You’ve decided to start a brewery: congratulations! Breweries have become increasingly popular throughout the United States. In fact, microbreweries, brewpubs and taprooms produce 32.8% of all beer in 2020.
Of course, deciding to open a brewery is just step one of what can be a fairly complicated process. As small business owners ourselves, we understand how difficult it can be to turn your ideas into reality. That’s why we have compiled a list of the best brewery resources out there. Whether you’re starting a brewery from scratch or looking to up your game with your existing brewery, this brewery resource guide will help you find what you need to make it a success.
Resources For Starting A Brewery
Creating a Business Plan
The foundation of any small business is a solid business plan. Without one, you won’t have a blueprint for how to make your brewery successful. It is also a requirement for any type of funding.
Fortunately, there are a lot of great materials available that can help you get started with your business plan, including:
- Writing Your Brewery Business Plan, a step-by-step guide
- Successfully Planning, Starting and Operating a Nano Brewery, which covers the information you need for starting and growing a brewery
- The Nuts and Bolts of Great Business Plans, a PDF document that can be used for any business – not just breweries
There are a number of organizations that are dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, like the U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE. On these sites, you can find step-by-step tools and even courses that are designed to get you on your road to a winning business plan. If audio/visual formats are more your speed, you can check out this free business plan template and accompanying videos, or a podcast on how to write a business plan.
When going through these resources, you’ll likely notice that you will need to include a fair amount of data as part of your business plan to show that your proposed brewery will be profitable. The Brewers Association has great resources that you can use for this section, including production statistics and benchmarking surveys.
Figuring Out Rules, Regulations, and Licensing
The production and sale of alcohol, including beers and ciders, is heavily regulated by both the federal and state governments. Before you can even think about opening up a brewery, you will need to understand the legal landscape. For example, depending on the laws in your state, you may need to get a liquor license in addition to a brewery license.
Most entrepreneurs will benefit from working with an attorney who specializes in this field of law to make sure that they are in compliance with these complex laws. It’s also a good idea to spend some time learning about these laws on your own – particularly if you will need to pass a test to get licensed. For example, the Beer Exam School study guide can help you learn what you need to know to become a Certified Beer Server.
If you want to learn the specific rules for operating in this industry, a great place to start is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)’s website. There, you’ll find information, forms and other information about beer laws and regulations for labeling, import/export, taxes, and more. The Brewers Association also offers a lot of information about the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s regulations related to craft breweries.
Finally, be sure to check with your state’s alcohol and beverage control board to learn exactly what you will need to do to be licensed to operate in your state. Keep in mind that if you plan to serve food at your brewery, you may also need to take other steps, such as having your staff obtain food handling licenses.
Choosing Ingredients and Supplies
If you have decided to start your own brewery, chances are good that you already know a thing or two about brewing beer. Brewing beer commercially is much different than brewing at home for your own use. The following resources can help you as you figure out exactly what type of beer you want to make and sell, and how to achieve that goal.
- Brew Water Spreadsheet, which will help you tweak your water to bring out different flavor profiles in your beer.
- Comparing and Selecting Hops to provide you with the information that you need to choose the best hops for your beer.
- Carbonation Priming Chart to achieve the perfect level of carbonation in your bottled beers.
- Grains and Adjuncts Chart, which lists specific types of grains and the flavor that they will impart on your final brew.
- Making a Yeast Starter, which can allow you to increase the quality of yeast pitched into a specific beer and ensure consistent results.
- Pitching Rates for Fresh Yeast
- Troubleshooting Chart for Beer to help you figure out any issues that may arise during the brewing process.
- Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers
- Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation
- Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles
If you’re looking for commercial brewing equipment and ingredient suppliers, check out the Brewers’ Association supplier search function. Using this tool, you can find everything from local brewing equipment and ingredients to packaging and dispensing equipment.
Marketing Your Brewery
Once you have put together your business plan, figured out the licensing and regulatory requirements, and sourced your ingredients and supplies, you’ll need to figure out exactly how to market your brewery. After all, you can have the best beer in the world and your business will still flop if no one knows about it.
Marketing includes a lot of different components, from coming up with an online strategy to building hype locally through strategically-placed ads and newspaper articles. If you’re looking to get started on a marketing plan, these guides may be helpful:
- 20+ Grand Opening Ideas
- Creating a Logo
- Writing an Effective Slogan
- Takeout Cup Design
- Promotional ideas for breweries, including contests, charitable tie-ins, sales, and special activities
Once you’ve locked your logo and slogan in place, consider ordering branded disposable products for your brewery. Using custom printed disposable stadium cups, plastic cups, and more will reinforce your branding with your clientele. They are also great for outdoor dining options that are more popular than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic – no risk of broken glass, and they look great in pics that will pop up on social media!
