon this site many times. This website contains vital info about obtaining licenses and permits regarding alcoholic beverage sales.
Pursuing Education in Brewing
American Brewers Guild Excellence in Brewing Education
I personally love this website because it contains an extensive course catalog on classes and programs about homebrewing or starting your own brewery. The instructors are brewery owners, brewmasters, and lab managers. It offers distance education that varies in length depending on the program. ABG offers the following programs: Craft Brewers Apprenticeship Program (28 weeks), Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering (23 weeks), Working Brewers Class (22 weeks), Brewery in Planning (23 weeks), Grain to Glass Boots on Brewing (7 days), and Brewing Science for the Advanced Homebrewer (weekend course). The only thing is that the courses are so popular that they fill up FAST! You do have to submit an application to ABG. They require a high school or college transcript, work resume, summary of commercial or homebrewing experience, objectives upon completing coursework, and a $45 application fee. There is a scholarship available.
Siebel Institute of Technology and World Brewing Academy offers online courses about brewing science and technology. Courses cover the Brewing Process, Brewing Technology, Beer Production and Quality Control, and the Packaging and Process Technology. These courses are definitely pricier but they offer 5 different scholarships.
Homebrewing Magazine Articles
BYO Start Your Own Brewery contains insight from three leaders in the brewing industry: Bill Moore (founder, brewmaster, and member of the board of directors of Independence Brewing), Jon Bloostein (founder of Heartland Brewery), and Bruce Winner (president of American Brewers Guild). They discuss the following topics: learning the right type of beer to market to a large-scale demand, distribution marketing, opening a brewpub vs microbrewery, etc.
Brewing Techniques Starting Your Own Brewery From Dreams to Reality teaches you how to conduct a feasibility analysis, what information you need to research, and how to determine the right location using a site assessment survey. It includes vital charts and equations such as calculating your own revenue, etc.
FabJob Guide to Become a Brewery Owner is a free pdf file that provides necessary information for someone seeking to start their own business. I would first start reading this guide and then begin researching from there.
Inc.com released an article titled “The Way I Work: Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione”. It lends specific insight to a typical day at work for a brewery owner. Told in a narrative style I found it refreshing and inspiring to learn what exactly would be in the works for us. I really like Dogfish so it’s nice to know that the owner of the company and his wife (the vice-president) are really down-to-earth people who take it to heart to give customers what they want.
Websites & Blogs
10 Key Legal Steps You Need to Take to Start Your Own Brewery is an article written by two lawyers Gregory B. Perleberg and Jeffrey C O’Brien from the Lommen Abdo Law Firm that have extensive experience working with local craft breweries in Minneapolis. The lawyers share their top 10 advice they’ve given to brewery owners. They discuss legal issues concerning entities, trademarks, names, lease, federal & state security laws, TTB, and distributors.
BPlans is a website that offers a sample business plan for opening a brewery. I think it’s important to know what other breweries have done before you and how you can either incorporate it or change it within your own business plan. The article gives an extensive outline divided into 10 sections: executive summary, company summary, products, SWOT analysis, Market Analysis Summary, Strategy and Implementation Summary, Product Summary, Management Summary, Financial Plans, and Controls.
Flying Fish Business Lessons offers a compilation of tips and advice that the owner utilized and learned throughout his path to opening a brewing company.
Hess Brewing Odyssey is my new favorite blog. While on one of our brewery tours in SD Jason and I happened upon Hess Brewing and loved it! I found their oatmeal stout very creamy and smooth. So when I realized that the owner of this brewery started his own blog detailing his steps in creating this business venture, well to say the very least I did a little happy dance before I began obsessively reading this blog.
How to Start a Brewery (in 1 million easy steps) is a blog following the specific journey of a father and son starting their own brewery (Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company). Offers very detailed insight in their planning steps and includes quirks about how they’ve overcome obstacles along their path. I felt as though I was reading a memoir. There are quite a few lessons learned from this blog.