Best Books For Brewery Owners
If you’re an avid reader, there are a plethora of books out there on both running a brewery and running a successful business in general. We’ve compiled some of the best books to read – both brewery specific and general books for entrepreneurs and business owners.
Books Specifically For Brewery Owners
- The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery: The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery is written by one of the most experienced and well-respected craft brewers in the world. Dick Cantwell was the co-founder and head brewer at Elysian Brewing Company from 1996 to 2015 when the company was sold to Anheuser-Busch. The guide walks through what works and what doesn’t based on Cantwell’s years of experience in the industry and encompasses the complete lifespan of a brewery from concept to growth and expansion.
- Brewing Up Business: Sam Calagione is the founder of the nation’s fastest growing independent craft brewery, Dogfish Head, and the host of Brew Masters on the Discovery Channel. This book walks readers through Sam’s journey from idea to reality and can be a very inspiring read for aspiring entrepreneurs.
- Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery: Steve Hindy was a former journalist and Tom Potter was a former banker. They teamed up to start a successful brewery in Brooklyn. Beer School lays out their mistakes and triumphs along the way.
General Business & Entrepreneurship Books
- The E-Myth Revisited: The E-Myth Revisited dives into why most small businesses fail and what business owners can do to achieve success. It’s written by Michael Gerber, who is considered one of the world’s best small business gurus.
- Will It Fly: “Will my business take off, or will it fall flat?” – Will It Fly addresses that important question that every new business owner poses. Will It Fly offers a 44-item checklist to help business owners determine whether or not their businesses are destined for success.
- Outliers: Malcolm Gladwell is a world-renowned author and speaker with several popular books to his name. Outliers would be one such book. In Outliers, Malcolm dissects individuals who have achieved extraordinary success to find patterns that can be replicated.
- Purple Cow: Seth Godin is considered to be one of the greatest marketing gurus of all time. His book Purple Cow aims to change the way you think about your marketing strategy and take a closer look at what your marketing strategy is communicating about your product or service.
- Start Run & Grow a Successful Small Business:This book is an all-in-one utility book that covers the entire process of setting up a business from start to finish. If you’re in the initial stages of planning your restaurant, this is a must-read.
Best Apps For Brewery Owners
The apps listed below aren’t necessarily used by brewery owners, but instead are used by consumers to find local breweries. Brewery owners may want to consider joining these apps to give their breweries a greater online presence and more visibility.
- UnTapped – $600/year
- BeerMenus – Free for a basic listing and $25-40/month for additional promotion
- TapHunter – Free for 60 days
- RateBeer – Free
- BeerAdvocate – Free
Brewery Blogs Worth Subscribing To
- All About Beer: All About Beer is a sub-blog on The Spruce Eats site. They cover drinks and drink recipes from around the world. You can use this blog to get new drink ideas or see what is currently popular or trending.
- Craftbeer.com: Craftbeer.com covers all things craft beer. They have a wide selection of educational resources and two online video lecture courses.
- The Full Pint: The Full Pint is a dedicated craft beer news site. There are over 10 years worth of news, reviews, and informational articles that you can read up on.
- The Beer Street Journal: The Beer Street Journal is an online news site dedicated to advancing the brewing industry. Beer Street Journal has a global reach and covers breweries from over 200 countries.
- Brewpublic: The Brewpublic was created to celebrate all things brewing. You’ll find regular contributions on brewing culture, recipes, and events.
- Budget Branders: Budget Branders was founded by a former food and beverage service business owner. Our blog pulls on years of experience in the industry with helpful tips, tricks, and information for brewery owners.
Helpful Videos & Podcasts For Brewery Owners
If you’re more of a visual or auditory learner, these videos and podcasts may be up your alley. Below are some helpful videos and podcasts for brewery owners.
- Craft Beer Radio Podcast
- Craft Beer Showdown
- Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine Podcast
- The Business of Craft Beer Podcast
- 5 Tips for Starting a Brewery
- Beer Brewing Process
- How to Start a Brewery
- How to Successfully Open Your Own Microbrewery
Using these resources can help you on your way to becoming the owner of a profitable brewery – no matter what your knowledge level was when you started the process!
Ready to Get Started?
We know that starting your own business can be incredibly difficult. We hope that this brewery resource guide makes it just a bit easier for you to figure out what to do – and how to do it – as you launch your own brewery. When you’re ready to take the next step, Budget Branders is here to help.
We offer a full range of custom printed disposables in prices and quantities that make sense for small to medium sized businesses, including breweries. Our team is dedicated to producing high quality products like cups, bowls, bags and more to help you grow your business. To learn more or to request a free quote, fill out our online contact form, or click the button to start a live chat.